In my last post I talked about the judgements we use in our day-to-day lives. It is clear from Scripture that God intends for us to use good judgement in our lives. However it is also clear we should not condemn those around us. The grey area comes when we try to become judge, jury, and executioner with our judgements. And this might be a much finer tightrope to walk than one might imagine.
So, exactly where do you draw the line and how do you ensure you are walking it? In the post: Why Did The Tree Have A Name? I stated that the knowledge of good and evil was a dangerous thing. In this post we are about to find out why I believe that. But simply put, Satan told Eve that eating of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil would make her “as a god” (and later on, God agreed with that statement). When we start applying our knowledge of good and evil, when we start judging others, when we start discerning actions around us, quite simply, we have become as gods in our own realm. And trust me, the last thing we ever want to do in our lives is replace God’s understanding with our own. Do you want a quick check as to whether or not God (Jesus Christ) is sitting upon the throne of your life? Look at your judgements. Check your discernment. Consider whom you condemn and whom you forgive.
In I Corinthians 5 we have a seemingly difficult case. Paul of Tarsus has received a specific report of a specific individual who is not only embroiled in an immoral act, but is actually publically boasting about it at the same time, and apparently receiving the approval of the Church. And Paul calls for the individual to be handed over to Satan.
Contrast this situation to the adulteress who was brought before Jesus Christ in the Temple as recounted in John Chapter 8. Here we had another individual embroiled in an immoral act and Jesus Christ offers complete forgiveness, yet we might perceive that Paul of Tarsus calls for condemnation (turn him over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh).
The difference between the two situations is that in the one case the immoral act was being committed outside of the Church, I might even argue in secret (except that the scribes and Pharisees obviously knew about it), and no one in the Temple was either bragging about It or boasting of it. In the other case the people of the Church were not only well aware of what was going on, they were encouraging it with their boasting.
In the case of Jesus Christ, he knew that if sinners outside of the Temple were to find nothing but condemnation, they would never come to the Temple. Who wants to go to the Temple to be condemned?
In the case of Paul of Tarsus, he knew that if sinners outside of the Church saw the Church as boasting and encouraging immorality, they would see nothing but hypocrites. And who wants to go to Church with a bunch of hypocrites?
In both cases, in the case where the judgement ends in forgiveness, and in the case were the judgement ends in (seemingly) condemnation, the sanctity and the integrity of the house of God (the Church or the Temple) was being maintained. And that, is good judgement.
Personally, I like to apply the Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego test. Remember these young men in Daniel Chapter 3? They were the 3 young men who refused to bow down to the idols the government (the king) had set up for all the people of the land. Why? Because they knew that if they did, no one in the land would ever want to bow down before Jehovah God ever again. Why would they? If Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego bow down before idols, why waste time with God? He must not be any better than these idols the king set up.
So what if we were to apply the Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego test to some of the biggest issues of our day? What do we think that would look like? In my case it would look like this:
Abortion: I’m sorry, I love you, and I don’t condemn you, but only God is the author of life and to not recognize the sanctity of the life that God gives is to deny him. The Church must continue to preach and to teach against it. You will always find forgiveness within the Church, but the Church should never support your so-called “right” to usurp God. The Church should celebrate life, not death.
Same sex marriage: I’m sorry. I don’t hate you, nor do I condemn you. But clearly your actions are against the very design of God and the teachings of the Bible. You may try to erase those teachings, twist them into something else. You will fail, and the Church should never have to support you in your sin by being forced to conduct wedding ceremonies for your so-called “rights”.
(So called) Hate Speech: I’m sorry. But when I proclaim Jesus Christ as the only way to God the Father, it is not me that made the claim, rather it was Jesus Christ himself. I am simply teaching history. History you may want to rewrite, but history nonetheless. And for me to teach anything else is for me to deny my faith and to turn my back on my religion. It is actually those that try to silence the truth that are intolerant and non accepting. Not myself.
Where do I draw the line? I draw it at the feet of Jesus Christ. And I draw it at the foot of the Cross. That is the point where I cannot step over the line. The line that I attempt to walk, is the line that lifts up Jesus Christ and gives him all the Praise, and all the Honor, and all the Glory.
In the beginning God told Adam and Eve, do not eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil because bad things will happen. Turns out God was right and bad things did happen (and continue to happen today). About 4,000 years later, God, in the person of Jesus Christ, came to earth and basically said, ‘OK, you didn’t listen to me in the beginning and because of that you’re in this huge mess. But I’m going to give you some advice as to how to get through this predicament you’ve placed yourselves in. And the secret is in your judgement. Use it wisely and justly.’