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Actually, God Calls Us to Judge Within Biblical Context
- Is it wrong to criticize “Christians” as a "follower" of Jesus Christ?
- Is it wrong to evaluate the teachings of a “Christian” leader?
- Is it wrong to expose the immoral behavior of a “Christian”?
- Is criticizing unloving and divisive?
Thinking about the answers to these questions may bring up quite a few experiences that you may have had with other fellow believers. Many object to criticism and use the common responses such as, “It is wrong to judge” and “He who is without sin cast the first stone." From this point, many will relinquish any further contention. What many don’t realize is that they are giving into heresy and undermining the foundation of their faith. When sinful behaviors are allowed, a response such as, “You are criticizing, judging me and being unloving," requires a decision to be made, whether to concede, or respond with truth.
In the Old Testament, it was established that those who practiced idolatry and immorality were accountable for their actions and behaviors. The Israelite's were instructed by God to practice good discernment in these matters.
“If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the LORD your God is testing you to find out if you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. “You shall follow the LORD your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him. “But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has counselled rebellion against the LORD your God who brought you from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery, to seduce you from the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from among you. - Deuteronomy 13:1-5
“If your brother, your mother’s son, or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul, entice you secretly, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods’ (whom neither you nor your fathers have known, of the gods of the peoples who are around you, near you or far from you, from one end of the earth to the other end), you shall not yield to him or listen to him; and your eye shall not pity him, nor shall you spare or conceal him. “But you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. - Deuteronomy 13:6-8
“For you hate discipline, and you cast My words behind you. “When you see a thief, you are pleased with him, and you associate with adulterers. - Psalm 50:17-18
These are some pretty harsh judgements that God required his followers to uphold. In the New Testament, God also requires His followers to judge with righteous judgement as part of the Ekklesia.
Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. - Acts 17:11
But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil. - 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22
“Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” - John 7:24
The true followers of Jesus Christ use Him as an example on how we should conduct matters of ethics, morality, rebuke, judgement, sin, refutation, and accountability. The Bible describes Jesus Christ expelling the money changers from the temple, publicly condemning the Scribes and Pharisees, and rebuking Peter in front of the other disciples.
The Apostle Paul followed the same example by publicly criticizing Peter and naming false teachers who were in the church.
Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers. Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset the faith of some. Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.” - 2 Timothy 2:14-19
But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. - Galatians 2:11
But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, “If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews? - Galatians 2:14
The modern "church" today has forgotten the truth and the required constructive actions that must be taken in order to preserve the integrity of the faith. The judgement on the behaviors of false teaching and immorality belongs to those who are the Church as affirmed in Scripture.
To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed. - Titus 1:15-16
Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also will be fearful of sinning. - 1 Timothy 5:20
“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.“But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED.“If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. - Matthew 18:15-17
Unfortunately, most modern "church" leaders believe that they are not accountable to God’s people and think they are above them. If a leader is not above reproach, teaches a man- made doctrine, and behaves immorally, he\she should be rebuked if there is no repentance and be disqualified.
An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money. - 1 Timothy 3:2
For this reason reprove them severely so that they may be sound in the faith. - Titus 1:13
What truly characterizes the Ekklesia are how well the truth is handled (the Word of God) and the application of its principles. Upholding sound doctrine requires the refutation of those who are in opposition to it. The Ekklesia cannot and will not be strong in their faith in Jesus Christ without being comfortable in scrutinizing and criticizing when it is required. The maturity, growth, strength, and reputation of the body of Christ depend on it.
- Persecuted for Truth
The followers of Jesus Christ have always been persecuted throughout history. The fact is that it will always be a part of a true believers walk until the return of Jesus Christ.
- Contending for Truth Within the Body of Christ
Taking a stand and defending truth, unfortunately, and most of the time, causes dissension and disagreements among believers within the church body.