Can we not see the dichotomy with which we speak?

I was listening to a group of Christians discuss how we should deal with in relation to sin and false doctrine. The new John 3.16 – Matthew 7.1 – was the first principle presented. For those who do not know Matthew 7.1 is where Jesus says “Judge not, that you be not judge” (ESV). Tied together with this principle was the familiar show God’s love/Christian love. The implication here is that we should love people like Jesus and not Judge them because we are all sinners some of us are just sinners saved by grace.

Unfortunately the biblical concepts of these statements have been lost in the milieu of our postmodern culture. When non-Christians employee Matthew 7.1 they typically mean that no one has the right to tell them what is right or wrong. Postmodernist live in a world of moral ambiguity and the only absolute truth is that there are no absolute truths.  Here the implication is that I can make a moral judgment about your judging me, but you have no right to judge me for making that moral judgment about you. The second aspect of this mindset is that believers are to focus on living out the love of Christ and accepting people as they are without judging them.

The only problem with our typical understanding of this passage is that Jesus tells us in verse 16 that we must make a judgment about a person’s teaching based upon the fruit that they produce. Moreover, we are told in Mathew 18 that we are to deal with those who sin against us. Two thoughts come to mind. First, how will we know if they sin if we don’t make some type of judgment based upon a standard?  Second, if we are not supposed to judge then what right do we have to confront them over sin? Furthermore, we are told similarly in Luke 17.3 that “if your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him” (ESV).  Once again how are we to rebuke something that we are not to judge. Clearly Jesus is not prohibiting Judgment. He is prohibiting hypocritical self-righteous judgment. He is condemning the type of Judgment in John 8. Believers are commanded by the apostle Paul to make a judgment call and “take no part” in sinfulness, but to “expose” that sin as sin (Ephesians 5.11 ESV). This is impossible without some since of judging.  Do we not see the dichotomy with which we speak?

Modern evangelicalism is constantly pushing the love of Jesus in what is akin to the peace loving fuzzy bunny hippy mindset of the 60’s. I understand that “God is love” and that we are to love one another as well as our enemies. However, we interpret loving others as not saying or doing anything that may offend them in any way. The only problem with this is that the gospel “the message of God’s love” is described by Paul in Romans 9 as a “rock of offense” and a “stone of stumbling.” What Paul is saying is that the very message of what God calls His demonstration of love is offensive to humanity. We don’t have to be offensive people, but we must understand that the nature of our message is inherently offensive.

We must also note that loving does not necessarily negate the need to confront sin in a stern way. Jesus did not sound very loving when He called the religious leaders of His day a “brood of vipers.” He did not seem very loving when He plated a whip and drove the money changers out of the temple. Jesus’ loving word’s impressed those leaders so much that they had Him crucified.

What about the message of John the Baptist. The rulers of the day loved John the Baptist so much that they cut his head off to silence him. What about the apostles?  Their message of love so touch the rulers of their day that nearly all of them were martyred.  What was this message that made people resent them so much? It was the gospel message. I was the euangelion – the goodness of Christ. I encourage you to read Acts 2 and here the fuzzy bunny, non-offensive, and non-judgmental message Peter preached on the day of Pentecost. Do we not see the dichotomy with which we speak?

True love speaks honestly and humbly the whole counsel of God’s word without regard for the approval of men. True love warns men of their sin and the ensuing judgment. True love reaches down violently and snatchers men from the fires of hell without regard for their feelings. True love looks men square in the face and says with Christ “Repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1.15 ESV).

Let us love men enough to tell them the truth about sin, righteousness, and judgment. Let us love men enough to tell them the truth about the gospel of Christ. Let us love men enough to jostle them from their spiritual comma and bring them to the light of life in Jesus Christ. Let us love each other enough as Christians to hold each other accountable to the standard of God’s Word.

Grace,

Ronnie

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About Ronnie Knight
Follower of Christ, Husband, & Father. B.A. in Theology Masters of Divinity

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