Updated: Mar 27
What are we going to be talking about? Biblical judgement! A topic rarely discussed, in fact, if you are reading this right now you are probably confused as to what it is, but your ardent curiosity has led you to click into this blog to see what it’s actually all about!
How will we be unpacking this? Using Scripture of course! Using Matthew 7 as a springboard, we will use the words of Jesus in this passage to fuel us in interacting with other passages of scripture that will help put some light on this topic!
The breakdown will be fourfold:
1) Differentiating different types of biblical judgment.
2) Defining Biblical judgement and who it’s for.
3) Understanding why this should be a daily day to day practice for the church.
4) Identifying practical steps as to how we can actually apply this to our lives today, so that God will be most glorified in us.
Why talk about this? Well, when something starts off like, ‘it’s a commandment!,’ at this point we have to drop societal constructs, sinful instincts and compromising attitudes and radically obey the call led before us; in this case, the command is to judge! Jesus tells us how to judge in Matthew 7 and explicitly commands us to judge in Matthew 18 and John 7! I cannot emphasise enough, I believe this topic is essential in order for the church to operate in a fully functioning manner that is 100% Biblical, Christ edifying and just plain, simple and downright helpful to everyone involved (when done correctly). The consequences of not engaging with this topic seriously will lead to bitterness, hatred, broken people, people who hate church/people/christians, people denying the faith, unity in the church becoming fragmented and the father heart of God being left broken over the disobedience, arrogance and incapability of his children whom he lavished his love upon.
So with all that being said, I would like to provide a foundation to this topic, simply a starting point, as one blog will not suffice! Wildfire will provide templates and frameworks to these topics, allowing you to engage and begin with what are perceived as some of the more hard, long and unspoken topics. However, it will require further study from you, it will require you to meditate on these things and for you to delve into the widespread material that is actually available for this topic!
The ministry of Jesus: Matthew 7 and others...
God manifested himself in human flesh, walked this earth and lived the law perfectly! Jesus not only died on the cross for our sins, offered salvation to all men, rose from the dead- defeating death (amongst countless other amazing truths), but Jesus gave us the perfect example on how to live! So we don’t need a podcast on how to live life, nor do we need books, blogs and articles telling us how to live our best life now, we have Jesus… the literal picture of perfection. This allows us to understand why 1 John 2:6 says, “Whoever says he lives in God must live as he (Jesus) lived” and why Ephesians 5:1-2 says that we should be “imitators of Christ.” So what does Jesus do and say relating to judgement in the gospels!
Jesus teaches and commands it:
John 7:24, “Do not judge by appearances, but JUDGE with right judgment.”
Luke 17:3, “Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.”
In Matthew 7, the very passage people use to dissuade people to exercise Biblical judgement, Jesus judges! “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your own brother’s eye,” Jesus is not telling us to not judge, Jesus is teaching us how to do it correctly, that is to reflect on yourself first, to see whether you are engaging in the very sin you are calling out in the other person’s life.
1 John 4 says that God is love! We as christians are called to love, so if I judge someone what will follow close behind me is those sacred words of a sinner, “that's not very christian, ” well, this is a false dichotomy being created! Love and judgement are one! By judging we love! By loving we judge! So yes I am being christian sir or madam!
What about when the Pharisees were about to stone the woman for adultery? Clearly the lesson here is that universally and always we should not judge? Really! What is Jesus doing in this passage… you guessed it! Judging! Jesus judges and condemns the Pharisees for not exercising the mosaic law and then Jesus judges the women. Jesus says go sin no more, Jesus classifies this woman as a sinner (judgment) but does so in truth and love, bringing her to a place of restoration- that's real Biblical judgement. Judgement is not a nasty aspect of Christianity, its beautiful, liberating and totally reflects lives transformed by the gospel, the very fact we have our own negative presuppositions about judgement shows how far removed we as a church are from God’s word.
Matthew 18, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses (in keeping with old testament/ mosaic covenant, Deuteronomy 17:6-7) 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 (excommunication). Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loose in heaven.” Here we have been given a clear framework to operate in with regards to Biblical judgement.
Jesus practiced what he preached! Throughout the whole sermon on the mount Jesus destroys the prestige and superficial religiosity of the Pharisees and sadducees! Jesus consistently judges- Matthew 7, Matthew 23 and John 7. John the baptist judged in Matthew 14, the apostles judged in 1 Corinthians 6:19, the brother of Jesus Judged in James 4:4-10, we the church are commanded to judge, 2 Timothy 4:2, 1 Thessalonians 5:14.
If other believers ask, who gives you the authority to judge? The answer is... Jesus.
So with all of that being made clear! Let's go to believers and non-believers and tell them how grotesque and terrible they really are! This bring people down, this judge all the time at our own leisure! This exercise the same authority of the God-head with regards to judgement and this all become one walking, breathing judicial system!
This discuss the different types of Biblical judgement so we know which one Jesus is talking about! Then and only then can we talk about what, how and why we judge!
Different types of Biblical judgement:
1) Judgement and society
2) Judgement and God
3) Judgement and self
4) Judgement and others
Judgement as it relates to society:
In the old testament there was a theocracy, whilst in both the New Testament and today there is a church and state context.
It is self-evident that we need governing bodies, state laws, police and judicial systems. God commands Israel to establish one, which consists of civil, ceremonial and moral law, this moral law transcends into the New Testament and today in order to formulate much of our state law.
Romans 13, “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.”
We can use the Old Testament to see how God commanded a state (judicial system to be run), we must also use our own wisdom, discernment and prayer to decide how much the state should influence and how much the church should influence.
1 THESSALONIANS 5, “In everything, in prayer and supplication…”
Proverbs 2:6, “For the Lord gives wisdom from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”
We are Constantly admonished to seek wisdom and it is important that we don’t absolutise Romans 13, remembering that respect and agreement are not synonymous. Thus, it is important to remember laws, governments and judicial systems endued with authority to Judge by God.
Judgement as it relates to God:
Sheol/ Hades different levels of judgement.
Gehenna/ Hell different levels of judgement.
Bema seat/ Rewards differ/ 2 Corinthians 5:10, “all must appear before the judgement seat of Christ so that each of us may receive according to what we have done. (Judgement seat/ Greek is bemata/ was an elevated place in Jewish times)
Great white throne/ Judgement/ Revelation 20.
Luke 12:47, “And a servant who knows what the master wants, but isn’t prepared and doesn’t carry out those instructions will be severely punished. But someone who does not know, and does something wrong, will be punished only lightly.”
John 19:11, “the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin”
James 3:1, “those who teach will be judged more strictly”
Mark 12, Pharisees will be judged more severely/ Unforgivable sin.
It is important to remember that all authority belongs to God, we can in no way engage in the judgment that is executed by God, final authority belongs to God, only God can judge the hearts and motives of men!
Judgement as it relates to ourselves:
Romans 3- “For all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory.”
“None is righteous, no, not one;
11no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
12All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
All of us must rely solely on God’s insurmountable amount of grace! Recognising that we are all in the same boat of sin! It is only by God’s love and sacrifice that we have become the righteousness of God/ this is essential in how we exercise Biblical judgement…
Judgement as it relates to others:
This is the area that we will be focusing on!
Check out our podcast on, ‘Is all sin the same’ for a more extensive head dive into this topic…
What is Biblical judgement as it relates to others:
A definition that I have come to from reading scripture is…
The ability to discern and respond to something that you think (from reading God's word, spirit, convictions) will have a detrimental effect on someone's faith. It’s that simple, there is no need to complicate it!
Who is Biblical Judgement for when you say ‘others?’
Biblical judgment is solely for believers, followers of Jesus Christ who profess to be in a relationship with God! It is NOT for unbelievers- why? The reality is they have openly said that they do not want a relationship with God, so to hold them to the standard which they have said they don’t want to be held too- is the definition of insanity; they are simply fulfilling the job application that they have signed up for.
1 Corinthians 5, Paul addresses/ judges the church, giving divine prescriptive commands! “I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immor