Updated: Oct 24
GALATIANS 6 X MATTHEW 18
“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you to be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
God lays out his expectations and commandments for a people who have been transformed by the Spirit. In the preceding chapter we learn about the fruits of the Spirit, this is the context for how we can be obedient to commands such as these, the power of the person of the Holy Spirit.
Brothers (family) if anyone (family) is caught (entrapping language) in any (not some - any) transgression (sin), you (you) who are spiritual (follower of Jesus) should (expectation) restore (the verb/action meaning to return or bring back) in a spirit of gentleness (one of the fruits of the Spirit/tender or sensitive). Keep watch on yourself lest you be tempted (a focus when doing this is first and always on yourself, to ensure that you are never engaging in hypocrisy whether it be intentional, ignorance or naive). Bear (a word that encapsulates so much; this process will not be quick nor will it require you to spawn and out of someones life, it will require a response that has longevity), one another’s (the Bible is all about the one another’s) burdens (the heavy things of life - of which there are many) and by doing all this we fulfil (our obedient actions are apart of the law of Christ being fulfilled), the law of Christ (everything accomplished and established by Jesus).
Family when faced with their family in any entrapping sins should, if they are a follower of Christ, restore in the fruit of the Holy Spirit who indwells them, specifically with gentleness. A focus when doing this is first and always on ourselves, to ensure we never engage in hypocrisy. We must have an abiding response with one another’s lives that our often heavy and when we do this we glorify God through our obedience to his will, which his living out the good news of the gospel centred upon Christ.
“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”
Prior to this teaching by Jesus there is a focus on ensuring we do not cause people to sin, remove people to sin and the backdrop of a loving Father who leads us back to himself after we have sinned.
If your brothers or sisters (family) sins (violence against God), go (verb/call to action) and point out their fault (simple, their in a fault and we go to them, not behind their back, but to them and point out their fault), just between the two of you (resolve and restore among yourselves). If they listen to you (Amen), you have won them over (victory, rejoice in Jesus not yourself). But (flesh against the Spirit) if they will not listen (pride), take one or two others along (random blokes off the street? NO! Trusted family), so that every matter (everything will be impartially laid out) may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses (simple math that has been overlooked to peoples detriment and God’s heartbreak). If they still refuse to listen (further sin), tell it to the church (get the family involved); and if they refuse to listen to the church (at this point they are Pharaoh), treat (verb/the means to which we act towards someone) them as you would (comparison) a pagan (A SINNER) OR a tax collector (specific audienece - jewish - using an example of a group who were pagan unless changed by Jesus like Zacchaeus or Matthew).
If your family commits acts of violence against God you are called in to action by him to represent him by going directly to them and pointing out the specific fault. If they listen we can praise God and rejoice in the newfound intimacy of a relationship that has undergone such a redemptive process. But because we live in the ‘not yet,’ we still battle against the flesh and so they may not listen because of pride, in this scenario take trusted family for accountability and wisdom to point out the problems. If they engage in more pride get the whole family involved and if they refuse the third rebuke, then they have become like Pharaoh and are to be treated as those who do not know Jesus (later explanation in 1 Corinthians 5 reveals the purpose of this is to restore).
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.
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 chapter will not suffice. This chapter 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 ownbrother’s eye,” Jesus is not telling us that we should not judge, Jesus is teaching us how to do it correctly, that is to reflect first yourself 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, it’s a false dichotomy that has just been created! Love and judgement are interconnected! 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 there 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. (I recognise the controversy that exists as to whether this passage should be in the Bible or not, research yourself).
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 are given a clear framework to operate in with regards to Biblical judgement, if other believers ask, who gives you the authority to judge? The answer is... Jesus.
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, the brother of Jesus Judged in James 4 and we the church are commanded to judge (2 Timothy 4 1 Thessalonians 5).
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:
Judgement and society
Judgement and God
Judgement and self
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 absolutize 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 = judgement (Luke 16:19-31)
Gehenna/ hell = judgement (Revelation 20:11-15)
Bema seat - rewards differ (2 Corinthians 5:10 | judgement seat | Greek is bemata | was an elevated place in Jewish times)
Great white throne = Judgement (Revelation 20).
Differing degrees of punishment carried out by God
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, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence you make long prayers; therefore you will receive greater condemnation,”
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
“For all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory.”
“None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
All 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…
Check out our podcast on, ‘Is all sin the same’ for a more extensive head dive into this topic…
Judgement as it relates to others
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.
In 1 Corinthians 5 Paul addresses/ judges the church, giving divine prescriptive commands!
“I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”
This does not mean that we negate our responsibility to proclaim the gospel, one does not cancel out the other! Matthew 28 and the great commission remains the same.
In equal measure, we should constantly be aware of the injustices and cruelty of sinful mankind, calling upon the lord to enact justice just as the psalmists did through imprecatory psalms!
“Let them be put to shame and dishonor who seek after my life! Let them be turned back and disappointed who devise evil against me! Let them be like chaff before the wind, with the angel of the Lord driving them away! Let their way be dark and slippery, with the angel of the Lord pursuing them! For without cause they hid their net for me; without cause they dug a pit for my life. Let destruction come upon him when he does not know it! And let the net that he hid ensnare him; let him fall into it- to his destruction!”
Why carry out Biblical judgement:
Both an Old Testament and New Testament command is that we love our neighbour as we love ourselves, that we do to others as you would have them do to you, that we value others more highly than ourselves, that we honour others more highly than ourselves, that we speak truth in love, that we encourage, build up and that the proverb “faithful our the wounds of a friend’ would be our rally cry!
Biblical judgement amongst believers should be synonymous with love, when you judge me you love me, when you love me you judge me! It is something in which both parties should rejoice in, as at the centre of it all is the gospel and the liberation that comes through the blood of Jesus. If you saw someone walking towards a cliff edge would you tell them? What would be considered the loving thing to do? To let them yield destruction in their own life by walking off the cliff? Or recognise the imminent threat that befalls them, recognising our love for them and doing everything we can to warn and stop them! You see, we need to understand sin and understand God’s holiness. Sin is destructive, it is the cliff edge, we should despise it and run from it. The apostle Paul in Romans 7 talks about having enmity towards our sin! If we have brothers and sisters in Christ in sin we cannot sit down and be passive watching destruction unfold, we must take on the mantle of biblical judgement and warn them! We are watchtowers like Ezekial (Ezekiel 3, 33).
How do we exercise this type of Biblical judgement?
Discern | You can’t find a solution until the problem is first addressed! Examine yourself first as Matthew 7 calls us to do! Is this sin a problem in my own life? The key to this type of judgement is understanding our own fallibility. This is why Biblical judgement is so good, as it allows us to humble ourselves and ensure that we are constantly recognising that we are all sinners saved by grace. This culture of loving self-examination and others will breed unity). You must have an understanding of scripture, you must be walking with the spirit, being sober minded in judgement and constantly loving others, thus, you will know what is sin and be in a posture of humility and love to combat it.
Rebuke | Actually address the person who is in sin as Matthew 18 calls us to do! Go and tell this person from God’s word how they are stumbling! Speaking truth in love!
Respond | Don’t just address the problem and then say good luck with it and see ya! No, respond with the person’; listen, I am here with you, this overcome this thing together, here is what has helped me, here are some tools, some resources, i will pray for you…’ Galatians 6 says, “if any of you is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore one another in a spirit of gentleness.” Walk with a person the full way, right to the point of reconciliation, then and only then are you engaging fully in Biblical judgement as it relates to others.
Timothy is in a relationship with an unbeliever, they are having so much fun and are so close, the relationship seems to be evolving into something serious.
Zach is a brother in Christ and close enough to Timothy to speak into his life, Zach reads 2 Corinthians 6, which says, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?”- Other scriptures such as “friendship with the world is hostility towards God” and “can two people walk hand in hand if they aren’t going to the same place” resonate with Zach, convicting him through the spirit to take action!
Zach organises a meet up with Timothy, Zach and Timothy talk as normal, talking about football, God and their life! Timothy talks about his relationship, Zach allows Timothy to finish and calmly, gently and with love addresses the relationship through the lens of the Bible. Zach empathises, relating his own experience of the relationship he once had with an unbeliever, stating how he was in sin and Timothy is too, Zach addresses the scripture that relates to what they are talking about, Zach promises to journey and walk with Timothy in this situation.
Timothy’s response (if in church setting Matthew 18 framework followed)
If Timothy humbles and accepts, rejoice together and journey together as promised.
If Timothy says no, acknowledge that you can stand before God innocent, knowing you have been obedient and follow the Matthew 18 principle.
Biblical judgement is clearly in scripture, taught by Jesus, practiced in the early church and reaffirmed in the epistles.
Biblical judgement needs to be dissected into at least four main categories, society, God, self and others, thus allowing us to know which one we are in and which ones we shouldn’t be in.
Biblical judgment has been defined and we have illustrated who it’s for!
WHY Biblical judgement? Out of complete love! Every other motive is like a gun without bullets, useless.
HOW do we exercise Biblical judgement? Discern, rebuke and respond!
Jesus desired that we should “be one just as he and his father are one,” so we should all be one, unity is essential, God rejoices in our unity, the Bible teaches that the Church should be unified.
We are one immune system, so when one brother and sister are down and out in sin, we should feel that pain and look to respond, medicate and resolve the problem!
Romans 12 says that we are not to be conformed to this world, but instead to be transformed by the renewing of our mind! When we judge one another in love and we respond receptively to judgement, we will be salt and light! Then people can see our good works and Glorify our father in heaven.
“What the world needs to see is not the Christian church tearing down every fence that was built for the sake of truth — protecting truth, declaring truth. Rather, what we should do is stop throwing hate bombs over the fences, and instead love each other across genuine disagreements, genuine fences.”
Unity is a commandment, an expectation, a necessity and a blessing given by God to his people. There should be no doubt in the minds of followers of Christ who have the mind of Christ that preserving the spirit of unity is a reality that is to be so visible with every local body that make up the bride of Christ. Many people forget that what is the oil that helps unity run smoothly within the bride of Christ on a local level is discipline. I know we wouldn’t view this as something positive and this is then symptomatic of a deeper problem, it is evidence that your hatred or discomfort is misplaced from sin to the gift god has given us through loving discipline. Truth matters. Love matters. Unity matters. We have to be a people who are so inclined towards being un-offended as well as a people who don’t offend. Disclaimer: being un-offendable does not equate to being desensitised. We are called to live and so feel, but we are called to be equipped for feelings of offences. We need to be a people that emulates Jesus and his grace and forgiveness. Reality check, people will annoy you, you will annoy people, we need one another’s grace and time. Workshops can only do so much, podcasts, blogs and sermons are helpful tools used by God, but the answers are found in a life of surrender to the Holy Spirit.
More reading on this topic: