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Lowell Brueckner

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Are You Afraid to Judge?


I wrote the following article while we lived in the USA sometime between 1979 and 1986. A church published it and it was distributed in our area; afterwards it was published in ten languages in “The Herald of His Coming”, a Christian newspaper, of which you may have heard.  Because my brother asked for some copies, I had to look for the article. I hadn’t seen it for quite a few years. But now, I was surprised, as I read it again and thought about things that I have observed since then, that confirm 100% what I had written. I don’t have to change a single word to apply it perfectly to the situation in 2013.

Are You Afraid to Judge?

The lesson that Jesus gave us about the log and the speck in the eye (Mt.7:3) is, for most of us, at least, almost as familiar as John 3:16 or the Golden Rule. Often it is quoted, not only in church services, but many a conversation or heated discussion is brought to a screeching halt by the reprimand… “Don’t judge!” Nevertheless, in the same way that a pleasant melody can be distorted by too much amplification, likewise over-emphasis of the most certain truth can weaken it and deafen the listener to a proper balance of biblical doctrine. 

  If the quantity of teaching over a theme could guarantee its effectiveness, the effort against judging should have totally eliminated its practice among God’s people. By now, believers should be living in perfect harmony. However, facts show the complete opposite is true. Controversy and division prevails, and what is more important still, we have learned to drop our defenses. We have opened a door towards tolerance to sin and a lowering of standards, to general worldliness in the church, and to a multitude of false teachers carrying explosive and seductive doctrines. Should we conclude that something is wrong? I believe that we have not taught “the whole purpose of God” (Acts 20:27) with the faithfulness that godly people did in the past. The average modern Christian is not aware of the whole truth about spiritual judgment.

  You and I will have to isolate ourselves from the modes of the day and the common attitudes, and get in contact with the Author of unalterable truth, God’s Holy Spirit, in order to perceive the original intention of Scripture. With His unction and direction, the whole tenor of Bible teaching, from Genesis to Revelation, has to be explored. Each extraordinary text must be examined within its context.

Judging is really inevitable
  With this goal in mind, we begin now in Proverbs 17:15: “He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous, both of them alike are an abomination to the Lord.” After you read this article, you will certainly judge it, taking a position in favor or against it. We do that constantly, listening to sermons, in conversations, in our relationships… in fact, we cannot avoid judgment. Today’s po-pular teaching does not erase judging, it only demands positive conclusions. For fear of being pharisaical critics, we have gone to the opposite extreme. However, if we are exposed to a seductive or deceiving spirit and come away saying or thinking, “The Spirit of God is moving”, we are guilty of fulfilling the first part of the proverb mentioned and are in the same danger of blaspheming the Holy Spirit as were the Pharisees.

  Paul warns us, “For the mind set on the flesh is death.” There is no consolation for the flesh in Christ’s way, whether it takes a positive or a negative pathway. Our teaching does not have to do with being negative or positive, but with being spiritual. “He who is spiritual appraises all things” (1 Co.2:15). In order to do that, Paul concludes by saying, “We have the mind of Christ” (1 Co.2:16). There is no way around the necessity of having spiritual understanding.

Five principles
  I see five principles that determine whether we will judge rightly or not:

1.      In the first place, we need to be open for God to reveal to us OUR OWN sins, faults and weaknesses. The portion of Scripture, to which we refer as we begin this article, concerns an insensibility to “the log” in one’s own eye. This person is spiritually blind, and therefore Jesus speaks first of removing the personal problem, in order to see clearly (now notice care-fully) to judge the brother’s problem. He is instructed to take the irritating mote out of his brother’s eye (Mt.7:1-5). The spiritual man must be constantly before God, examining his own heart, very conscious of his humanity. When he is sure that he has removed human motivations from his soul and is acting according to God-directed impulses, then he has freedom to confront his brother.

2.      The second principle that has to do with judging depends on whether or not there are personal interests influencing our decisions. Remember King Saul: “Hear now, O Benjamites! Will the son of Jesse also give to all of you fields and vineyards? Will he make you all commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds? If you come to an agreement with someone like Saul, who is promising you benefits, money, a position, or security, then you will never be able to judge rightly (1 Sm.22:7-8). Many are in that situation and will never see things correctly. To Saul it was incomprehensible that Jonathan should choose, “to his own shame”, to sacrifice the throne to David, sub-mitting himself to the will of God (1 Sm.20:30-31). Jesus said, “My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (Jn.5:30).

3.      Thirdly, as Jesus said, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment” (Jn.7:24). When Samuel went to anoint a son of Jesse to be king, he chose the oldest one, favoring his physical appearance. His past experience helped in making that wrong decision. Did God not choose Saul, head and shoulders taller than any other in Israel? However, neither appearance nor experience should influence us in divine selection. “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Sm.16:7).

4.      This leads to the fourth principle: Do not trust personal opinions or feelings. The person does not exist, who can by himself judge spiritual things correctly. Even Jesus said, “I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge” (Jn.5:30). To have experienced the fullness of the Spirit does not guarantee 100% good judgment. Paul determined that the Corinthian church was “carnal”, in spite of being richly endowed with spiritual gifts. The anointed King David and the prophet Nathan (2 Samuel 7) were united in an error. David had an idea and Nathan confirmed it, saying, “Go, do all that is in your mind, for the Lord is with you.” Oh no, Nathan! No, 21st century Christian! Leave the doctrine of infallibility to the followers of Rome’s pope.

5.      Nathan ignored our fifth principle, which is also the most important. It is absolutely essential that we hear from God in every case. Jesus gave us the example already quoted: “As I hear, I judge,” then added, “and My judgment is just” (Jn.5:30). Three chapters later He said, “Even if I do judge, My judgment is true; for I am not alone in it, but I and the Father who sent me(8:16). The person, who spends hours before God in secret communion, who endeavors to hear the counsels of the trinity, will discern constantly and correctly situations and people in his generation.

A price to pay
  Those, who will not pay this price, will not be able to endure the pain of self-examination. Those who love security and a position, given by those who walk according to the flesh; those who confide in their own experience and intelligence, will err in judgment or, as happens in the majority of cases, will simply hold a neutral position, when the time comes to make a decision. They cover their co-wardice with a false piety (I don’t judge), but this is not what Jesus taught. On the contrary, He said, “I have many things to speak and to judge concerning you… and the things which I heard from Him, these I speak to the world” (Jn.8:26). If you would like to see some examples of His judgment, concerning his disciples and others around Him, study well John, chapters 5 through 8.

  A “God will take care of everything” attitude is an excuse and an escape mechanism. Many abuse, carry on in sin and continue among God’s people, many times as leaders, because Christians have been taught not to judge. False teachers and their doctrines are not exposed to light and in the end, they  are  not  rejected   (take  a  look  at Titus 1:11). Because proper precautions are not taken and the conscience is ignored, many unsafe relationships form between men and women, which often end in immorality. The world floods into the church without a challenge. This licentiousness could be detained, if enough people, awakened by God, laymen and leaders alike, would arise in protest. “I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler – not even to eat with such a one… Do you not judge those who are within the church?” (1 Co.5:11-12)
  It was Paul himself who commanded that the fornicator should be excommunicated from the church in Corinth! Afterwards he said, Do you not  know  that  the  saints  will  judge the world? If the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the trivial cases?... Is it so, that there is not among you one wise man who will be able to decide between his brethren?” (1 Co.6:2,5)

Will you pray this prayer?
  Oh, Father! We recognize so much damage caused by a spirit that has invaded our churches and many Christians are unaware of its work. Free us from the pressure to be conformed to this spirit of tolerance. We have been passive, credulous and open to deceit, and because that is so, we have dishonored and shamed You before the eyes of the world. Let us feel the nausea that moved Jesus to say, “If you do not repent, I will vomit you out of My mouth!” We ask this so that Your majestic name would be hallowed.


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