Ephesians 6:13-14

Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, TO STAND. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about WITH TRUTH, and having on the breastplate of righteousness.

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

When Judging Leads to Phariseeism

Many have a big problem with JUDGING others. Some claim it’s always wrong and you should never judge anyone. (They usually say, “Judge not lest ye be judged!) Others tell us we should always judge others before we even know them. In other words we should “Pre-judge” them, or practice “prejudice.” (This often times leads to racism). And then others tell us we should only judge men according to their goodness, character, and/or works they’ve done.

But what saith the scriptures? Is it right to JUDGE? And should men judge others? The apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth in the following manner in 1 Cor. 5:11-13… “But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. For what have I to do to judge them also that are WITHOUT? do not ye judge them that are WITHIN? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.” Here is a direct Biblical command to Christians to JUDGE others, and not just those that are WITHOUT (outside the church) but also those which are WITHIN (other Christians).

The same Jesus who said, “Judge not, that ye be not judged,” in Matthew 7:1 is the same Jesus who in Luke 12:57, said, “Yea, and why even of yourselves judge ye not what is right?

Clearly men are supposed to judge. Judging is not a sin. But to judge without discernment is. This is why the Lord Jesus Christ commands us John 7:24 to: “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.

It’s not wrong to judge. Nor is it wrong to judge others. But it is wrong to judge poorly, and to judge mistakenly. This is why it’s important to judge others according to THE WORD OF GOD, and not according to man’s own OPINION.

Modern Christians today do not heed God’s word. They judge others based on what they DO or DON’T DO, not based on who they ARE. They have become modern Pharisees, with a prideful attitude of, “I’m better than you because I do more than you do!

But is God more interested in what a man DOES, or what a man truly IS? I must remind the reader that even the Pharisees tithed, gave alms, dressed right, spoke right, and appeared pious and spiritual in the eyes of men. But in the eyes of God, they were HYPOCRITES, and VIPERS, full of extortion, excess, uncleanness and iniquity (Mt. 23:25-28).

Thus, it’s not all about what a man DOES, but rather what a man IS. For if a man is truly born again, and loves the Lord, wouldn’t he DO what he’s supposed to for the Lord? And isn’t it possible for a person to DO something for God that’s not even saved, like the Phariees did? (See also those in Matthew 7:21-23).

With this in mind, I believe modern Fundamentalist Christians judge themselves and pride themselves in five different areas of DOING something. By DOING these things, they judge the spirituality of others as well, and make themselves something they are not, by exalting themselves with the attitude of, “I’m better than you are because I do these things and you don’t!

Sadly, the things they DO are often done with the wrong motive and the wrong heart. Yet they expect, as did the Pharisees, that God reward them for their labour.

Let us look at the five things modern Fundamentalists and evangelicals judge themselves on: 1. SOUL WINNING Almost all modern Fundamentalists proclaim the most important thing a Christian can do is win a soul to Jesus Christ. Not only do they pressure those in their churches to do this, but they also criticize and make others feel bad for not doing so. Eventually, a “Nicolaity System” (something God hates) is set up which divides into two classes the Christian masses. Those who win souls, and those who don’t. If you are not one of those who don’t or maybe haven’t for a long time, then you are often ridiculed, debased, and preached against. For you are not as “spiritual” as they are.

But never do the modern Funda-pharisees stop to think why others don’t win souls. It might not be “rebellion” against God at all, but rather for other reasons. It could be they don’t know how, or they have a small circle of influence, or they are not out-going people. Others might be bashful, unmotivated, sick. Or someone might just have witnessed to everyone they know so many times, they don’t want to hear it anymore.

Does God count two separate classes of Christians? Are they: 1. Those who are better than others because they win souls and 2. Those who are terrible Christians because they don’t win any? Most certainly not!

Years ago, a famous preacher mounted the pulpit and asked one simple question before his sermon, “What’s more important: Winning Souls or Pleasing God?” A debate quickly ensued in the congregation with one group yelling, “Winning Souls!” While the other screamed, “Pleasing God!” The preacher allowed the debate to heat up, before finally raising his hand and calling for silence and then asking one final question before beginning his sermon, “If you are pleasing God, then wouldn’t you eventually win a soul!

Just because people go “soul winning” doesn’t make them spiritual. Even the Pharisees went after souls to win them to their cause. But Jesus warned us of those ungodly religious people with the words, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.” (Matt. 23:15) It’s not the mere FACT that a person goes out to win souls that makes him spiritual. For the “soul winner” could be preaching another Gospel, or even deceiving people with a false hope (sadly this happens often in Fundamentalism and evangelical circles). No, what makes a person spiritual is whether or not they are actively LIVING the GOSPEL, and practicing what they preach (something the Pharisees did not do).

Further, winning a person to Jesus is not a set time in the week you set aside for God, in which you go out for an hour or two and try to win a soul to Christ. Rather, it is you living for Jesus ALL WEEK LONG, and trying to find opportunities continually to plant a Gospel seed, and tell someone how to be saved!

The apostle Paul did not go soul winning once or twice a week, and then brag to his churches because he did so. Nay, instead, he traveled the world over and preached to every soul that came across his path!

Just because someone brags about being a soul winner, doesn’t mean anything. Nor does it make them any better than any other Christian or some kind of “spiritual giant.” If anything, it shows they are prideful, as they brag on doing something once or twice a week, that instead they should be doing EVERY DAY OF THEIR LIVES! STREET PREACHING Modern Fundamentalists are becoming more aggressive in their means to carry the Gospel to the lost and dying world. Using verses like Acts 20:20, (proclaiming a 20/20 vision), they judge themselves and others based upon whether or not they actively engage in preaching on the street. But is a man super-spiritual just because he stands on a street corner and screams at the lost and dying world?

Before going further, let me state I am not against Street preaching. I enjoy boldly proclaiming the Gospel and the word of God to anyone who will listen in any way I can. However, I am very much against any Christian who tries to proclaim himself a better Christian than I am because he preaches on the street and I don’t (although I do from time to time).

Just preaching on the street doesn’t make one Christian better than another. What might be one man’s calling is not always that of another. And, if a person’s love and devotion for Jesus Christ is judged by how much he street preaches, then where does that leave women, who are not allowed by modern fundamentalists to preach on the street? Are we to believe men are more spiritual than women? Nay, there is many a Christian mother who may never have won a soul in her life, and never shared the Gospel with others, but she has a huge reward in heaven for she had an earnest and fervent prayer life. Many a Christian woman has raised her children by reading them the Bible every morning and every night, stressing their need to please Jesus. This prayer and constant devotion to their children has led to many a son or daughter finding Jesus Christ as their Saviour at a later age.

Modern Street preaching isn’t always the same as that of old, nor is it’s content. Instead of preaching the Gospel and the words of God, many Street preachers have gone to “meddling” and often times make people MAD instead of giving them the GLAD Tidings of eternal life. This leads to some people being “turned off” by what they look at as “hate speech.” Many street preachers can further aggravate the situation by focusing negatively on the condemnation of man instead of joyfully proclaiming the love of God and salvation by faith in the blood atonement of Jesus Christ.

Oftentimes, street preachers lose contact with the very world they try to reach, proclaiming themselves “heroes of the faith” and “God’s S.W.A.T Team” instead of viewing themselves as the Biblical sinners they are that are just “servants” and “ministers” of Christ, sent to preach the Gospel to a lost and dying world. The simple fact is that street preaching should be about JESUS and not about the PREACHER.

Sadly, many are focusing on politics, and their “right to preach,” rather than on simply pointing sinners to Jesus Christ alone, and faith in His shed blood. Like the modern Pharisees of old, they preach to be seen of men, rather than to be discreetly rewarded by God in the last day. SELF-SACRIFICE Many a Christian Pharisee Fundamentalist prides himself on how much he’s given to God. Because he’s given more than others, he makes himself more important to God, the Church, and to the cause of Christ. Although he won’t state it publicly, his heart proclaims, “Look how important I am, and how they couldn’t make it without me and what I’ve done!

But God doesn’t need anyone. He wants men to help him, but he wants them to do so out of love, not out of boasting.

Just because one Christian does more than another doesn’t mean he’s more spiritual than another, or that he’s worth more. Even the apostle Paul makes this clear in 2 Cor 10:12: “For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.”

It’s never wise to exalt one’s self or his deeds for Jesus, for in Mat 23:12, we read: “And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.

The attitude of “I’m more important to the body of Christ, because I do more for Jesus,” is a atrocious viewpoint with horrendous results. Many a church has been destroyed in a church split, by people who feel “under appreciated” and desire to be praised for their service. As Jesus said of the Pharisees in his day, they “…love the praise of men more than the praise of God.” (John 12:43) Christians should not judge among themselves and think themselves more highly than others. Instead, they should heed the words of the apostle Paul in Phil 2:3, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” SACRIFICIAL GIVING Many a Christian today has substituted “giving” for “going” when it comes to the dispersing of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Rather than preach the Gospel wherever they go and in whatever they do, they would rather give money and let someone else do it for them. This oftentimes leads to them feeling good about themselves because they gave financially to the work of God.

It’s never wrong to help the preaching of the Gospel financially. But when someone does so just because they don’t want to do so themselves, then we have a problem. God wants all Christians to preach the Gospel to others daily.

But there are those Christians who give so much to the cause of Christ, they become legendary in their own right. Usually it’s doctors, lawyers, bankers, etc., who make large donations to the church. And usually, they don’t do it anonymously. They desire to have their name put on the fellowship hall, or on one of the pews, or in the hymnbooks to forever commemorate their financial gift. This leads to them being well-known as “givers” and often times elevates them to the status of “better Christian” in the eyes of poorer Christians.

But Jesus knows who the real sacrificial givers are, and usually they are not well-known, for they give out of love, and not to be seen of men. Maybe this is why Jesus said, “Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.” (Matt. 6:1-4) Be careful of those who claim to be Christians, but give large amounts of money to the church. Especially, when they are rewarded for it of men. For Jesus spoke of a woman who gave much more than any of those: “And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury. And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites. And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all: For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had.” (Matt. 6:1-4) STARVATION (i.e. Fasting) In modern Christianity a class system has been set up dividing Christians into two or more classes: 1. Those who are regular Christians, and 2. Those who are extraordinary Christians who do more for Jesus than others by doing outrageous and sacrificial things.

Fasting is one of those many sacrifices that modern Christians use to exalt themselves in the eyes of others. To FAST, especially in our day and age of fast food, and gospel blimps, in looked upon as the “last resort” in many Christian circles. And those who do it are viewed as “extremists” who are hazarding their lives for the cause of Christ. When someone fasts, other Christians, especially young ones, look at it as almost the ultimate sacrifice for Jesus, giving up one’s own sustenance in the name of Christ.

But fasting is not always for spiritual reasons. Sometimes it’s for health reasons. Other times it’s just to lose weight. Just because someone fasts, doesn’t necessarily make them more spiritual. Even the Pharisees fasted, but according to Jesus, they did not do so for Him, rather to be seen of men: “Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.” (Matt. 6:16-18) IN CONCLUSION Just because someone claims to be a soul winner, a street preacher, full of self-sacrifice and sacrificial giving for Jesus while they fast often, doesn’t mean they are super-spiritual. In fact, their lack of humility and constant BRAGGING ABOUT IT, often shows their motive is to be seen of men, and not to be secretly rewarded by God. They are modern-day Pharisees striving to get what they can out of their service for God, whether that be money, praise, recognition, or fame.

Usually those Christians who pride themselves upon what they DO and strive to make themselves LOOK BETTER than other Christians, do so because they are SELF-RIGHTEOUS, not because they truly love the Lord Jesus Christ. For if they did love Him, they would do all those things anyway, exalting Jesus rather than themselves.

Their system of judging others based upon what they themselves DO, shows they are nothing more than the Pharisees of old. They further pride themselves upon their works and constrain others to be more like THEM! But shouldn’t Christianity brag on JESUS, and stress one’s need to be more like HIM in all he says and does?

Phariseeism, leads to MEN WORSHIP, while being a true disciple of Jesus Christ leads to JESUS WORSHIP!

Do you judge yourself in light of others, or do you judge yourself in light of Jesus Christ and what he’s done for you at Calvary? Are you a PHARI-SEE or can you rather SEE the importance of exalting Jesus Christ instead of exalting man?

So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way. (Rom 14:12-13)

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