“In The Way You Judge, You Will Be Judged” – Matthew 7:2
As a Christian, when you see other believers struggle with sins, do you judge them? Let’s just say for the moment these are not cheating spouses or drunks, but rather someone that uses some occasional foul language cheats on their taxes, or perhaps has an addiction to pornography. Would your judgment be that their peace with God is broken based on their behavior and struggles with sin?
Here is a scary thought against legalism. Legalist seems to harshly judge every little thing others do and then they act as though their righteousness and peace with God are determined by their behavior. No doubt there is a time when it’s necessary to lovingly address sin, such as when a brother is committing adultery, doing drugs, or stealing etc, but even then we should address it in love, and not accompany it with judgment. But legalists strictly analyze every move others make. They judge how much they give, what they watch, body piercings and tattoos, if they drink alcohol, and if they say a bad word.
Paul realized that his only judge was God and in 1 Cor 4:13 he said “But to me it is a very small thing that I may be examined by you, or by any human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself.” Why didn’t Paul examine himself? Because he knew his freedom in Christ. That freedom didn’t mean he was going to sin more, but rather that he realized it was not his behavior that made him right with God. It was Jesus. Yes, Paul still hated sin but he was certain that his identity was in Jesus Christ and not his struggles.
Let’s be clear, both legalists and Grace teachers hate sin. BUT – Legalism judges our closeness to God by day-to-day human behavior. Grace judges your relationship according to rather or not you’re in Christ (through faith). I think it is important which side we are on and the way we choose as our measuring stick to judge others by. If we judge by works then I think there is a reason for concern because I believe those people will be judged in the same way they judge. I don’t know, but there’s a fine line. We can preach Jesus all day long but the proof is in where we put our faith in terms of what makes us right with God.
Matthew 7:1-2 “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.
It should be noted Paul had a lot to say about behavior, as do all grace teachers. Behavior is important, but not as a method of getting right with God, but rather because we were not made for sin. When we read Paul’s letters we see him talking more about grace and forgiveness apart from works than anything else. In the old testament, we got a picture of what it was like when behavior and law-keeping were the only way to closeness with God. It was not a story of success. No one could do it. The method pointed us to a new and better way. In fact, it points us to the only way. Jesus.
Through faith Christ, we have been brought near to God and He made some promises that are rock solid. Those promises show us that our behavior, while important, is not in play when it comes to our relationship with God. Let’s look at those promises:
[2 Timothy 2:13] If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.
[Hebrews 13:5] I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,
If God was going to be angry with us and our relationship were to be broken what would cause it? Sin would cause it.
What did Jesus do about sin? He died for it and He paid it all.
Did it work? Of course, it did.
This is why Hebrews 8:12 can say “For I will be merciful to their iniquities, And I will remember their sins no more.”
As we have said before, there are many reasons to avoid sin, but getting closer to God or getting right with Him is not one of them. You’re going to have to fully rely on the work of Jesus for that!
So if you find a brother or sister struggling in sin by all means go to them in love and remind them who they are. A Child of God, Holy and blameless. Point them back to Christ and to their true identity. But whatever you do, don’t cast judgment on their okayness with God based on their struggle. That is to say Jesus was not full propitiation for sin which would also mean He died needlessly. Judge their righteousness with God entirely by the blood of Jesus (through faith) who paid it all and had the record of debt against us with its legal demands completely canceled out (see Col 2:14).
Author: Mike Cynar
Mike Cynar was raised in a church setting where he frequently noticed that many attendees would eventually drift away. The church labeled these individuals as ‘back sliders’ or ‘fake Christians’ just looking for ‘fire insurance’. However, Mike realized the issue was rarely with these individuals but instead with the church’s message itself. The teachings heavily emphasized behavior improvement and one’s flaws, with only a fleeting mention of one’s identity in Christ. It felt as though every sermon was tailored to the church of Corinth, who as we know or committing sins that even unbelievers don’t partake in. This trend was noticeable not just in one denomination, but across Baptist, Catholic, Pentecostal, and many other churches. Upon understanding the true essence of the gospel – that our righteousness comes from Jesus’ actions, not our own – Mike was inspired to liberate believers from lifeless sermons and reconnect them with the genuine teachings of Jesus. He believes that one can nurture a vibrant and growing bond with Jesus, unhindered by rigid religious practices. And thus, “Jesus Without Religion” was born.
It turns out that it is grace that leads to repentance. And if our heart is to get others to walk in the Spirit and live a godly life, then the best approach is not a beat down sermon, but rather to remind other that it is only when we understand our true identity in Christ that we will live it out. Yes, it’s true, if you’re convinced that God thinks you’re a dirty sinner, you will ultimately continue a lifestyle that mirrors that view, but if you truly believe that even on your worst day, you are called holy, sanctified, justified, and will be presented blameless in the end, well, it turns out this is the secret to living out on the outside what has been worked in to the inside.