Devotional Thought for Today- 06/09/2021

Philippians 1
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Philippians 1

CONTEXT: Chapter 1 includes a brief introduction (Philippians 1:1–2) followed by three key sections. First, Paul gives thanks and prayer on behalf of the Philippian Christians (Philippians 1:3–11). Second, he focuses on the expansion of the gospel (Philippians 1:12–18). Third, he emphasizes that, for the believer, to live is Christ and to die is gain (Philippians 1:19–30). Along the way, Paul explains that how the Christian life is a reflection of what they set their mind on. He stresses the importance of rejoicing and joy and connects the faith to concepts such as glory.

Our text today would seem to be a verse that all peoples could get behind, but we would of course be wrong in our postmodern world. Think of it who would object to someone loving more, by using knowledge and discernment.

It is not until we apply the last word that folks take issue. You see they want you to love everyone (especially them), they want you to think you are smart (even if they think you are dumb and treat you as such) but apply discernment and you have crossed the line.

Discernment according to Webster’s 1828 dictionary is The act of discerning; also, the power or faculty of the mind, by which it distinguishes one thing from another, as truth from falsehood, virtue from vice; acuteness of judgment; the power of perceiving differences of things or ideas, and their relations and tendencies. The errors of youth often proceed from the want of discernment.

Everyone applies this to their daily lives. We make judgments on what to buy, what is safe, who our kids should or should not hang out with, etc. These JUDGEMENTS are part of our normal routine and no one complains, until…

… once you start using your “smarts” and applying discernment, especially in a Biblical manner, then you are a Bigot, Racist, or some newfangled term I can’t keep up with. If you speak out against Abortion, any LGBTQ issue or anything the Bible says we are to stand up for you are labeled a troublemaker and accused of being judgemental.

Or maybe we are just dedicated Christians and believers in the Constitution, no matter the label.

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Devotional Thought for Today – 04/28/2021

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Zephaniah 3

Some context is (as always) need here to grasp the full meaning of this verse. First is the book itself being a pronouncement of God’s judgment over the whole earth. Of course in typical Biblical fashion Judah, Israel, and the surrounding nations are used as examples.

Here in Chapter three v.1-7, should be pretty obvious even to the non-biblical or casual reader, Woe (judgment is coming) to her who is… this is all about rebuking the nation of Israel (and any such nation today) for her ongoing sin. In v.8, we see God has decided to gather all the nations, so He can purposely pour out His wrath, even all my fierce anger… upon them.

But that is so cruel, and not like a “loving God?” I have heard that so many times, like it, is all upon God’s to do things and man has NO RESPONSIBILITY in this at all. Folks, God gave up far more than we ever could or would. He is the sovereign creator of the universe and as such His righteous judgment reigns.

This brings us to our text for today, having revealed the judgment the nations deserve God also reveals HOPE! Here is how:

  • Everyone will speak the same – I am not going to argue here whether this is all one language or not as some declare. What is apparent from the text and original Hebrew is that everyone will be speaking in the same manner, which is with a Godly reverence in Spirit and truth.
  • Everyone will call upon the Lord in one accord – All will be worshiping the Lord without the distractions of denominations differences, political, regional, or other boundaries.
  • Everyone will serve the Lord in one accord – The Puritan Catechism and others declare the Chief end of man to be Man’s chief end are to glorify God (1 Cor. 10:31) and to enjoy Him forever (Ps. 73:25-26). In Revelation 22:3, we find that in eternity man will do much the same glorify God (Worship) and enjoy (serve) Him forever.

Zephaniah is for certain a prophetic book, but this verse can be applied to God’s people today. There is no reason we can not and should not all “Speak” the same language in Spirit and Truth. Put aside our petty denominational (I am not suggesting we fellowship with cults and obvious violators of God’s Word) differences and Call Upon the Lord, especially in prayer for the nation. Finally, we can and should all ensure Man’s chief end are to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.

Devotional Thought for Today – 04/13/2021

Comfort for the Grieving, Hurting, and Dying Series – Part X

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Over the past 9 articles, we have looked at the basics of what a Chaplain/Ministerial duties or mission is (provide compassionate care, comfort, and counsel) and the Stages of Grief. We noted the importance of understanding what stage an individual is in so that we can better minister to their needs.

Today I would like to discuss some dos and don’ts that I have gleaned over the years. As a reminder, my primary duties as Chaplain have been with inmates (and ex-mates) and veterans, of that population however quite a few have had mental health, serious physical, terminal illness, or other issues that I hope to relate to all areas of Chaplaincy.

Some of the things I find most important when dealing with individuals in the Stages of Grief, or the DO’s (I put them in alphabetical order)

  • Affirmation – reassure them that the feelings of grief are normal and support them in the process.
  • Acknowledgment– Do not try and sugarcoat the situation. I am not suggesting we be blunt, rude, or anything of that nature. I am referring to the language that Paul mentions in Ephesians 4:29, Colossians 4:6.
  • Empathize – One of the best explanations for this I studied explained it this way; Pity: I acknowledge your suffering, Sympathy: I care about your suffering, Empathy: I feel your suffering, Compassion: I want to relieve your suffering. In short, empathy is sharing feelings of Grief with the individual, while Sympathy is feeling sorry for them. No one wants you to throw a pity party for them or feel sorry for them, they need you as a professional to provide Compassionate Empathy.
  • Listen – I do not care if you have to sit there for 15-20 minutes before they say 3 words, be willing to listen. everyone has a story and 99.9% need to tell it.
  • Listen without Judgement – Folks will not talk if they think you are going to censor their speech.
  • Truth – Always be truthful, if you don’t have an answer say so, do not “wing it” folks will see right through that.

Some of the most common MISTAKES I find when dealing with individuals in the Stages of Grief, or the DON’Ts (I put them in alphabetical order)

  • AdviceMy advice to you is…, that is not our mission, they are going to get that from the Job’s of the world. Stick to the mission and use biblical counseling.
  • Assume – Never assume you know what they need, yes they need Care, Comfort, and Counsel, but I am speaking of the application of that here.
  • CichésThey are in a better place now, It was God’s will, or At least he/she is not suffering. These may all be true but are of no help especially in the initial stages of Grief.
  • Criticism – Even unintentional, saying something seemingly as harmless as, I know but you can… tells them that you think they are doing something wrong and are criticizing or judging their actions. They are suffering enough we need not pile it on.
  • Mr. or Mrs. Fix It – Never promise what you can not do. Sometimes there are individuals beyond our help that need professional counselors.
  • Pity – See Empathize above
  • Story Time – Unless directly asked keep your war stories to yourself. They only distract from the issues at hand.

I hope these are a help, when I first became a Chaplain I was basically thrown to the wolves, with no training so I made many mistakes listed above. If you have anything to add to either list please comment below.


Prayer

Heavenly Father, I pray that no unwholesome words would proceed from my mouth, but that the words of my lips and the meditation of my heart may be gracious and good. I pray that my speech would give compassionate care, comfort and counsel to those whom I meet. All the while giving honour to Your name by speaking the truth in love. This I ask in Jesus’ name, AMEN.

Modified from Source: https://prayer.knowing-jesus.com/Ephesians/4/29


Crisis Hotlines

855-FAQ-HOSPICE (327-4677) – Hospice Hotline

1-800-662-HELP (4357) Mental Health Hotline

1-800-273-8255 National Suicide Prevention Hotline

1-800-273-8255 Veterans Crisis Hotline

1-800-985-5990 Disaster Distress Hotline

Can the United States Still be Redeemed?

Can the United States still be Redeemed?

By Glenn Meldrum

I fear the United States is hastening towards judgment. Where that line of no return is I do not know, but the nation’s rapid moral and spiritual decline is hurtling us towards that terrifying line at breakneck speed. Only divine intervention can turn us from our self-destructive course. We have forsaken the God which gave us a country immersed in a strong Christian heritage; we have abandoned the ancient paths to becoming a modern barbaric culture (Jeremiah 6:16).

Just prior to my ministering at an urban church the youth pastor taught his unsaved, street-level youth group that homosexuality is a sin and those practicing it will spend an eternity in hell. One 14-year-old girl replied, “Then everyone in my school is going to hell.” This same young woman responded to an altar call I gave while preaching to that youth group. While my wife was ministering to her she asked a serious question: “How can I be a Christian when all my friends are lesbians and my mother is a drug addict?” Bob Just was right when he stated: “Today’s culture is a child molester.”

How can the Lord hold back his just wrath when we are destroying our nation, beginning with our youth? Law Professor Kelly Howard stated, “According to sworn testimony before the U.S. Senate, experts reveal that by the time a female in this country is 18 years old, 38 percent have been sexually molested. One in eight women will be raped. Fifty percent of women will be sexually harassed on their jobs during their lifetimes. In fact, sexual dysfunction is on such a rampant rise that experts are calling it a sexual holocaust.”

Crossing the Point-of-No-Return

There are cultures and nations that are simply not redeemable. This means that they have collectively crossed a line in the practice of evil where they refuse to turn from their sin and are therefore left to God’s wrath. Because a culture becomes unredeemable does not indicate that individuals within that culture cannot be saved. It just signifies that the culture has become so immersed in wickedness that the only thing left for it is destruction. This happens in part because the nature of evil is not understood to be exceedingly wicked and offensive to a holy God, so the practice of evil becomes culturally acceptable.

The fact that cultures can become unredeemable does not imply that the doctrine of limited atonement is true. The Lord gave mankind an authentic free will and desires every person to be saved. That is why He declared, “I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?” (Ezekiel 33:11; quoted in 2 Peter 3:9). Though salvation is available to everyone, only those who repent will be saved.

Cultures are made up of individuals who make the conscience moral choices that define the character of the nation or people group. Some cultures become so immersed in the evil that they harden themselves against God. Since they reject God’s salvation, He turns them over to their own self-destructive ways (Romans 1:18-32). In essence, they cross a line in their practice of sin where evil is so ingrained into the culture that the only thing left to them is divine wrath.

Tweet This: “…the nature of evil is not understood to be exceedingly wicked and offensive to a holy God, so the practice of evil becomes culturally acceptable.”

Examples of unredeemable cultures are abundant in Scripture. The Lord destroyed the world with a flood in Noah’s day. He hailed fire and brimstone down on Sodom. Israel could not conquer the promised land until the evil practices of the Amorites were at their worst (Genesis 15:13-16). King Saul was commanded by God to fully destroy the Amalekites because they had plummeted to the depths of evil in their pursuit of wickedness (1 Samuel 15).

The only safe way we can say that culture was unredeemable is by looking at Scripture. Otherwise, we are left to subjective claims that are based upon our small-minded opinions and highfalutin paradigms. Only God knows the hearts of men, therefore, He alone is able to justly judge men and their cultures.

To label people or cultures as unredeemable is also counterproductive to Christ’s command to go into all the world and preach the Gospel. We must always believe that grace is available to everyone and faithfully strive to present them with the Gospel. Ours is not to decide who is to be saved but to reach out to everyone no matter their lifestyle or sin.

The Church’s Role in America

If all this is true then what is the value of understanding that cultures can become unredeemable? So that we seek God’s face for a national awakening and prepare the way for Him to come to us. In the end, we are either going to experience revival or judgment. Yet even if we had a revival where five million people were genuinely converted, would that deliver the nation from the vile explosion of homosexuality? Would it rescue us from the evils of fornication (which includes people living together outside of marriage)? Do you think that the porn and prostitution trades would cease their practices? Would our state governments and Indian reservations abandon the decadent, yet lucrative business of gambling? Would Hollywood cease propagating the moral and spiritual filth it relentlessly vomits out of its studios?

My fear is that we are nearing the line of no return. Nevertheless, we must remember that all things are possible with God and the story of Nineveh is the perfect example of mercy being shown to an evil culture. The Lord decreed the judgment of Nineveh “because its wickedness has come up before me” (Jonah 1:2). After Jonah preached, the people repented, so the Lord granted mercy. If the Savior was “concerned about that great city” of 120,000 souls (Jonah 4:11), will He not be concerned about America’s millions?

There are two ways we can respond to our nation’s aggressive pursuit of evil. The first is to run away from our responsibility as Jonah did at first. This is what the majority of professing believers are doing today. The second is to follow Jonah’s example and repent. Here lies the only hope—that a deeply repentant church would become a catalyst for an authentic awakening that would transform secular society.

Tweet This: “…we seek God’s face for a national awakening and prepare the way for Him to come to us.”

The First Great Awakening in America began in the 1730’s. There were approximately 340,000 people in the country, with roughly 100,000 being alcoholics. At the end of the awakening, 50,000 people were saved. An equivalent awakening today would produce 50 million authentic conversions.

Jesus warned that prior to His second coming the world would be like it was in the days of Noah and Sodom (Luke 17:26-30). Those that gather to fight against God at Armageddon will suffer a fate similar to Sodom’s. Finally, mankind’s practice of evil will reach a depth unequaled in history. The Lord will destroy all of creation and then make a new heaven and earth “wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2 Peter 3:13).

People, cultures, and nations that cross the line in the practice of evil have something worse to fear than the destruction of their culture or of creation itself, and that’s the Great White Throne Judgment. Here the Lord will judge the people as individuals who made their own conscious choices. All who refused to own Jesus as Lord while on earth will suffer an eternity without Him in the Lake of Fire. Even the eternal fires of hell will not purge them of their love of evil. In the Lake of Fire, they will truly be unredeemable.


Glenn Meldrum has been a national evangelist since 1997. Prior to his calling as an evangelist he pastored for 15 years. He is ordained and holds an M.A. in theology and church history from Ashland Theological Seminary. Visit http://www.ihpministry.com for articles, sermons, books, and information on Glenn Meldrum and In His Presence Ministries.

Copyright © 2021 by Pure Life Ministries. Permission is granted to use, copy, distribute, or retransmit information or materials on this page, so long as proper acknowledgment is given to Pure Life Ministries as the source of the materials, and no modifications are made to such material.

 

What happens if we erase the past?

No Past, No Future

Presented by Douglas Murray

Can we judge the past by the standards of the present? Many seem intent on proving not only that we can, but that we must. Social critic Douglas Murray doesn’t agree, and he explains why in this thought-provoking video. 

Watch now.

Reflections on the Cancel Culture

In this 3 Part series (so far at least) Dr. Tom Nettles, uses his over 40 years experience as a historical theologian to look at the current cultural trend of the “Cancel Culture.”  He does so from a Biblical and SBC point of view, I feel pointing out the unbiblical and dangerous path this is leading the Nation and many evangelical down. – Mike


 

There is One Lawgiver: Reflections on the Cancel Culture

There is One Lawgiver: Reflections on the Cancel Culture

The suggestion has been made that we should say farewell to Jonathan Edwards in light of his having purchased a slave named Venus. A serious call also has been issued to remove memorabilia of James P. Boyce and the three men who helped found the first Southern Baptist Seminary. Those suggestions prompted a line of thought about our aptitude to dismiss the value of brothers and sisters in Christ.

It is not very easy—in fact, it is not possible—to say “farewell” to any person in the history of the world. God has created them all and each will have an eternity immediately proceeding from God’s judgment—his perfectly impartial, absolutely just judgment in which every mouth will be stopped and the whole world held guilty before God (Romans 3:19, 23). Only those who by faith have been united with Jesus Christ in his perfect righteousness culminating in his propitiatory death will be granted, by grace, eternal life. The rest will depart into eternal torment with the devil and his angels. Seeing that an eternity awaits every person in which each will be a vessel of glory either of justice and wrath or justice and grace, we cannot wish them away. Seeing that in sin there is no difference, we cannot point to others and imply by our attempt to dismiss them, “I am better than they.”…

READ MORE Part I
Part IIEdwards in the Hands of Social Justice
PART III, Removing Names: Deep Cleansing?

 

Daily Devotional – Foundations

34 Bible verses about Reward, For God's People

AMP and RVR 1960


CONTEXT:

Pretty much since I can remember I have had a hammer in my hand so relating to 1 Corinthians 3 Foundations for Living, was right up my alley as they say. 

Paul says v.10 he has skillfully laid the foundation upon which others can build. He is of course referring to the Gospel and his initial visits to the area sharing the Good News and planting churches which others have continued.

In v.11 he makes clear the ONLY foundation he laid and the ONLY one worth laying by anyone is that of Christ Jesus and Him crucified.

Then Paul makes a true builders comment in v.12 when he asks what are you building your foundations with? Are you using quality building materials or junk? 


 

BREAKDOWN: (KJV)

Every man’s work shall be made manifest: – It will become apparent to everyone, (even those you are currently fooling) what you have build you foundation (your beliefs, doctrine, theology) on. 

for the day shall declare it, – What day? Many hold this to be the “Great Day of Judgement” while others (myself included) believe it to be a day (Gill, Calvin) when just the doctrines and false teachings will be exposed. Whichever you ascribe to the message is clear you can not hide on that day.

because it shall be revealed by fire; – All your foundational work will be revealed. Your “Good News” (or lack thereof for pew only Christians) message will stand the test put forth by God. 

and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.-  Paul has spoken of doctrine and personal evangelism figuratively and continues here by using the example of trying by fire. We know that a foundation made of wood, straw or JUNK will not stand up to fire. Neither will a doctrine and personal evangelism based not on the genuine, uncompromised Word of God. The fire of the Holy Spirit will try a person’s soul and show the world the truth of their message.


 

APPLICATION:

What we say, what we share, the “Good News” of Christ should be obviously important to all. Our message (beliefs, doctrine, theology) must be based solely upon the uncompromising, unadulterated, Holy Word of God.

The message is simple, God will judge everyone not on works to get into heaven, for we know that is impossible. But he will judge us on what we do (or do not do) after our heavenly home is secure 2 Corinthians 5:10.

What is your foundation looking like today? 

 

 

The Blame Game

The Blame Game is the game that you will always lose. - Positive ...

It seems that everyone wants and needs to blame someone else for their mistakes, suffering or overall lot in life. What is worse for me is I hear it and see it regularly in those claiming to be evangelical Christians.

Mans Nature: 

It is mans fallen nature to lie and blame others for our failures. The very first thing that Adam, the father of all mankind did after eating the forbidden fruit was lie and blame Eve: The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate” Genesis 3:12. (ESV)

Then God in the next verse turns to Eve and she too lies and blames Satan: Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

Excuses: 

Many years ago for a local New England prison newsletter I wrote an article entitled “Flip Wilson Theology.” The premise being that folks like to blame others for their mistakes and “Christians” especially like to blame the Devil for everything. But “the devil made me do it” (one of Wilson’s signature catchphrases) was and is totally unbiblical. 

What is biblical? Look at Mark 7:20-23 (AMP) And He said, What comes out of a man is what makes a man unclean {and} renders [him] unhallowed. (21) For from within, [that is] out of the hearts of men, come base {and} wicked thoughts, sexual immorality, stealing, murder, adultery, (22) Coveting (a greedy desire to have more wealth), dangerous {and} destructive wickedness, deceit; unrestrained (indecent) conduct; an evil eye (envy), slander (evil speaking, malicious misrepresentation, abusiveness), pride (the sin of an uplifted heart against God and man), foolishness (folly, lack of sense, recklessness, thoughtlessness). (23) All these evil [purposes and desires] come from within, and they make the man unclean {and} render him unhallowed.

In the end we must conclude with the Apostle Paul in Romans 1:20

Romans 1:20 For since the creation of the world His invisible ...

For ever since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through His workmanship [all His creation, the wonderful things that He has made], so that they [who fail to believe and trust in Him] are without excuse and without defense. (AMP)

Porque las cosas invisibles de él, su eterno poder y deidad, se hacen claramente visibles desde la creación del mundo, siendo entendidas por medio de las cosas hechas, de modo que no tienen excusa. (RVR1960)

CONCLUSION:

The book of Jude is often overlooked by readers and theologians alike but it contains a strong Warning to the Ungodly and those who would play the blame game:

It was about these people that [h]Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, when he said, “Look, the Lord came with [i]myriads of His holy ones 15 to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the [j]ungodly of all the ungodly deeds they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh and cruel things ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.” 16 These people are [habitual] murmurers, griping and complaining, following after their own desires [controlled by passion]; they speak arrogantly, [pretending admiration and] flattering people to gain an advantage. (Jude 14-16)

It is man’s nature to play the blame game but it should not be that of true “Christians.” We should want righteous discernment that leads to the truth but must heed the warning of Christ in Matthew 7:3-5.

APPLICATION:

Instead of blaming others for your circumstances do something to change them. Even in these trying times GOD can provide. Do all you can to restore your right relationship with Him now.

Instead of blaming this one or that one for having to Shelter in Place, try doing something productive to help your community. Try volunteering at a church that is handing out food, sewing masks, shopping for an elderly neighbor. 

If you must post something on Social Media, do your due diligence to insure it is fair and accurate. It is SO EASY to click and share JUNK! Just because you agree with something emotionally does not make it true. 

Finally, to quote my wife when ever I am down about something she never lets me even think about blaming my disabilities, or others, or anything she just says “suck it up buttercup soldier on.”  You would have to know my wife to understand she means this in the most loving and compassionate way, as I do to everyone here. Sometimes we just need to pray and pull ourselves up and get at it. No excuses, no blaming others for with Christ we can accomplish all things. 

 

Called to Minister., Really?

So you think you have the call to the ministry. Are you sure? Have you really checked all the boxes on the checklist. God has some very strict expectations and standards for His servants in this capacity. Should it be anything less, after all is you are a Pastor/Elder He has given you charge (care) of His flock (local church).

Logos.com

We as believers know that we are not exempt from judgement (2 Corinthians 5:10) but how much more so will God judge those who teach the Holy Word of God? With all the false teachings being spewed from pulpits today many have nothing to look forward to but the wrath of God come judgement day.

Image result for James 3:1

Below is an article and audio file from John Piper on the subject

How Are Teachers Judged More Strictly?

Other Resources:

How Does a Man Know if He is Called to Pastoral Ministry?

Lessons Learned as I Wait to be Called as a Pastor

Only Men May be Pastors

 

Is Judgment Always Forbidden?

by Jeremiah Johnson / Wednesday, June 26, 2019

“Christ’s Sermon on the Mount makes it clear that the Lord was not prohibiting judgment, but promoting discernment.” John MacArthur could not have been more accurate in his assessment of Matthew 7:1. Again as I always implore folks to do first read things in context 7:1- 7:5 , as this article does, and you will see the difference.

Then there is v.6Don’t give what is holy to dogs or toss your pearls before pigs, or they will trample them with their feet, turn, and tear you to pieces.” Explain to me how we are to know who are the dogs and pigs of this world ( those who are in fact unworthy, unbiblical, perverters of the Word of God) without discerning (judging).

Here are a few of my favorite quotes on the matter:

    • “People tell me judge not lest ye be judged. I always tell them, twist not scripture lest ye be like Satan.” Paul Washer
    • “Whenever you do judge, the only basis of judgment is not your own perspective or anything else, it’s the very character and nature of God and that’s why we are to allow Him to exercise His justice, where I personally want to take it upon myself.”  Josh McDowell
    • “A taste of righteousness can be easily perverted into an overweening sense of self-righteousness and judgmentalism.” R. Kent Hughes
    • “If the truth offends, then let it offend. People have been living their whole lives in offense to God; let them be offended for a while.”  John MacArthur

Love, don’t judge.

In the lead-up to the Truth Matters conference in October, we will be focusing our attention on the sufficiency, authority, and clarity of Scripture. Of our previous blog series, none better embodies that emphasis than Frequently Abused Verses. The following entry from that series originally appeared on September 16, 2015. -ed. (For other articles in this series just type Frequently Abused Verses into the search bar on the right).

For many people in the church, that simple slogan has become the kneejerk defense in the face of criticism and confrontation. At some point, believers decided that careful discernment and agapē love are diametrically opposed; that judgment is always a threat to our unity in Christ. And with no regard for the quality or content of the exhortation, too many Christians speedily deploy Matthew 7:1 as an all-purpose, get-out-of-jail-free card: “Do not judge so that you will not be judged.”

Writing thirty years ago in his commentary on Matthew’s gospel, John MacArthur explained how that verse is routinely misapplied as a shield against confrontation and conflict in the church.

This passage has erroneously been used to suggest that believers should never evaluate or criticize anyone for anything. Our day hates absolutes, especially theological and moral absolutes, and such simplistic interpretation provides a convenient escape from confrontation. Members of modern society, including many professing Christians, tend to resist dogmatism and strong convictions about right and wrong. Many people prefer to speak of all-inclusive love, compromise, ecumenism, and unity. To the modern religious person those are the only “doctrines” worth defending, and they are the doctrines to which every conflicting doctrine must be sacrificed. [1]

In the intervening decades, the church’s appetite for criticism, conflict, and confrontation has only further diminished. And in that same time, the misunderstanding and misapplication of this verse and others like it (cf. Luke 6:37John 3:17) has taken root in the church, skewing its perspective on discipline and judgment, and insulating its people from rebuke and exhortation.

In fact, many in the church today behave as if confrontation and discerning judgment are forbidden. Any confrontation—whether it’s a question of personal holiness or doctrinal disagreement—is seen as prideful overstepping and an attack on the unity of God’s people. As John MacArthur explains,

In many circles, including some evangelical circles, those who hold to strong convictions and who speak up and confront society and the church are branded as violators of this command not to judge, and are seen as troublemakers or, at best, as controversial. [2]

But Matthew 7:1 has nothing to do with avoiding conflict in favor of unity, or ignoring doctrinal or moral error in the name of love. As with many of the abused verses we’ll examine in this series, a simple look at the context makes the original intent of Christ’s words abundantly clear.

The seventh chapter of Matthew’s gospel represents the end of Christ’s Sermon on the Mount—His most extensive teaching on living as a citizen of the kingdom of God. Woven throughout that sermon is an exposé of the hypocrisy of the religious leaders of His day. Jesus upends the system of works-righteousness they had inflicted on God-fearing people throughout Israel.

During Christ’s life and ministry, the Jewish faith had been reduced to a heavy-handed list of dos and don’ts. The religious elite had obliterated God’s original intent in giving His law to His people, replacing it with a burdensome system of works righteousness. And they held the entire nation to their corrupt, man-made standard.

In his commentary, John MacArthur explains how the focus of Christ’s Sermon on the Mount makes it clear that the Lord was not prohibiting judgment, but promoting discernment.

If this greatest sermon by our Lord teaches anything, it teaches that His followers are to be discerning and perceptive in what they believe and in what they do, that they must make every effort to judge between truth and falsehood, between the internal and the external, between reality and sham, between true righteousness and false righteousness—in short, between God’s way and all other ways. [3]

With that in mind, the prohibition against judgment takes on completely different nuance. Christ was condemning a very specific kind of self-righteous judgment—the kind we see on display in His parable about the Pharisee and the tax collector.

And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:9-14)

Like many professing believers today, the Pharisees put on a good show of public holiness, and loved looking down on anyone who didn’t. As John explains,

Jesus here is talking about the self-righteous, egotistical judgment and unmerciful condemnation of others practiced by the scribes and Pharisees. Their primary concern was not to help others from sin to holiness, but to condemn them to eternal judgment because of actions and attitudes that did not square with their own worldly, self-made traditions. [4]

Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:1 were a reminder to the religious elite that they were not the final judges—that they too would stand before God, and that they would not want to be held to their own rigorous, self-righteous standard (Matthew 7:2). Believers today need to heed that warning as well, and avoid the same kind of hypocritical hubris regarding our own holiness, and how it corresponds to other believers’.

We also need to consider how to biblically discern, confront, and rebuke when necessary. Fortunately for us, Christ addressed that very issue in His subsequent statements.

Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:3-5)

Confrontation and criticism are not forbidden in the church, but they must be undergirded with humility and purity. We need to humbly submit to the Lord, shining the light of His Word into the dark corners of our own hearts instead of arrogantly pointing it in someone else’s face. It’s only when we’ve dealt faithfully and biblically with our own sin that we can help a brother see his own. And as John explains, even in the midst of confrontation, we need to maintain a spirit of humility.

All confrontation of sin in others must be done out of meekness, not pride. We cannot play the role of judge—passing sentence as if we were God. We cannot play the role of superior—as if we were exempt from the same standards we demand of others. We must not play the hypocrite—blaming others while we excuse ourselves. [5]

We do a great disservice to the Body of Christ when we confront and judge one another in arrogance and self-righteousness. But, as John MacArthur writes, we also do damage to the church if we fail to exercise godly judgment and discernment when it’s warranted.

There is also danger, however, even for the truly humble and repentant believer. The first danger . . . is of concluding that we have no right to oppose wrong doctrine or wrong practices in the church, lest we fall into judgmental self-righteousness. We will then not be willing to confront a sinning brother as the Lord clearly calls us to do. The second danger is closely related to the first. If we are afraid to confront falsehood and sin in the church, we will be inclined to become undiscriminating and undiscerning. The church, and our own lives, will become more and more in danger of corruption. Realizing the impact of sin in the assembly (1 Peter 4:15), Peter made a powerful call for a confrontive, critical church when he said, “For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God” (1 Peter 4:17). Believers must be discerning and make proper judgment when it is required. [6]

Discernment does not have to lead to division. If we faithfully follow the pattern Christ gave us, we will be able to confront one another out of love and humility, not arrogance and self-righteousness. And we’ll be able to humbly accept the input of others without rushing to defensive arguments and judgmental retaliation.