In the choir of life, it’s easy to fake the words—but someday each of us will have to sing solo before God  – Michael P. Green, Ed., , Revised edition of: The expositor’s illustration file., (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1989).
JUDGEMENT is mostly seen in a negative light. Our connotation of the word brings other words to our minds such as: finality, rejection, copying, removal, punishment and hell.
We all know we should not judge… yet we all do, even without realizing it.
A gossip story is a form of judgment because I have already formed a truth/judgment about someone without the person ever having the opportunity to defend themselves.
The word grace appears 166 times in the Bible, the word judgment occurs almost twice as many times – 293 times. The Greek word for judgment is “crisis” and that’s where we get our word crisis from. Surely judgment feels like a crisis and it is not pleasant for anyone. Yet, sound judgment can save one’s life from ruin, or from making more mistakes, or settle for mediocre standards. The word judgement means to withdraw to a trial, to make a decision. It implies a process of justice for all.
Would the world be able to survive without a legislature and law enforcers? The desire to do right implies sound judgment, otherwise there is no standard.
So I have to learn to judge for myself and start with myself as a singer who learns to receive correction from a trained ear to know when he or she sings off-tune. Furthermore, sound judgment is like coaching. No coach can coach an athlete without a stopwatch and certain targets and standards that must be met.
How on earth then did we come to believe the idea that the church may not judge? When the church judges, then the church is persecuted and condemned? Healthy judgment is one of the main functions of the church!
Jesus is Sound Judgment
Many people get stuck with this verse: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:16-18).
The assumption is then immediately made that Jesus does not come to judge! This is of course 100% true. Because no matter what sin or wrong thing you have done, Jesus forgives you and wants to wash and save you from your wrongdoing, and changes you to no longer be a prisoner of your sin. But does this very verse also proclaim judgment? Yes if you do not accept Jesus! You die!! God’s judgment of death is only taken away from those who are IN CHRIST!
“For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel. For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will. For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.” (John 5:20-24).
Jesus did judge things!
Jesus warns the Pharisees against impending judgment on their falsehood (Matt. 23:14).
Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven (Mark 3:29).
In the day of judgment it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon than for those who did not receive Him (Luke 10:14).
Jesus’ condemnation of the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and scribes is well thought out and open. I can only imagine how people moved around uncomfortably in their seats when Jesus brought this sermon. Jesus seriously warned the villages where most of His miracles took place because they did not repent: “Woe to you, Gorasin! Misery awaits you, Bethsaida! For if in the pagan cities Tire and Sidon the miracles which were done in you had taken place, they would have long ago put on sackcloth and ashes on their heads to show that they had repented. I assure you that it will be easier for Tyre and Sidon on the Day of Judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, surely you do not think you will be exalted to heaven? The reality is that you will end up in the realm of the dead. For if the miracles that had taken place in you had taken place in Sodom, it would have continued to this day. I assure you, it will be easier for the land of Sodom on the Day of Judgment than for you. ” (Matt. 11: 20-24; Luke 10: 12-15).
“Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that calleth sweet, and sweet bitter. Misery awaits those who think they have the wisdom in pag, who think they have much sense.
Misery awaits those who are heroes at wine-drinking, brave in mixing their liquor, who acquits the guilty of bribery, but deprives an innocent of his right.
Therefore, as stubble is consumed by fire and hay goes up in flames, so will it be with them. They shall be cut off from the root and the branch, because they have not heeded the revelation of the Lord Almighty, they have rejected the word of the Holy One of Israel. ” (Isa. 5: 20-24).
“Because contempt for the law of God will increase, love will cool many.” (Matt. 24:12).
“Woe to the scribes and Pharisees!” (Matt. 23: 14-29).
“Misery awaits your lawyers.” (Luke 11: 46-54).
“Misery awaits you, which you are now eating full.” (Luke 6:25).
“Misery awaits you who are laughing now.” (Luke 6:26).
The Judgment Seat of Christ
The New Testament uses the word “bēma” 12 times (eg: Matt. 27:19; John 19:13; Acts 16-17; 25: 6, 10, 17). The word means an elevated place that you reach by stairs. In the Roman world, the bēma referred to the official seat of a judge. For the Greeks of that time, the ‘bēma chair’ referred to a podium on which judges sat when determining at Greek sporting events which participants should be rewarded and which should not.
Two New Testament texts specifically link the bēma chair (judgment seat) to a judgment that Christ will execute: “For we shall all be set before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. In this way each one of us will be accountable to God.” (Rom. 14: 10b-12);
And “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what he has done through the body, according to what he has done, whether good or evil.” (2 Cor. 5:10).
The judgment seat of Christ is where believers will be rewarded, specifically according to our works: We are not saved by works, but rewarded according to our works.
This judgment is not to determine whether the believer is saved or not (the believer is already saved and there is now no condemnation – see again Rom. 8: 1), but whether the works of the believer can be rewarded or written off worthless.
“According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon; but let every man take heed how he buildeth upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which has been laid, that is, Jesus Christ. And if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble, every one’s work shall come to light: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire will test everyone’s work, whatever it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. if anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer harm; though he himself will be saved, but as through fire. ” (1 Cor. 3: 10-15).
Every believer’s work will be tested to see if it can withstand the test of fire. Wood, hay and stubble will not be able to withstand the fire because it will be completely burned away. Gold, silver and precious stones will withstand the fire – and any impurities in them will be burned away.
Those who build with wisdom on the foundation will be rewarded; those who do not do so will suffer loss. The latter believers who suffer loss will not lose their salvation, but they will lose their reward (1 Cor. 3: 15b).
Paul indicates that the believer can build his or her spiritual life only on Jesus Christ – not on your own flesh, but on the only true foundation, Jesus Christ.
Specific Deeds That God Appreciates and Will Reward:
- To endure temptations (James 1:12; Romans 5: 3-4; Rev. 2:10).
- To diligently seek God (Heb. 11: 6).
- Perseverance: Believers are conquerors, but those who persevere to the end will receive a reward (Rev. 2: 26-27).
- Faithfulness in the ministry (1 Pet. 5: 1-4).
- To love Christ’s appearance (2 Tim. 4: 8; cf. Titus 2:13).
- To lead other people to Christ (1 Thess. 2:19).
- Faithfulness to Christ (1 Cor. 4: 1-5).
- Purposefulness in the Christian way of life (1 Cor. 9: 24-27; Heb. 6: 11-12; 2 Pet. 1: 10-11).
- Good stewardship (Luke 19: 11-27).
- To endure insults and persecution for Christ’s sake (Matt. 5: 11-12; 2 Tim. 2: 12-13; Heb. 10:36).
- To abide in Christ (1 John 2:28).
- Goodwill toward poor people (Mark 10:21; Luke 12: 32-33).
- Wholehearted service to Christ (John 12:26).
- Love-work for His Name and for fellow believers (Heb. 6:10).
Five Crowns That Believers Receive
1. The incorruptible crown — it is for believers who not only brought their old sinful nature under control, but also lived a life of great devotion to Christ (1 Cor. 9:25; cf. 2 Tim. 2: 3). -5; Heb. 12: 1-2).
2. The crown of glory and / or joy — for believers who introduced people to Jesus Christ, who testified of Him, or prayed for non-believers so that they might repent and be saved (1 Thess. 2:19; cf. Prov. 11:30; Dan. 12: 3).
3. The crown of righteousness — it is for believers eagerly and lovingly looking forward to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Tim. 4: 7-8). These believers live as strangers on earth because of their heavenly citizenship (Phil. 3:20); they live holy and godly lives in accordance with, for example, Col. 3: 1-4.
4. The crown of glory — for pastor-preachers who served the flock as faithful sub-shepherds under the Shepherd (1 Pet. 5: 2-4; cf. Acts 20: 25-28).
5. The crown of life – it is for believers who have successfully endured temptations and who even died as martyrs for Jesus Christ (James 1:12; Rev. 2:10; cf. Matt. 5: 10-12). .
God’s Standard Is: What Does Your End Look Like?
See (Matt. 13: 24-30; 36-43)
“But God acts with wisdom, and his works prove it.” (Matt. 11:19; Luke 7:35).
“Yes, the test of wisdom is the results it produces. But one can see that God’s wisdom is right when you look at the results! (The Living Bible).
“The proof of the pudding is in the eating.” (Message).
Two 1km lines run side by side but one line is 1% off target. It cannot be seen with the naked eye now, but over time one does see whether it was on target or not.
“A Pharisee by the name of Gamaliel, an honorable scribe of Moses and highly respected by all the people: what they do is human work, nothing will come of it. But if it comes from God, you will not be able to stop them. Do not let it appear later that you have even fought against God! ” (Acts 5:38).
Some people do not even know that they are wandering – and there will be false teachers and apostles. The longevity and natural sustainability will eventually stand the test of time.
We Are All Going To Give Account
Christians are like a field that has been burnt down in a pre-fire. When the big fire comes, they are safe. Repentance is acknowledging, confessing, and receiving His righteousness, God’s judgment on you, that you are a sinner!
This I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. You will be acquitted or convicted on the basis of your own words.” (Matt. 12:36).
“There is also nothing in creation that is invisible to God; everything lies open and bare before his eyes. And to Him we must give an account.” (Heb. 4:13).
“They will have to give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.” (1 Pet. 4: 5).
“Then the King will say to those on his left, ‘Get away from me, you cursed! Go to the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels, for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not house Me; without clothes, and you did not give Me clothes; sick and in prison, and you did not take care of me.” (Matt. 25: 41-43).
God Seeks Divine Fruit:
Read the following Passages:
Matt. 25: 1-13 – the five foolish virgins
Matt. 25: 14-30 – the talents
Matt. 25: 31-46 – the separation between the sheep and the goats.
These three passages must be dealt with and understood together, for the one explains the other and joins the other. All three passages end in judgment (Matt. 25: 11-13; Matt. 25:30; Matt. 25:46). Some coat hanger preachers have made several inferences about what the oil in the lamps refers to like: prayer, holiness, speaking in tongues, being filled with the Spirit. Yet scripture does not provide any clear information. One needs to study the context of all three stories to understand what Jesus was referring to.
The passage focuses on the term fool. To think that your lamp will burn without oil! That’s crazy! Someone really did not think! Some people think that they are Christians by being a member of a church. This is foolish, the fruit of one’s life determines whether one is a Christian, devoted follower of Christ. Some people think that their good deeds will save them, again this is foolish! Salvation belongs to those who have received His power and grace to live right and holy before God, we as humans simply cannot maintain a holy life by our selfs
The next section on the talents sheds more light on what readiness does mean. The focus in this story is simply to multiply what you have received. A healthy tree bears fruit! Sitting in church many hear the same message, but only a few mix that word with faith and go and apply it.
In the last section about the sheep and goats, the Lord speaks directly and removes any mysteries. The fruit He seeks is a righteous life: visit people in prison, give clothes and food to those who do not have. Think of the parable of the Good Samaritan. This may sound like good works, but doing these deeds are not easy, and even harder to sustain for a lifetime. Those who have received His righteousness bares these fruit with ease, it becomes their life!
John Bevere: “We often compare faithfulness with steadfastness, consistency, trustworthiness, loyalty, dedication and honesty. Jesus compares faithfulness to something else – multiplication. Whatever God gives us, He expects us to multiply and bring back to Him.”
“I am the true vine and my Father is the farmer. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He cuts off; but whosoever beareth fruit, he prunes it, that it may yield more fruit.” (John 15: 1-10) “….because I was afraid.” (v. 25).
Look at what severe judgement this slave received!! He is called a evil lazy slave.
“You are a bad and a lazy slave!” (Matt. 25:26);
“And cast the useless slave into the deepest darkness.” (Matt. 25:30).
We cannot get past this essential reality. We will not only be judged by our words, but especially by our deeds. It’s like a singing competition or a baking competition! We do our best, but there is always a grand finale where our fruit, song, pastries, works will be judged before all. Isn’t it the best idea to take part in competitions right now so that I can learn and grow, and thus improve? Most people are too scared to even try in fear of rejection, the shame of making mistakes.
But it is precisely in this that Christ came to set us free. We were adopted by Christ Jesus, and made children of the Father. He was rejected so we should not be rejected! This is the salvation for which Christ paid for us with His life.
“In this, love has fully achieved its purpose with us: we have nothing to fear from the Day of Judgment, because in this world we already live through love just like Jesus. Where there is love, there is no fear, but perfect love dispels fear, for fear expects punishment, and whoever fears has no perfect love. We love because God first loved us.” (1 John 4: 17-19).
True Legitimate Children of God Welcome Correction
Even though He made us His children, does that mean we skip discipline and coaching? No, as His children we welcome more coaching and discipline.
“And you have completely forgotten the admonition that speaks to you as sons: My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, and do not faint when you are rebuked by Him; for the Lord chasteneth him whom he loveth, and chasteneth every son whom he receiveth. When you endure chastening, God treats you as sons; for what son is there whom the father does not chasten? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, not sons.” (Heb. 12: 5-11).
Does the Church have a Spiritual Mandate and Responsibility to Judge?
It is alarming to note, that those who accuse the church for making a judgement, are also making a judgement. Those who fight for not judging judge those who judge.
The biggest reason why the church has lost its voice as a moral compass for the world is that we do not have unanimity on discipline and judgment.
Parents also lose their authority over their children in the same way when one is soft and the other hard, and later they fight with each other over the discipline process. It confuses the child. Yet Scripture is clear on the matter: We must first dispel our own reservations and opinions. Sometimes our negative perspective on discipline is our own subjective hurt experiences about which we have not yet received healing.
Ultimately, our earthly judgment is only a judgment, not a true judgment. Ultimately, God is the only One who will judge us all. But I choose not to disregard God’s judgments in my life.
David sings God’s judgments and declares how much HE loves God’s judgments! (Ps. 119: 4, 15, 27, 40, 45, 56, 63, 69, 104, 128, 134, 173). It is better to be judged now while we all still have a chance to make amends, than eternal judgment and eternal punishment.
No punishment is without a degree of judgment. Therefore, the person feels condemned. Judgment and punishment are inextricably linked. ŉ A parent who warns his child all the time but never gets around to punishing his child loses authority in that child’s life.
The church’s punishment and judgment is that of a human and temporary. For example: The handing out of punishment (1 Cor. 5: 1-13) and the process of restoration if the person repents (2 Cor. 2: 3-11). When God finally punishes, there is no way out. Then there is no more chance for repentance. Human punishment is always with the hope of restoration and repentance! When the entire Christian church can come in step with God’s processes in our lives, we can cooperate in healing and restoration.
Think quickly of the following scenario: Your best friend comes to tell you the secret and takes you into his confidence that he is on his way to commit murder. How would you handle this? Are you going to appease him and be merciful to him? Are you going to hide his sin? Or are you going to be willing to lose a friend to save a life? How do you support a suspected killer without becoming an accomplice? Sometimes to save a friend from the death penalty you must take drastic decisions to intervene and stop them from committing the sin.
The issue is not whether we should judge, but how we should judge. There are only two types of judgment: right judgment and wrong judgment. Judging someone without having all the facts, or being involved in the case and having first-hand evidence, is like judging yourself on a case, but the case never happened. Right judgment is when we confront a case and person directly and come to a decision after a process of dialogue, discerning the facts, and bringing clarity concerning right living.
To judge, condemn and punish someone from a spectator role.
You must be involved and have a license / authority / appointment / mandate to judge. Has the case been given to you? Everyone has an opinion on a matter, but biblical judgment always seeks one outcome: Salvation! Even when Paul judged the sin of a member of the congregation in Corinth, he had this in mind: “. . . to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, SO THAT THE SPIRIT CAN BE SAVED IN THE DAY OF THE LORD JESUS. ” (1 Cor. 5: 5).
Just as a father punishes his child and beats him to save him from evil, so judgment is used as a last resort to bring someone to his / her senses. It is not at all pleasant for the parent to punish a child, on the contrary, it is sometimes traumatic. But precisely because we love our children and want to prevent them from coming to an end in foolishness and rebellion, we punish our children (Heb. 12: 5-11).
It is, after all, a common professional practice not to discuss matters and raise opinions about a case until I have been appointed and have all the facts before me.
You judge without having walked the biblical path with anyone.
“And if your brother sins against you, rebuke him between you and him alone. If he listens to you, then you have won your brother; but if he will not listen, take one or two more with you, so that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he will not listen to them, he will speak to the church; and if he will not listen to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a publican. ” (Matt. 18: 15-17).
Quick judgment is never good.
Give it time and walk the path of discipline. The exception is when one is really led by the Holy Spirit, as when Paul rebuked the spirit of divination in a woman (Acts 16:18). But this led to her liberation. You do not plan it, and the case you are judging has nothing to do with you as a person. It is the Holy Spirit who works through you to bring order to the church (1 Tim. 5:20; 4: 2; Titus 1:13; 2:15).
Always confront directly
When you rebuke someone it is also correct because it is direct confrontation. Jesus’ style of ministry was direct, never with detours and nice talks. I believe that if we confront self-destructive behaviours straightforwardly and speak out straight to each other, there will be much more peace in the house of the Lord.
“Take care of yourselves. And if thy brother sin against thee, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. ” (Luke 17: 3). We are sometimes so afraid of conflict and of approaching someone that we do not realize that our silence ultimately causes much more harm.
Your judgment is not true and fair.
Read Matt. 23: 1-31. Jesus speaks out against the Pharisees and scribes. He makes very harsh and harsh statements:
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, blind leaders, fools, whitewashed tombs, snakes, serpents!”
The fact is: This is the truth. Jesus does not add or exaggerate. He says it exactly as it is. He also does not judge in response to bitterness or because they did not receive Him. He never took their wrong personally.
Any child will receive their punishment when they know they were wrong. However, when they are punished unjustly or innocently, it makes them rebellious. That’s why it’s so important not to make a judgment too quickly. First, get all the relevant information before you judge and confront. When confronting someone, only work with first-hand information and what the Holy Spirit reveals to you.
Failure to apply correct judgment has consequences:
Should we as a church not judge and deal with sin in our midst, the whole congregation will eventually be polluted with sin. “Your fame is not beautiful. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? ” (1 Cor. 5: 6).
Since church leaders avoided exercising their obligation of sound judgment, the overall standard of holiness in the church has dropped dramatically. As a result, the salt became useless and the moral standard in the world dropped even further. Of course, it is also logical that in order to be heard in the world, we ourselves must first meet God’s standards. “We are also ready to deal with every disobedience as soon as your own obedience is complete.” (2 Cor. 10: 6). We can only teach and coach another about obedience if our obedience is up to standard.
The last resort no one wants to do:
Avoiding someone you once loved and breaking the relationship due to sin is no easy task. This handling of wrong things runs counter to the popular opinion and spirit of the world.
Yet disciplinary action is commonplace in the workplace. What makes us think that discipline does not apply in the church as well? When church leaders have made them guilty of sexual offenses, do we not want action taken against these individuals? The sentence does not have to end in imprisonment, but the wrongdoing must be addressed and dealt with.
The Bible is very clear that we should remove people who are guilty of the following transgressions from our community, treat them as Gentiles, and not hang out or eat with them:
1 Cor. 5: 11-13 – “… fornicators, covetousness or robbers or idolaters …”
Rom. 16:17 – “. . . causing discord and offense against the doctrine you have learned. . . ”
Titus 3: 10-11 – “A man who breeds a party”
2 Thess. 3: 6 – “… who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition he received from us.”
2 Thes. 3: 14-15 – “Someone has not obeyed our word in this letter.”
1 Tim. 6: 3-5 – “If anyone teaches anything else and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and with the teaching that is according to godliness”
Titus 1: 10-11 – “… those who are disciplined, who talk nonsense and are deceivers.”
As with any form of punishment, there are very few people who immediately acknowledge their sin and are willing to face it straight and honest and seek a path of restoration. To admit a mistake is not easy, but it is the only way. How many marriages have failed and the relevant parties still have no idea what went wrong. Consequently, we walk with our faults and shortcomings from one relationship to another. There is no growth because we justify our wrongdoings, we shift the blame and we are not honest with ourselves.
Who are we to judge?
When the church disciplines someone, there are many cries that say: Who are you to judge? Do you not also have sin? Are not all sins the same?
There is a huge difference between people who walk away from sin through faith and His grace, and those who deliberately and resolutely surrender to sin.
Even though we have committed the greatest possible sin, we can come to the throne of grace with our sin and receive forgiveness (see Heb. 4: 14-16).
If we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive us (1 Pet. 1: 9).
For the woman who was caught red-handed in her sin, there was mercy. Jesus’ words, “go and sin no more”, were her way out to a new life. However, if she did not obey and turn back to sin, she would not escape judgment.
When we as a church judge sin, we are not saying we are without sin. On the contrary, the light of God shines in judgment on everyone’s hearts and we all bow our hearts to the Lord to examine us. We do not act out of pride and judgment. We humble ourselves before the Lord and allow Him to be us. In fact, we are all under the Lord’s judgment. The church is only the voice of the Lord.
Is it not the church’s responsibility to tell people about God’s grace AND judgment? Won’t we tell the truth if we just preach one side and keep silent on the other?
Benefits Of Discipline And Correction
Judgment largely restores the fear of the Lord in a home. Just like with any family – when Dad punishes a certain child, it brings order to the whole house. Everyone is more aware of doing right and living right (see Gal. 6: 1).
Paul tells us that he suffered certain things for the sake of the body (see Col. 1:24). Sometimes one’s correction is an opportunity for those who are still struggling to repent. Therefore, certain sins, such as David’s adultery, must be opened up so that we can still learn from his mistakes today.
When one receives correction, it speeds up the processes of God in your life. We cannot change ourselves. One of God’s agents of change is a correction (see Heb. 12: 8). By refusing and continuing to justify yourself, the change needed in you cannot take place (Heb. 12: 8). Your taste remains the same (see Jer. 48:11). God has our healing and restoration in mind so that we will eventually be perfect in Christ and He is perfect in us (see Col. 1:27). Never before have we been more in prayer and more before the Lord’s light and eyes on our lives. Everyone’s hearts are exposed to the punishment of sin. May the Lord have mercy on us all and grant that we will receive divine repentance and turn away from that which is bad and wrong. Ultimately, we can judge a person, but it is God who gives the gift of true repentance (see 2 Cor. 7: 7-10).