Jesus said in John 12:47 “And if any one hears My Words and does not believe, I do not judge him, for I do not come to judge the world, but to save the world.” This is a verse which all born-again Christians not only need to know by heart, but also need to have before us, each and every day. We need to remind ourselves of who Jesus was and is, and how He conducted His life as He walked among us, or we tend to lapse into forgetfulness. Yes, Jesus came to save us, not to judge us. As he explained for us in John 5:30 “I can do nothing of My own self. As I hear, I judge, and My judgement is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of the Father who has sent Me.” Whatever Jesus did was not His own decision, but that of the Father; it was therefore true, just, fair and righteous in its own right.
Jesus adds to our understanding of this principle in John 7:24 saying “Do not judge according to sight, but judge righteous judgement.” This is not a New Testament revelation of God and how He works for in First Samuel 16:7 where God anoints David, we read that “Jehovah said to Samuel, Do not look on his face, nor on his height, because I have refused him. For He does not see as man sees. For man looks on the outward appearance, but Jehovah looks on the heart.”
In other words, we need to seek the help of the Holy Spirit in making judgements. Indeed, this is where the common English phrase “blind justice” came from: we are not to judge according to our sight, which will prejudice the truth and the facts, but according to that deep insight which we receive from God when walking in His Will and His Spirit. We are not called to judge as mankind sees, but as God sees.
All maturing born-again Christians are certainly well aware of this teaching. The problem many of us have is our personal prig of pride, which blinds us to the plank in our own eye, as Matthew 7:3 says, while we try to take the splinter out or our brother’s eye.
As Paul taught Jesus crucified to the peoples of Israel, they saw the Truth were ‘stabbed to the heart” (Acts 2:37). As they asked what they ought to do, “Peter said to them, Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ to remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38 emphasis added).
Repent. They were told first to repent. Mature Christian tend to forget that in that one word “repent” there are a multitude of meanings and understandings and confusions – especially for and among new Christians. The word tells us what to do, but not how to do it. Let us look at just four meanings from the many at Dictionary.Com:
- to feel sorry, self-reproachful, or contrite for past conduct; regret or be conscience-stricken about a past action, attitude, etc. (often followed by of ): He repented after his thoughtless act.
- to feel such sorrow for sin or fault as to be disposed to change one’s life for the better; be penitent. –verb (used with object)
- to remember or regard with self-reproach or contrition: to repent one’s injustice to another.
- to feel sorry for; regret: to repent an imprudent act.
For a Christian definition, the New Advent Catholic Encyclopaedia gives us a very clear and useful explanation: “Repentance: heartfelt sorrow with the firm purpose of sinning no more.” In other words, when we Repent, we not only are filled with a heartfelt sorrow at the initial sin, but we are also convicted to turn away from that sin and sin no more.
But life is not easy and like that for most of us. In one heartfelt statement, most of us are unable to overcome the calls of our flesh and nail them to the Cross, and leave them there. Most of us keep sinning, and like dogs returning to their own vomit, we keep coming back to the same sins again and again.
The solution is obvious, repent again. Start all over again and ask the Lord to strengthen us. How many times? As many times as it takes! We need to remember here that God is judging our hearts. He is seeing beyond our sinful flesh to the inner struggles and the inner pains. God is not judging by what is seen.
This is where the correcting of Christian condemnation comes into focus. When God is saying “I love you, I will not leave you: Pick yourself up and try again: Here, hold My hand, let Me support you: You are my child and I know that next time you will succeed – just try again – one more time!” we often here prig of pride coming from mature Christians. They have forgotten that once they too did not know how to pray, they too did not know how to repent.
What happens when the struggling brother or sister cries out: “I’ve repented a thousand times but I still keep failing – I’ve called out to the Lord and wept a thousand times, but I still keep failing Him – what can I do? – what can I do”?
Typically the call from the leader is blunt: “You are a sinner, Brother, repent!!” The prophetic ones pridefully preface their pronouncements with a holier-than-thou “Thus sayest the Lord…… “ They have forgotten the words of Jesus from Luke 6:37 “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you shall be forgiven.”
This is Christian condemnation at its worst. This is not what Christians are called to do or be. We are call called to be servants. We are called to come down from the pulpit, to come down from the stage, to come down from a superior standing position and to kneel alongside the sinners and help our Brothers and Sisters to Repent. As born-again Christians we are tested and tried so that we can model the proper and correct behaviour for those who are unable to do it themselves! We need to show them how to repent. When we forget, we become useless to the Kingdom of God and instead of being part of the solution; we are part of the problem.
As born-again Christians we are expected to minister inner healing to God’s people. There are and there will be times when people fail God and fall again into sin. That comes with our fallen condition; and with that, they carry a great load of guilt. As born-again Christians we are to speak life and healing into them: “Thus saith the Lord, your sins are forgiven you.” As born-again Christians, we are not to speak condemnation into them.
The following is a link to a wonderful 2 minute YouTube which personifies this and it really says all there is to say about how we as Christians are called to serve in meaningful ways: It is entitled “Regeneration Testimony of a Man in Alaska” by Pastor Paul Washer.
Amen and Amen.
Dear Heavenly Father,
I come before you Lord, ashamed of how I have let You down. I am ashamed of how I have stood over others, directing them, rather than kneeling with them and interceding for them, before Your throne. I confess that I have not been a servant, nor lived or followed the life of servant-hood as modelled by Jesus. I humbly ask for Your forgiveness. I pray Lord, that You now wrought changes in me which will strengthen my faith and allow me kneel and serve Your oppressed peoples. Lord, please give me a serving heart for intercession for Your children. Burden my heart Lord, for what which burdens Yours.
In the name of Jesus Christ I pray. Amen and Amen and Amen.
~ Angus MacKillop