Derek Prince - Let Us Not Judge One Another
Going back then to Romans 14 verse 13. And this is a therefore. Do You remember what I said about therefore? You begin to find out why it’s there. Well, this therefore is there because we’re all going to have to stand before the judgment seat of Jesus. Do you see? Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way. I’ve written in my little outline, Criticizing can be an addiction. We’re familiar with a number of addictions: tobacco, alcohol, drugs. Television is another addiction. There are lots of people who are so addicted if they have to stop for one day watching television, they have withdrawal symptoms.
If this has been stated in magazines like Time and Newsweek. It’s an objective fact. But I want to suggest to you another addiction, it’s criticizing people. And if you’re going to stop, you’re going to need God’s supernatural grace to stop. Because, you’re addicted. And it’s a destructive addiction. It destroys you and it destroys the people you criticize. It disrupts the Body of Christ. I can’t go on because we have to move on in this study. I just sense God urging me to warn you. Live your life in view of the fact you’re going to have to account for everything you say and do to Jesus. I had the impression some little while ago that I needed to be sure that I wouldn’t have to answer any embarrassing questions in front of Jesus.
So I asked the Holy Spirit to show me if there were things that I needed to confess that I had not confessed. And believe me, He showed me. I would recommend that to each of you. Not right here and now but as the Lord leads you. You don't... Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11, If we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged by God. God gives us the opportunity to judge ourself, check our behavior against the word of God. And once we say, I was guilty, I did wrong. Lord, I’m sorry, I repent. Forgive me, it’s erased. We don’t have to answer for that. Isn’t that wonderful? You see, I see it like this. It’s like making recording tapes. If you want a clean tape to start with and I used to do this many years ago, I recorded my own radio program at one time. I can’t believe it, but I did. You start with a bulk erasure and you get the tape completely clean.
Well, when you come to the Lord Jesus the first time as a sinner, He uses His bulk erasure. And everything you’ve ever done that was evil is just erased, it’s just as if you’ve never done it. Well, as you go alone you may say and do things that are wrong. And it’s all right if you repent, if you confess; Jesus just erases that little piece of tape. Do you see, you never need the whole bulk erasure again but you do need to keep the tape clean. All right, we must go on. Romans 14 verse 13 Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way. I’ve pointed out to you that all through these chapters of Romans the guiding principle is love. And from time to time Paul goes back and points out love is what guides you to do the right thing.
So he says here: I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean of itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. Nothing being unclean of itself, I think we need to look because it’s very important. We need to know what the New Testament says. Let’s look at two Scriptures. Mark chapter 7. Paul says there’s no food that in itself is unclean. But, if a person thinks something is unclean and eats it or consumes it on that basis, it’s unclean to him, it defiles him. So here in Mark chapter 7 verses 15–19, Jesus is talking about the question of what we eat. And He says There is nothing outside the man which going into him can defile him. But the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man.
So nothing we take in through the mouth can defile us. But what comes out of our mouth is what defiles us. And the disciples didn’t understand that so they questioned him. Verse 17: When leaving the multitude, he had entered the house, his disciples questioned him about the parable. And he said to them, Are you too so uncomprehending. Do you not see that whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile him because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach and is eliminated. Thus he declared all food is clean. That’s a very important statement; we must lay hold of that. From that time onwards, on the authority of Jesus, there is no such thing as an unclean food in itself. But subjectively, a food may be unclean. I don’t know, do American people eat eels? You do?
I don’t know I mean, I know some people that shudder at the thought of eating eels. But my first wife was Danish, and for the Danes, the number one delicacy is an eel. My first wife went right across town to get eels. Well, if you don’t feel good about eating eels, you don’t have to. But don’t criticize the Danes who eat eels. Do you see what I’m saying? I mean, those things that look rather like snakes I won’t say anything about snakes but lots of Africans eat snakes. and consider them a delicacy. I don’t think I’ll even comment on that because some of you would begin to feel indigestion.
And then in 1 Timothy chapter 4 verses 4 and 5. 1 Timothy chapter 4 verses 4 and 5. Paul is talking about certain errors that will creep into the church and he talks about men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. But you have to believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good and nothing is to be rejected if it was received with gratitude and thanksgiving He’s talking about food. Nothing is to be rejected. For it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer. And in a lot of parts of the world, when you pray over your food, it’s not a mere formality because you don’t know what you’re eating. But if you have the faith it can be sanctified by your prayer it’s already sanctified by the Word of God. When your prayer is united, it will stop you getting all sorts of food poisoning and other things. But you better be sure you have the faith. And I’ve been in situations where I didn’t have the faith. I just said, No thank you, I’ll pass. Not because I thought it would defile me but because I wanted to preserve my health.
All right, going back then in Romans 14. I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love. You see, the central principle is love. You don’t abstain from food because you feel it’s forbidden, but in certain circumstances if you were to eat in front of your brother, it would offend him. If I were to go out with a new Jewish believer in Jerusalem, I would probably be pretty careful not to eat anything that he still regards with abhorrence. Because, you must know for an Orthodox Jew there are some kinds of food which absolutely appall them. I would never eat bacon in front of an Orthodox Jewish believer. Not because I think there’s anything wrong with bacon but because he thinks there’s something wrong with bacon.
Years and years ago I led a Jewish young man to the Lord, many years ago; And he said to me that he had been brought up fairly Orthodox and had become totally assimilated. And he said the first time he dared to eat a ration of bacon he said he closed his eyes and put it into his mouth and wondered if he’d still be alive at the end! See? Well, he was. And after that he came to like bacon. But what I’m saying is I don’t personally think bacon is very healthy, that’s another issue. And also salt is not good for me. But I have no scruples religiously about eating bacon. But, in the presence of certain people I wouldn’t eat bacon because it’s more important to keep my brother in the faith than it is to prove I’m right. Going on then, verse 16, I think I'm going to read the latter part of verse 15 again: Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died.
See, when Paul looked out on humanity, whether it was Jewish or Gentile, he saw people for whom Jesus died. That’s the way he looked at people. And his whole dealing with people was on that basis. We need to have the same vision. Verse 16: Therefore, do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil Don’t expose yourself to unnecessary criticism. That’s wise also merely from the point of view that when you’re criticized, negative forces are released against you. Why expose yourself to those forces unnecessarily? Verse 17 and 18. well 17 first. this is a wonderful verse: for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. So being in the kingdom of God isn’t a question of what we eat or drink. There are three things that are essentially the kingdom of God. Righteousness, peace and joy. And they’re in the Holy Spirit.
In this age in which we live, the kingdom of God is only a reality where the Holy Spirit is at work. The boundaries of the kingdom on earth at this time are determined by the area where the Holy Spirit operates. Outside of the Holy Spirit, all you have is law and rules and religion. It takes the Holy Spirit to bring the kingdom of God into a life or a situation. And when the Holy Spirit moves in and is allowed to have His way, He will produce three results: righteousness, peace and joy. But notice that the first result is righteousness. Second, peace. Third, joy. Now, Jesus said in Matthew 5:6: Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after what? Righteousness. He didn’t say after peace or after joy or after healing or after prosperity.
You see, traveling around I meet many Christians who hunger and thirst after healing or prosperity. But I don’t meet very many who are hungry and thirsty for righteousness. But the blessing is on those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. And once you’ve entered into righteousness, peace and joy will follow as natural consequences. Don’t go for peace; don’t go for joy; make righteousness your aim. You see, today there’s a terrific talk in the world about the need for peace which is very valid. But this cry for peace is going to become a means of deception in the manipulation of Satan. Because the world is going to seek for peace and maybe even claim it has achieved peace without righteousness. That’s a deception. There is no true or permanent peace without righteousness. Just let’s look quickly at two passages in Isaiah. Isaiah 48:22, the last verse in the chapter. There is no peace for the wicked, says the Lord.
As long as we tolerate wickedness, there is no possibility of permanent peace. And exactly the same words are found at the end of chapter 57:21: There is no peace for the wicked. So the essential and primary condition for peace is righteousness. And that’s what the kingdom of God is. It’s righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Let me ask you, and you don’t have to answer, are you in the kingdom of God right now? Are you enjoying righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit? If not, you may have religion, you may be Charismatic, you may be Pentecostal, you may be Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian or whatever. But, you’re not in the kingdom of God. Because those are the boundaries of the kingdom of God. Righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. And then the next verse is very real for me, verse 18: For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. In what way? In the way of righteousness, peace and joy.
Now I was converted to Christ dramatically in the middle of the night in an Army barrack room in the British army after I’d served just under one year. I spend another nearly five years in the British army as a Christian. The army is not one of the easiest places in the world to be a committed Christian. I really felt that God should have taken me out of the army and put me in some nice religious setting where I could wear the appropriate clothes and use the right kind of language. But, He didn’t. He left me with my cursing, blaspheming, ungodly British soldiers for nearly five years. And I can say by the grace of God I took my stand for what I believed in and I maintained it. One of the things I learned was when you move into a new situation, let them know immediately where you stand.
So I’m not particularly concerned about kneeling down to pray at night, but I always knelt down in the barrack room to pray in my bed, because then they knew what kind of a person I was. And they did all sorts of things to me. Once I was kneeling on the bed praying and they let the bed down. I just went on praying. But, when I’m saying is this, they respected me. And in times when we were up in the battle line in the desert if there was a battle line in the desert - but really, there wasn't - these tough ungodly blaspheming soldiers would come up to me and say, I’m glad you’re with us, Corporal Prince. I was their insurance policy. They felt safe as long as I was there. And as a matter of fact, there were no real serious casualties while I was with that particular group. But what I want to say is this, and I had arguments with the officers. I confronted the officers, the commanding officer, about certain issues. I won’t go into them.
But when I was discharged, every soldier in the British army gets a certain rate and my rating was exemplary. That’s the highest rating the British army gives. I don’t say that to boast but I simply say it to prove what Paul said, If you serve God in righteousness, peace and joy. You’re accepted by God and approved by men. In the long run, the ungodly know how a Christian should act. I tell you, if I ever said the wrong thing, my fellow soldiers would come up to me and say, You shouldn’t have done that. I won’t go into the things I did because they might embarrass you. I mean, they really kept a watch on me. Going on in Romans 14, now we’re getting to the application. Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food.
The thing you see that Paul was concerned with most was the work of God, the Body of Christ. Let’s always do what will build up the Body, even if it means personal sacrifice. All things are neither clean, but they are evil for the man who eats and gives offense. Okay? So I’m perfectly free to eat bacon but if I eat bacon in front of a new Jewish believer who doesn’t know these things, and I offend him, they’re evil. Do you see? I’m guilty of evil. It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles. The issue is are you building up your brother or are you breaking down his faith? Now I feel perfectly free myself to do all the things listed in that verse, which I won’t specify. But I wouldn’t do them in front of people who would be offended by them.
Verse 22: The faith which you have, have it as your own conviction before God. Don’t get into arguments about these things. You’re convinced about it, all right, be convinced. But let it be between God and you. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. That’s a searching statement. You can approve things which are perfectly legitimate, but in approving them you condemn yourself because of the effect you have on your fellow believers. And then he goes on: But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not on the basis of faith; for whatever is not on the basis of faith is sin. That’s a searching statement. Isn’t it? There’s only one basis for righteous living, it’s faith. If you’re not doing it out of faith, don’t do it. Whatever is not based on faith is sin.
And I want to go on quickly into the first part of Romans 15 because we’ve got a long way to go and only one session after this. Now we who are strong and Paul is talking in relationship to the previous passage We who are strong ought to bear the weakness of those without strength and not just please ourselves. You see, that’s the measure of spiritual strength. It’s not how much you can do, it’s how much you can bear. Strength in this sense is being able to lift others up. I had a friend in the ministry some time back who came from a background in the Apostolic Church in Wales. If you know anything about that, they believe in set apostles and set prophets and they have areas of truth, but they’ve become extremely legalistic. And growing up as a boy and a young man, he just lost all confidence in these apostles. They were somewhat dictatorial and autocratic and imposed on the people.
So he turned away from the whole thing but then he had a meeting with the Lord and came back. And he once made in my hearing this statement which I consider to be classic. He said, Then I realized that apostles are not people on the top holding you down, they’re people on the bottom holding you up. Your strength is not holding people down, it’s lifting people up. Of course, you know why he said that? Because you know where the names of the apostles are in the New Jerusalem? They’re in the foundation. Do you see? They’re at the bottom. So, spiritual strength is not holding everybody down and dictating to everybody, it’s being able to hold up those who are not as strong as you are.
Then Paul goes on. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to his edification. The key word there is edification, building up. For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, The Reproaches of those who reproached thee fell upon me. Jesus brought upon Himself the reproaches of those who hated God because He was living for God. And we have to be prepared to bring reproach upon ourselves when we live for God. And then he says, and this is very important: For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, but through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Whatever was written, he says, whatever is in the Scriptures. Whatever is in the Scriptures, it’s there for our benefit. For our instruction that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
Now it’s wonderful to be encouraged but remember that the Scripture encourages only those who persevere. It’s not enough to believe, you have to keep on believing. Your faith will be tested, you’ll go through trials. The Scripture will bless you if you persevere. It says of Abraham, After he had patiently endured he received the promise. Do You remember how long his faith was tested? Something like 25 years he patiently endured, having the promise of a son who would be his heir. And then when he had patiently endured, he received the promise. People tell you that faith is all you need. I don’t agree. You need faith and patience. Together they’re undefeatable.
And then one final Scripture: Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement or the God of perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus; that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. What is Paul aiming at? Harmony. Harmony between believers so that regardless of their personal differences they may focus on the Lord in His goodness and together in harmony glorify and praise the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s the positive goal of all this teaching. And Paul takes us through various areas which would hinder that and warns us against them. But remember, the positive goal is a harmonizing group of believers who praise God together with one accord and one voice.