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Jack Graham - Jesus and Judgement

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    Jack Graham - Jesus and Judgement
TOPICS: Why Believe?, Judgment

Take your Bibles and turn with me to the Gospel of Luke, chapter 6. And in just a moment we're going to look at verses 37 to 42, but first, Happy Birthday, America! And we celebrate America today. It has been my birthday this weekend. I always enjoy when the Fourth of July weekend comes on my birthday weekend. The thirtieth of June, so the Fourth of July is pretty close. And so all the flags and all the furling and all the fireworks... that's exciting around my birthday, but beyond anybody's birthday... and this is the celebration of a birthday of America, and we do give thanks for the freedoms that we embrace, the freedoms that we enjoy.

We sing "God Bless America. God shed His grace on thee. Stand beside her, guide her through the night with a light from above". And we pray for God's blessing upon our beloved nation. We pray that God could bless America again. The Bible says, Psalms 33:12 "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord". And we must have the blessing of God upon our lives, our family and the future of our country! But we know that in many ways America has turned its back on God. America has forgotten God! And the America that many of us have known in the past is gone! And dark days await in this great nation unless there is a national revival, unless there is national repentance. We need revival in America! We need a great new harvest in America!

The fact is God is being systematically removed from the common place, the public place of America. Specifically Christianity! Removed from government and law and education and the workplace. And, of course, when God is removed... when there is no longer the presence of God, there is then the presence of darkness. And we have seen the values and the virtues that have made America great disappear because God has been removed. We've seen a new coarseness and cheapness in human life which results in such things as abortion and euthanasia. We've seen the acceptance and promotion of all forms of immorality, including homosexual marriages. We've seen the sexploitation of our culture, including our own children. We're living in a time where traditional Christian values, biblical values are being mocked, laughed at and scorned!

And as a result pornography and other forms of evil and wickedness is just a click away. And all of this in the name of freedom! And freedom is now defined by many Americans as privacy. In other words, I have the right to do anything I want to do, anything that I choose to do in my own world, in my own privacy and no one has the right to judge my behavior or to judge my beliefs. So what does the Bible have to say about this new American mindset? The mindset that says anything goes, anything I choose to believe, anything I choose to do, however I choose to live is mine and mine alone! This is freedom! What did Jesus say about that? And remember this, when it comes to the Bible and following Christ, our highest allegiance is to the kingdom of God! We thank God for America. We love our country. We ought to be patriots and good citizens of this country, but we are citizens of a heavenly country. We are citizens of the kingdom of God! And the higher standards and the higher specter of life is to follow Christ and to obey Him! We must obey God and not man!

And so what did Jesus say in Luke chapter 6, beginning at verse 37: "'Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.' He also told them a parable (a story): 'Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they both not fall into a pit? A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.'" And then verse 41: "'Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye'"?

Jesus is saying, "Why do you judge the little speck in your brother's eye, when there's a telephone pole in your own eye"! "How can you say, 'Brother, let me take the speck that is in your own eye; when you do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother's eye'". "Judge not, lest you be judged". What did He mean? Well, in order to understand what Jesus meant here, we need to understand, first, what He did not mean... what He doesn't mean by saying "Judge not, lest you be judged".? And so let's talk a little bit about applying a clear evaluation to life's choices. The word judge here is the word krino and it is used with various meanings and shades of meanings. It means to choose; it means to separate; it means to differentiate; it means to decide; it means to distinguish; it means to judge.

So what does it mean... Judge not? It does not mean that we are not to evaluate what is good and what is bad; what is right and what is wrong; what is moral and what is immoral. In a parallel passage... (And this is always the way to learn what God is saying and to interpret Scripture) In a parallel passage, the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus in the same passage is speaking about judging not; spoke of not giving your pearls to pigs Matthew 7:6, "casting before pigs... a precious jewel and give what is holy to dogs"! He's talking about pigs, He's talking about hogs, He's talking about dogs! That's judgment! He talked about false teachers constantly. He talked about hypocrites!

So don't view Jesus as an "anything goes" kind of Savior! He taught us to discriminate! He taught us to discern between what is right, what is wrong, what is good, what is bad, what is evil and moral and immoral. He taught us to be discriminatory regarding truth and error; that we are to make a distinction! And we're to live with discernment. As a matter of fact, I don't believe there's enough discernment among even Christians today. We need more discernment! The Scripture says that we are to test the Spirits! 1 John 4:1 "Try the Spirits to see that... if they are of God"! I know this: it matters what people believe, according to God's Word, and it matters how people behave according to the Scripture! And Jesus spoke often, therefore, of judgment and accountability for our lives!

The Bible is emphatic that God will hold us all accountable, that God will judge the world, that God will judge every person ultimately! The opposite of love is not hate; the opposite of love is apathy and indifference. And because God loves you and God loves people, He corrects, and even condemns that which is wrong. It's not unloving to call sin sin! In fact it's unloving not to call sin sin! Because sin... "The wages of sin is death". It's unloving not to confront a person! We as believers in Christ should confront the world, including our friends and our own family. Ephesians 4:15 says that we are to "speak the truth in love". And if we love people as God loves people, we must be willing to confront people with what is right and what is wrong. This is something we must teach our children.

If you're a parent... certainly if you are a Christian parent, you should make it your primary goal to teach your children how to make wise decisions, based upon the truth of God's Word... the principles of God's Word. Our children are being ravaged by this world and we need to put steel in their souls by giving them the Word of God, the testimony of Jesus in their lives, correcting them when they're wrong and helping them to see what is right! "Judge not" does not mean that we're not to make laws and punish wrong-doers! Our nation is a nation of laws! We celebrate this Republic and the independence of this state because of the laws founded upon the Judeo-Christian faith, the Judeo-Christian ethic... in other words, the principles of the Bible!

This nation was founded upon the principles of the Bible! The laws that are enforced have built a judicial system that is second to none in the earth and, yes, we don't always agree with our judicial system and the decisions that are made! But we have the greatest judicial system on the planet and we're thankful for those who serve the law, who practice the law, who seek justice and fairness, to protect our rights, preserve us against wrongs! God ordains all of these. Read Romans 13: that God has established authorities and principalities and government by His own hand. And yes, God will protect us at times even through punishment. He bears not the sword in vain. The Bible does teach capital punishment from beginning to end. So "judge not" means not that everyone gets a get-out-of-jail-free card; it doesn't mean that anything goes.

Many believe that we have no right to judge another person's lifestyle or behavior. We have no right to say, what you're doing is wrong, even in the church. I don't like confronting people. I'm not a confrontive person, believe it or not, I'm really not. Now some people really just love, you know just getting after people. Most of us, we don't like confrontation and so we go along to get along. We let things go, even in our own families, even in the church! But you can't have healthy relationship in your home, your family, in the church without some confrontation if something is wrong! If something's not right you need to get it fixed! That's why the Bible says judgment begins at the house of God! If we're going to have revival in America, if America's going to be changed, it's needs to be changed starting among Christians in the house of God. It needs to start with us. 2 Chronicles 7:14, "If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, pray, turn from their sin and their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and heal their land".

So when Jesus said, "Judge not, lest you be judged", what did He mean? If He didn't mean to apply a clear evaluation, what did He mean? What He means is that we are to avoid critical, censorious condemnation. In fact, The Bible's the best explainer of the Bible, right? In the next phrase in Luke chapter 6... Look at it. In verse 37 He says: "Judge not, lest you be judged. (And then He says) Condemn not and you will not be condemned". Condemn not! We're not to be rancorous and rigorous in our condemnation of others! J. Vernon McGee, a Bible teacher said, "The only exercise some Christians get is jumping to conclusions, and running other people down"! And it's true, isn't it? And we're very quick even to say that someone else is a hypocrite, when in reality they may not be a hypocrite but just a human being.

There's a difference between a hypocrite and a human. You know, here's a Christian who slips and stumbles and sins. And the first thing that some people want to do is "AH-HA! Hypocrite"! No, not a hypocrite, just human. I mean, I'm not minimizing sin. I'm not rationalizing a Christian's misbehavior or sin. But we all sin; the Bible tells us that. And so, if a Christian stumbles and slips and falls, we're to help pick them up. I was walking with a friend at the Southern Baptist Convention and he stumbled and slipped on a curb and fell down. What did we do? Did we say, "You hypocrite, you can't walk"!? No, we picked him up and we helped him. And so it is often we call people hypocrites when they're really just human beings who need our help and love and guidance along the way. But so often what we see in others is a reflection of only what we see in ourselves.

I wear contact lenses. And one of the things... I wear them 24/7. Change them once a month. They're great! I never know they're in there until... except in the mornings when they're clouded and fuzzy and I put drops in my eyes. But walking around with contacts that have been slept in all night is not a fun thing. You have to clear the lenses so that you can see much better. And the idea that Jesus is giving us here is that before we start condemning others and criticizing others, we need to make sure that we have a clear picture of what's really going on! And that's why He gives us this laughable illustration, this hyperbole when He says, "Who are you to try to get the speck... the splinter... the sawdust out of someone else's eye when you've got a board... a plank... a log in your own eye"!

And what was He saying? How are we then to judge people? Why do we judge people and how do we judge people? Why do we judge people so harshly and negatively and in the wrong way? Let me give you I think about three reasons. Number one, we judge people because of our own sin and our own stumbling and our own failures. That's the idea of the splinter and the plank. We're willing to overlook some major things in our own lives and see the minor things in other people's lives. Everyone will leave church today either in humility or in dignity! Now what do I mean by that? Jesus told a parable about this very thing. He said there was a tax collector and a Pharisee that went to pray. And the publican... the tax collector who was a righteous man, wrapped his righteous robes around him and began to pray out loud, "Lord, I thank you that I'm not as other men. I thank You that I'm not sinful like that tax collector over there".

Jesus said there's the tax collector... head bent, body bent... saying "Lord, be merciful", over and over again. "Lord, be merciful to me a sinner. Lord, be merciful to me a sinner". And Jesus said one went to his home justified, and the other went to his home still in his sin. Which one do you think was still in his sins? The man who left with his dignity intact "I thank You that I'm not like other people, like sinful people, like the terrible person over there". Jesus said he went home dignified but the unrighteous man, the sinful man, he went home justified because he knew he was a great sinner. Everyone's going to leave church today either dignified or justified. You're either going to walk out wrapping your own self-righteousness around you, or else you're going to walk out knowing your great need of a Savior and trusting in Him.

Secondly, and very quickly, we judge people because of our own selfishness, our own insecurity. Because we're selfish and self-centered, we criticize others. We have the idea that if we can take somebody else down, we'll bring ourselves up. And when Jesus is talking about getting the plank out of own eyes before we get speck out of the others eyes, He's saying... What's He saying? He's saying, "Start with yourself! Start with your own life, clear your own head, get your own heart right, and then maybe you'll be able to help others". But it's because of our own selfishness... our desire to look good, to be a hypocrite. You know, what's a hypocrite? It's the word which means to act. It's really an innocuous word except when it comes to acting like a Christian when you're not, acting like a believer when you're not.

An actor... what? What does an actor do? Performs. An actor pretends and plays a part. And so a hypocrite is someone who wants to look good and put on a good performance, but their heart is full of selfishness and sin. And there's another reason that we judge others, and that's short-sightedness. We judge because... others... we don't have all the facts. We can't see. We don't have enough information. That's why I'm glad that God is God and I'm not! That's why I'm glad that Jesus is the judge and not me. I'm with the Apostle Paul who said, "You know, it's not a big deal if you judge me".

You know, preachers get criticized. Can you believe that? Sometimes we preachers get criticized for things we say, things we do, slipups we make. And so some people are just waiting to pounce on a preacher! But Paul said, "I don't care if you criticize me". Now he wasn't being arrogant. He just said, "I stand before God. I'm going to humble myself before God. So it's no big deal," he said, "if you criticize me, because there's another day coming when I'll be judged and fully and forever judged. That's what matters". And so because we're short sighted, because we can't see the end from the beginning, we don't have all the facts, we don't have information, we can't really judge what's going on in another person's life, can we?

If we're going to reach the world with the Gospel, it's not going to be with our angry rhetoric, arguments. It's not going to be with clinched fists, but open hands and open hearts. Can you imagine if rather than living in censorious, judgment on others, that if we as Christians starting loving and serving and giving and praying for our enemies and living totally different lives... Can you imagine the difference that would make in our homes, our families, our communities, our churches, our beloved nation?

John Stott, the great British preacher, said, "Truth becomes hard if it is not softened by love. Love becomes soft if it is not strengthened by truth". Let me say that again, we're gonna close. "Truth becomes hard if it is not softened by love. Love becomes soft if it is not strengthened by truth". Speak the truth in love. That's what the Bible says. This is what Jesus is saying. We must properly evaluate and discriminate between right and wrong, good and bad, moral and immoral. There are standards in Scripture. We're to saturate our hearts and our minds with the Word of God so that we can make wise decisions, but we are to avoid caustic, angry, critical, condemning spirits. We are rather to be filled with His mercy and His grace and His love. We're to see people as God sees them.

How does God see people? God never sees people without looking at them in love. Jesus never met a person He didn't love. In any theological system... There's some theological systems that suggests that somehow God has already condemned those who have rejected Him, that they are set in their predestined order and ordained to judgment and hell. But the Bible says 2 Peter 3:9, "That God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance". There is not one single person ever on the face of this earth that Jesus does not love! He died for all! He died for all! And He loves you. And because God loves people, we're to love by the power of Christ. We so often see people as unfit and unworthy and unjust... and we are without Christ... unfit and unworthy, but none of us are unloved. And because of His love we can be forgiven and we can be saved.
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