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Jack Graham - Is it Right to Say You're Wrong?

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    Jack Graham - Is it Right to Say You're Wrong?
TOPICS: Straight Up, Tolerance

The title of this message "Is it Right to say You're Wrong?" indicates that we have a message that is very positive but it's also very provocative, because clearly the Scripture tells us that some things are right and some things are wrong; some things are true and some things are false; One religion is true and other religions are false! Now, we are looking for that balance which brings us grace and truth; mercy and judgment. Paul, the Apostle in Philippians 1:9 (Don't turn to it; just listen.) It says, "It is my prayer that your love may abound more and more". That our love would continue to grow. But love is not sappy or sentimental. Real love, God's love is to grow with knowledge and all discernment.

So we read in Matthew chapter 7, verse 1, this is Jesus speaking: "Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. 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? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is the log in your own eye"? Maybe the congregation chuckled at the humor of Christ at this point; the hyperbole that Jesus offered. He said: "You hypocrite, first take the log (the plank, the two by four) out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye". Then note this. Here's the balance: "Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn their attack to you".

Would you be surprised if I told you today that the most popular verse in our culture, the most well known and oft repeated Bible verse by the rank and file in our society is not John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son". No, no! The verse that is most often stated is "Judge not, lest you be judged". Who are you to judge me, man? Who are you to tell me what is right and what is wrong? Remember, Jesus said, "Judge not". We live in a world of tolerance. True is what-ever you believe true to be. And tolerance is the idea that every person's opinion or idea or worldview or religion is of equal value. Sometimes Bible believing Christians are accused of saying that we have a monopoly on the truth. Have you ever heard that one? "You Christians are so arrogant that you you think that you're the only ones that know what is right and what is wrong". However we know that we don't know everything. We need to state that up front. We never claim that we know everything! All truth is from God! Only God knows everything. We have limited intelligence and understanding.

As the Scripture says, 1 Corinthians 13:12, "Now on this side of eternity we see through a mirror vaguely, or darkly". We have finite understanding. But on the other hand we do believe God has spoken to us in the Bible; that God has given us a clear authoritative word in the Scriptures and supremely He has given us that word in Jesus Christ. So while we don't know all the truth, we don't know everything that there is to know and won't until the other side, we do know the One who does know everything! And we have access through the Spirit of God and the Word of God to total truth! And while we are respectful of those who have a different viewpoint or a different value or a different opinion, we must not deny our faith! As a matter of fact, the Scripture says that we are to "earnestly contend for the faith"; that is, we are to fight for the faith. And when we come to speak regarding the debates of the culture and ethical and moral dilemmas and so on, we should show up and speak straight up with conviction and compassion.

So what did Jesus mean then when He said, "Judge not, lest you be judged".? He literally and actually means: condemn not. Condemn not! It does not mean that we have no opinion, that we have no convictions, that we have no values or viewpoint; we certainly do! First Thessalonians 5: 21 and 22 says, "But test everything; hold fast to what is good and abstain from every form of evil". Certainly as Christians we are to test and evaluate and differentiate and discriminate and determine what is right and what is wrong, what is good and what is bad, what is true and what is false, what is genuine and what is phony! Jesus Himself gave strong judgment against hypocrisy and phoniness, and false religion and anything that did not honor God! There is a distinction, we are to discriminate between truth and error! People don't like this word, but there are dogmatic, distinctives of the Christian faith. Maybe you would prefer the word essentials, those thing which are not peripheral but those things which are absolutely essential. Not the incidentals, not the secondary things, but those first things! These truths that unify all believers.

Many are looking for unity in the church today. What unifies all true believers? Number one, the authority of the Bible; that the Bible is absolutely and true absolutely! We gave a message earlier on the Word of God and the fact that you can trust the Bible. But without the authority of the Bible, its infallibility and its inerrancy, you have no ground for truth; you have no right to claim anything other than an opinion. The authority of the Bible brings us together!

But not only that, the deity of Christ, Jesus is second to none! He is the One and only Savior! And so what brings us together as Christians is the deity of Christ; that Jesus is the God-Man, the Man-God, the One and only Savior, Lord and God. Romans 14:11, "That at the name of Jesus every knee would bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God". Now human opinion would tell you Jesus is who you conceive Him to be or Jesus is who you want Him to be or how many times do we hear things like, "Well, my Jesus would do this" or "Well, I like Jesus but I like so and so as well", naming another religious teacher or leader or so on? "can think Jesus was a prophet", and on we go! But the deity of Christ is essential! Without Christ, I've said it again and again and again, we have no Christianity! Christianity is not a cause or a creed or a conformity; it is Christ and Christ alone!

Thirdly, the exclusivity of the Gospel. You say, "what do mean the exclusivity of the Gospel"? Meaning that there is one Gospel and there is one Savior. It's been said that Jesus is not the best way to heaven, He's the only way to heaven. That's the exclusivity of the Gospel. It is narrow and it is conceived to be bigoted. And the problem with many people is the idea that this truth would be this narrow. But God has revealed Himself in Christ. He has given us a Gospel that is clear! We must not sacrifice an unconditional truth for an uncertain unity. And by that I mean we can't just get together and say, oh, we all believe something and therefore we're all going to heaven. You believe what you believe; I believe what I believe; you do what you think is right; I'll do what I think is right and we'll all have a Merry Christmas or whatever holiday you choose to recognize. That's the spirit and mentality of the world.

But if you believe the authority of the Bible, if you believe in the deity of Christ who said, John 14:6 "I am the way, the truth and the life, and no man comes to the Father but by Me". Then it follows that you would believe in the exclusivity of the Gospel, that Christ and Christ alone is Savior. And then there's the morality of faith and witness. That there is in response to faith, a behavior, a way of living and God has given us instruction and teaching in His word as to how we should behave; that there is a right and a wrong, that God has given us commandments that we are to keep and to obey. What I'm saying here is that, while we are respectful of other's opinions, everyone has a right to their opinion, but you do not have the right to your own truth if Jesus is who He claimed to be! There is one truth! And we are to guard the deposit of truth, according to the Scripture. We are to treasure and defend the truth! And we must not tolerate disobedience; we must not tolerate denial of the faith in any way at the express witness of just getting along!

Some would suggest that we water down the message for the sake of our witness. "Don't be too hard, don't be too straight up, don't be so dogmatic because that's going to run people off". Well you know what, we find the very opposite! If you are clear on the Gospel, God blesses His word. The Lord Jesus, when He's lifted up, will draw all unto Himself! And I believe people respect us not when we get up and say, "This is what I believe, probably" or "this is how to go to heaven maybe" or "This is what the Bible says, we think". NO! We come with a clarion call, with a voice of confidence, not based upon our own opinion but the Word of God! And, yes, we do believe that there is truth and there is error! And it is the responsibility of every Christian to take the Word of God and respond to the truth of God's Word;

There's a second distinction that we must make. This is why we believe it's right to say someone is wrong, and that is we are to make a distinction between right and wrong! Let me repeat. "Do not condemn" as Jesus says in verse one, does not mean that we're not to live according to the highest of biblical standards and behavior. Our ethics are to be clearly Christian. And discernment is definitely needed, desperately needed in this situation. Now Jesus went on to say in this passage, as we read, using humorous hyperbole that it's wrong to focus on the piece of lint or sawdust in your brother's eye when you have a plank in your own eye! We live in a hypercritical, condemning culture, and it's epidemic from political talk to sports talk. We hear it in the media, we hear this hypercriticism in families which is so destructive. We have it in churches! People that are just constantly looking for the opportunity to find fault in somebody else or something else.

Like the person who said, "I believe my spiritual gift is the gift of criticism". There is a hardening of the attitudes and a harshness in speech that is destructive in churches, in homes, in neighborhoods, communities, our nation and the world. So it is a fact that Jesus is saying that we are to be discriminatory and make moral choices, but to be a hypocrite is immoral! Jesus is saying, "Don't be self-righteous! Don't be censorious in your spirit or condemning in your attitude"! We are to season our speech always with grace and mercy and truth! Luke chapter 6, verse 36 and 37: "Be merciful even as your Father is merciful. Judge not and you will not be judged. Condemn not and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven".

So always our judgment, our discrimination of right and wrong, true and false, should be accompanied by the Spirit of Christ which is the Spirit of love and mercy and forgiveness! We must never attempt to judge a person's heart or motives. Why? We can't know them! Jeremiah 17:9, "The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Who can know it"? So we leave to God the matters of the heart! We leave to God the secrets of the soul! God and God alone is the judge! And we should always, always temper our thoughts and our actions towards others with love. First Corinthians 13: "Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth, always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres; love never fails"! And just as God's love never fails, His love is an everlasting love, when we speak words of truth, when we speak words of right and wrong, and this is right and this is wrong, it should always be tempered with the mercy and the love and the grace of God.

I have an acrostic: THINK. T-H-I-N-K. Before you speak and offer criticism of someone else and their actions, THINK:

Number one, is it true. Often what we call discernment is merely our opinion, or it could be innuendo or slander or gossip. So ask yourself is it true?
Secondly, is it helpful? Does it build the person up? Does it offer a person a hand up or a fist down? Is what I'm saying an offering as a judgment, as as a discrimination, as a way of living? Am I doing this in order to be helpful or am I just putting people down? What does that stand for?

Before I offer something that is a criticism is it inspiring? Is it uplifting? Is it biblical and does it point people to Christ and His love and His restoration?

N: is it necessary? One of the common characteristics of the critical fault-finder is that he focuses on matters of little importance. Is it really necessary to deal up front with this issue if it's of secondary importance; if it is not a vital spiritual interest? So often people get all worked up and critical about things that don't matter. Is it really necessary that you have this attitude or take this action?

And then K, of course, would be is it kind? Is it kind? We should be harder on ourselves than we are on others! Get your own focus right! Get your own life right before you attempt to deal with someone else. Now, having said all of that, it is still true that we are to practice biblical separation in our life and in our lifestyle. We are to be different! Yes, we preach on sin and salvation without apology! Yes, we must confront in order to change! A psychologist will tell you that you can't change something until you confront something in your life. So the Word of God confronts us. And we don't need to be moving the lines here and there about what's right and wrong. We are to make a distinction in our lives and, yes, in our judgments between what is right and what is wrong.

Hebrews 5:14 says, "But solid food is for the mature for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish between good and evil". That's clear, isn't it? Christians are not soft on sin. We're not gullible; we're not indulgent to whatever somebody does or believes. There is a distinction that we make between right and wrong. One final thing briefly, we're to make a distinction between what is true religion and false religion. The Scripture says in 1 John 4:1 that we are to test every spirit to see if these religious practices and religious beliefs and so on are of God! And he went on to say, John did, who was the beloved disciple, He went on to say that anything that is not of Jesus is not of God!

So there's a difference between true religion and false religion. I've discovered throughout life that the majority is not always right. There's a consensus in the church today and even in the culture that we should eliminate conviction, downplay doctrine, soften our appeal and never try to persuade or that is convert anybody. Just let people alone. Leave people alone! And the religion of America is "why can't we just get along? Why can't we all just unify and hold hands and sing 'We are the World'"? By the way, that's the religion of the last days; that's the religion of the antichrist who will consolidate his evil government based around a false prophet and a false religion. Jesus said the majority is not always right. Beware of false prophets who preach a different gospel or a different Jesus.

Revelation 2:2, Jesus commended the church there. He said, "I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false". Yes, you should make a distinction between true prophets and false prophets, true religion and false religion. And the final word is given to us here in Matthew 7, scan down again to verses 21 to 23: "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord,' did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?'" That's religion, but it's false religion; those who profess to know God but deny His power. "And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you' depart from me, you workers of lawlessness".

So there is faith that is true and there is faith that is false. And you have to make up your mind based on the Word of God as to what is true and what is false. God has given us the Spirit of God in order to help us interpret the Word of God that we, the church of God, the people of God, should live in a generation that does not understand truth, that has itching ears that wants to hear things that are pleasing and profitable but not things that are powerful and persuasive. So judge not! Let God be the Judge. But in the meantime, yes, make a difference between truth and error! Yes, make a difference between right and wrong! And yes, make the difference of discrimination between what is a true prophet and what is false prophet. Your very life and eternity depends on it.
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