Sometimes I honestly wonder if some other professing Christians are actually reading the same Bible (Old and New Testaments) that I am. The reason I say this, is that their concept of how Jesus interacted with all that He met, appears to be quite different than mine, because they continually emphasize how Jesus always loved everyone, in all that He said and all that He did. And this appears to be their basic perception of Jesus. Jesus just loved, period. He never condemned, he never judged. You might want to review His thoughts on the Pharisees and consider His actions when clearing the Temple courts of merchants.
Throughout all of the Old Testament, people are divided into two distinct groups. Those who believe in and trust God and those who don’t. Those who believed in and trusted God received blessings and those who did not believe in God or did not trust God, received curses. If you don’t believe me, invest a little time and see how God dealt with His chosen nation of Israel. I would suggest clicking here for a quick overview. Bear in mind that these blessings and curses had to do with Israel following the Law and the Covenants established by God with Israel.
In the New Testament we have the Good News of a New Covenant, where we basically have the same two different groups (believers and non-believers) with the appearance of the promised Messiah, Jesus the Christ. Only this time, with the FIRST appearance of Jesus, as the the Son of God in the flesh (truly human yet truly God), Jesus ushers in the Kingdom of God for all (Jew and Gentile) who believe in and trust in what He accomplishes by His death on the cross for our sins and His resurrection. His FIRST appearance was NOT to judge, His purpose was to save all those who believe and trust in Him. Bear in mind that even though the first appearance of the Messiah in the flesh was NOT to judge, Jesus definitely did indicate the standard (faith and trust in Him) (John 3:16-21) that would be used to judge all, when the Great White Throne judgement takes place at His Second appearance (2 Timothy 4:1). And, just so you know, attendance is not optional.
In the New Testament, as believers, we need to know how we are to interact with fellow believers and also non-believers. As Christians, we are commanded by Jesus to love one another and as Christians, we are also told to love our neighbours as ourselves and yes, even love our enemies. But the question that sometimes causes confusion is, how is that love that we are to display, acted out?
Believers are NOT to judge unbelievers. The Apostle Paul makes this very clear in 1 Corinthians 5:12-13, but please note that believers ARE required to judge other believers, which is commonly referred to as “Church Discipline” within the New Testament.
I know that one of the most popular Scripture verses that is often quoted advocating that we should not judge others is found in Matthew 7. This post here, by another author, more than adequately covers the context of that particular verse. The bottom line is that we are not told to not judge but rather to judge righteously and not hypocritically. Big difference.
Are all the Scripture chapters and verses within the New Testament, that focus on Church Discipline, including Jesus’ own words, to be discarded, because they don’t fit the picture that some might have in their mind, on how we are to just love all people (believers and non-believers), in exactly the same way, and just let God deal with all the rest? Is this what we see in the New Testament when some within the Church introduced false doctrine, or persisted in clear acts of sexual immorality? That answer to that question is a clear no.
Are we to love unbelievers? Absolutely, just like we are to love our neighbours as ourselves and love our enemies but even though we are to love them, that does NOT mean that we agree with or sanction the sin that the unbelievers are committing, as not being sin. A lot of people like quoting Jesus where He tells the woman who has been caught in adultery, “Neither do I condemn you” and they stop right there. But the last words that Jesus said to the woman were “go and sin no more” (John 8:10-11). Jesus did not sanction adultery or sin of any kind. Jesus did not condemn her for it because His FIRST appearance was to save, not condemn or judge, but there will be a judgement for all of us, when we do give account for all that we have said and all that we have done (2 Corinthians 5:10).
Our focus, when we are talking to non-believers, is not on the sins that they may or may not be committing, our focus is on sharing the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
But do not make the mistake that repentance is not required because it is. You don’t focus on the sin because that is a secondary issue, them accepting the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the primary issue, but repentance is a requirement for salvation. Jesus said “Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand!” (Matthew 4:17) In Jerusalem when 3000 souls were saved, what did Peter tell the crowd? (Acts 2:37-38) “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Repent from what? Their ways versus God’s ways. This isn’t rocket science. Do you think that maybe Jesus and Peter were confused? I think not, so if they were not confused, who do you think might be?
When we apply a distorted view of what salvation entails, when we apply a distorted view of what Jesus actually taught and demonstrated, we distort the truth of the Word of God. It’s all well and good to say that we should just love people like Jesus did and God will take care of all the rest, but where exactly does God’s Word tell us to do that specifically when it comes to standing against false doctrine or dealing with serious sexual immorality within the Church?
And what did Jesus say was our commission? Let’s look at His words once again: “And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to follow all that I commanded you; and behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20) (Emphasis mine) Did you read that part about “teaching them to follow all that I commanded you”? Does that sound like God telling us that He will take care of that?
Of course, if we are going to teach, we might just need to be conversant with all of what Jesus taught, ourselves.
I’ve actually had a professing Christian tell me that if someone within the church was committing adultery, they would not actually say anything because it might cause the person to become offended. Rather they would just love them and hopefully, their demonstration of loving them, would cause them to change their ways. Interesting concept, and the Biblical teaching that backs that logic up? Right, there isn’t any is there. That is an example of a professing Christian who is neglecting their required responsibility of demonstrating love and concern for a fellow Christian, because they don’t want to offend them.
Love actually corrects, cares enough to warn, seeks reconciliation versus the breaking of fellowship. Let’s just disregard this Scripture verse that states: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor those habitually drunk, nor verbal abusers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)
One of the biggest mistakes that is made by some professing Christians, is to assume that because we are not to judge non-believers, that same Biblical principle then applies to all fellow believers and as such, we need not concern ourselves with identifying sin and just love them, because God will take care of the rest.
False doctrine within the Church matters, sexual immorality within the Church matters, the restoring of a brother or sister within the Church in fellowship matters, because God’s Word says it matters. And if it matters to God, it should matter to us.
We don’t, as Christians, get to pick and chose, selected Scriptures verses, that happens to fit into the picture that we are comfortable with, pertaining to who we think Jesus is and what He asks us to do. That is us moulding God’s Word into our perception. God asks us to study and meditate on all of His Word and allow it to mould us into His truth. Worldly wisdom is not a substitute for God’s wisdom. When the Apostle Paul addressed the sin that a member of the Church was committing in Corinth, that the Church had not taken action against, please note what his final instruction to the Church at Corinth was. “Remove the evil person from among yourselves” (1 Corinthians 5:13). Did he say God would take care of it? Did he say to be careful not to offend the member who had sinned? For a good overview on this whole incident, please click here.
And there may be some who will take what I have written here and assume that all I do is go around looking for those to whom I can correct, and they would be wrong. I am acutely aware of my own shortcomings, but there are serious discernment matters and false teachings that are worth advocating for, in accordance with the whole counsel of God, not just those selected Scripture verses that just happen to fit into our “one size fits all – just love” mentality and this is one of them.
Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!