The Cart Before the Horse

“Doesn’t the Bible say ‘judge not, lest ye be judged? ”

“Don’t judge others who sin differently than you! ”

“Who are you to say what’s right or wrong? “

Three excellent statements that deserve an answer.

1. The bible does indeed say to ‘not judge’ in two parallel passages . However,  it uses the word judge in the sense of condemn or sentence, not in the sense of distinguishing between things. In fact, very often the bible specifically tells us to judge between right and wrong and to judge the actions of those in our midst.

2. The Bible,  God’s instructions for us,  is very specific in naming some things as sin. It is less specific in other things. First we should define what sin is:

Doing what God says is wrong;
Not doing what God says you should;
Doing the right thing for the wrong reason;
Doing the wrong thing for the right reason;

But first, foremost, and the ONLY sin that will keep you from God’s presence – Refusing to love and be loved by God by accepting the forgiveness found through Jesus (the cause) and following Him as a humble student (the effect).

3. What gives God the right to tell us what to do? Because He created us and loves us, He knows what is best for us.

“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.” Luke 6:36-37, (cf Matt 7:1-5)

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people —  not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world.  But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one.  For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?  God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”
1Cor 5:9-13

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 men who practice homosexuality,  nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.  And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
1Cor 6:9-11

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance,  but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
1Pe 1:14-16

Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more.  For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus.  For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality;  that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor,  not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God;  that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you.  For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness.  Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.  Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another,  for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more,  and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you,  so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.
1Thes 4:1-12

The cart before the horse

For far too long, the Church has gotten things backwards. We tell (or at least infer) that you need to clean up your act and come to church. We shout from the rooftops that ‘you heathen are going to hell in your sins’. We insist that the people outside the family of God act like the family should (when in fact most of the “family” doesn’t).

The horse before the cart

The Church, starting with the local group of disciples, needs to clean house.

How can we say come be like us if we’re no different than the world?

Before we can have any credibility that our faith is real and true and useful,  we need to live like God tells us to.

We need to be absolutely clear what the Bible says, and transparently, honestly,  wholeheartedly,  apply it to ourselves.

We need to hold each other accountable for our lifestyles.

We need to call those who are not living a disciple’s life back to repentance following  the biblical process, as Paul says:

If your brother is sinning, go to him and urge his repentance.
If he doesn’t listen, bring two or three others and urge his repentance.
If he still doesn’t listen, the leadership of the local body meets with him to urge his repentance.
If he still refuses to listen, treat him as an unbeliever, ie love him, keep urging his repentance, but for the sake of the body, he is to be excluded from the life of the congregation.

Only then can we say to the world  “we have found the Way, the Truth, and the Life,  come follow Him and live.”

Only then can we offer them the message of hope, and love, and reconciliation with God:

The Good News

God loves you! He created you to love Him and live right.

BUT, we have ALL rebelled against Him. We are bent and broken people, unwilling and unable to love Him.

He still loves us so much that He sent His own Son (Jesus) to die on the cross to pay the penalty for our rebellion.

If you

BELIEVE in Jesus,

ACCEPT His forgiveness,

REPENT (turn away) from your rebellion, and

CONFESS Him as Lord (in control).

He will give you a new heart , able to love Him and live right.