Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on August 31, 2014.
Turn with me to Matthew 7:1-6. Today we are going to examine what I believe to be the most misunderstood, misused and abused sections in the Bible. This is a section that the world loves to throw around, especially in the face of Christians.
Now as we read this section we must remind ourselves that these are the words of Jesus Christ himself. Jesus is the leader of our Church, he is the Son of the Living God, everything he says is true and everything he says we must obey. So as with all scripture we desire this text to equip us so that we can accomplish the work of God in a way that pleases Him. So with that said, let us read our text, pray that God would guide us to His truth, and study God’s Word.
Now before I get into the Bible, I want to first make a logical argument. When someone who has just been confronted for their sin, throws Matthew 7 back in your face, they are effectively violating their own terms. They have become a hypocrite. For what they are doing is judging your judgment. Do you follow? By their attempts to avoid your accusation, by accusing you of sin by judgment, they have effectively created their own noose. They are now standing in judgment over you. So perhaps you should respond back to them, don’t judge me for judging you.
Now the question before us becomes, is this what Jesus intended? Is this what Jesus was trying to create, a perpetual, never-ending “don’t judge me” argument? Obviously not. So let’s first start by understanding what this section does not say.
When Jesus says, “Judge not, that you be not judged” he does not mean to avoid discussions about sin. Nor does he mean for us not to evaluate people and their sinfulness. This is obvious by Jesus’ own statements in this section.
For those who have been with us since we began this journey, you have heard me say multiple times that Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount could also be titled the Sermon on the Heart. For every topic that Jesus addresses is an attempt to address the condition of our sinful hearts and our need for Jesus to perform heart surgery on us, so as to be able to fulfill these radical commands of Christ.
In doing this, throughout the sermon, Jesus continuously stacks his teachings up against the teaching and the behavior of the Scribes and the Pharisees. The Scribes and Pharisees were the religious leaders of that day. He does this in the beginning of the Sermon of the Mount by saying,
So as we begin chapter 7, Jesus is not changing the back drop of his teaching. He is still stacking up his teachings of against the teachings of the Scribes and Pharisees. Therefore, when Jesus says, “Judge not, that you be not judged” he is speaking to how the religious leaders wrongly go about addressing sin. So the question is how was their judgment wrong?
It is wrong the same way they were wrong about everything else. They way they addressed sin in people’s lives was based, not on the righteousness of God, but on the righteousness of man. The scribes and the Pharisees were judging self-righteously. In our text, Jesus gives us an illustration to help us understand the wrong form of judgment.
They did everything they could and more to give the appearance that they were holy. They worked hard to follow every rule and every tradition to a “T” and they believed that if they worked hard enough then God would bless them. They focused all their attention on cleaning up their lives on the outside. Listen to what Jesus says about them later in Matthew 23.
The bottom line is that we are saved by grace and we stand in grace. When we recognize that we are not God, and we are saved by grace alone, we are transferred from darkness to light, and we have eyes to see. The log comes out. And only when this happens are we able to help our brothers and sisters with sin in their lives. Until we have confessed our sins and abide in the grace of Jesus Christ, we are utterly useless. If we stand in judgment as God over the sins of others we do more damage then good. But if we humbly walk as sinners saved by grace, healing can begin with our brothers and sisters, for we can given them what helped us, Jesus Christ.
I believe the Apostle Paul is a fantastic picture of this right judgment. For those who don’t know Paul was a Pharisee. He called himself a “Hebrew of Hebrews.” When Jesus called the Pharisees hypocrites, he was speaking of Paul. Eventually Paul was captured by the grace of God. Listen to how Paul addresses the most sinful Church in the Bible, the Church in Corinth.
When you confront someone about sin in their life, the driving force behind it must be loving, not Lording. This does not mean that we avoid the sin discussion. If you love them, you will confront them. It means that when we see something in their eye that is bringing them to tears, we should come up along side them and weep, and mourn for them, not as their god, but as their brother and sister.