Judgmentalism, Judges, & Judgment

This morning I was studying the Old Testament book of Judges; specifically, I was in Judges chapter two. Chapter two serves as a model for the book of Judges as a whole. The pattern is this: 1) sin is not only tolerated but celebrated by the people; 2) godly leadership is largely absent and many who professed genuine faith fall away from God; 3) the nation sinks into apostasy; 4) the nation is largely overcome by the godless; 5) the people cry out to God to save them; and 6) God uses judgment to rebuke and teach and deliver.

  1. Sin is not only tolerated but celebrated by the people
  2. Godly leadership is largely absent and many who professed genuine faith fall away from God
  3. The nation sinks into apostasy
  4. The nation is largely overcome by the godless
  5. The people cry out to God to save them
  6. God uses judgment to rebuke and teach and deliver many

At a church I pastored several years back, I taught through one of the most often-quoted verses of the Bible. It comes from Matthew 7. It begins this way:

“Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matthew 7:1). That’s the verse many people, who seldom have any interest in Christianity or the gospel, love to quote.

But, dear reader, context, context, context. Read the whole passage. Don’t cherrypick verses. The next eleven verses unpack Jesus’ teaching. The whole point of the passage is for us sinners not to be blind to our own sins. We’re to admit and address our own sins before we admonish others. We are to avoid being sanctimonious; we’re not to have a holier-than-thou spirit.

Jesus would teach consistently that judgment is inescapable. Thinking is, by definition, judging. Some things are true and others are false. A woman cannot be both pregnant and not pregnant at the same time. Either God exists or He doesn’t. Either you are created in the image and likeness of God or you’re cosmic slime, detritus awash in the void.

Jesus consistently taught to judge rightly. This is the way He put it in John 7: “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment” (John 7:24).

See it? To be a thinking and thoughtful person means making distinctions, recognizing truth from error, wisdom from folly. It means judging rightly.

Segue: When I survey the modern melee of contemporary life, what do we see? Is it not like the book of Judges?

Do we not see sin not only tolerated but celebrated? Do we not see godly leadership largely absent and/or suppressed? Do we not see nations sunk in apostasy? Do we not see godlessness pervade more and more ground in our lives? And do we not see a reaction wherein some people cry out to God? And do we not see judgment falling upon the nations?

And could it be that God’s judgment is to rebuke and to teach and to deliver many?

Many will scoff and say, “So childish! Man’s progressing. Man’s evolving. Enough with your silly adolescent Sunday school lessons and Jesus talk.”

Your paganism is progressing marvelously. How could I have missed it?

The pattern remains the same.

Listen to the New Testament:

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written,

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. (1 Corinthians 1:18-25)

I do not subscribe to the view that history is cyclical. I believe that history is “going somewhere.” We sinners repeat cycles, yes, but along a continuum, a linear timeline. In sum, I believe that we were created, that we are fallen, that we need redemption, that the sole Redeemer is Jesus, the Christ. The work of the triune God at the cross of Calvary … this gospel is the ultimate, non-repeatable, efficacious means of judgment and redemption for man’s sin.

For those who flee to Christ in the gospel, reconciliation, forgiveness, and hope.

For those who trust in themselves, they remain captive to the lie of the serpent, enemies of the cross, rebels to the truth. They are, to use the Bible’s language, fools.

I do not know what more it will take for the world to actually open the Scriptures, read them from cover to cover, and embrace the gospel message. The world makes time for sports, for endless mindless entertainment, for distractions as endless and vapid as can be imagined. And few people seem to embrace the reality that judgment is unavoidable. We all make judgments, and so does–please hear this–God.

Judgmentalism is not, I say again, the Christian message. But judgment, holy perfect judgment by the thrice-holy God, is the message, and it’s good news if you come to it via Jesus, the Christ.

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