Saturday, May 13, 2006

God's Righteous Judgement

There are many passages in the OT dealing with how we are to judge our neighbors/others. They are set in place as a means of guiding us, so that we do not also fall into the traps of sin ourselves. Likewise, Jesus spoke of judgement and man's role in it, not as a means of building up our appearances (like many of the Pharisees did), but as a chastisement for those who would judge while embracing sin themselves.

How do you use your judgement? It is all well and good to be able to pick apart the sins of others... but many do not use good, sound judgement in their daily lives.

To judge, in a court of law, there must be impartiality. A judge can not, ethically, take things personally, or be involved in the case on a personal level. If a judge is found to have taken sides for personal reason, or operated in an unethical manner, the defense attorney can call for a mistrial. Sure, the person being tried may have actually been guilty of the crime, but because of the actions of the judge, the mistrial makes it more difficult for the person to be punished.

We an judge actions using the laws of man, penalizing for offenses against the law so that their can be atonement for crimes. A murderer, a shop lifter and a car thief can all be punished, with a severity depending upon the nature of their crimes. The "you've done something wrong and now you must make effort to make thing right" mentality is one that people openly and willingly embrace. Of course, we have the court system to guide us in our judgement.

Let's look at the case of murder. Murder is an offense which, if proven, can be penalized with atonements such as ten years (or even life) in prison. It can also be punished by the death penalty. The victim's families can also ask for a civil trial (apart from the criminal trial) to seek damages from the one who has taken the life of their loved one. A person can be found guilty in both the civil and criminal trial, or innocent in the criminal trial and guilty in the civil trial. In criminal law, there must be a preponderance of evidence that says, without a shadow of a doubt, that a person is guilty of murder. In a civil trial, the evidence must prove that it is more likely than not that the grievance was committed... shadow of a doubt is not needed. Often, an innocent man is put on trial for murder. It takes a lot of footwork, cleverness, and effort on both sides (prosecutor and defending attorney) to use the system to their advantage to prove their case. In a criminal trial, both sides must prove, without any room for doubt, that a man is guilty. Sometimes, an innocent man is condemned. Sometimes, a guilty man walks free. It is not a perfect system.

When we judge others, we hold our own civil trial before others, and speak of their actions against God (sins). The person's soul, however, would be more like a criminal trial... with God as the sole judge. How do you use your judgement? It is all well and good to be able to pick apart the sins of others... but many do not use good, sound judgement in their daily lives. Do you feel you do a good job at judging others? If so, are you judging ethically, impartially, without any person stake in it? Do you judge to make yourself appear to be 'more righteous' than the person you judge? Do you judge knowing you have a clean slate yourself? Or, after you have pronounced your judgement of another, do you then commit sins yourself? Can someone call a mistrial of your judgement because they see you are personally involved in the case?

Yes, we can judge actions, and many people site the Holy Bible as their basis to judge. The 'laws' found in Scripture are used to point out the sins of others, but it seems people always want to take it one step further and place themselves in God's role as our sole (and soul!) Judge. We are not God and we can not judge in his place. Nor are we the defense attorney... that role is filled by Jesus, who takes a stand for our sins and offers us freedom from them... and who pleads our case through his own sacrifice of death. Nor are we the prosecutor... that is Satan's role. He seeks to have us condemned by God... to have one more soul removed from the promise of Heaven. We are not the jury, because we have no say in where another's soul is to go. In fact, we are nothing more than other people waiting their own turn on Judgement Day.

God has given the ability to judge, not so that we can hold trial, but so that we can make our own sound decisions in daily life. We can see when others are going against God's word... and we can avoid that pitfall ourselves. It's our choice. When we see a 'sinner', we should tell ourselves "hey, that is wrong!" and then make sure we see the patterns so we can avoid that sin. We can see the other person's actions, and God does allow us to tell them "hey, your action is wrong", but we do not know all the circumstances behind their action, nor will God tell us (it's God's way of saying MYOB.)

A rapist can sit beside a shoplifter in court, awaiting trial, and say to the shoplifter "didn't you know stealing is wrong??!" The shoplifter can reply "so is rape!" Both men know it is senseless for either man to pass judgement on the other when both are criminals. That is why judgement of souls should be left to the Lord.

So, let's look at the two men I mentioned above. What if the rapist wasn't a rapist? What if he and his girlfriend were both 17 and her father reported him for statutory rape on his 18th birthday because he doesn't like the guy? Is it his fault that he turned 18 before she did? He is guilty of consensual sex with a minor. But, he will forever be branded a rapist. And the shoplifter? What if he was an old man who had forgotten he was still holding a can of peas when he walked out the door? What if the store manager was a hard-nose, and called the police because the old man didn't understand why he was being yelled at? What if the store manager pressed charges to 'make an example to others'? Should the old man be sent to jail or fined because of senile dementia? In both these examples, it will take hard work on the part of the DA and the Defense to prove that there was a sound reason, and that a crime had not been committed. As a judge of man's laws, we would look at the day's docket and see 'people vs. a rapist' or 'people vs. a shoplifter' (to generalize it). But, God would look at it and see... nothing but the truth... yes, the old man walked out the door with peas because God knows he is growing senile, and yes, the boy slept with the girl, but although it is sex outside of marriage, it was not rape. God would decide how to best DECIDE. There are no mistrials outside the Gates of Heaven, and God does not accept 'guilty with good reason'. We have the opportunity to come before God and admit our crimes before our judgement day, and God will remove them from our record... we then must go about our life walking in His Ways, and not turn back to that crime against him.

So, to sum up all this writing: we can judge the actions of others, but we have to temper that judgement wisdom and all the facts. We cannot judge another's soul, or their walk with God, because we are not God. By the way... judging using personal doctrine is a bad idea... the doctrine is personal (yours) and not everyone follows your doctrine!

Finally, if we must put ourselves in God's place and judge... we have to make sure we follow through. If a woman says 'I was a sinner, and I aborted my baby before I came to Christ', we cannot continue to judge that person as being in sin. You see, God removed that from her record. It was forgiven, and she has turned her life to Christ. Likewise, if a man says 'I was a fool in my youth and slept around with every person I met, male and female, before I became reborn in Christ', we cannot hold that against them either. God has forgiven that man, and now he has a new walk with the Lord. Who are we to hold that sin against them when God himself has given pardon?

On that note, if we do put ourselves in God's place and judge, we have to make sure we are not in sin ourselves (in other words, we can't be God.) We can not damn someone for being homosexual, or drinking wine, or smoking cigarettes, or aborting their baby, or being divorced and remarried... and then proceed to attack them by tearing them down and showing no mercy, or taking swipes at them verbally. If we do that, then we are breaking God's law ourselves, and are no better than the one we judge as being in sin (Jesus did command us to 'love them as I have loved you.') Plus, sin is sin before God.

We can state 'I believe this about God' all we want... it is our belief... and we can scream it from the rooftops if we so desire. But, we can not attack someone personally for what they believe if that belief differs from ours... it is their belief, and we all have to answer to God for what we do or believe when life has ended. Like the shoplifter and rapist above, we can point out what the 'wrongs' are, but we are in no place to sit as judge, especially when we do not know all the circumstances behind each unique case.

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God's Righteous Judgement
Romans 2:1-16
You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God's judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God's judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?

But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. God "will give to each person according to what he has done." To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism.

All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.) This will take place on the day when God will judge men's secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Perfecto Thane. If anyone cannot understand that it is because they dont' want to open their minds and hearts to do do. So often I see people being bashed for past sins when they have repented and turned away from those sins and been forgiven by God.Woe unto the ones who do this because they will answer for it. In Matt.6:14-15 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses,neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
This is quite clear.Forgiveness must be sincere. I believe that if we do not forgive a brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin.
The Lord will forgive whom he will forgive, but of us it is required to forgive all men.Most people, when brought to a reconciliation with others, say that they forgive, but they continue to hold malice, continue to suspect the other party, continue to disbelieve the other's sincerity.This is sin, for when a reconciliation has been effected adn when repentance is claimed, each should forgive and forget, build immediately the fences which have been breached, and restore the former compatibility.From what I have learned over the years I may add that unless a person forgives his brother his trespasses with all his heart he is unfit to partake of the sacrament. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.(1 Cor.11:29-30.)The scriptures are very strict upon the unauthorized judging.The Lord himself made it clear and emphatic:
Judge not, that ye be not judged.
For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. (Matt.7:1-22.)This is the spirit we must all possess if we would receive forgiveness of our own sins and be blameless before God. BiddyKelly

Jon javid said...

Good post. I also enjoyed reading this other perspective. http://www.lds.org/ensign/1999/08/judge-not-and-judging