Christians Must Judge Christians
Many Christians utter the phrase "Judge not lest ye be judged" but fail to consider what is taught by the complete counsel of God, in other words, the Bible as a whole. They want to be tolerant of the sins of others, especially other Christians. Yet the Bible directs us to judge the sins of fellow Christians. God will judge the unrighteous, or in other words, those that don't have salvation. But those saved have a mandate and responsibility to follow the will of God through obedience to the moral laws of Biblical scripture. Today I'll share with you what the Bible says about the subject and demonstrate that Christians must judge Christians.
The Apostle Paul wrote 1 Corinthians to the church at Corinth, and in chapter 5, Paul addressed fornication, among other sins. Specifically, a man having intimate relations with his father's wife. Paul does not address whether the woman is his mother or stepmother, but it is a sexual sin either way. He expressed his dismay that these sinners were not being judged by their fellow Christians. He reminded them that "a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump," In more modern terms if you allow sinful people to continue sinning, others will feel that you condone them. They may even emulate this immoral behavior. So, Paul says we should purge these unrepentant sinners out of our churches.
1 Corinthians 5:9-13
"9 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators:
10 Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world.
11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolator, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.
12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within?
13 But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person."
Christians Must Judge Christians
Several passages address the need for Christians to judge Christians. Examples include today's quote, and Mat 18:15-20, Gal 6:1, 2 Th 3:13-15, 2 Cor 12:20-21, Eph 5:1-7. The Bible addresses this as church discipline. "Moreover, if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglects to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican." Mat 18:15-20. "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted." Galatians 6:1. "But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing. And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother." 2 Thessalonians 3:13-15.
We are called to judge those professing Christ but continue sinning. These individuals may think they have salvation but have not accepted Christ as their Savior. A genuine Christian will overwhelmingly desire to do God's will and reject their own sinful nature. Or, the person may be a Christian that fell into sin and needs someone to remind them that they are sinning. This gentle reminder of their sin should be done in love with the sinner's best interest in mind. If they fail to repent, you must get church leadership involved. If that person continues the sin, it must be brought before the entire congregation. If the person continues sinning, ex-communication must be the result. The ex-communication is necessary to maintain the integrity of the congregation, dismiss bad influences, and, more to the point, obey God's Holy Word.
The Results of Biblical Church Discipline
The result of Biblical Church Discipline is threefold.
1. New Christians get instruction in righteousness.
2. Mature Christians and church leadership maintain good Church order.
3. Unrepentant sinful influencers are no longer in your congregation.
New Christians are often Biblically illiterate. They don't know what the Bible says and mistakenly sin. As mature Christians, Sunday school teachers, and pastors, we gradually teach new Christians what they need to know. Bible study and a good discipleship program are also imperative to get new Christians up to speed on what constitutes sin and instruct them in righteousness.
Mature Christians and our church leadership must be the backbone of our church. The church's integrity falters if they don't act when they have evidence of unrepentant sin. The person discovering proof of the sin may leave the church. Or, others who learn of their failure to act may leave the church. Either way, the body of Christ suffers, and churches divide and occasionally disband. This neglect of discipline isn't good for the members, or the community they serve. Church discipline is a necessity.
Professing Christians that refuse to repent of sins are sinful influencers. They can lead people astray, influence your youth and members, and even lead to the destruction of your local church. The Bible clearly states that Christians are not to be associated with unrepentant sinners. The key to understanding this starts with the word unrepentant. Sin would mortify a faithful Christian. They would beg God to forgive them. They would turn from that sin and do everything in their power to avoid it in the present and future.
On the other hand, a professing Christian that is not actually a Christian immediately starts making excuses. If the congregation dismisses the excuses, they often switch to blaming others. Ultimately, they either accept Christ as Savior and repent or continue defiantly sinning. This final defiance and continued unrepented sin necessitate church discipline. In other words, Christians must judge Christians to maintain good order and discipline within their local church.
Benefits of Loving and Respectful Christian Judgment of other Christians
1. Your church thrives spiritually.
2. Your congregation grows in righteousness.
3. Your new Christians learn from mature Christians and church leaders.
4. Our Lord Jesus Christ receives the glory because He shared His wisdom with us through His's Holy Word – The Bible.
If you realize that you are not saved after listening to this sermon, don't hesitate to accept Jesus as your Savior now. The altar is open. The altar is also open if you realize that you have unrepented sin in your life. Lift up a prayer of repentance right now. Christ is waiting, and He will answer your prayers.