Never Judging – Always Discerning Romans 14

Next week I will preach on Romans 14

14:1. Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgement. 4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

Hear also the serious warning Jesus gives us in the sermon on the mount!
Matthew 7:1-5
7 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way as you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant?
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged

Solemn warnings about passing judgment especially on other Christians. Is it EVER right to judge others?

Well – Jesus was Himself passing judgement on His hearers when he talked about takin the plank our of your own eye before trying to take a speck out of another man’s eye. Paul was passing judgement on those Romans who were judging others. Judgement can sometimes be good – necessary – essential!

14:1 Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters.

“without passing judgment on disputable matters”

BUT WHAT ARE DISPUTABLE MATTERS ???? Some aspects of Christian life and faith and indisputable. Some matters demand, not so much “passing judgement” but definitely showing discernment.

Possibly the most important area where we have to pass judgement is in areas of doctrine – the truths of the Christian faith. The New Testament is full of warnings about false teachers who seek to deceive the church from inside the church. We will look at these passages in just a moment. Christians and especially church leaders have a solemn responsibility to `guard the gospel’.
`What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you – guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.’ (2 Tim 1:13-14).

Church unity is no optional extra for Christians. It should be at the heart of our agenda because it is at the heart of God’s agenda! (John 17:20-23) But great difficulties can arise when it comes to working out church unity in practice. It is too simplistic to say that we are obliged to work and worship with all who call themselves Christians. Whilst it is not appropriate for individual Christians to make judgments about whether other people are truly saved, it is absolutely vital for churches and church leaders to know what the Bible teaches and to defend the truths of the gospel against any deception or dilution. We must avoid the traps of pride and self-righteousness, but we must also make sure that we are faithful, in love, to the truth as we have received and believed it. We should be prepared to enter into dialogue with any others who call themselves Christians. But we must hold fast to our convictions. Conscience demands that we only work and worship alongside others who worship the same Lord and preach the same gospel.

We should show discernment and I believe there are at least four areas at the heart of our faith which are indisputable and NON-NEGOTIABLE.

* acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord and God within the Holy Trinity;
1 John 4:1-3
4 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 This is how you can recognise the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.

The Jehovah’s witnesses, the Mormons, even the Jews have got it wrong because they have wrong ideas about who Jesus Christ is. The earliest declaration of faith is simply this – Jesus is Lord! We don’t pass judgement – but we must exercise discernment!

* submit to the Bible correctly interpreted as the supreme authority for faith and practice.
Acts 20:27-31;
27 For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God. 28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. 29 I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. 31 So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.

We need to stand firm against theological liberalism and wooliness and the post- modern political correctness which says that the only thing we can be certain about is that we can’t be certain about anything!

In beliefs and practice I believe it is right and important to be (to borrow a phrase) “tentatively definite” – that is to proclaim boldly and defend vigorously the truth as we have currently grasped it, whilst remaining humble enough to recognise that God may always teach us something new (probably through a Christian from a very different tradition) which will cause us to re-examine and even change our position.

We don’t pass judgement – but on the authority of Scripture we must exercise discernment!

* recognise the fallen-ness of humanity and the need for personal repentance and faith in order to receive God’s gift of forgiveness and eternal life, which comes through grace alone on the basis of Christ’s atoning and substitutionary death on the cross;
Remember the warnings against the 7 churches in Revelation: Rev 2:14-16,
14 Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality. 15 Likewise you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. 16 Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
0 Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. 21 I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. 22 So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. 23 I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds. 24 Now I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned Satan’s so-called deep secrets (I will not impose any other burden on you): 25 Only hold on to what you have until I come.

These churches God was condemning had watered down ideas of sin. They were tolerating immorality. They were promoting other ways of salvation when the Bible teaches us clearly that Christ is the only way to God! “I am the way, the truth and the life,” Jesus said. “No-one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

So I stand opposed to so-called `multi-faith’ worship and the preaching of any other gospel I oppose any implications of universalism. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved! Don’t believe and you are doomed! We don’t pass judgement – but we must exercise discernment!

* look for the working of God the Holy Spirit as the indispensable
element in the life of any Christian and any church;
not just thinking about people who use the same kind of language about the Holy Spirit as we do – but about a spirit filled life – holiness – joyful witness! We need discernment over manifestations which could come from the Holy Spirit but could come from other sources. But people who reject the work of the Holy Spirit, the miraculous, the prophetic are grieving and quenching the Spirit. And of course we should expect to see the fruit of the Spirit.
Matt 7:15-20;
15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognise them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognise them.

Then Jesus goes on to warn that we must test the Spirits. Not every apparent “work of the Holy Spirit” is genuine!
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
In matters such as the deity of Christ, the reliability and authority of Scripture, the way of salvation and manifestations of the Holy Spirit we don’t pass judgement – but we must exercise discernment! Guard the gospel!

Here are four areas in which it can be right for Christians to ignore the command “judge not lest you be judged! But are there any others? I believe there are. In the case of another Christian who does something or says something which is clearly wrong, Jesus sets out a procedure to follow.

Matthw 17:15 “If your brother sins against you, (some versions don’t have against you) go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. 16 But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector

As individual Christians we should not take it upon ourselves to correct each other in every little thing. But if the sin is serious – we have a duty to point it out. If our brother won’t listen to us privately, we explain the situation to another one or two mature Christians (entirely privately – no excuse for gossip!). If he won’t listen to the two or three, take it to the leadership. And ultimately if he won’t listen to the whole church then fellowship is broken!

In the case of serious problems – we MUST show discernment. Not “passing judgement” but seeking to bring a brother to repentance. We must follow the procedure Jesus outlines. But if that does not work – if there is no repentance – at least we have done our best to rescue our brother from sin. And then that is the end of the matter. We have to leave the matter to God for Him to sort out.

14: 4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

This entry was posted in Romans.

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