Note: Check older posts above to finish reading the series (chapters 10-13)
“Speak the truth in love…” “Better is open rebuke than love concealed. Faithful are the
wounds of a friend.” Ephesians 4:15 & Proverbs 27:5-6
This chapter is based on 90 verses in 30 passages of Scripture
Note: All Scriptures in parenthesis appear in my book, Revealing God’s Design with Love, or can be looked up in any Bible.
I don’t know how many times I’ve heard over the years the words, “You shouldn’t judge others,” or “You’re not supposed to judge if you are a Christian,” or “I thought only God was to judge.” These comments have a degree of truth based on what Jesus said in the course of His ministry, but they don’t tell the whole truth.
There are two major kinds of judging in God’s Word, one that has to do with judging another’s salvation and the other with holding each other accountable to God’s laws, commands, and principles. This latter kind of judging involves encouraging, admonishing, correcting, and reprimanding those who disobey or ignore God’s teaching and warning against various wrongdoings and practices.
Here are a few of the many passages that cover judging. They are intertwined with one another to show that to judge (correct) and not to judge are appropriate for Christians to do, depending upon the circumstances.
My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. James 5:19-20
Do not speak against one another, brethren. He, who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it. There are only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor? James 4:11-12
Do you not know that Christians (saints) will judge the world? If the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life? I Corinthians 6:2-3
Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Matthew 7:1-2
Jesus said, “Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.” Luke 17:3
I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. II Timothy 4:1-4
The mouth of the righteous speaks wisdom, and their tongues talk of judgment. Psalm 37:30 (King James Version)
What set of circumstances would authorize Christians to judge and correct others? The answer lies in whether an action can be identified as sin according to Scripture. If something is done that is sinful and harmful to others, then the one doing it may need to be judged and corrected. As we judge in this respect, which I like to call a correction, we should rebuke on one end, but encourage on the other. We should lace what we say and do with as much love as can be mustered.
Due to our faith in Christ, God has chosen us as ambassadors to represent His truth. Part of being a good ambassador is to openly expose the presence, reality, and destructiveness of sin. Without such exposure, wrongdoings can spread and rule the entire world. We have seen this over and over again as demonstrated when evil and sinful men have taken control of different cultures and nations.
I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. Ephesians 6:20
To better understand how Christians are to judge correctly and hold others accountable for their sins, there are four paths to follow that I call The Gavel Path, The Logjam Path, The Path of Missing-the-Mark, and The Path of Rescue.
The Gavel Path
In an American courtroom, there are some key participants; the most important is the judge who controls the proceedings. The judge uses a gavel to maintain control of the courtroom, and, if needed, end a particular discussion on an issue. When this wooden-like hammer is pounded on the judge’s desk, everyone must stop what they are saying or doing. They do this because of the judge’s authority. Hence, over time, the gavel has become a symbol of the judge’s power to make decisions, especially the one that ends a case.
This illustration is similar to Jesus who was given the responsibility to judge who is worthy to enter into the kingdom of God and who isn’t. This doesn’t mean God the Father and the Spirit are not also involved in judging the actions of those they created, yet Jesus was chosen to do their bidding on the final Day of Judgment when He returns a second and last time. (I Thessalonians 4:16-17; John 5:22; John 8:16) When Jesus said to the disciples in the Sermon on the Mount, “Do not judge,” He was telling them, and all Christians, not to usurp His role as judge of another’s salvation.
There are a few reasons why Jesus does not want us to judge in this respect. The foremost is that we are not equipped to know the heart of another, as He does, no matter how spiritual or knowledgeable we think we are. Unlike us, Jesus can look beyond everyone’s words and actions and see who they are regarding a saving faith. (I Corinthians 4:5; Luke 16:15)
Therefore, when we are tempted to say to those in the LGBT Community that they are not going to enter the kingdom of heaven because of what they are doing, don’t! This is not our role! We should say, instead, that God through His Scripture says that you need to believe and repent of all of your sins, including your gay practices, to enter the kingdom. The key is to leave them with His Scripture for their spiritual destiny, even though our words or opinions may sound exactly like what the Scriptures teach. This may seem like a slight point, but it is not, because by doing this, it removes us from being their judge for salvation.
Here are a few of many passages to share with those who have elected to be gay, or who have changed their gender, or committed any other sin as far as that is concerned. All of these verses speak of the salvation needed first before any real and lasting change can take place.
Jesus said, “I tell you that unless you repent, you will perish.” Luke 13:3
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” John 14:6
If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth, he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” Romans 10:9-11
Whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:15-16
The Logjam Path
Once, when I was dieting, I ran across a gal who was extremely overweight. I could not help but eavesdrop on a conversation she was having with a friend as she advised what to eat to keep trim and healthy. Later, I saw her munching on a candy bar in one hand and devouring an ice cream cone in the other. Needless to say, I threw out any advice I heard her say about keeping trim. In my estimation, she was a hypocrite, saying one thing but doing the opposite. Comparably, this is what I believe Jesus was saying about many of the religious leaders of His day, who ruthlessly judged the spiritual lives of others, yet lived the opposite. Jesus made this point right after He warned against judging another’s salvation in the Sermon on the Mount using a “log in the eye” illustration. He said, “Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, let me take the speck out of your eye, and behold, a log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:3-5
We had better get our own lives together before speaking into the lives of others. When addressing those in the LGBT Community, we can’t be involved in other immoral acts of our own. Just because our transgressions are done from a heterosexual root doesn’t make them less wrong. This doesn’t mean we have to be perfect before confronting others about their sins, but we need to make every effort to be right with the Lord in our own lives. Often, this means nothing more than recognizing our sins and then asking Jesus to forgive us.
If perfection is the necessary criteria before confronting others, then nothing would ever be said or done. If nothing is ever said or done about sin, then there would be no restraint to the horrific things we could continue to do to others and ourselves. Two World Wars and atrocities attached to them are proof of sin that was initially ignored, discounted, or unchallenged.
Therefore, we are to get rid of the logjam of sin in our own lives first, so that we can effectively help those committing homosexually related sins. If we don’t, then the judging and correcting God wants us to do will fall on deaf ears.
The Path of Missing-the-Mark
When I was young, I took up archery for a season. It was a unique activity and different than other sports like basketball and football that had previously drawn my interest. The goal of archery was to shoot an arrow and hit the middle of the target called the bullseye. It was easier to do this from close range, but harder when I moved farther away. I was not very good at archery; my arrows often missed the bullseye. Maybe if I had been coached by someone who knew what they were doing, I would have done better. But that was not the case, so I eventually lost interest and gave my bow and arrows to a friend.
In a way, missing the bullseye in my experience is like the misjudging of which Paul was critical. In the passages quoted within this chapter (Ephesians 4:15, I Corinthians 6:2-3, II Timothy 4:1-4, I Corinthians 6:9-10), Paul indicates there is accountability we incur when we judge and correct others. Our intent should be to rescue them from their transgressions. A key to doing this well is first to establish if something is actually a sin. If it is, then the Bible will identify it as such in several different places, as it has with homosexuality. If it is established as sin, then it needs to be confronted, exhorted, and corrected.
As avid as Paul was in encouraging fellow believers to confront others about sin, he was just as fervent in scolding them when they went too far and judged practices that were not specifically condemned in God’s Word. To him, this type of judging was deeply flawed and missed the bullseye when trying to help others.
When we read in Paul’s letters of his disapproval of judging, it never involves a reversal of a clearly stated sin. There were rules and certain practices in the Old Testament that required obedience, but not so when the New Testament era began. Some practices that were questioned in Paul’s day involved eating, drinking, and worshipping. None of these Old Testament practices were inherently evil, but rather customs that were decided upon by each believer and the Lord, according to their particular circumstance or culture. Homosexuality, effeminacy, cross-dressing, and eventual gender change, on the other hand, were identified as sinful in every era in the Bible and needed to be judged, rebuked, and stopped. (See Leviticus 18:22-24, I Timothy 1:8-11, and Deuteronomy 22:5 quoted and referenced below)
The following passage in Romans is an example of Paul’s teaching about judging on issues that can go many ways with God and His will. Colossians 2:16-23 and I Corinthians 10:25-32 are two other passages that teach the same.
One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only. The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge the servant of another? One person regards one day above another; another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. He, who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God. But you, why do you judge your brother? Therefore, let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this –not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way. It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles. The faith which you have should be your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats because his eating is not from faith, and whatever is not from faith is a sin. Romans 14:2-3, 6, 10, 13, 21-23
The Path of Rescue
When my son was in high school, he worked as a lifeguard at Lake Almanor in California. During one particular summer, he saved a couple of children from drowning. On one occasion, a young boy got caught underneath the diving dock, but Brodie saw the situation and immediately swam out and pulled him free. The boy’s mother, who stood on the shore, was very appreciative, as you can imagine. The main reason Brodie was able to do what he did that day was that he had been trained. My son is now on a different life-saving undertaking as a missionary to the Republic of Georgia near Ukraine.
Similarly, we are like Brodie when we jump in and try to save others who are drowning in their transgressions. Part of our effort to rescue them involves telling them what their wrongs are according to God’s Word. Thus, for those tied to the LGBT practices, it means telling them that what they are doing is sinful. Not to reprove them is like letting them drown in their iniquities and immoralities.
Jesus is the model for rescuing others from sin. He not only loved, but also taught, and gave others grace and forgiveness; He also brought their sins to their attention. Jesus was often compassionate when pointing out wrongdoings but was never quiet or remiss in exposing them. The case of the woman caught in adultery is an example because, at the end of saving her from being stoned for her offense, Jesus turned and said, “Now, go and sin no more.” In other words, “You were wrong in what you were doing, but I have rescued and forgiven you, now quit sinning.” (John 8:5, 7, 9-11)
At other times, Jesus was not quite as compassionate, but rather confrontational in His judging, as was the case with many of the religious leaders of His day. Sometimes He even called them hypocrites because they refused to give mercy, justice, and forgiveness to the people they were called to lead and serve. (Matthew 23:23, 28)
When applying Christ’s example, employ either a compassionate or confrontational approach according to the person with whom you are dealing. For those who are clearly saved and a part of the church, a more confrontational approach may be needed for they should know better. However, for those outside of the church who need salvation more than anything else, a gentler approach may be appropriate. A gentler approach may also be best for some inside of the church depending upon their sin and circumstance. The following Scripture demonstrates this two-pronged approach.
Confrontational Approach (geared toward noncompliant Christians)
It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife. You have become arrogant and have not mourned instead so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst. For I, on my part, though absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged him who has so committed this, as though I were present. In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover also has been sacrificed. Therefore, let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But God judges those on the outside; therefore, remove the wicked man from among yourselves. I Corinthians 5:1-13
Gentle Approach (geared toward non-Christians and Christians)
The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will. II Timothy 2:24-26,
Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted. Gal 6:1
“And if your brother sins go and reprove him in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.” Matt 18:15
Is it right for Christians to judge and correct others who are caught up in the LGBT Community? The overall answer is “yes,” except concerning judging their salvation or entry into God’s kingdom. That is for Jesus to do, and only Him. Outside of this, it’s our responsibility as God’s ambassadors to share His truth with them about everything, including their sins.
Scriptural References for Homosexuality and Gender Change
Leviticus 18:22-24 22 You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination. 23 Also, you shall not have intercourse with any animal to be defiled with it, nor shall any woman stand before an animal to mate with it; it is a perversion. 24 Do not defile yourselves by any of these things; for by all these the nations which I am casting out before you have become defiled.
I Timothy 1:8-11 8 But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9 realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for the murderers 10and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, 11 according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.
Deuteronomy 22:5 A woman shall not wear man’s clothing, nor shall a man put on a woman’s clothing; for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God. [Forerunner to gender change]