October 9, 2015

What is the difference between judging and evaluating?

Ezekiel 19:1–20:49, Revelation 9:1–21, Job 34:31–37

When a discerning person declares that something is wrong, someone usually says, “We are not supposed to judge.” Even those who do not ready or rely on the Bible know that it says anyone who judges others might be judged — especially if their judgment is incorrect.

However, I am to evaluate right from wrong and discern truth from fiction. When God confirms something in my heart and His Word verifies my view, I must stand up for it. Isn’t this different from judging?

Ezekiel thought so. God told him to talk to His people and “Let them know the abominations of their fathers.” (Ezekiel 20:4) Then God said, “They rebelled against me and were not willing to listen to me. None of them cast away the detestable things their eyes feasted on, nor did they forsake the idols of Egypt. Then I said I would pour out my wrath upon them and spend my anger against them in the midst of the land of Egypt. But I acted for the sake of my name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations among whom they lived, in whose sight I made myself known to them in bringing them out of the land of Egypt.” (Ezekiel 20:8–9)

I’ve I wondered what I would think of a perfect woman who did not deal with her rebellious and disobedient children. Not much. She would not be perfect, just as God would lose my respect if He overlooked sin, even my sin.

The Bible tells how God’s children rebel against Him: “They did not walk in my statutes but rejected my rules, by which, if a person does them, he shall live; and my Sabbaths they greatly profaned . . . . But I acted for the sake of my name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations, in whose sight I had brought them out.” (Ezekiel 20:13–14) God acts for the sake of His name, His perfections. He is holy and hates sin.

But mercy is also part of His perfections. “Nevertheless, my eye spared them, and I did not destroy them or make a full end of them . . . .” (Ezekiel 20:17) Even then, His people continued to disobey Him, rejecting the principles for life He gave them, so He responded and said, “I gave them statutes that were not good and rules by which they could not have life, and I defiled them through their very gifts in their offering up all their firstborn, that I might devastate them. I did it that they might know that I am the Lord.” (Ezekiel 20:21–26)

God’s intention in this ‘judgment’ was that they would “know that I am the Lord” and they would “remember their ways and all their deeds with which they have defiled themselves, and they shall loathe themselves for all the evils that they have committed.” He wanted them to realize that He was dealing with them for His name’s sake, His perfections, and not according to their evil ways or corrupt behavior. (Ezekiel 20:42–44) Had He done that, He would have destroyed them because they refused to become the people He created them to be.

Isn’t it possible to know right from wrong and truth from fiction and still mess it up? Elihu was not in the dark about the ways of God, but he didn’t have a clue why Job was in trouble. He assumed God was judging this righteous man and accused him by saying, “Job speaks without knowledge; his words are without insight. Would that Job were tried to the end, because he answers like wicked men. For he adds rebellion to his sin; he claps his hands among us and multiplies his words against God.” (Job 34:35–37) Elihu’s opinion of Job was not based on a revelation from God. He should have kept his mouth shut.

This is the problem with sin. It does a number on human judgment. I notice it day by day in social media, but also in my own life. Because of sin, I can be deceived. I need the Word of God to guide me through the morass of opinion, innuendo, speculation, and human “I wants” that totally mess up my ability to see straight.

God is patient with humanity now, but In the end He will judge with deadly plagues that strike a third of mankind. Yet sadly, “The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk, nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.” (Revelation 9:20–21)

Without Jesus Christ and the power of God’s Holy Spirit, turning from sin and selfishness is more than difficult; it is impossible. The Bible says that if I hear His voice, I’m to listen and obey. No matter what God asks me to do, it is far better than His judgment on willful disobedience.

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