Have you ever heard someone say, or even been told yourself, don't judge me? the Bible says not to judge others. As much as they are correct that the Bible does say not to judge others, it is not the correct context. The world is beginning to yell louder and louder that we are not to judge, but what is it that the Bible actually says? What is the Christian's responsibility to seek out a believer living in sin?
First off, Paul tells us that we are not to cast judgement on those outside the church, but that it is actually the responsibility of the believers to judge those inside the church.
Why are we to judge those inside the church? Because the end goal of believers is sanctification, becoming more and more like Christ. This is difficult on our own, and so we need fellow believers to help us out and push us towards living like Christ.
Humans are able to justify our actions, and we can make a lot of things that are wrong seem right. But in the end, those actions lead to death, and so we need fellow believers to step in and point out our folly, pointing us back to Jesus.
So, what is my responsibility to seek out a believer living in sin?
The first thing that we have to do is check our own hearts. That was the point of Jesus in Matthew 7.
Before we go and we point out what the other person is doing wrong, we need to inspect our own lives and hearts and make sure that we are living according to God's Word.
We also check our hearts to make sure that we are seeking the person's best. The goal is restoration and sanctification, not us proving ourselves wrong or molding them into living according to our standard.
During Jesus walk on earth, disagreements with Pharisees, who were the religious elite that put laws on other people that they themselves were not willing to live up to. In Matthew 23, Jesus gives the Pharisees 7 woes, and one of them was that they don't do the very thing they tell others to do.
Jesus calls them hypocrites, following manmade traditions (and holding others to that standard) rather than following God.
So the first step to always start with is to pray that God reveal your heart and work in your own heart first.
We are told to make sure that everything we do be guided by love.
After you have prayed about your heart and the situation, it might be worth looking to see if you are able to overlook the situation. This is more in the sense of an offense, not in sin. We are called to point out sin, but often we are offended and it may not actually be sin, we took offense to something.
If you are not able to overlook the situation, or if it is sin that needs to be addressed, you are commanded to go to that person. Too often, we want to go to someone else and talk with them about it. Often we can do this under the disguise of seeking guidance or venting, but God's Word doesn't give us room to do this. Instead, God gives warnings against taking part in this type of discussion.
Paul modeled this for us when Peter [Cephas] was behaving differently around the Greeks as he was around the Jews.
We are called as believers to help hold each other accountable and walk according to God's Word. This is why it is important to be involved in Biblical community. We all desire to be fully known, and the best way to do that is to live in Biblical Community, doing life together.
Through all of this, we need to see the common goal, which is not having other people become more like we are, but having other people becoming more like Christ (sanctification). Too often we want people to measure up to our standards, but it is God who sets the standard for us.
Jesus went on in Matthew 18 to tell us that after we have gone to them, if they refuse to listen to us, then we are to go and bring someone else with us to them.
If they still refuse to listen, then you are to bring it before the church, and then if they refuse to listen to the entire church, then it is time to cut off ties with them and treat them as if they were unbelievers.
A lot of times, the initial instincts are to go to someone else or to write the person off completely. This is the easy thing to do, not the right thing. God's Word tells us that we are to go directly to the person, and the final step after everything else is that we cut the person off, for their benefit. The goal of all of this is sanctification
The last thing that we must do through all of this is we must walk in grace, just as God gives us grace.
We do not cast stones, we seek the persons best relationship with God. We do everything possible to help them in this. But, in order for this to happen, we must REPENT, turn from our sin and turn to Jesus.
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