Is it OK for us to Judge?
TEASER: The MERE COMMUNICATION of the TRUTH of GOD’S WORD`to the culture and community around us is NOT JUDGING IT. We have gotten to the place where everybody who wants to live a lifestyle contrary to the truth through the Scripture, simply DEFENDS their lifestyle by saying, “IF YOU HAVE A PROBLEM WITH IT, YOU’RE JUDGING ME”.
Pastor Dan Borgelt
Kirkmont Presbyterian Church
Listen to Sermon AUDIO while reading TRANSCRIPTION BELOW:
Opens with Video clips of People who’ve been wrongly judged by the church – Transcription start at [00:00:57] of tape.
“Well fortunately for me, I don’t have any personal examples of feeling as judged as many of those people in the video have, but I do remember when I had my first experience of feeling like I was judged by the church. Some of you know it must’ve happened later in life because we didn’t grow up in a church culture in my childhood, but by the time my sisters were in high school my parents had decided to send them off to a Christian school. I guess they thought that would be good for them.
So they send them to a Christian school and one day a teacher was walking by one of my sisters who is at her locker and they smelled cigarette smoke; and so they began doing basically a thorough investigation, ya know; and then they called my other sister out of class and they went through both of their lockers and all of their stuff and basically started accusing them of smoking cigarettes while at school.
And my sisters were just simply just trying to convince them, “Look, both my parents smoke, and that’s why our clothing smells cigarettes”. But nonetheless they of course developed a reputation and were sort of shamed by that at this small Christian school.
When I had my first experience at a Christian school, it wasn’t in high school, it wasn’t until college. I graduated public high school, went off to a Christian college and I sort of had rose colored glasses as far as what that might look like.
I was picturing people would be sitting outside on the lawn with blankets spread, reading their Bibles everywhere, smiling (laughter).. ya know… I was really excited for this, I was really happy. But it was a little bit different; it turned out to be a little bit different.
In the first week I met this girl and we were striking up good friendship, she was in my dorm room and we were talking, having a good conversation, and she was going through my CD’s… she had found my CD drawer and I had like a hundred CDs or something.
And she’s going through my CDs and as we’re talking, every once in a while she’d throw one in the middle of the floor in my dorm room and I thought, “OK”… and we just kept talking and she’d throw another one. I ignored her for a while and soon it got to be a pretty big stack of CD’s on the floor of my dorm room. I finally said, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” … and she said, “These are all your Christian CDs and I’m throwing all your non-Christian CDs on the floor, and when we’re done here we’re going to go throw them in the dumpster together.
And I thought, “NO WE’RE NOT”.. (LAUGHTER)… these are 12 bucks each… what are ya talking about… ya know.
So, nothing as serious as in the video, but I can kinda relate as that was sort of my first exposure to the whole idea of the concept of being judged by Christians in the church.
But of course, in our sermon series, this whole idea of “Take Two, on Giving the Character of God a Second Chance”. It’s not God’s people, its not the church that’s on trial necessarily, but we can’t separate the two, but we can’t deny the fact that many people’s opinion about who God is has been primarily shaped by the church and God’s people.
The word JUDGED is such a negative word isn’t it?
If I said, “Oh, we’re going to judge that person.” I mean do you think something positive is going to happen or something negative is gonna happen? We’re just sort of inclined in our culture to think something negative is going to happen. The word ‘judge’ has become so negative in the last 10 years or so and the Church is one of the big reason why that word has become so negative.
But I want to ask you to just consider from the outside that perhaps the word ‘judge’ is really neutral… and that it can be either a negative thing or it can be a good thing. And to consider being open to the possibility that GOD IS A GOOD JUDGE.
Friends, we are not this morning going to strip God of that title of “Judge”. But to consider the possibility that God is a good judge and further that that’s a good thing… that it’s a good thing to have a good judge.
I want to invite you to our passage that we’re going to be looking at together this morning. If you have a Bible or wanna open up a per Bible, we’re going to be turning to the Book of John, Chapter 8. If not, that’s OK, we’ll have it on the screen. The Book of John, Chapter 8.
Now as folks are turning this is a great opportunity to have a little piece of Bible information before we get started with our passage together. And by that what I mean is, if you open up a Bible you’ll discover there’s a little introduction to this section that’s not normally there in most of the Bible and it says something like,
“Many of the early manuscripts for this passage don’t exist”.
And what we mean by that is there is no place in the world where you can so, “Go show me the original Bible”.. there is no original Bible, and some people think, ‘well, that makes the Bible less credible’.. but it’s actually the opposite. The truth of the matter is there are THOUSANDS of manuscripts across the world… copies of the Old and New Testament and their similarities between each other are incredible and they further provide evidence for the truth and the reliability of God’s Word.
This is one of those passages though where some folks are uncertain about because some of the early manuscripts don’t even have the story we’re about to read in it. In fact, when I was looking at this package, I have two commentaries on the Book of John that are 3 times the size of this one and I open them up and they don’t even deal with John, Chapter 8.. the story that we’re gonna look at.
Then I found this one… it’s by a man by the name of JOHN CALVIN…`I’m sort of name dropping for those people who are familiar with theology and stuff… it’s a pretty big name and here’s what he says,
“It’s quite clear that this story was unknown to the ancient Greek Churches, hence some conjecture that it was inserted from another place. But it has always been received by the Latin churches and is found in many Greek manuscripts and contains nothing unworthy of an apostolic spirit. So, there’s no reason why we should refuse to make use of it”.
- Alright John Chapter 8 then… here we go,
“but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women.
Now let’s pause there. So this is one of those passages where I’ve looked at it several times and each time I look at it there’s new things that I begin to sort of speculate on. And for a long time I got hung up on this idea of just how awful it must’ve been for this woman… I mean it says she was “caught in the act of adultery”.. now ya know, to me, I always interpreted that as she was (pause), “caught.. in_the_act_of_adultery” (laughter). I don’ know how else do say that without blushing here.
Ya know, I just can’t imagine how awkward and uncomfortable that would’ve been; but all of the sudden, this week, this word “DAWN” appeared to me. “At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts”… It’s morning time and this is when this all starts to happen and it’s probably more likely she was caught the night after, if you will, that morning for what she had done the night before.
But anyways, um… This woman is caught in the act of adultery and we don’t know the details. We don’t know, IS SHE MARRIED TO SOMEBODY ELSE? … IS THIS GUY MARRIED TO SOMEBODY ELSE? … are the BOTH married to somebody else? … it’s even possible that NEITHER of them are married and they’re just in trouble without either of them being married.
It’s a little unsure; perhaps one of the most likely possibilities is what happened to the very Mother of Jesus.
Some of you remember the story of Jesus’ birth… his mother, Mary becomes pregnant without ever having BEEN WITH Joseph… and then the Scripture tells us as a result in Matthew, Chapter 1, verse 19 that Joseph has this dilemma, ‘how am I going to handle this situation?’ .. and it says that because ‘Joseph, her husband was a righteous man’…
…just COMPARE his character to the character of the folks that we just looked at.
“he was a righteous man that did not want to expose her to public disgrace; he had in mind to divorce her quietly”… which implies that if you remember, they weren’t actually married at this point, they were just ENGAGED to be married; but that was legally binding… and so she could’ve been in serious trouble for getting pregnant based on Joseph’s testimony.
Perhaps that’s what the situation was with this woman… but we don’t know.
Either way, let’s just stop here and just think about these two groups of people: this woman and this group of religious people. Because I think that every single person in this room can probably identify themselves with one of the two.
I mean some of you here, you can’t get past thinking about and identifying yourself with this woman caught in adultery. I mean you’ve made a mistake in your life… let’s be clear, we’ve all made mistakes in our lives, but you made the type of mistake that you’ll probably never forget.
And no one needed to make you feel guilty about it; no one needed to make you feel shameful about it, you already felt the guilt, you already felt the shame… BUT, having already felt the guilt and having already felt the shame, someone religious in your life found out about what you did… it was your spouse, it was your parents, someone else in your family, your church, pastor… and they added to your guilt and pain and the shame that you felt. And some of you can’t get past the woman caught in adultery… because that’s who you identify with.
But there are others in the room, who of course acknowledging that they’ve made mistakes, haven’t quite made the mistake that will follow them for the rest of their life… they consider themselves to be religious people and as we read this passage together this morning, God is convicting you of the possibility that you have played the role of the Pharisees in someone else’s life… you have been there when someone else stumbled and messed up… and the role you played was to only ADD to their guilt… and to add to their shame.
Friends, I want you to think about what this woman has gone through. This is the equivalent to… she has been dragged to a public place where Jesus is speaking and teaching other people. And I’m assuming if He’s teaching other people there’s people there listening to Him.
So she’s being dragged to a public place… this is the equivalent of the elders from the church, going to your home and bringing you here to the Narthex and announcing over the PA system what you have done in your life.
And here she is brought… and these Pharisees, these religious folks are using some passage from the Old Testament, an Old Testament Law as justification for the fact that they are wanting this woman condemned.
The two passages that they probably had in mind… I’m not sure, but the two passages they probably had in mind, the first one Leviticus Chapter 20, verse 10. Now Church, when I read these to you I want you to just think to yourself WHAT DID THEY GET WRONG? Leviticus Chapter 20, verse 10 tells us this:
“If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife, with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death.”
Did you catch on to anything…. anything stand out as being wrong to you about this passage… about the APPLICATION of this passage to John Chapter 8?
First let me address that I know the judgment seems harsh. There is a period of time where God and His people, He called them to be separate and the Laws were more strict and the punishments were more strict… and Christ has begun to change that and fulfill that by the way.
But, nonetheless, this is the Law they’re referring to. Let’s read another verse and see if you pick up on it. Deuteronomy 22, verse 22 tells us this.. they might have been thinking of this passage:
“If a man is found sleeping with another man’s wife (what’s it say next.. ohhh, OK) BOTH the man who slept with her and the woman must die. You must purge evil from Israel.
Who’s missing from our story? Ladies, do you want to share it? (LAUGHTER)… THE MAN… that’s right.
Ya know we laugh, but in all seriousness it’s a good time for a sidebar. Women in our culture and society and ones in the past have always been victimized by sexual morality and have that blown up far more than men… but nonetheless.. so,
These Pharisees, these religious leaders, they catch this woman and the problem is not with their use of the Law, the problem is where there HEART is, their APPLICATION of the law… I mean instead of looking at this situation and having their heart break for the fact that a marriage is falling apart… possibly two marriages, that two people who were walking with God have gone astray and instead of being BROKEN by that, the Scripture tells us they immediately see that as an opportunity to test and to trap Jesus… and so they drag her and they bring her to Him.
I wanna pause though before we get to the part on which Jesus is to respond to the situation; and I want to address something; because there’s an aspect of what these RELIGIOUS PEOPLE do that isn’t necessarily so bad and needs to be addressed in today’s culture.
And THAT is, that the MERE COMMUNICATION of the TRUTH of GOD’S WORD to the culture and community around us is NOT JUDGING IT. We have gotten to the place where everybody who wants to live a lifestyle contrary to the truth through the Scripture, simply DEFENDS their lifestyle by saying, “IF YOU HAVE A PROBLEM WITH IT, YOU’RE JUDGING ME”.
Let me just ask you, logically, reasonably here.. IF ALL YOU DO STAY WITHIN THE CONTEXT AND THE CONFINES OF THE TRUTH OF GOD’S SCRIPTURE AND YOU COMMUNICATE THAT TO OTHER PEOPLE IN A LOVING WAY.. HAVE YOU ACTUALLY PASSED JUDGMENT ON THEM? … and the answer is NO. Who has? … the author of the Bible, God Himself.
And so I don’t want to rob you from the ability to communicate lovingly to the world around you the TRUTH of GOD’S WORD, and then be prepared for the fact that many people will probably accuse you of judging them. And we ought to be prepared to respond, I’M NOT JUDGING YOU.. I’m merely communicating to you what I believe to be the TRUTH of the SCRIPTURE.
Of course, part of the problem is, the Church often goes well beyond the clear boundaries of the Scripture doesn’t it?
I was listening to this sermon once, and this pastor was getting up, he was preaching on the subject of MODESTY. And I thought, ‘Ok, this is a good sermon… something our culture could use… and I was right with him, then all of the sudden he goes, “NOW LADIES IF YOUR SHORTS ARE ANY SHORTER THAN… and he draws a line on his legs… THEN YOU ARE SINNING’… and I thought now where is that in the Bible; where are the measurements for the length of shorts in the Bible? (laugher) .. I missed that one.
See, pastors and churches go beyond the clear teaching of the Scripture all the time, and they try to impose that… now in THAT instance, you DO begin to JUDGE, and you’re serving in the capacity as JUDGE.
STICK TO THE TRUTH OF SCRIPTURE WHERE YOU ACTUALLY HAVE THE AUTHORITY TO SPEAK ON BEHALF OF GOD is I think the wisdom that needs to be passed on.
Alright, these guys, they come to Jesus and as we said, they couldn’t care less about this woman; they bring her to Him, she’s incredibly shamed and embarrassed, and now we begin to learn about the character of God because they ask Him,
Now what do you say?”
And of course the trap is, either this whole turn the cheek stuff is going to have to come to an end Jesus… because you’re going to have to support her being stoned; or you’re going to have to ignore or go against the Old Testament Biblical principle of Moses. Then Jesus says, in verses 6-11, the Scripture tells us this:
They were using this question as a trap (as we mentioned) in order to have a basis for accusing Him. But Jesus then bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.
Perhaps in today’s culture He would’ve texted somebody or something (laughter)… I don’t know, but of course a lot, pages have been written about WHAT DID JESUS WRITE? And I’m not going to spend any time on that other than to say, “I don’t know”… and it could be one of the top three questions you want to ask Him someday if you get to heaven… WHAT DID YOU WRITE?
One thing that stood out to me though.. is the very next verse when it said,
When they kept on questioning him,
It does seem to indicate that whatever He did while on the ground writing, it wasn’t just a quick little deal and stood back up… whatever He did it was just long enough that they continued to question Him. Calvin speculates that perhaps it was the modern day, you know, the equivalent of today basically telling someone, ‘you’re not going to give them even the time of day’… you’re not paying attention to them in any way at all.
Well, they keep questioning him and,
he straightened up and said to them, “OK, if anyone of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.
That’s another thing that stood out to me… there’s indication that even the people who Jesus was teaching when the religious people showed up with the woman… at some point in time, in all likelihood JOINED THE CROWD IN ENTHUSIASM OF SEEING THIS WOMAN STONED. Because when Jesus rebukes then, now He’s ALONE. Not even the people he was teaching are there anymore.
Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
Ya know the first thing that Jesus clarifies is that PEOPLE NEVER GET TO BE THE JUDGE… the people never get to be the judge; and people have a problem with this understanding of the passage… they think well, “I just can’t believe that Jesus would say that ANYONE WHO SINNED ISN’T ALLOWED TO JUDGE PEOPLE because we’ve all made mistakes and we’ve ALL sinned, and that means we’re never going to be able to pass any judgments on people, and what’s going to happen to STATES and to governments because they’re not going to be able to accuse people of being guilty because they’re sinners themselves…
LOOK… this is not a passage about how States should function and how government should function. This is a passage about how God’s people should operate… and in that sense He’s saying “If any one of you has sinned” and I think He means HAS SINNED AT ALL…
Others have speculated, “ya know maybe He’s saying if any of you haven’t sinned in the same way that she sinned” some commentaries will say. But I think He means IF ANY OF YOU HAVEN’T SINNED AT ALL… James Chapter 2, verse 10 tells us this verse that speaks to that,
For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of what? … breaking ALL of it.
And I think that’s the type of reasoning that Jesus is using here… saying “LOOK, IF YOU’VE SINNED AT ANY POINT IN TIME IN YOUR LIFE… YOU ARE NO LONGER QUALIFIED TO BE THE JUDGE (smiling).
Romans chapter 3:23 says,
“ALL of us have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God”
People never get to throw the stones. God is a good judge and that is a good thing.
I want you just to imagine how different your life would look if you could rest assured that GOD IS A GOOD JUDGE and just to embrace that… and to TRUST and to RELY on Him for the redemption and for the making of right all the wrongs that have happened to you in your life.
God is a good God and that is a good thing.
It just strikes me when John includes the fact that the “older ones leave first”. That they grasp the principle and the weight of their sin; with the wisdom of the ages they’ve embraced the idea that they do fall short of the glory of God and are in no position to judge or to throw stones.
Some of you say, “Well, does that mean that we’re not allowed to think certain behaviors are right or wrong?” OF COURSE NOT… as we said earlier, if you stay within the confines of Scripture I think we are allowed to communicate in a loving way certain truth about what is right and wrong;
… but let me tell you something, IF YOU LOOK AT YOUR SPOUSE’S LIFE or your CHILDREN’S life, or your PARENTS life, or your CO-WORKER’S life, or your NEIGHBOR’S life or someone else in the Church’s life and you are caught up more in their sin and their immorality than you are in loving them THEN YOU’VE GOT A PROBLEM here.
Jesus eliminates us from being the judge; but at the same time, in this same statement, He communicates to you and I that He is uniquely qualified to be our judge. If what disqualifies us is sin, the Scripture tells us in Second Corinthians 5, 21 that…
God made Him [Jesus] who had no sin become sin for us…
That doesn’t mean He sinned, but he took on… He bore our sin. So Jesus, the Scripture testifies about him, is without sin, He lived the life that we are supposed to… which means He is uniquely qualified to be our judge.
AND THE JUDGE (Jesus) SAYS THIS… to beautiful expressions:
“Then neither do I condemn you,” and “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
Oh man, HOW WOULD OUR IMPRESSION OF GOD and the character of God regarding the subject of judgment be different IF HE ONLY SAID ONE OR THE OTHER?
If Jesus had merely said, “Then neither do I condemn you”… He would’ve looked like the many churches that are in the habit and the practice of IGNORING SIN. But if He had said, “Go and leave your life of sin” only… then He would’ve looked like the many churches that are in the habit and the practice of JUDGING PEOPLE, in heaping guilt and burden on them.
But Jesus with this masterful balance of GRACE and TRUTH says,
“Then neither do I condemn you; go and leave your life of sin.”
If you are here this morning, and you are interested in having a relationship with God, or you ARE in a relationship with God, but you have MESSED UP and you know you’ve messed up and you’re wanting to know HOW DOES HE PERCEIVE YOU… what would His response be to me if I could talk to Him today… THIS IS ABOUT IT… “Then neither do I condemn you; go and leave your life of sin.”
This beautiful balance of GRACE and TRUTH.
Friends, if the Church… for those of you who are interested in being a part of a church… if the church is ever going to transform the community and the world around us, it’s going to have to embrace and master this balance of grace and truth.
Scripture tells us that Jesus is indeed the JUDGE. Matthew 25, verse 31 and 32 the Scripture says this,
When the Son of Man comes in His glory and all the angels with Him, he will sit on His throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
And this is an image of Jesus someday judging. And in Revelation 19:11, the Scripture tells us this,
I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war.
The big question friends is… IS GOD A GOOD JUDGE?
We are not robbing Him of the character of judge. WE WANT A JUDGE, DON’T WE? … I mean do you hope and long life in eternity that is different than this world has to offer? I mean if you watch the news for just 2 minutes a day you will get to the place real quick where you’ll want heaven to be someplace that is DRASTICALLY DIFFERENT than today.
And our hope for that lies in the fact that THERE IS A JUDGE. IF there is no judge, and everything that is permitted now here on earth is permitted for all of eternity, THEN WE HAVE NO HOPE FOR SOMETHING DIFFERENT than what we are experiencing now.
WE WANT A JUDGE, but the question is, IS GOD A GOOD JUDGE?
I want you to think as we close this morning… I now invite our Praise Team to come up and prepare to finish and our last song… I want you to think about this for the last minute of our time together, IS GOD A GOOD JUDGE?
The Scripture says in the 66 Books of the Bible… the 39 in the Old Testament, the 27 in the New Testament, the whole thing, ALL 66 are trying to communicate to you and I that GOD LOVES US, that HE CREATED US TO BE IN A RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM, and although we have sinned against Him… sometimes unknowingly and other times we looked God in the face and said, “No thanks”, and turned the opposite direction… although THAT’S what we’ve done, GOD LOVES US SO MUCH, the Scripture says, HE SENT HIS SON, HIS ONE AND ONLY SON, JESUS CHRIST… who LIVED the life that we were supposed to live; who DIED for our sins and now having done all that, what God wants us to do is to simply BELIEVE IN HIM and to TRUST Him.
Do you think that sounds like a pretty raw deal… or a good deal?
We’ve messed up over and over and over again… God has done ALL the work and He says, “Alright, I’m gonna judge you based on this one thing…
Your eternity is simply based on… WILL YOU ACCEPT MY SON JESUS CHRIST AND WHAT HE DID FOR YOU, OR NOT?
Friends… that is a wonderful judge. Praise be to God… who did all of the work through our Lord Jesus Christ.
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