Tuesday, February 23, 2010

When We Sin

“I do not understand my own actions because I do not do what I want to. But I do the very thing that I hate. … I can will what is right but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good that I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now, if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who does it but the sin that dwells within me. … O Wretched man that I am. Who will rescue me from this body of death, from this life of sin? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord”—St. Paul to the Romans

St. Paul, like the rest of us, wasn’t perfect. He was tempted by sin and at times obviously gave in to that temptation. He understood that God looks for obedience and not perfection. That when we fail that we have a loving Savior that we could turn to: Christ Jesus.

We should be encouraged by St. Paul’s words and not hold our failures against ourselves but to turn to Christ and ask for forgiveness and then move on never looking back at those failures. Remember the words of St. John: “If we confess our sins, He (Christ Jesus) is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1John 1:9).

May The Peace of Christ Be With You

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Facing Temptation

When Jesus entered the wilderness, He entered into a land that was basically a desert. The temperature in the region was tropical in nature and barren of any real vegetation except for the few trees and shrubs that bordered the Jordan River. For the most part the population was poor, sparse, and destitute of the culture that reigned in Jerusalem but was home to many wild creatures such as vipers, porcupines, jackals, wild boars, ibexes, and panthers.

Jesus was led to by the Holy Spirit, according to tradition, to a mountain top north of Jericho, about a two hours journey from where He was baptized by John. For forty days He fasted and communed with the Father in prayer. But during those days He was also put to the test by Satan in the form of temptation.

The season of Lent is designed to remind us of those forty days that Jesus spent in the wilderness. It is not only a time of prayer and reflection, but a time of repentance, which means we will be challenge by temptation.

When it comes to temptation the most important thing that we should understand is that God is not the source of enticing us to sin. The Apostle James clearly condemns this type of attitude; “Let no man say when he is tempted “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone” (James 1:13).

So where does the source of our temptation originate? Believe it or not, the temptations that each one of us faces are tailor made to cater to our individual desires. In other words, they originate within ourselves: “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed” (vs. 14).

People today don’t like to here or believe that Satan and his horde of fallen angels have anything to do with our sin but they do. They know how to arouse our inner desires and will exploit them in their attempt to lure us away from God. They know that “when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death” (vs.15).

In order not to be ensnared by the enemies tricks it becomes extremely important to we avoid those things, places or people where we knowingly will face temptation. It is also important that we engage in prayer so we might not fall into temptation just as Jesus advised His disciples to do on the Mount of Olives on the night He was betrayed (Luke 22:40). Another valuable tool in overcoming temptation is the use of Scripture: “Thy Word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You” (Psalms 119:11). And it was Scripture that Jesus used when He resisted Satan's temptations in the wilderness.

In order for us to fully comprehend how the enemy uses our inward desires against us and how we can overcome those enticements we can look at Christ’s experience in the wilderness.

Satan knew that Jesus was hungry at the end of His forty day fast so He used it as an attempt to entice Him to sin: “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Deut. 8:3).

Having failed in his first attempt Satan took Jesus up to the Holy City and sat Him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written: “He shall give His angels charge over you, and, in their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone” (Psalm 91:11-12). To which Jesus replied, “It is written again, you shall not tempt the Lord your God” (Deut. 6:16).

Then Satan took Jesus up on a very high mountain top and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory and then said to Him, “All these things I will give you if you will fall down and worship me.” Jesus answered him, saying, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, you shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve” (Deut. 6:13).

Many times in my own life I have focused on the fact that Christ Jesus may have been tempted and easily resisted because He was Divinity in human form and God cannot sin. But that point of view is completely wrong. Scripture reveals unto us that Christ Jesus was tempted just like we are, and even suffered because of those temptations, but yet did not sin (Hebrews 2:18; 4:15-16). Christ therefore can sympathize with us during our times of temptation. He knows the pressure we experience and therefore provides us with these comforting words from St. Paul: “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able; but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it” (I Corinthians 10:13).

While no two people are exactly alike, the temptations confronting each of us are basically the same as those that confront others. Therefore we can help and learn from one another. But keep in mind that God makes no promise to help anyone overcome temptation until one repents of his or her sin. To repent means to confess our sin and then turn from it. It means going forth in life to no longer commit intentional habitual sin.

It is important to remember that breaking sinful habits take commitment and great effort on our part. That God does not look for perfection, merely obedience. He knows we will stumble and fall at times, but will be there to pick us up when we do.

May The Peace of Christ Be With You

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The One Called Satan

After he was baptized in the Jordan by John Jesus set off on a forty day journey into the wilderness where he stayed among the wild beasts and was tempted by the devil. Jesus’ encounter with Satan wasn’t merely a metaphor but an encounter with a real individual.

Many people today, even those who profess to be Christians, have a tendency to downplay, even deny, Satan’s existence. Although they will admit that evil exists in the world, they refuse to believe that one who is known as the devil or Satan is a real individual. Most of this disbelief can be attributed to the way that Satan has been depicted over the centuries.

Satan isn’t some red guy in a suit with a pointed tail and pitchfork but a fallen angel that was created by God after the order of angels which means when he was created he wasn’t the evil one that he has become (Psalm 148:2,5; Colossians 1:16; Ezekiel 28:12-15).

During this season of Lent I believe it is important to stop for a moment and reflect on the enemy of God so that we may know who we are dealing with in our own wilderness journey.

Satan is a positive character; meaning he wears disguises and his objectives lie in only one direction. He is no doubt two-faced but never doubly minded, undecided, vague, or feeble in his purpose, desire, or ends. There has never been any irresolution, hesitancy, or aimless action undertaken by him in his war against God. Satan has character and character is felt. He is not merely an influence as so many want to claim. Christ Jesus didn’t deal with mere influences when He encountered demon-possessed people. In dealing with them Christ made a clear distinction between the human personality who was possessed and the personality of the demon who possessed them. In his view they were two distinct individuals and they were personal beings. Christ both spoke and commanded them as individuals—real living deities. And in turn they professed to know Him, confessed His divinity, bowed to His authority, and unwillingly obeyed His commands.

Satan is a master chameleon as well as deceiver. He can become any color or thing that he needs to become in order to pull off the lie. Since he is angelic, he is not limited by space and time, flesh and blood, such as we are and therefore we cannot compete or outsmart him. Satan possesses and wields great power but his power and authority is limited and control by God. This power however is greater than we alone can exercise.

Satan’s greatest desire’s is to be worshipped by all of humanity and therefore goes to great lengths in his attempts to achieve this goal. He is constantly grooming diabolical helpers along the way; many of these are of human origin. He is capable of appearing as an “angel of light” and therefore has his own false version of Christianity. He has his own phony doctrine (1Timothy 4:1), counterfeit communion table (1Corinthians 10:21), counterfeit spirituality (Galatians 3:2-3), based upon a counterfeit gospel (Galatians 1:11-12), his own synagogue (Revelation 3:9), his own dwelling place and throne (Revelation 2:13), and finally, his own false apostles, deceitful workers, false ministers, and false prophetesses (2 Corinthians 11:13,15; Revelation 2:20).

Satan’s human helpers are transformed into ministers of righteousness; propagating doctrines of death and destruction that are so subtle they go for the most part unnoticed. Some of these doctrines have been introduced slowly, slyly, in a way not to shock or alarm anyone and some have been around for decades, even centuries. These false workers of righteousness claim their doctrines come from the God of light; but in reality they are spiritual cyanide. It is extremely difficult for many professing Christians to believe that Satan can use a preacher, evangelist, deacon, priest, or other clergy. That by what they proclaim they become a tool of Satan; for they proclaim another gospel, a gospel different than the truth presented by Paul or the other apostles concerning the truth of Christ Jesus. Yet, this can be and is the case in many areas of Christianity.

Satan is a prince (Ephesians 2:2; John 12:31; Luke 11:14-23), the god of this age (2Corinthians 4:4), who commands a great army composed of both spiritual and fleshly forces. Those of flesh and blood help him advance his kingdom by working knowingly or unknowingly on his behalf—these individuals are not evil, they merely do evil. These are the ones scripture refers to as “the sons of the wicked one” (Matthew 13:38), “ministers of Satan” (2Corinthians 11:5), and “children of the devil” (1John 3:10). The ranks of his spiritual forces clearly outlined in Ephesians 6:12 are the forces he utilizes to gather information and implement his will. Through both his demonic followers and his human agents his will is implemented through a system of thought known as the world. The “world” in this context is a way of thinking that dominates the life of humanity.

Last but not least is the fact that Satan and his unseen forces posses great powers and are capable of assuming visible form (Matthew 4; Luke 4); cause blindness (Matthew 12:22); paralysis (Acts 8:7); convulsions (Luke 9:39); induce self-destructive or bizarre behavior (Luke 8:27; Matthew 7:15); compel animals to destroy themselves (Matthew 8:28-34); create powerful illusions (Exodus 7:11-12); and perform signs and wonders (Matthew 24:24; 2Thessalonians 2:9). These demonic spirits have the power and capability to directly influence our health, moods, imaginations, and thoughts. And no one is beyond his sphere of influence for he managed to infiltrate the sacred circle of Christ’s apostles. He caused St. Peter to stagger (Luke 22:31-32), and then possessed Judas Iscariot moving him to betray Christ and finally commit suicide. Therefore no one should make the mistake of minimizing Satan’s power or deny the reality of his kingdom of evil. However one must also avoid the error of giving into despair—he cannot go beyond the limits imposed upon him by God.

May The Peace of Christ Be With You

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. The mere mention of the word Lent will immediately turn ones thoughts to giving up something one really enjoys like a favorite desert such as ice cream, candy, cake, soda, or some other trivial item. While it may be beneficial in some ways to give up such items, it is not in the true spirit of Lent.

Lent begins a forty day journey that is intended for all of us to take a deeper look inside and find something that we do on a regular basis that offends God. In other words, some sinful habit and root it out. Many professing Christians may give up the items that I mentioned above but will not turn away from the works of the flesh such as gossip, jealousy, hatred, anger, selfish ambitions or lying just to mention a few. They will continue to walk in mortal sin but believe they are pleasing God by abstaining from some trivial item.

We need to remember that after Jesus was baptized in the Jordan by John, he set off on a forty day journey into the wilderness where he stayed among the wild beasts and was tempted by the devil. We all have our wild beasts that we must contend with in life. That beast may come in the form of a person or some sinful habit that the devil uses in an attempt to destroy our relationship with God. If we use this Lenten season to concentrate on dealing with that person, place, or thing, and learn to rely upon the Holy Spirit for strength, we too will emerge victorious from the wilderness.

When he emerged from the wilderness he went to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God, saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the good news” (Mark 1:15).

May the Peace of Christ Be With You

Sunday, May 10, 2009


The Mediterranean sun was growing longer and softer in the late afternoon as a gentle breeze blew through the nearby palm trees cooling down the hot dusty road. The fords of the Jordan River had been passed for the final time and now only the “City of Palms” lay ahead.

The “City of Palms”: The ancient city called Jericho. But it wasn’t the original nor did it occupy the sight of that hamlet. This was a newly constructed city about a half-hours travel to the northwest of the original location. The area possessed a climate tropical in nature and at times grew very hot. It was long known as an oasis because of its fresh water spring, which contributed to its nickname. Here palm trees of various kinds grew alongside sycamores, cypress flowers, and myro-balsamum, which yielded precious oil. Not only was Jericho an oasis but it was also a gathering place for pilgrims on the final leg of their journey to Jerusalem to celebrate the annual Passover feast. Jericho was only fifteen miles from the Holy City. A mere six hours travel by foot. And the main road of travel ran right through town.

Now it was customary at the time, when a well-known teacher was on a journey passing through town that the people would gather around and listen to his teachings. With Passover just a few days away many such teachers were passing through the city and many of the people that gathered about these teachers were pilgrims themselves on the way to Jerusalem; they were the ones with an added advantage. Others however, even though the Law demanded they travel to Jerusalem to attend the festivities, were unable to do so for various reasons. In lieu of this, many of these unfortunate souls would gather along the streets to see some of the famous rabbis and hear their teaching as they journeyed along.

On any particular day as the sun began to peak over the nearby mountains farmers would began driving their animals through the city streets as merchants began setting up shop and children desiring to get an early start could be heard laughing and screaming as they ran trough the streets.

Bartimaeus was awakened by all the early-morning noise of the city. Inside his makeshift living quarters he clutched his ever-present coat, throwing it around his shoulders as he struggled to his feet. With matted hair and unshaven face, this unkempt, blind beggar, began making his way to “beggars row” on the outskirts of town.

As he crept along the city streets, he stopped only long enough to beg for a small portion of stale bread from a sympathetic shopkeeper. With gift in hand he continued on his journey through the long city streets. As he walked along, most of the townsfolk that caught sight of him quickly diverted their attention in another direction. Beggars were considered a public nuisance.

Bartimaeus had always lived a dreadful life. From the very beginning he had two strikes against him. First there was the fact that he hardly had his own identity. The prefix” Bar” means “son of” and “Timaeus” means the “blind kid.” So he was merely identified as the blind son of another. Secondly, he experienced very little joy in life, little success, or peace. His daily goal was mere survival. But surviving really wasn’t living. He survived on charity, on people’s leftovers. Most of which was granted by those pious individuals who were familiar with God’s word: “Prayer and fasting is good, but better than both is almsgiving with righteousness…for almsgiving saves from death and purges away every sin. Those who give alms will enjoy a full life” (Tobit 12:8-9; cf. 4:8-11; 14:10-11; Sirach 3:30; 7:10; 29:12).

When he finally reached his spot on “beggar’s row,” Bartimaus sat down in his usual spot amongst his friends and fellow outcasts. On a normal day their spirits hung low, but today there was a reason to be a little more cheerful; they knew that Passover was coming and the crowds in the streets would be much larger than usual. So there was hope that this day would be more profitable than the others.

As the streets began to line with people, Bartimaeus began to think that perhaps this would be a red-letter day. But unbeknownst to him down the long dusty road trod the most famous Rabbi of all—Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus was traveling with his motley band of twelve apostles, followed by a huge crowd. Their journey had been long; they were hot and sweaty and dust from the road clung to their wet skin. But with the afternoon sun fading, relief from the day’s heat was on its way. There was also relief in store for Bartimaeus also. This poor blind beggar had lived a life without any visual contact with his environment and he had sat in the hot, blazing sun all his life, but today relief from life’s torments would finally come.

Anticipation hung heavily in the air as the burgeoning crowd began to approach the city. The mood was festive; many no doubt were quite hopeful that they would encounter the great healer and teacher from Nazareth. One man in particular began to circulate among the people in hopes of catching a glimpse of this famous rabbi. He was a rich man, the chief tax collector of the city. His name was Zacchaeus.

As Zacchaeus looked for a vantage point, Bartimaeus sat along the road unable to see, but he heard the sounds of young children running ahead of the crowd, laughing, yelling, and playing as young children do. Then slowly, a rising crescendo of voices and laughter accompanied some playing reeds and flutes were heard. With his sense of hearing being keenly developed due to the lack of his sight, Bartimaeus could tell that something or someone had caused a mammoth crowd to assemble, a much larger crowd than usual.

Desiring to know who or what was causing all the commotion, he turned to a fellow beggar and asked, “Hey, what’s all the commotion about?” His companion could no more get a grip on things as he could, so he replied in a puzzled tone of voice, “I don’t know.” Determined to have the inquiries answered they turned to the passing crowd, “What’s all the commotion?”

“It’s Jesus of Nazareth. He’s coming down the road.” A passer-by informed them. “You mean the great rabbi? The fellow they claim can heal the sick and blind?” Bartimaeus excitedly asked. “That’s the one,” came the reply, “and I’m not going to miss seeing him for anything.” With that the unknown stranger was off and running.

Bartimaeus had been desperately looking for Jesus. So as the crowd grew closer and closer, excitement filled his heart. “I can’t believe it,” shouted Bartimaeus to his friend. “This could be the greatest day of my life if I can only get his attention.”

“Hey Bart there he is, I can see him!” exclaimed his companion. “But how are you ever going to get his attention?”

“I don’t know, but this is it,” stated Bartimaeus. “I may never get another chance to come in contact with Jesus again. I want to be healed.” So throwing dignity and caution to the wind Bartimaeus yelled at the top of his voice, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

“Be silent beggar!” came a retort from the crowd. “You’re making too much noise. And besides there’s so many people here you don’t stand a chance on seeing Jesus. So just relax and keep quite!” But Bartimaeus was more determined now than ever to get Jesus’ attention. “What do they know?” he thought to himself. He knew he couldn’t see, but he could yell louder.

Did you catch the irony in all this? These were religious people on their way to religious festival who were listening to Jesus teach about the kingdom of God. Here were people listening to Jesus and taking it all in, they were in the right place, listening to the right thing, but completely missed the point! When it came to helping out a blind man, they told him to shut up. They basically said to him, “We’re on our way to the Holy City; we have no time for a blind beggar! Don’t bother the Master, you old beggar man. He’s got more important things to do than fool with you!”

Some folks are known to pat themselves on the back because they attend Mass on Sunday. Now, I’m glad they attend weekly Mass, but just attending Mass on Sunday doesn’t matter a whole lot if what you or I do afterwards doesn’t reflect the fact that we have just met with Jesus. Again, here were people traveling with Jesus, listening and taking in all His teachings, but when it came to helping out a blind man they told him to shut up! They failed to seize a golden opportunity that fairly smacked them in the face. They were like so many in the Church today, interested in listening but woefully short when it comes to obedience. They told Bartimaeus that Jesus had no time for him. But that’s where they were wrong, dead wrong! Jesus was far more concerned with the hurting and the needy than his day-planner, schedule or his persona.

Bartimaeus would not remain silent; you could hear his voice rise above the noise of the crowd. It rang out like a great clarion call. “Jesus, O Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Suddenly the crowd stopped, because Jesus had stopped. A great hush fell over the crowd. Throughout his ministry winds and waves couldn’t stop him nor could angry mobs or crowds of people. But a lone cry from a blind beggar could. Jesus with his great heart of compassion demanded that Bartimaeus be brought before him.

“Be silent now,” came a soothing voice. “Rise to you feet beggar and come, Jesus is asking for you.”

Jesus, on his way to becoming the Savior of the world, stops to become the servant of a blind beggar! Notice the complete difference between Jesus’ attitude and that of the people. The fickle crowd had been saying, “Shut up!” But now their refrain changes as they say effectively, “Cheer up, take courage.” How many times had Bartimaeus heard that before with no real reason to cheer up, offered merely as a panacea in the place of really offering help. But this time there was a real reason to cheer up, to take courage, for someone was there who could make a real difference!

The Lord always stands still at the cry of those who call Him. To Him each and every soul is valuable, regardless of color, race, state of origin, or position. He doesn’t look at names or titles, but at the heart of the seeker. All of humanity is in need of Him—without exception. And until they meet Him they are blind in need of sight. They may not be physically blind but they are spiritually blind. Only the Lord can give the light of life. Only through an encounter, a divine appointment with Him can a soul receive its sight. And only His dwelling in a man’s heart can make it alive and bright.

Bartimaeus was told that the Master was calling, and when Jesus calls, one dares not stay where they are. Up to his feet he leapt, and following as best he could the sound of the voice, he made his way to Jesus.

“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked. Bartimaeus responded humbly without hesitation, “Lord, that I may receive my sight.”

Then Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.”

Immediately Bartimaeus went from total darkness to unimpaired vision. Why? Because God responds to faith! Jesus didn’t have to ask what Bartimaeus wanted because it was obvious. He asked him to articulate the words of faith, words that acknowledged why Bartimaeus had called for Jesus in the first place. Just think, the very first thing Bartimaeus saw with his new found vision was the face of Jesus. But the story doesn’t end here; from this moment on Bartimaeus tossed his old cloak behind, the cloak that signified darkness and despair, and began to follow the Master. When Jesus changes us, we don’t need the old things anymore. They no longer have any value.

The healing of Bartimaeus is intended to encourage all sinners throughout the ages. Just as Jesus restored sight to this poor wretch, so He is able and willing to open the blind eyes of our souls. But Jesus doesn’t heal all the spiritually blind; only those that desire to receive their sight and cry out to Him. Think about it! When Jesus passes by you, you can stay trapped in your thoughts, reasoning and earthly desires. You can even think about it for as long as you want and doubt if you desire. But if you so choose my friend, you will stay blind forever! If you do not cry out to the Lord your soul will never receive its sight; not only that, but you will never be a partaker in the eternal life to come.

After receiving his sight Bartimaeus joined the procession making its way through Jericho and on to Jerusalem. Considering what it must have been like to have the face of Jesus be the first thing one has ever seen, consider now the things that Bartimaeus would see a few days later as his gentle Healer was scourged, mocked, and crucified.

With the recorded healing of Bartimaeus complete, a question comes to mind. Why do we know his name? Didn’t Jesus heal a number of blind, deaf, and crippled people? Why does this man stand out? It’s hard to know definitely, but tradition holds that Bartimaeus’ name is presented while others are lost due to the fact that he became a leader in the early Church. The faith that caused this man to call out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” was the faith that sustained him, having been delivered by the mercy for which he cried, through the most trying of times, a faith that was bolstered by the event of the resurrection!

Friday, May 8, 2009


Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. For he who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says that he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked (1 John 2:3-6).

Many in our day profess Christianity. Some even go as far as to attend Mass or some other Christian service on a weekly basis, but are nothing more than pew sitters. These individuals may have the world fooled; even their friends and family into believing they are Christians, but are in reality are living dangerously by believing there is nothing wrong with their lifestyle. They believe through their weekly church attendance that they have reached the standard of goodness that is acceptable unto God. Unfortunately their standard of goodness doesn’t begin to compare with God’s standard.

The problem with pretend Christians is that they always have their eyes upon all the wrong things. They refuse to separate themselves from an ungodly world. They use no discernment in what material they read, what movies or television programs they view, what establishments they frequent or what company they keep. They are completely unconcerned with the types of conversations they engage in, how they dress, act, walk or treat other people. Some even believe there is nothing wrong with abortion or sexual activity outside the boundaries set forth by the Church. In other words, they believe they can engage in the activities that God is against and still be considered Christians. But they are gravely mistaken. These are the ones that St. John is referring to as not only living a lie, but whose lives are void of any truth.

Those that profess an allegiance unto Christ must remember His words: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with your entire mind and with all your strength.” And: “Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:28-31).

Again, one cannot engage in sinful activity or stand for everything that God is against and love Him with all their heart, soul, mind and strength, nor can one love their neighbor in the way that God has intended. The two are inseparable.

St. John tells us we are “not to love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world; the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life; is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lusts of it; but he who does the will of God lives forever (1John 2:15-17).

In writing his First Epistle, St. John makes it perfectly clear that the context of his letter is nothing new. It is the same commands that Christ Jesus had already revealed. He merely reinforces the fact that the one who truly knows Christ is the one who keeps His words. By keeping the Lord’s words the love of God becomes perfected in us. Therefore the true mark of knowing Christ Jesus comes down to one word—obedience (1John 2:5).

May The Peace Of Christ Be With You

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


Does scripture actually tell us that we are not allowed to judge between right and wrong, good and bad, or truth and error? If it does, how are we to obey God’s commands to uphold the truth and stand against wickedness while keeping judgmental attitudes in balance? In order to find out the answers to these questions we must carefully consider the Lord’s words.

In Matthew chapter 7, Jesus said, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you” (1-2).

By carefully studying Christ’s words we see that He does not prohibit us from judging but instead issues a very strong warning that we will be judged according to the standard we choose. In other words, if one is teaching in error but yet insists on finger pointing at another errant teacher there’s a problem. Likewise, if we judge another when we are committing the same or an equally grave sin, whether openly or in secret, there’s a problem. It becomes a problem because we become a witness against ourselves by committing the same acts.

Those bent on cowering away from a full commitment unto God or those who have something to hide will say that we have no right to judge another’s heart or intentions, but this too is contrary to Christ’s teachings: “Those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, and blasphemies” (Matthew 15:18-19).

So we see through Christ’s words that we are to question or judge another’s actions and words according to truth. For if we are not permitted to judge it becomes virtually impossible to distinguish between right and wrong. So going against what can be deemed as popular opinion (because no one wants to hear the truth anymore) scripture does in fact command us to judge.

“Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:14, 21, 22).

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).

“Brethren, if anyone among you wonders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:19-20). So how are we to accomplish these commands if we cannot judge?

Whether or not one wants to believe it, testing is judging between right and wrong. But unfortunately Satan has successfully removed the ability of many professing Christians to measure truth because he has convinced them that it is wrong to judge. Again it is not judging that is wrong it is the standard by which one judges and the motives behind their judgment that can be wrong.

There is a standard for judging correctly and Christ Himself has given it to us: “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment” (John 7:24). And, “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day” (John 12:48).

So judgment is not to be according to appearance or personal preference but according to God’s own righteous standard, which is revealed in His word. It is God’s Word that judges between what is right and wrong. We are merely to test all things by evaluating it against that measure. It is the only true measure since God doesn’t change; His word doesn’t change. “Heaven and earth will pass away but my words will never pass away” (Matthew 24:35). Therefore anything that disagrees with Gods unchanging word is not true.

Now according to scripture we can only practice righteous discernment if we are in love with God. If Christ Jesus is at the center of our heart and we keep His word. “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear in not mine but the Father’s who sent me” (John 14:23-24).

We may not be able to judge the finality of someone’s salvation, but we can clearly discern whether or not they are abiding in a true relationship with Christ based upon whether or not one is obedient to Christ’ commands. In other words, in today’s world many may claim they love God but it is impossible to love God while aligning ones self against His words, against truth. Some of you may still call this being judgmental but we see that Christ Jesus plainly stated it as truth. Furthermore, only those that profess Christianity but live substandard Christian lives are offended when confronted with the truth. Truth hurts and no one wants to deal with it. One must deal with it here in this lifetime or deal with it in the life to come. But in the life to come it will be too late and the consequences of dealing with it will be more than one can bear.