Faithlife
Faithlife

Just Judging Justice

Sermon  •  Submitted   •  45:04
0 ratings
· 14 views
Files
Notes & Transcripts
Introduction:
A preacher, Steven Cole, once served on a jury for a drunk driving case. The woman defendant had a blood alcohol level twice the legal limit. The judge carefully instructed us that the jury’s job was to determine if this woman had, in fact, broken the law. Pastor Cole naively thought that the case was a simple judgment. He though, “We shouldn’t have to deliberate longer than a few minutes.”
When they went into the jury room one guy piped up, “I can drink that much and drive without any problem!” Someone else then chimed in with similar comments. Some ladies said how nice the young woman seemed to be. Pastor Cole couldn’t believe it! They were totally ignoring the judge’s instructions! After three hours of arguing, another juror and this preacher finally had persuaded everyone of the woman’s guilt, except for one woman. This stubborn lady said, “I could never vote to convict her, because the Bible says, ‘Judge not, lest you be judged.’”
It became late in the day, and the pastor knew that if they didn’t convict her, they’d all have to come back the next day. So Pastor Cole said, “None of us wants to come back tomorrow. We’re going to convict her, so you just keep quiet!” And that’s how justice was done that day!
Matthew 7:1–2 ESV
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.
Matthew 7:1–3 ESV
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?
Matthew 7:1 ESV
“Judge not, that you be not judged.
And there is hardly any verse that is more frequently disobeyed among Christians than this verse! Even I have disobeyed it on many occasions. Also, keep in mind that, according to our Lord, Jesus, it is a sin to judge another person in your heart, even if you keep your thoughts to yourself. Judgmental words eventually will flow out of a judgmental heart, but the sin begins in the heart. It is a manifestation of pride; we think that we’re better than others are; therefore we place ourselves above them.
Pride is a funny thing. We can easily spot it in others, but we can’t see it in ourselves. Some of the proudest people I have ever met thought of themselves as being very humble and were very critical of pride in others. Most of us are a lot prouder than we would like to believe. And if you just said in your mind’s eye, “no I’m not!” then you just proved me right!
Transition:
Pastor Cole points out after telling that story that there is hardly any verse of the Bible that is more misunderstood than Jesus’ words, “Judge not lest ye be judged” , but we’ll get to that later because James has something to say about judging in our passage this morning:
James 4:11–12 ESV
11 Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. 12 There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?
If you’ve been paying close attention to James for the last few months, you might be thinking right now “Gee James, didn't you already cover these topics enough? If you are thinking this thing you'd be near right--chapter 3 is all about the tongue, and the first two chapters address the treatment of your neighbors. The repetition is how we learn and how it will stick in our long term memories. But, at least he went back to calling his readers “brothers” as opposed to the last few verses. This signifies a shift in his tone and it is because now he wants to show his audience what submission to God looks like in their daily lives.
Transition:
Judgmental words come from a judgmental heart, but this sin begins in the heart. It is a manifestation of pride; we think that we’re better than others are; therefore we place ourselves above them.
In this passage, James hits hard on pride. Pride is a blinding thing. We can easily spot it in others, but (like with most of our sin issues) we can’t usually see it in ourselves. We know that this is true because almost all of the proudest people you meet think of themselves as being humble and can be very critical of pride in others. This is usually the case with people: whatever you are most critical of or paranoid of, ends up being the thing that you are most guilty of. And a lot of us are a lot prouder than we would like to believe. And if you just said in your mind’s eye, “no I’m not!” then you just proved me right! This brings us to the first point that it is believers that are guilty of judging.

I. The Just Judging (v.11a)

James 4:11 LEB
Do not speak evil of one another, brothers. The one who speaks evil of a brother or judges his brother speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of the law.
james
We show our love to God by being humble before Him; we show our love of God to our neighbor by refusing to speak evil. Speaking evil takes on many forms:
We may speak the truth about a person and still be unkind, or
we may spread gossip that others have no business knowing.
We may be questioning someone’s authority or nullifying their good work by backbiting.
Obviously, this hurts the unity among any believers (see also ; ; ). The tense used here in James is a PRESENT IMPERATIVE with a NEGATIVE PARTICLE, which really means that James is forbidding a practice that is already in progress which shows the people were in the habit of criticizing one another.
in the Greek reveals that James is forbidding a practice that is already in progress. The people were in the habit of criticizing one another.
Although no one would say this, it seems that some people today think fault-finding is their spiritual gift! This is wrong and sad! They were brothers and sisters in Jesus. They were members of the same body. And they were turning on one another. It was like the body attacking itself! Suppose my hands started attacking my feet, bringing blood and inflicting severe pain. Or maybe more like a terminal autoimmune disease: slowly killing off the body. But it is no more dangerous than that which is going on in many churches today.
How sad this is! They were brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ. They were members of the same body. And they were turning on one another. It was like the body attacking itself! Suppose my hands started attacking my feet, bringing blood and inflicting severe pain. What a strange sight that would be! But it is no more strange than that which is going on in many churches!

II. Just Judging Justice (v.11b)

James 4:11 LEB
Do not speak evil of one another, brothers. The one who speaks evil of a brother or judges his brother speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of the law.
What law is he talking about?? The Mosaic Law? Well, keep in mind this verse is now the sixth and then seventh time in his letter that James has mentioned law (; , ).
James 1:25 ESV
25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
James 2:8–10 ESV
8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. 9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.
James 2:12 ESV
12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty.
The law of liberty, the perfect law, the royal law, things we talked about and saw months back, but back to our passage:
James 4:11 ESV
11 Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.
It is likely the royal law—the law that frees us or convicts us of sin, a law that must be kept. Here James says the law is under attack. It really could refer to the Mosaic law: specifically the ninth of the “Ten Commandments”: “Do not testify falsely against your neighbor” ().
Exodus 20:16 ESV
16 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
BUT it also violates the law that we Christians today are under which is the Law of Christ, (or as Paul calls it “the law of Grace.”) Jesus sums up this New Covenant law like this:
Matthew 22:37–39 ESV
37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
Matthew 22:38–39 ESV
38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
“Love your neighbor as yourself” Which is actually Jesus quoting the Mosaic law in :
Matt 22
“Love your neighbor as yourself”
Leviticus 19:18 ESV
18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.
Matthew 22:39 ESV
39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
Exodus 20:16 ESV
16 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
Back to our passage in James:
James 4:11 LEB
11 Do not speak evil of one another, brothers. The one who speaks evil of a brother or judges his brother speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of the law.
James 4
“you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it” In we are told to be doers, not just hearers; here we are told to be doers, not judges.
“you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it” In we are told to be doers, not just hearers; here we are told to be doers, not judges.
Let’s return to Jesus’ words in as mentioned before with the jury deliberation:
Matthew 7:1–2 LEB
1 “Do not judge, so that you will not be judged. 2 For by what judgment you judge, you will be judged, and by what measure you measure out, it will be measured out to you.
Pastor Cole said:
there is hardly any verse that is more frequently disobeyed among Christians than this verse! Even I have disobeyed it on many occasions. Also, keep in mind that, according to our Lord, Jesus, it is a sin to judge another person in your heart, even if you keep your thoughts to yourself.
But was that juror lady right, when she quoted Jesus, that we cannot judge anyone under any circumstance? Is that really all that Jesus meant here? NO! It can’t be! why? Becase Jesus also said this:

John 7:24 ESV
24 Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”
Did Jesus just tell us to judge others? YES He did! So, I'm pretty sure we all know what is judging, but I am not confident that we all know what is not judging. So we’ll park here for a moment.
So we’ll park here for a moment.

WHAT JUDGING OTHERS DOES NOT MEAN:

(1) Discernment
Many people cite about not judging others, but they never bother to read down to verse 6, where Jesus says,
Matthew 7:5 ESV
5 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 7:6 LEB
6 “Do not give what is holy to dogs, or throw your pearls in front of pigs, lest they trample them with their feet, and turn around and tear you to pieces.
“Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine….” He was talking about people who are dogs and swine! To obey verse 6, you must make some judgmental decisions about the person’s character! “That guy is a dog! That guy is a swine!”
“Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before PIGS/swine….” He was talking about people who are rightly judged as dogs and swine! To obey verse 6, you must make some judgmental decisions about the person’s character! “That guy is a dog! That girl is a pig!”
“Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine….” He was talking about people who are dogs and swine! To obey verse 6, you must make some judgmental decisions about the person’s character! “That guy is a dog! That guy is a swine!”
Also, if you keep reading (), Jesus says,
Matthew 7:15 ESV
15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.
It takes a discerning, judging sheep to recognize, “That’s not a true sheep! That’s a wolf dressed like a sheep!” It requires judging the man’s teaching as false. AND THIS IS JESUS’ WORDS!!!
Our society falsely redefines tolerance as agreement, unity as acceptance, and “love” as being nice. These wrong definitions are then bought by the common laymen in the church. The result is if you were to dare to confront or expose another believer’s sin, or if you label someone’s teaching as unbiblical, or the person as a false teacher, you get accused of being judgmental and unloving. But the Bible is awfully clear that a pastor would be truly unloving to allow wolves to prey on the flock or to allow sinning believers to infect the flock without confronting and exposing them.
Pastor Steven Cole continued:
Some would say that it’s okay to expose the false doctrine in general terms, but that you should never specifically name a false teacher. I’ve been criticized and have had people leave the church because I have named men like Norman Vincent Peale or Robert Schuller as false teachers. But in , Paul mentions that some have rejected faith and a good conscience, “and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith.” He doesn’t leave it there, but goes on (1:20), “Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan, so that they will be taught not to blaspheme.” In , he names Hymenaeus and Philetus, adding (2:18), “men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset the faith of some.”
In , Paul tells Timothy, “Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me….” In verse 14, he warns Timothy about “Alexander the coppersmith,” who did Paul much harm. In , the apostle of love warns the flock about “Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them,” but “does not accept what we say.” Paul names two quarreling ladies, Euodia and Syntyche, urging them “to live in harmony in the Lord” (). He pointedly tells the church in Colossae, “Say to Archippus, ‘Take heed to your ministry’” (). He named names!
The apostles, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, were not, in any of these instances, judging others in sin. Therefore, we are left to conclude that it is not judging someone sinfully to exercise discernment about ungodly behavior or false teaching—even with personal details.
(2) Loving Confrontation
I’ve heard people say, “I could never confront anyone about their sin, because Christians are not supposed to judge others.” (much like that juror’s argument) and they may follow up with: “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone!” But this is really just dodging a difficult, but loving, God-given responsibility.
Just as if you see a child about to run in front of a speeding car, you would do everything in your power to stop him/her. So too, if you see a brother/sister in Christ about to ruin his/her life by sin or by believing false doctrine, ‘tough’ love should motivate you to do everything possible to warn him/her.
In our text, James was not being judgmental by confronting these sins in the church.
You may be saying right now, great preaching Josh, but isn’t that your job to confront others in sin? Yes, BUT it is your too:
Loving confrontation is the responsibility of every spiritual believer ()
Galatians 6:1 ESV
1 Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.
As a general rule, the circle of those who are informed of the situation should be limited to those who can help or to those who need to be protected. The aim should always be to restore the sinning believer, to protect the church from sin, and to honor God. But it is not being judgmental and it is acting in love to confront sin and false teaching in the church.
And then there is the principle
Matthew 18:15–18 ESV
15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
It should start privately, (unless the sin already public). If the un-repentant person does not listen to you, then take another mature believer (or two) with you, or involve someone else who can try to minister to the sinning person. In most cases, it is resolve here and the sinner repents, but if he still refuses to listen, it may be necessary to tell it to the entire church and to remove the person from the fellowship
Then, the last thing I want to mention about what evil judging is not is
(3) Evaluation
IT IS NOT JUDGING SOMEONE TO EVALUATE SPIRITUAL MATURITY OR DOCTRINAL VIEWS FOR MINISTRY OR SHEPHERDING PURPOSES.
To make wise ministry decisions and to shepherd the flock, you must make judgments about a person’s character and doctrinal views. Sometimes you must communicate your evaluations to others that may be affected by the person’s immaturity or unbiblical views.
Well, Pastor Josh, what about gossip? And what about gossip? it’s a big problem: here, there, everywhere!
It is not gossiping or being judgmental if your motive is purely to help the person your talking about and are with to grow in Christ. It becomes gossip once your motives go from helping to just wanting to point out problems, or where you know you can’t help at all, or you really don’t want to help—then it hurts—then it is sin.
If a believer speaks against another believer, he is criticizing and condemning the law because he is not showing love and is not treating others as he would like to be treated. His/her disobedience shows disregard and disdain for the law, since he/she is passing judgment on its validity. When we judge one another in sin, we are clearly failing to submit to God’s written Word. And in doing so, he/she is then putting themselves above God.

III. The Just Judging the Justice (v.12)

James 4:12 LEB
There is one lawgiver and judge who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?
James
“One Lawgiver and Judge” This adjective “One” is placed first in the Greek sentence and likely for emphasis. This is likely both a reference to monotheism, as in 2:19, and a reference that none of his readers could be Him.
“One who is able to save and to destroy” This phrase is often used of God the Father. In the OT all causality is attributed to YHWH. This was again, a theological way of asserting monotheism (cf. ; ; ).
Deuteronomy 32:39 ESV
39 “ ‘See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god beside me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.
Luke 12:4–5 ESV
4 “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. 5 But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!
1 Samuel 2:6–7 ESV
6 The Lord kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up. 7 The Lord makes poor and makes rich; he brings low and he exalts.
Matthew 10:28 ESV
28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
2 Kings 5:7 ESV
7 And when the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man sends word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? Only consider, and see how he is seeking a quarrel with me.”
This is just one of many examples
God alone is both the source and enforcer of the law. We who are accountable to God’s law cannot place ourselves in God’s throne. God rewards those who obey the law and destroys those who disobey. James also takes away any notion we might conjure for an excuse to criticizing our neighbors. Behind the critical spirit is an attitude that attempts to usurp God’s authority and is full of pride. There should be no critical, harsh faultfinding in the body of Christ. HOWEVER, the principle in this verse does not nullify the responsibility of a church to a member who is acting in flagrant disobedience to God (). Rather, James is concerned with the critical speech that condemns or judges others’ actions and their standing with God. He is confronting believers who might be trying to set themselves up as better than other believers.
1 Corinthians 5–6 ESV
1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. 2 And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. 3 For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. 4 When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. 6 Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. 9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” 1 When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? 2 Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? 3 Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! 4 So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? 5 I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, 6 but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? 7 To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? 8 But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers! 9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 12 “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. 13 “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! 16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” 17 But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 18 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

So What?

We might think that just criticizing a church member or spreading a little interesting gossip is not that serious—especially when compared to other sins. But the Bible sees it as a sin of utmost seriousness because it breaks the law of love and it tries to usurp God’s authority—this is why a couple week back, we saw James telling his readers to weep and mourn. As we just saw in chapter 3, the tongue is a tool of deadly sin. We ought not minimize its danger.
Conclusion:
A few weeks back I mentioned , and it so bears repeating
Philippians 2:4–6 ESV
4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,
Philippians 2:3 LEB
Do nothing according to selfish ambition or according to empty conceit, but in humility considering one another better than yourselves,
Phili 2
So I wont say much now. This verse is one of my “life” verses and should be for all of us because it contains the solution to pride.
In v. 11 James addresses his readers as “brothers” and the object of their criticism as “brothers.” This obviously refers to a Christian setting, but by using “neighbor” in v. 12, (cf. 2:8) he widens the specific admonition into a general command just like his half-brother in .
John 13:34–35 ESV
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
In v. 11 James addresses his readers as “brothers” and the object of their criticism as “brothers.” This obviously refers to a Christian setting, but by using “neighbor” in v. 12, (cf. 2:8) he widens the specific admonition into a general command just like his half-brother.
RELATED MEDIA
See the rest →
RELATED SERMONS
See the rest →