(from a transcript of a sermon preached on 8/19/01 at Sovereign Redeemer Assembly)
Turn in your Bibles to Romans chapter 2. I'll read verse 1 through 11:
Romans 2: (1) Therefore, O man, you are without excuse, everyone who judges, for in that in which you judge the other, you condemn yourself; for you, those judging, practice the same things. (2) But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth on those that practice such things. (3) And, O man, the [one] judging those practicing such things, and doing them, do you think that you will escape the judgment of God? (4) Or do you despise the riches of His kindness, and the forbearance and the long-suffering, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? (5) But according to your hardness and your impenitent heart, do you treasure up to yourself wrath in a day of wrath, and revelation of a righteous judgment of God? (6) [He] "will give to each according to his works:" (7) everlasting life truly to those who with patience [in] good work seeking glory and honor and incorruptibility; (8) but to the [ones] truly disobeying the truth out of self-interest, and obeying unrighteousness, [will be] anger and wrath, (9) trouble and pain on every soul of man that works out evil, both of Jew first, and of Greek. (10) But glory and honor and peace [will be] to everyone working out good, both to [the] Jew first, and to [the] Greek. (11) For there is no respect of persons with God.
Here we come to the sixth paragraph of Paul's letter to the Roman church. In the previous paragraph, Paul showed that the heathen, the Gentiles, were working out all kinds of evil. You can imagine lost Jews reading this part and saying "amen" to it. But the "amens" STOP, beginning with chapter 2 verse 1, because Paul turns his attention to the lost Jews and exposes them as hypocrites.
He starts with "therefore." This means that what he is about to say follows from what he just said. By "O man," he is specifically addressing those who judge these heathen to be lost but who practice the same things. As we see from verses 17 and following, this is specifically in reference to the Jews who were judging the Gentiles to be lost.
Now, since verse 1 is a verse that is used by false religionists to condemn all who judge, I want to spend some time telling you what this verse does NOT mean. The false religionists use this verse and a couple other ones to try to bolster their claim that Christians are not to judge anyone to be lost. Matthew 7:1 says, "Do not judge, that you may not be judged." Romans 14:4 says, "Who are you judging another's servant? To his own master he stands or falls." Romans 14:10 says, "But why do you judge your brother? Or why also do you despise your brother? For all shall stand before the judgment seat of Christ." 1 Corinthians 4:5 says, "Then do not judge anything before time, until the Lord comes, who will both shed light on the hidden things of darkness and will reveal the counsels of the hearts." The false religionists will say, "See? Christians are never to judge." They'll say, "I'm not the Holy Spirit." They'll say, "It's not for us to know." They'll say, "I can't see their hearts." But then watch them turn around and call someone their brother in Christ. This means that they have JUDGED that person to be a child of God. People who say they don't judge are just lying to themselves. In fact, the Bible COMMANDS Christians to judge, and true Christians WILL judge. What's more, JUDGING is one of the main evidences of being a Christian!
Turn over to John 7:24. This is Jesus speaking:
John 7: (24) Do not judge according to sight, but judge righteous judgment.
Here, Jesus is COMMANDING judgment. He is FORBIDDING a certain kind of judgment and COMMANDING a certain kind of judgment. Right now, let's just focus on what He is COMMANDING. Jesus is commanding RIGHTEOUS JUDGMENT. That is, judgment based on a right standard. Turn to 1 Corinthians 10:15:
1 Corinthians 10: (15) I speak as to prudent ones; you judge what I say.
Paul is commanding the readers to JUDGE what he says.
Now let's get into specific commands from God that include judging. Turn over to Matthew 7:6. Notice that Jesus said this right after the command, "Do not judge, that you may not be judged."
Matthew 7: (6) Do not give that which [is] holy to the dogs, nor throw your pearls before the pigs, that they should not trample them with their feet, and turning they charge you.
How are we to know who the dogs or the pigs are without judging? For you people who think that Matthew 7:1 forbids all judging, what do you do with verse 6? You'd have to say, "Oh, I don't know people's hearts. I can't tell who the dogs or the pigs are, and neither can anybody else. If one thinks he can tell, then he is sinning." Okay, then, according to you, Jesus Christ just commanded sin. May it never be.
Let's turn to verses 15 through 20:
Matthew 7: (15) But beware of the false prophets who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inside they are plundering wolves. (16) From their fruits you shall know them. Do they gather grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles? (17) So every good tree produces good fruits, but the corrupt tree produces evil fruits. (18) A good tree cannot produce evil fruits, nor a corrupt tree produce good fruits. (19) Every tree not producing good fruit is cut down and is thrown into fire. (20) Then surely from their fruits you shall know them.
How are we to know who the false prophets are without judging? Notice that Jesus did not say, "Beware of those whom you think are probably false prophets ... Ye shall have a pretty good chance of being right if you look at their fruits." No! He said, "You SHALL know them." We SHALL know who the false prophets are. We SHALL know the state of their hearts. And how shall we know the state of their hearts? Turn over to Luke 6:44-45:
Luke 6: (44) For each tree is known from [its] own fruit. For they do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. (45) The good man brings forth good out of the good treasure of his heart. And the evil man brings forth evil out of the evil treasure of his heart, for his mouth speaks out of the abundance of his heart.
We shall know the state of their hearts by their MOUTHS - by what they confess. False prophets are known to be false prophets by the false doctrine that comes from their mouths.
Now let's turn to 2 Corinthians 6:14-16:
2 Corinthians 6: (14) Do not be unequally yoked [with] unbelievers. For what partnership does righteousness [have] with lawlessness? And what fellowship does light [have] with darkness? (15) And what agreement does Christ [have] with Belial? Or what part does a believer [have] with an unbeliever? (16) And what agreement does a temple of God [have] with idols? For you are a temple of [the] living God, even as God said, "I will" dwell in them and "walk among [them,] and I will be their God, and they shall be My people."
How can we obey this commandment if we can never be sure whether or not someone has an unbelieving heart? Notice that God did not say, "Do not be unequally yoked with those who you think have a high probability of being unbelievers." God is stating that we will know who the unbelievers are and that we are not to be bound together with them. He goes on to mention unrighteousness, darkness, Belial, infidels, and idols as those things with which the believer is to have no fellowship; thus, judgment of what unrighteousness, darkness, Belial, infidels, and idols are is an absolute necessity for God's people in order for us to "come out from among them, and be separated" and to "not touch the unclean thing" in verse 17. Have you ever noticed that the ones who say they never judge anyone to be lost are the ones who do not come out from among them and be separated and who touch the unclean thing? It makes sense, doesn't it? If you have no idea who the unbelievers are, who Belial is, what the unclean thing is, then, of course, you can't separate from them. Turn over to Revelation 18:2-5:
Revelation 18: (2) And he cried in a strong, great voice, saying, Babylon the great has fallen! It has fallen, and it has become a dwelling-place of demons, and a prison of every unclean spirit, and a prison of every unclean bird, even having been hated, (3) because of the wine of the anger of her fornication which all the nations have drunk, even the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her; and the merchants of the earth became rich from the power of her luxury. (4) And I heard another voice out of Heaven saying, My people, come out of her, that you may not share in her sins, and that you may not receive of her plagues; (5) because her sins joined together, even up to Heaven, and God remembered her unjust deeds.
The believers will be able to discern - to JUDGE - who Babylon is and will come out of her. The rest, those who cannot discern what Babylon is, will receive of her plagues.
Let's turn to 1 John 4:1:
1 John 4: (1) Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are from God; for many false prophets have gone forth into the world.
It can't be clearer. God's people are to judge between false and true prophets. And we SHALL be able to know whether they are from God. And it says in verse 3 how we know who the false spirits are - by their CONFESSION.
What is it about a person's confession by which we can know with certainty that a person is unregenerate? Well, there are two types of speech by which we judge a person to be lost. The first is speech that confesses a false gospel. Turn to Galatians 1:8-9:
Galatians 1: (8) But even if we, or an angel out of Heaven, should preach a gospel to you beside the gospel we preached to you, let him be accursed. (9) As we have said before, and now I say again, If anyone preaches a gospel beside what you received, let him be accursed.
We can be certain that any who preach a gospel other than what the apostles preached is unregenerate. Turn over to 2 John 9:
2 John 1: (9) Everyone transgressing and not abiding in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. The [one] abiding in the doctrine of Christ, this one has the Father and the Son.
We can be certain that any who do not abide in the doctrine of Christ, meaning those who do not STAY in the doctrine of Christ, are lost. Some people use this to say that a Christian can fall into confessing a false gospel, but as long as he doesn't stay there for long, he's abiding in the doctrine of Christ. This verse actually says the OPPOSITE of what they say. This verse says that those who do not STAY in the doctrine of Christ are LOST! So if he confesses a false gospel EVEN ONCE, is he a person who STAYS in the doctrine of Christ, or is he a person who DOES NOT STAY in the doctrine of Christ? Even a child can figure that one out. If I say that everyone who STAYS on the playground will get an ice cream cone, am I going to give an ice cream cone to a person who was on the playground 99% of the time and a person who was off the playground 1% of the time? Did that person STAY on or ABIDE on the playground? Those who do not STAY in the doctrine of Christ are lost. Any deviation into a false gospel is a sure sign of lostness. We've found this to be true over and over, haven't we? We've met people, including preachers, who are MOSTLY orthodox, but then we find that they are promoting a false gospel. And then when we judge these people lost, we always get a response that includes something else they said that contradicts their heterodoxy. They'll say, "I know he said this, but LOOK OVER HERE at what he said!" I think a quote from John Kennedy of Dingwall is appropriate here:
"I am quite ready to allow that, in the addresses of those who hold the views to which I refer, there will be found statements that seem to contradict those which are objectionable. This, however, does not prove that the bearing of the teaching, as a whole, is not what I indicated. The telling part of the doctrine may be that which is unscriptural, and all the more is it helped to be so by the mixture of what tends to recommend it to acceptance. The measure of truth it contains merely serves, in many cases, to throw the conscience off guard. It seems to some, as if the utterance of an occasional statement, that is both indefensible and dangerous, can be quite counteracted by other statements, from the same source, that are confessedly scriptural. But in such a case, the character and tendency of the teaching are not determined by the counterpoise of truth. The sound doctrine cannot be intelligibly apprehended and honestly believed, if what is utterly inconsistent with it is both held and proclaimed. A breach in the wrapping exposes the contents of a parcel. To that opening the eye must be directed that would discover what the envelope enclosed. An occasional erroneous statement, breaking wildly through the bounds of possible orthodoxy, exposes the spirit of one's teaching, and is the index of its practical tendency."
So when we find that "occasional erroneous statement, breaking wildly through the bounds of possible orthodoxy," we know that this person is not one who ABIDES in - who STAYS in - the doctrine of Christ.
So righteous judgment includes judging people lost who confess a false gospel. Confession of a false gospel is a confession that any part of salvation is conditioned on the sinner. It opposes the true gospel of salvation conditioned on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Christ alone. It includes any confession that Jesus Christ died for everyone without exception, because the one who confesses this believes that it is NOT Christ's work alone that makes the difference between salvation and damnation; instead, he believes that it is the WORK OF THE SINNER that makes the difference between salvation and damnation.
Mark 16:16 says that those who do not believe the gospel are lost. Romans 10:3 says that those who don't know about the righteousness of God revealed in the gospel are lost. This is the standard. Righteous judgment judges by this standard.
So the first kind of speech by which we judge a person to be lost is a confession of a false gospel. The second is speech that tolerates and endorses a false gospel by speaking peace to those who confess a false gospel. He is one who speaks the lie of Satan in Genesis 3:4: "You shall not surely die." He "speaks great swelling words of vanity," says 2 Peter 2:18. And God makes it very clear in 2 John 11 that he who speaks peace to one who confesses a false gospel "shares in his evil works." These are those who judge saved and lost not by right gospel doctrine but by outward appearance, morality, sincerity, and reputation. And let me take a moment to talk about those who judge the "ISM" to be a false gospel but who consider those who hold to the "ISM" to be saved. For example, there are many who would say that ArminianISM is a false gospel, but they say that at least some of the Arminians are saved. This is nothing more than a ploy to deceive the ignorant. It is saying that the false gospel is wicked, but those who believe the false gospel are not necessarily wicked. Again, the standard is NOT the true gospel. Some go down one more level of subtlety and say that ArminianISM is a false gospel and all Arminians are lost, but they will never say that any particular PERSON is lost. This gets back to the "I don't know their heart" nonsense. Others get even more subtle in their peace-speaking and say that ArminianISM is a false gospel and all Arminians are lost, and they'll even name some lost Arminians, but they also say that a Christian can fall into the sin of confessing an Arminian gospel or "speak as an Arminian would speak." This is just more of the same with a little twist. They are shielded from the accusation that they believe Arminians are saved, yet they actually speak peace to Arminians at the same time by just calling some Arminians something different. So they say that there are some Christians who confess an Arminian gospel. They don't call these people Arminians, but in reality these people ARE Arminians. Remember what Christ said - you judge them by their fruits, and their confession reveals what's in their hearts. There's no such thing as someone who confesses an Arminian gospel but who really believes the doctrines of grace in his heart. And any who say that true Christians can confess an Arminian gospel are speaking peace when there is no peace.
So we have seen two kinds of speech that is indicative of lostness: confessing a false gospel and speaking peace to those who confess a false gospel.
To most, this method of judgment sounds ridiculous. "You mean to tell me that you judge someone lost who doesn't have his doctrine just right?" In the area of the doctrine of Christ, which is the gospel, the Bible answers, "YES." The Bible does not make belief in right gospel doctrine a condition of salvation (in fact, it says that those who hold to this view are lost); but it does make belief in right gospel doctrine an inevitable and immediate result of salvation and a fruit by which we judge saved and lost.
Are Christians then to judge that these people are reprobate, meaning destined for hell? By no means. We cannot judge their eternal destiny by these words; this is only known by God. We are only to judge that they are now unregenerate. God might save some of these lost people who believe, confess, and tolerate a false gospel; some of them might be among God's elect. So we are not condemning them to hell, as our enemies like to say. But one thing is sure: if God saves them, they will no longer believe, confess, and tolerate a false gospel! Upon regeneration and conversion, God causes His people to believe and confess the one and only true gospel of salvation conditioned on the work of Christ alone.
Well, I've taken a whole sermon to say what Romans 2:1 isn't saying. But this is a very, very important issue. A person who does not judge at all is lost. Christians are a judging people. Christians do not fellowship with the world, with unbelievers, with darkness. And the only way they can refrain from fellowshiping with a wicked person is to JUDGE that person to be wicked. If someone gives a command not to eat apples, but the person to whom this command is given has no idea what an apple is or is not, he cannot obey this command. If God gave us a command not to fellowship with unbelievers but we are unable to judge whether or not someone is an unbeliever, the command is meaningless. But we, the people of God, CAN and DO and MUST judge righteous judgment. It's not an option. It's not just for Christians who have - quote - "a gift of discernment." It's not just for people who have been Christians for 20 years. It is for every single Christian.
Next week, the Lord willing, we will go into what Romans 2:1 and Matthew 7:1 ARE saying. The judgment that IS condemned is that hypocritical judgment that is by the wrong STANDARD. May we who are God's people do our duty and judge righteous judgment by the standard of God's Word. Amen.