"..Yet in My Flesh I Will See GOD" [Job. 19.26]

Monday, June 25, 2018

Dividing Line Between Genuine Spiritual Discernment and Being Merely Judgmental

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The weakness of the church these days is that it has almost totally done away with spiritual discernment and embraced extreme moral neutrality. It doesn't want to be labeled judgmental so it totally got rid of judgment. You seldom hear the church say plainly what's right or wrong for fear of offending people.

In the process, it demonized the word "judgment" with everything bad, forgetting that you can never discern accurately without good judgment, and vice versa. If they find you guilty of judging people, they scorn and ostracize you as "judgmental" (and that in itself is being judgmental, too). But fact is, we need to judge things and people correctly to accurately discern between spirits.



Blind Leading the Blind

Paul was once pissed off by the Corinthian church for not judging correctly:
Or do you not know that the Lord’s people will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life!
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Here's how it often goes in church today. For instance, a guy is found to be sexually immoral (with clear proof) and yet allowed to do ministry in church. If you question this, you'd be accused of being judgmental. They'd say it's okay to let the guy continue doing ministry because it may be the way for his spiritual revival. And taking him out of ministry may discourage him. And who are we anyway to judge him? Didn't Jesus say, "Judge not that you may not be judged"?

Sounds familiar? That's the blind leading the blind. With this kind of policy, anything goes. Even the wicked can serve God while enjoying wickedness. The wicked can become pastor or a titled and degreed minister. A married pastor can have lots of concubines and still be called "Reverend." Why? Because they say, "do not judge."

Jesus did say don't judge, but the context shows that we ought not to judge if we are guilty of sin ourselves. We should first remove the plank of wood (bigger dirt) from our eyes and then we can remove the speck of dust in our brother's eyes. In short, yes we can judge people after we rid ourselves of things we can be judged for.

If you go back to the bible, things were entirely different than it is today. God sought out the guilty ones without mercy and used His servants (often the prophets) to declare his judgment. Even Paul confronted Peter this way when the latter compromised his faith with the circumcision party. Paul even extended his "judgment" to Barnabas and the others. He said:
The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray. 
Galatians 2.13

Paul called them hypocrites. That's sharp judgment.

Judgment without mercy was given, leaving no stones left unturned, as it were. And yet, the same judgment "without mercy" was given out of mercy. Judgment is rendered to help us see ourselves and repent. It's practically God giving us a second chance. Such is the nature of God's judgment. It is strict and unbiased, letting no single detail escape from scrutiny---God being no respecter of persons. And yet it is also full of mercy, though given without mercy.

Abused Spiritual Gift

However, in a sense, you cannot totally blame the church for it. There were lots of church "prophets" who abused the gift of spiritual discernment for manipulating people's minds. But that's not really discernment but witchcraft. Even in Paul's time, the Galatian church was "bewitched" or mentally manipulated into obeying the law to please God.

And many churches today are still bewitched---thinking the way to please God is through their church or ministry efforts. So they think being active in church is what pleases God. And this is due largely to lack of spiritual discernment. They don't know how to judge right. And there's the problem---church cannot tell between spiritual discernment and merely being judgmental because church people don't know how to judge. They either just presume or guess.

Genuine Spiritual Discernment

To genuinely discern, you must be deep in the Word and personal prayer and worship. I don't mean you have to sing good or play instruments well during worship service or perfect your attendance during prayer meetings. You have to do these things in your private quiet times with God daily, through the day. Make it a lifestyle until you die.

Secondly, you should seriously ask God for all the spiritual gifts. You cannot choose. You ask for all of them and then God decides which ones you get. You may get all or you may get only some. It all depends on Him. And when I say spiritual gifts, I mean gifts supernaturally dispensed by the Holy Spirit.

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It's not what they call "gift" in singing or leading or influencing or gift in playing the guitar or those you learn from seminars like public speaking (they call this "gift of preaching"). They once told me I had a gift in drawing and arts. What they really meant was talent for them. These are things you discover to be already in you. Spiritual gifts are supernatural things not in you before you received them from the Holy Spirit.

Spiritual gifts are always God-endowed. The ability cannot be learned or researched from Google or taught in seminars or bible schools. God decides when it will be operational in you. You cannot discern everyone who passes by your house at will. You cannot discern everyone you meet. So, if you think you "discern" something in a person, recheck 10 times because it might just be a suspicion.

Worse if it's wrong judgment, especially if you base it on physical looks or former knowledge, like you know this person to be a liar so everything he says to you sounds like a lie. In this case, you're moving in the flesh, not in Spirit. Wrong judgment often comes in the form of  presumption. You think he is nice because of his friendly voice or good  manners or what he says about himself or what people say about him.

Jesus didn't need man's testimony about man because he knew what was in man, Scriptures say. And if Jesus is in you, the same should be true. But being true doesn't always mean it's what actually happens. Unless you sincerely believe these things, you can never operate in them. Like believing in hearing God's voice.

Spiritual discernment depends heavily on hearing God's voice. You hear his voice in three ways: audibly, by impressions or through your environment (through things, events or people around you). You must experience all three to be able to distinguish God's voice from your imagination or from the devil's voice. And there are no formula or steps to follow here. Just grow closer to God through your quality quiet time, and this depends on how God designed your person.

Being Merely Judgmental

If you judge by looks or what you see or hear in the physical, you are being merely judgmental. And I don't care if your judgment is right or wrong. You do it in the flesh, you do it judgmentally. And as I've said, lots of church people do this. If you don't want to form undesirable conclusions about a person or don't want to offend anyone so that you always say kind things to them, you are judgmental just the same.

Judgmental is judging or criticizing what you see in or hear about a person, good or bad, using your own measurements (or personal biases) or what the norm accepts (societal biases). Making constructive criticism based on what your flesh appreciates (or what is commonly applauded) in a person is being judgmental, too, though it may sound positive. Lots of people say nice things about other people because they enjoy being tagged "not judgmental" by the world and this means they are well liked by society. It gives their egos a kind of adrenaline kick.

The crowd that chose Barabbas over Jesus was judgmental. Their choice was based on what the Pharisees and law teachers (those who established the norms then) wanted. Peter was judgmental when he corrected Jesus about dying on the cross because it was derived from men's measures, not God's.

Now, let's take for example President Duterte's present dilemma. He recently said God is stupid in a televised speech. Because lots of Christians idolize him, they tried to defend him with all kinds of ridiculous explanations why he made the heretical statement. And they always end up with "do not judge him." Or, "he is not a Christian so he does not know what he said."

Or, "shouldn't we feel pity for him and pray for him instead of judging him?"

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Problem is, Duterte is a national leader, and God holds such leaders accountable for all they do. There is no excuse. In the bible, all world powers who said stupid things against Him were judged and punished. The church, instead of siding with one who blasphemes God, should declare God's judgments against him. Such is the prophetic ministry of the church. If we condole sin done in blatant disregard for God, we send out wrong signals and downplay the gravity of sin, misleading many people in the process.

Application

God's judgment is his love for us. Before he saves us, he judges us to make us see right from wrong. The only thing that can save Duterte now is God's righteous judgment. And it is the church's duty to proclaim God's judgments to sinners to give them a second chance at repentance.

Some liken Duterte to Paul. But Paul never said God was stupid. He had zeal to go after the church because he loved God---he thought it was the way to show love for God. Not with Duterte. He said plainly that God was stupid. He even said "his God" was a different God---his God was perfect unlike the "imperfect God," he said, who authored the bible and was in full control of everything that happened in Eden. Duterte questioned why the true God of the bible subjected his perfect creation to the very thing that would destroy it. He said he didn't believe in this God.

So he has a different God, not the God whom Jesus called his Father in heaven.

The god he called "God" had nothing to do with the Eden issue and does not charge man with original sin. In contrast, the true God in the bible planned permissively the Eden affair and the resulting original sin in all of Adam's offspring. He didn't plan man's doom or destruction, but everything was foreseen in his permissive will, accounted for and resolved before the beginning of time.

Now, if you don't possess God's wisdom on judgment, you wouldn't know exactly how to take Duterte's statement or where to put him. Worse if you're a Christian who idolizes him. You'd just find yourself defending Satan, the god of this world who controls all the disobedient and rebellious. Much worse is if you defend Duterte's "God." Because his "God" and the Christian God are not the same.

Some Christians defend Duterte because of his "good" qualities. He is anti-drugs and anti-corruption. He is pro-poor. He did a lot of good as mayor of Davao. He did this and that. This is a good example of judging by appearance, judging by the flesh. Seeing with the eyes of this world. This is being merely judgmental.

They even believe Duterte is really God's chosen for the Philippines, so he either cannot go wrong or is always absolved of all wrongs he does---because he is God's chosen. Well, King Jeroboam was also God's chosen once upon a time. But after he disobeyed, God cancelled all HIS promises to him. If you have spiritual discernment, you'd see this. And there was also King Saul, Eli the priest, Egypt's Pharaoh, and Babylon's Nebuchadnezzar.

The church should discern that she is God's alone and not allow herself to be used in any way by anyone. This can only be resolved if the church is 100 per cent dependent on the Holy Spirit, using the supernatural gift of discernment wisely.

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