JUDGING AND TOUCHING THE UNTOUCHABLES
By: Victor T. Stephens
"If an offense comes out of the truth, better is it that the offense come than that the truth be concealed."
~ Thomas Hardy
Judging False Teachers: Paul and the “Super Apostles”
Second Corinthians 11:3-6, 13-15 is closely related to 2 Tim. 4:2-4. Here, we will discover the similarity between the church at Corinth and many of today's modern churches. Moreover, we'll also see that Paul is being very "judgmental" ... and rightly so.
"But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough. I do not think I am in the least inferior to those “super-apostles.” I may indeed be untrained as a speaker, but I do have knowledge. For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve." (2 Cor. 11:3-6, 13-15)
Let's now observe the following key points:
1. In verse three, Paul recollects how the serpent (Satan) deceived Eve by his craftiness. He accomplished this feat by seducing her mind. That is precisely what false teachers were doing to the church in Corinth. And similarly, Satan is effectively using the same tactics in many churches today. Seduced by physical appearance and eloquent speech, Christians have accepted those who claim to be appointed by God; when in fact, they are false teachers.
2. In verse four, Paul indicates that false teachers were preaching another Jesus, a different spirit, and a different gospel. And amazingly, the Corinthians were so blind and gullible that they tolerated this heresy without question. Likened to the Corinthian church, today we have thousands of naive and undiscerning Christians who are supporters of the Word-Faith Movement --- a federation of false teachers who are preaching another Jesus and a different gospel.
3. In verse five, Paul sarcastically regards these false teachers as "super-apostles". Today we have "super-apostles" who "do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple" (Romans 16:18).
What matters to them are their own brand of the gospel and status within the church. And their followers like to be identified with them.
4. In verse six, Paul says that while he may not have been eloquent in speech, he certainly was not lacking knowledge of Scripture. It appears that the doctrines of these smooth talking false teachers carried more weight to the Corinthian Church than the gospel as taught by Paul. This is further affirmation that those who are naive have a much greater tendency to fall prey to false teachers who are very fluent in speech.
5. In verses 13-15, the Corinthians thought they were being lead by true men of God, but Paul finally calls them what they are: "For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ."
Now … let's ask ourselves the following question: Do we hear the Corinthians screaming "Touch Not The Lord's Anointed" or "Judge Not" like we hear today when discerning Christians point out false teachers? The answer is clear.
The Wrong Kind of Judging
As pointed out, God's Word does not forbid judging; but it does condemn the wrong kind of judging. Judging someone unrighteously is a serious matter; and could lead to a person's reputation being severely damaged. Thus, we should make sure that we do not judge someone without taking the time to carefully weigh the evidence. We should not guess or make snap judgments. Coming to our own conclusions that are unaided by substantiation are likely to be faulty.
Let's now examine the following scriptures:
1. "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. And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove the speck from your eye'; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." (Matt. 7:1-5)
This passage does not mean we should never judge. As noted earlier, it means we should not judge hypocritically (Rom 2:3). Many people are capable of seeing the speck in the eyes of others, but are not always willing to acknowledge the log in their own. Before passing judgment on someone else, we should first judge ourselves. If we forestall judging ourselves, then we will be judged by the very same standards that we use to judge others. Thus, we should be particularly careful when judging someone. If we judge ourselves rightly, then we are qualified to judge others (verse 5).
Many of us have probably heard someone say something like, "You need to stop judging people and get off your self-righteous high horse." Ironically, those who do not fully understand the right and wrong ways of judging could be guilty of the very thing they accuse those who judge rightly. Thus, they trap themselves. Perhaps when they clear away the "Judge not" speck from their own eye, maybe they will be capable of ascertaining whether someone is judging righteously or hypocritically.
2. "Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven." (Luke 6:37)
This verse is telling us that we should not judge others from a faultfinding, hypercritical attitude in which we are geared up to destroy another person's character. Those who engage in this type of judging seem to gain malicious delight from character assassination. Too often, even the best endeavors of a wife or husband are condemned by a spouse who, when this raucous attitude exists, can do nothing rightly. This form of judging is not only wrong, but it is indicative of hatred in one's heart.
3. "For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him. Who are you to judge another's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand. One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks." (Romans 14:2-6)
This passage tells us that we should not judge someone based upon what is proper to eat and which day to worship. Judging in peripheral matters is wrong, senseless and inconsequential. In nonessential issues, honest Christians can differ without being divisive.
Unfortunately, many professing pastors focus on verse four ("Who are you to judge another's servant.") as an attempt to prohibit a critique of their doctrines. This verse, however, has no relation to judging significant deviations of Scripture.
4. "Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and 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." (James 4:11)
False teachers also use this verse in an effort to muzzle any opposition and corrections of their errant doctrines. This verse, however, is speaking in the context of improperly judging fellow believers. False teachers do not quality as members of the body of Christ. Nevertheless, whether a person is a true believer or false teacher, slandering someone should always be avoided.
Let's bear in mind, however, there is a distinction between "slandering" and "judging" by the Word of God. Christians have the right to discern good from evil. We also have the authority to expose and rebuke false teachers (1 Tim. 5:20). "Slandering", however, is when we engage in vicious verbal condemnations, gossip behind another person's back, discrimination, and false accusations. That said, it is very important that we study God's Word so that we can differentiate between right and wrong judging.
Hopefully, we can now see the recklessness of the indecent use of Psalm 105:15 ("Do not touch My anointed ones, and do My prophets no harm.") Moreover, I hope this article has added balance to our understanding of the right and wrong kinds of judging.
No doubt, however, many of those who are obviously enslaved to political correctness, idolatry, or a personal agenda, will continue to grumble and play the "Touch not" and "Judge not" cards. Their predilection for giving their "man of God" a free pass for their false teachings and ungodly conduct should come as no surprise.
With that said, I'll conclude with the following verse from the Book of Proverbs:
"A man who remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed --- without remedy."
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