Home Media Sermons by Pastor Nicki Coertze Non-series Sermons by Year 2021 Sermons . The sin of judging and slandering . Who are you to judge? (Part 2)

. Who are you to judge? (Part 2)





We have started a new series entitled “who are you to judge?” These are some of the words most often heard from the mouths of believers and unbelievers alike.


In the last sermon we saw that there are three sins used by the devil that are used more than any other to upset the unity of the body. More churches are split due to these sins and they are legalism, judgment, and slandering.  The church once again needs to realise that the devil goes around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. The church while victorious is not immune against Satan, we are not invincible and therefore when it comes to these sins, we must not be fatalistic and just accept them. On the contrary we must put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil or the events of evil comes, we can stand.


Sadly, these three sins are tolerated as unnecessary evils in the church that cannot be dealt with and must therefore be accepted. People set up legalistic standards that put other believers down, or weigh them down with guilt, but the legalistic person is left alone to their devices. People judge one another and we look the other away, and many believers actively pursue the avenue of slander and others join in, instead of rebuking the slanderer. You often hear the excuse that I am not slandering, and will keep on doing it because what I am saying is the truth, and therefore not slandering. I have heard this so many times where someone will say, ‘I am not gossiping about my neighbour because what I am saying is the truth.’ When is slandering sin, only when it is a lie?


We are so often told to just accept slandering because you cannot stop it. Now I know that this is often how we feel. Let me state upfront, I can handle slander against me, I do not exist for my glory, my integrity at the end of the day is not what matters, but church family it is about the glory of God, it is about the Name of the Lord, it is about the unity and leadership of the church, and it is about protecting the church from this evil. We cannot stand back and observe blatant legalism that is unbiblical; a continuous unbiblical judging of one another and the subsequent slander that has been guilty of splitting and destroying more churches than any other sin ever has. I know we cannot control what comes our way from outside, the Lord must judge that, but we are not going to tolerate these sins at Logos.


In my previous sermon over three days during devotions we put the whole issue of judging under Biblical scrutiny and unbiblical or wrongful judging was found guilty as charged. You can study the sermon notes from that sermon on the internet.

While our sermon series is entitled, ‘who are you to judge?’ I want to ask the next especially important question today, namely – ‘who is He to judge?’


1 Corinthians 4:5 (ESV) 5 Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God”.

One of the biggest problems we deal with in our Christian society today is that man wants to be big and God must be small. We see ourselves as the standard of Christian living and judge those who do not make the grade, we set ourselves up as judges over people whether they are believers or not and how well they are doing. Man is big and God is small, when we are okay with it if someone has sinned against anybody else and God and we will counsel that person that all that can be forgiven, but just do not sin against me, and you will not be forgiven, because I am bigger than God. In our last study on 1 Corinthians 4 on judging we realised that we are incompetent to judge as we do not have all the knowledge and detail and we ourselves are sinners. We do not even know ourselves most of the time, how can we know others so well that we can judge them.


For today’s sermon, we see that there is another reason we should not judge and that is that there is an important event on the way. Any judgment before this event is inappropriate. What is the event? Paul says, “do not pronounce judgment before the time”. What time are we talking about? Well, the text is clear – it is “when the Lord comes”. So, there is a court date set in place, and then only the true judge will appear, and then only the real motives of a man’s heart will be made known, and the things done in darkness will be disclosed, and then only will a true righteous verdict be handed down. In trying to put a nail in the coffin of legalism and judgementalism, Paul is emphasising the second coming of Christ and basically telling us to back off as far as judging one another is concerned. We must spend less time worrying about sorting out everybody and everything else in this life and spend more time worrying about eternity when the True Judge will judge all things. He will either be your Saviour, or He will be your Judge.


So, Christ is the judge, but who is He to judge?


1. Because of whom He is.

I have two thoughts here which should cause us all to step aside and to look at ourselves in the mirror rather than at people through a magnifying glass. Firstly, Jesus Christ is the only one who is qualified to judge. Paul says: ‘don’t judge before the Lord comes’. The word ‘Lord’ is well known to us. It speaks of the Deity and the authority of Jesus. Jesus is the King and Ruler of His people, and there will come a day when every knee will bow before Him and every tongue will acknowledge that He is Lord. Remember the parable that Jesus talked about the sower who sowed the good seeds in the field and that same night the enemy came and sowed the tares in the same field, and both came up. Then He tells the Disciples not to set themselves up as judges regarding who are real Christians and who are not. He tells them to leave it till the day of the harvest, till the second coming. On that day the Great Judge will send out His servants to separate the wheat from the tares, and on that day you will either be ‘barned’ or you will be ‘burned’. Just think, that if it were our job, who would you keep in, and who would you keep out?


We are so critical and judgmental towards our fellow brothers, but do we realise just how small the difference is between us and them, and then we see God, and we know that the difference between us and Him is far greater, yet He gives grace. We must understand the difference between us and Christ, and when we do, we will get ourselves off the throne and allow Him to be the judge.


In Romans 14:4 we are asked: 4 who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand”. Through this verse Paul is reminding us that an employee is only accountable towards his boss, the slave is only accountable to His owner, and the servant is only accountable to his master and you and I are not able to pass judgment on the servant of another as we ourselves are servants of another.


So, who is He to judge? Well, firstly we just saw that He is the only one qualified to judge. But there is a second reason. He is the only one capable to judge. Do we realise that Jesus is omniscient which means He is all seeing and all-knowing and wise? You see it throughout the ministry of Christ in the gospels. Even the poor Pharisees and teachers of the law could not even whisper amongst themselves or think by themselves and Jesus knew exactly what they were about.


Even the disciples recognised the omniscience of Christ. Let me give you one example in John 21:17 (ESV) 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep”. Simon Peter once again utters some very spot-on words about Jesus Christ. He says: “Lord, you know all things.” What Peter is saying in fact is that the Lord alone can judge a man’s motives. How do you really know to what extent somebody loves Christ? Now, we might have stood on the side-line and have judged Peter for not having any love for Jesus at all. Just think about it, he denied Jesus, three times. Peter realises that his own heart can deceive him, but His Lord knows everything. In the same way this morning, the Lord knows our hearts.


Jesus is omniscient and therefore the only one capable of judging.  Too often when we judge we judge what is on the surface, but do we realise that there is something much deeper going on in the heart? Hebrews 4:12 (ESV) 12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart”. So, there are thoughts and intentions of the heart, and you and I cannot penetrate it.


We must be slow to judge because we only see what is on the surface. We are not qualified to judge, and we are not capable of judging; only He is, and He will do it in His time. So, who is He to judge? And our first answer is – because of whom He is, He is Lord, and He will judge.


2. Because of what He knows.

5 Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God”.

Even in our modern-day legal system, no trial can take place without sufficient evidence. The case must be proven beyond shadow of doubt for there to be a verdict. Paul is in these verses telling the Corinthians that until the Lord comes, they do not have all the information to make spiritual judgments. When the Lord comes, He ‘will bring to light’ or He will ‘reveal’, which means at the moment it is hidden.


Now just before we sit back and say, so do we never judge, or do we never correct our brothers, or rebuke. Doesn’t the very next chapter of Corinthians tell us that the church should judge certain things, and even in the same chapter they are told not to take one another to court but that there should be those among them who can judge? Yes, it is true, but we will get to that in a later sermon. But for now, much of the answer to the question is found in the verse before us now. Because if Paul tells us now – what we should not judge, it will obviously give us an answer to what we can judge.


So, what is it that the Lord knows alone that you and I do not know?


Firstly, the “things now hidden in darkness”.

There is quite a debate on what this statement ‘things now hidden in darkness’ means. What it does not refer to here is dark deeds as in sinful deeds. After studying all the commentators, I have on my shelf and searching the Internet, I believe there are two plausible answers. Firstly, I believe Paul can be speaking here about things hidden from our sight. You are not a good judge no matter how good the story you were told unless you saw whatever you are wanting to judge in its full detail.


I have encountered people in life who know more about me, than what my family knows about me, and even than what I know about me. Christ knows that I am much worse a person than what any man can ever imagine, and for that reason I can stand in nothing but the grace and righteousness of Christ alone. Others are judged, even to the point that the things done in darkness are revealed by newspapers on lamp posts and even though it is fake news it is revealed as news. So, our media judges what they do not know. Paul says to them, you know nothing, so stop judging and stop slandering. You are speaking of things hidden from your sight. Do not pretend that you are God and that you can see into darkness. Remember, you are only as good as Google Earth, you can zoom into the outside of a building, but you have no clue what is going on inside. And that goes for all of us, so do not even believe the rumours you hear.


Dave Swavely whom I referred to two weeks ago, by recommending his book, ‘who are you to judge’, and others, believe that the things done in darkness are firstly those things we do not have in view, but secondly where Scripture is not clear. So, we must not pretend that we have the full light when we are falling around in darkness ourselves.


He gives as an example the whole issue of alcohol and the right of a believer to take it or not. Now the Bible has lots to say about wine, there are warnings, and then there is the reality that even Jesus turned water into wine. Wine was not just slightly fermented grape juice in their day as some imply, otherwise Paul’s words to the Ephesians when he says do not get drunk with wine would not make sense. If it were so weak that you need to drink gallons to get drunk, we would not have the problem Paul speaks about. We are too quick to say that anybody who does drink is either unspiritual or not a Christian. Now, let me immediately say. Do not take what I just said as a license to drink. Let me also say up front that I do not drink at all, but I am not the standard by which anybody is judged. We all know that getting drunk is sin, but can drinking be sin as well? If it is sin for you it is sin according to Romans 14, but for another who can control himself there is no Biblical evidence that it is sin. An elder must not be one who lingers next to his wine. But be it as it may, there are other levels to look at it in which Scripture is not silent.  According to Romans 14 whether you eat or drink and you are causing your brother, or sister, or wife, or children or family to stumble you are in sin. Even if eating meat causes someone to stumble you refrain from it. I am so glad that I have not met such a person, because I am a serious vegetarian. The cow eats the vegetables and I eat the cow and we are both happy. It is called filtered vegetables. To us who regard ourselves as mature in the faith, Paul says in Romans 14 that we must not violate the liberty of others by judging them for their own personal choices. We will do a whole sermon on Romans 14 in this series later.


For now, we need to know that there are deeds done that are hidden from your sight and you cannot judge it, and at the same time there are issues on which Scripture is not clear, and we as Christians must be careful to become dogmatic about it. Those things that are clear, clear, clear in Scripture we do not have to be dogmatic about, we can be bull dogmatic about it, but the rest we are disqualified to judge.


So, what else does the Lord know alone that you and I do not know?


Secondly, the Lord knows the purposes of the heart.

5 Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart.

The Lord alone knows the purposes of the heart. How often have you not been judged by people who think they know your heart’s intentions better than you know your own heart? According to Paul the Lord not only knows our deeds done in darkness but He knows our thoughts. He does not go as far as Google Earth, He searches deep into us. The Greek word for ‘purposes’ or ‘motives’ as some translations put it is ‘boulē’. This refers to the motives behind an action. Why did Jesus eat with the tax collectors and prostitutes – who are you to judge? Why did the Priest carry the woman in the mini dress through the river as we saw in my first sermon in the series – who are you to judge? Why did the disciples of Jesus not wash their hands before they ate – who are you to judge? I can give you illustration after illustration and in none can we make ourselves the judges of a man’s motives. Why do some go to Mauritius or to beaches on holiday? Is it to lust after the ladies on the beach? We may not make ourselves the judge of the intentions, motives, or purposes of a man’s heart. When the Lord comes, He will expose what is in a man’s heart, in the meantime we must leave it alone.


I have done many things in life for which I have been judged. Let me give you one example. Many of you will know that in 2009 I took the responsibility to organise the annual assembly of the Baptist Union of Southern Africa. I did it professionally and paid attention to detail. Our guests were fed well; we accommodated them all either in homes or overnight accommodation. Not one person had to sleep in a school hostel as is the norm around the country. We welcomed them with biltong and fruit juice. The worship was professionally led. In short, we did our best we could with our time and resources available, but every guest went home and said how blessed they were. Is that not our job, that when we host fellow believers that we would treat them well? I arranged everything well, and then I kept a low profile. Actually for 2 of the four days I was lying in bed with my leg up due to cellulites.


Sadly, a few months after the BU Assembly, I had a fellow pastor sit in my office saying the following to me and I quote him: “the only reason you organised the Assembly so well was for personal glory”. I tried to prove that being well organised and professional and to be good hosts to our guests is for God’s glory. However, I was not going to convince him, as he knew my motives and the things done in darkness better than what I knew, and therefore he was an accurate judge as far as he was concerned. Then I remembered this verse and said to him: “believe what you will, but only the Lord knows the motives of my heart, and one day when we get there, the motives of my heart and of your heart will be brought to light.”


How often have some Christians not judged fellow believers who have lots of money with the words: ‘money is the root of all evil’, therefore you must be evil. Is that what the Bible says? No, it says, ‘the love of money is the root of all evil’. So, let us be careful before we judge people on what they have. As soon as a man loves his money, more than God, can we judge then? No still not. When the Lord comes, He will reveal. It is not your place or mine.


In closing.

Paul’s call to us is very clear. You are not Christ and you do not know what He knows, so stop judging. He is Lord, you are not, He knows the things that are not in the light either as far as deeds or our Biblical understanding are concerned, and we do not know it. Also, He knows the motives of a man’s heart and we do not.


But there is more, and I must end with it. Verse 5 continuous and says: “Then each one will receive his commendation from God”.

This is interesting. Paul is talking about negative judgment from our side and says, leave it to God, but when he gets to the verdict he speaks about ‘commendation’ and not ‘condemnation’. ‘Lord, are you not going to sort them out now? Surely if we left the judging up to you, you must zap them, otherwise they get away with what they did.’ But how will believers be judged on that day? When all the wood, hay and straw are burned away, all that remains is the gold silver and precious stones, and that will be awarded. Verse 5 says: “Then each man will receive His commendation from God.” They will receive their crowns, and even those who are unfairly judged by others now, will be vindicated on that day, as the Lord of Lord’s and the King of Kings reveals the things that we saw in darkness and declares the motives of a person’s heart.


But some may ask ‘why will there be commendation and not condemnation?’ Romans 8:1 (ESV) is clear on the matter: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

I want to end by quoting Dave Swavely as he creates a picture of that day when the Lord Judges. He says: “I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be the fool who passed judgment on them before the time. I don’t want to stand under the fiery glare of the Holy God, and hear Him say to me, ‘Did you think that this child of mine was wrong in what he did, and criticise him to others?” “Y-y-yes Lord”. I will have to answer with a gulp. “Well, I did not think he was wrong at all! Nothing in my Bible said what He did was wrong, and I happen to know that his heart was right, which makes Me quite pleased with him. So, the only person who was wrong in the situation was you!”


Logos family and friends – let us not be found guilty of causing division among the body of Christ, by judging too early. Let us allow God to be God in this matter, as He is the only one capable of judging, and He is the only one who knows that which is not in the light now, and He is the only one who knows the motives of a man’s heart.



Soli Deo Gloria

7 February 2021 – Logos Community Church.