The word is thrown around quite a bit.
“Where is she in the faith?"
“Does he have faith?"
“I have faith."
For most religious people, ‘faith’ is important. But why?
“[We] know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified” (Galatians 2:16).
"For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law” (Romans 3:28).
So we are justified by faith. Faith is the mechanism God uses to declare us righteous (i.e. acceptable) before him. That’s important because only those who are righteous will enjoy the presence of God eternally.
So what is ‘faith?'
The Reformers, men like Martin Luther, John Calvin, Theodore Beza, and many others, taught that faith is:
Knowledge = grasping the facts of the gospel
Assent = being convinced the gospel is true
Trust = entrusting the soul’s safety to Christ on the basis of knowledge and assent
This is a good synthesis of the Bible’s teaching on faith. There is clearly a fraudulent faith that includes ‘knowledge,' but neither ‘assent’ nor ‘trust’ (James 2:19). Additionally, it is impossible to be convinced of something you know very little or nothing about (i.e. assent without knowledge) and neither is it possible to entrust your soul to something you aren’t even convinced is true (i.e. trust without assent). All three, knowledge, assent, and trust, must go together for it to be saving faith.
This week I will be giving away two copies of the book, The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith by Timothy Keller. To enter, simply sign in to the Rafflecopter giveaway below and enter either by following me on Twitter, on Instagram, or on both! Winners will be chosen and notified by email. At this time, I do ask that only those living within the 48 contiguous United States enter the giveaway. Thank you for understanding.
When someone chooses to play the "judge card" it’s like playing the ace of spades. It trumps everything else. It puts people on their heels. Because the "judge card" is what it is today, there are a variety of subjects that seem to be untouchable. The result? There is a fear of being labeled “judgy” or “intolerant,” or a “bigot.”
While the basis for the "don't judge me" mantra has changed, it used to be Jesus' words from Matthew 7 that were being vaguely referenced. So does this passage support the sentiment? Let's take a look...
When Jesus says in verse 1, “Do not judge or you too will be judged,” he is not saying turn a blind eye to sin and unrighteousness. He is not saying ignore injustice. He is not saying keep quiet when you see wrongdoing. After all, in this passage about not judging, Jesus labels some people as "wild dogs" and "pigs." Kind of judgy, right?
Jesus says, “Don’t judge…you dog, you pig. Don’t judge, pig.” He’s not turning a blind eye to sin. Jesus isn’t keeping quiet over wrongdoing. The exhortation not to judge doesn’t mean ignoring sin and keeping your mouth shut when you see it.
Look a little further down in verse 5: “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
Notice what Jesus doesn’t say, “Take care of the plank in your own eye, but ignore the speck in your brother’s eye. Pretend it doesn’t even exist. Turn a blind eye to it.” Jesus says, “remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
This passage doesn’t mean Christians are supposed avoid making moral judgments. In a passage about not being judgmental, Jesus still makes moral judgments. So this passage doesn’t mean ignore wrongdoing or turn a blind eye to sin.
This passage is fundamentally about attitude. It forbids a condemning spirit. To level judgment calls at someone or about someone in order to make ourselves feel better, or to be heard, or to enhance our reputation, or simply to demean another person is what is forbidden in this passage.
That’s why Jesus says, “Before you take the speck out of your brother’s eye, you need to remove the plank in your own eye.” Before you confront someone or make a judgment call on their attitude, examine yourself. Ask yourself some tough questions. Spend time in prayer: “God, before I do this I need to confess my own unrighteousness to you. I also need your help in assessing my motives for confronting this person. Am I doing this because I’m genuinely concerned for their spiritual well-being? Am I doing this out of love or am I doing this to take them down a notch or two? Am I doing this to make myself feel better? Or because I’ve got a soap box I want to protect?”
By getting real and honest about your own sin before confronting someone, you’ll create a spirit of humility. Often we condemn, or criticize, or confront out of a spirit of pride. That’s what Jesus is warning us about. He’s not saying, “don’t confront sin.” He’s saying, “confront sin with humility and a genuine regard for the spiritual well-being of others.”
Jesus said the two greatest commands are: to love God with heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-39). Our best energy should be used in the pursuit of these two commands. I want to take a moment to offer one reflection on how to do that.
Take a look at 1 John 4:19: “We love because he first loved us.”
It’s short, simple, and straight to the point. But don’t miss the point! We love God because he first loved us. There is sequence in this verse. Our love for God comes after his love for us. Our love for God is a response to his love for us. Here’s what’s really cool about this verse from 1 John. In 1 John, the apostle points to a single event as the climax of God’s love for us. This event portrays, in all its glory, God’s love for us. That event? The cross:
“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sin” (1 John 4:10).
It is in the cross of Christ that God’s love for us is supremely demonstrated. If our love for God is a response to his love for us, then we need to see God’s love for us in all its brilliance and that means pondering deeply the cross of Christ. We are not going to love God the way he wants us to love him without first getting a grip on his love for us. And the only way to do that is to ponder deeply the cross of Jesus Christ.
The best way to do that is by paying close attention to the numerous reasons the biblical writers give for why Jesus died. I’m giving away two copies of a book entitled, Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die, because it helped me come to see just how deep God’s love for me is, supremely demonstrated in the cross of Jesus.
To enter the giveaway, simply sign in to the Rafflecopter giveaway below and enter either by following me on Twitter, on Instagram, or on both! Winners will be chosen and notified by email. At this time, I do ask that only those living within the 48 contiguous United States enter the giveaway. Thank you for understanding.