“I have already passed judgment on this man” – 1 Corinthians 5:3 (NLT)
Nobody ever quotes 1 Corinthians 5:3. In fact, if a person were to quote this verse, everyone else, even people who could not care less about the Bible, would quote Matthew 7:1; “judge not” they would say. So, here is the question: Do you believe when the Apostle Paul, writer of the majority of the New Testament, admits that he “passed judgment” on a man, that he actually sinned by going against the words of Jesus?
Of course he did not sin. People love to take verses out of context to fit their sinful desires and lifestyles. I mean, if I cheated on my wife of 14 years who has never even one time done me wrong, and you all found out about it, would you all sit silent? No, and you shouldn’t. I would be a guilty adulterer who would be an idiot to sit back and say, “don’t judge me!”
Here is the thing; if I claim to be a Christian, I am open season for judgment. If I do not claim to be a Christian, then you don’t get to judge me. Here is how Paul himself puts it a few verses later in verses 12 and 13: “What business is it of mine to judge outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside.”
You guys have no idea how big of an 80’s rock-n-roll band junkie I used to be. I had t-shirts galore: KISS, AC/DC, Warrant, Motley Crue, Slaughter, Iron Maiden, Poison, Metallica . . . the truth was, I absolutely loved that stuff. The truth also was, all of those bands sang songs that went directly against the Word of God. Most of the songs were full of hate, rage, and completely laced with sexual innuendo and foul language. The Bible plainly says, “rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.” (Colossians 3:8) I was a walking contradiction by calling myself a Christian, and trying to maintain what I thought was my 80’s rock-n-roll lifestyle.
Now, I remember two people actually pointing this out to me. One was an elementary grade teacher. I had just been to my first KISS concert and was proudly wearing my first t-shirt from an actual concert. You could buy the shirts in music stores, but they didn’t have the tour dates and cities on the back. If the tour dates and cities were on them, that means you were there! Everybody who was anybody actually knew that. Anyway, my elementary grade teacher looked at me and told me KISS stood for “Knights In Satan’s Service” and I was headed straight to Hell for listening to that garbage. I was judged for the first time in my life. I was 9, and already condemned to Hell by someone other that God for something that I liked. I was judged even though at the time, I made no claims to be a Christ follower.
The other person took a much better approach. Approximately 7 years later, this guy discovered that I had “gone forward” in church to become a Christian. He let me know that if I was going to really follow Christ that eventually my rock bands had to go. He explained it to me the best he could in a way that I could understand. Basically, he quoted 2 Corinthians 5:17, “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation, old things are passed away, all things are become new.” He asked me to study the bands and the lyrics and to really find out what they were all about. I left the conversation thinking about what I put in my mind in a whole new way, but still concluded that he was a “judgmental Christian.” Why did I call him that? Because I wanted to have the eternal rewards that God offers, and also love music that clearly opposed Him and His ways.
I say all that to say this: The majority of Christians are horrible at discernment. We will take a person walking in the church doors wearing what we deem inappropriate and give them the stink eye. We will gossip about people who are just starting out in the Christian faith because they haven’t produced any righteousness or holiness. Well, duh, of course they haven’t. You don’t plant a fruit seed and expect an immediate harvest. It can take anywhere from 4 to 10 years for those seeds to actually bear any amount of fruit. Why do we expect new Christians to produce immediately? Honestly, it was 5 years after I professed Christ as my Lord and Savior before I produced at all. Christianity is a growing process that takes a while. I eventually put the rock music away because God had changed my heart and I WANTED to, not because another Christian dangled me over Hell and told me I HAD to.
The dude Paul said he judged was sleeping with his own stepmother. He needed to be judged. He needed to be told. I doubt the guy said, “you know, you are right . . . I am wrong.” He probably said the same thing I said when confronted about my t-shirts, “Don’t judge me you hypocritical Christian!” or “Only God can judge me!”
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you do not get to call yourself a Christian and keep your sexual sin. Nor do you get to constantly pump your head full of songs that glorify sexual sin. “Adam, you don’t get to judge me!” Am I judging? Or, am I simply telling you that you are breaking the third commandment by taking the name of Christ in vain? God’s plan is simple, one man, married to one woman, for as long as the two of you are both alive. If you don’t like it . . . don’t claim to be a Christian. Otherwise, repent of everything you have done wrong in the past, and do your best to start doing it right, like now. If you find it impossible, pray. Ask for God to change your heart and mind. Sometimes He does it immediately, sometimes He does it over the course of years, but you never ever accept that known, habitual sin will remain a part of your life. Old things really do pass away in God . . . all things become new.
1 Corinthians 11:28 says; “let a man examine himself.” In other words, “judge yourself.” If you claim to be a Christ follower, take a good look at your Facebook page. Do you make posts that contradict what you say you believe? Do you live and behave in such a way that contradicts God’s Word? Read the book, the whole book. Examine your own life and allow it to be put under this microscope. Count the cost of being a Christ follower. If you are willing to pay the price, go for it and never ever look back . . . New and abundant life awaits you! If you aren’t willing to pay the price, stop calling yourself a Christian and stop being angry with Christians who are simply telling you the truth about yourself.
I realize that I could have found some liberal church that would take me “just as I was.” I could have easily found a church that would tell me I’m okay and don’t have to change one bit. Turns out, I’m glad I went to churches that would tell me the truth, in love. I didn’t like hearing it at first, but there is absolutely nothing I have given up for God that I miss. The things He has replaced them with are 10,000 times better than what I was holding on to.
Be honest with yourself.
Do you really love God and His ways?
Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey my commands.” — 1 John 14:15