Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. Jesus taught us to not judge a small splinter in someone else's eye without first removing the large wood beam from our own eye. That principle is from Matthew chapter 7, and it's our focus on today's broadcast.
So, how's your eye today? From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, many of us are quick to judge others, but slow to see our own failings.
Why is that? Well, you know, Dave, throughout the years, I've been a student of human nature, and I've done that so that I can better understand myself, so that I can better understand others, so that I can minister to them. And one thing is very clear, and the Bible is so right about this. Indeed, the Bible is right about everything that it teaches, but it is so correct when it looks at the human heart and talks about the word deception. The fact is that sin so deceives us, it so blinds us, that we cannot see our own sin, but you're absolutely right, and this is the point that Jesus made. We see other people's sin with incredible clarity. I've written a book entitled Who Are You to Judge? Learning to Distinguish Between Truths, Truths, and Lies. The fact is, however, it is so important for us to objectively look outside of ourselves and judge what is going on around us, judge doctrine, judge entertainment, judge miracles, paganism, and that's why I've written this book. For a gift of any amount, it can be yours.
Simply go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Let us make sure that as we listen to God's word, we judge ourselves first. The Bible says in the book of Proverbs chapter 18 verse 13, he who answers before listening, that is his folly and his shame. I fell into that recently. I received an email regarding somebody and I just connected all the dots, filled in all the details, believed the email completely, and then discovered later that the person who sent it was unreliable and there was another side to the story, and I thought to myself, how long do I have to live before I stop making judgments based on one side of the story and not hearing the whole tale? It's very important. You know, there's an old story that's been told a thousand times and each time it's told, it's told a little differently.
I assume though that it does have its root in reality. About a man on a bus, you've probably heard it, and he had several children and the children were out of control and they were bothering everybody else. They were crying and he didn't know how to discipline them and people were so upset because some people wanted to sleep and others, you know, and they'd look at him and give him those ugly stares. Making all kinds of judgments. Here's just another American parent who can't control his children, and then the man said to the people around him, you have to understand I just buried their mother.
My wife died and I'm just trying to learn how to take care of children and to help them process the anger and the fear that they're going through. Wow, that sure changed the atmosphere. You see, we're so quick to make judgments. We're so quick to look at people and think that we can size them up and we do not have all the facts and therefore when it comes to making judgments, let us make them according to facts and not presumptions. Number three, we can only judge words and actions, not motives.
Words and actions, not motives. We're not prepared to be able to do what only God can do. You see, we can look at what people say and we can look at how the way in which they act, but at the end of the day, we're not in a position to make any final judgment upon them because that rests with God. The apostle Paul says in first Corinthians chapter four, judge nothing before the time because when the Lord comes, he will bring to light the hidden things of darkness and disclose the motives of men's hearts.
Only God can do that. And so what we need to do is to be content with the fact that God makes final determinations and all that we can go on is what people say and the way in which they act. And so we are constantly judging with a sense of grace and mercy because we know that at the end of the day, we can't see the heart. When we talk about false teachers as we will, one of the questions you might have is, well, you know, these people aren't preaching the gospel.
They are not true to the word, but are they Christians? And at that point I have to back off and say, I don't know because I do not see the heart. There are situations that we get into where we see people's conduct.
We see the things that they say and it does not square with scripture, but in terms of their motives or who they are down deep inside, we must say, that's a God thing and leave it there. Let me give you a fourth principle and that is we must judge biblical issues, not preferences, biblical issues, not preferences. Folks, there are some things that are always wrong, always wrong. No question about it. There are some things that are always right.
It is always right to love. It is always right to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit, but there are some things that are in between there. Things that sometimes are not wrong in and of themselves, but they may become wrong. If we become stumbling blocks to someone, they may be neutral issues over which Christians may have some strong disagreements. For example, in the early church, sometimes some of the meat that was eaten or purchased in the marketplace had been devoted to various gods. So there were some Christians who says, I can't eat meat because this meat was offered onto idols and other Christians said, well, now wait a moment now, don't make that jump so quickly because really when you stop to think of it, the idol is nothing. I take this meat home, I give it over to God. I say grace, I give thanks to God for it and so I can eat it.
And so what you have is you have disputes. People say, I can't believe that so-and-so is eating that meat and somebody else says, well, listen to what Paul says, accept him whose faith is weak without passing judgment. Do you see he says without passing judgment on disputable matters? Romans chapter 14 verse one. One man's faith allows him to eat everything, but another man whose faith is weak eats only vegetables. He says, I'm staying away from this meat that's been given to idols. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does for God has accepted him.
Who are you to judge someone else's servant to his own master he stands or falls. And yet it's in that realm of neutrality that we have some of the strongest opinions and the strongest judgments. And there are some people who will be very, very critical.
I mean, I don't want to mention anything that's as touchy as music, but having mentioned it, you've now heard me mention it. People will say, you know, Paul, it has to be this kind or it has to be this kind and so they develop all kinds of theories to justify their preferences when in point of fact there has to be some elasticity here. And we have to recognize that there may be differences of opinion and we need to walk along the same trail together. The real issue that we're interested in in this series of messages is, is truth being denied? Biblical truth?
We want to take the Bible and point to verses of scripture. Is truth being denied? Is it being ignored?
Is it being substituted? What does God say about what is being done and what is being said? That's the fourth principle. The fifth is we judge temporally. Our judgments are limited.
They're limited to time, not eternity. And we recognize that and we say, God, you make the final judgments. We don't. We have the responsibility of judging. We do not have the responsibility or the privilege or the ability to condemn.
We let God do that. That's what I think Jesus was talking about now when we look at verse two of our text, verse two of our text. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. What is Jesus really saying here? When he says that in the same way you judge others, you will be judged and you too will be judged.
There are two ways to interpret it. Some people say, well, that means we're going to be judged by others. If you're very strict and condemning, people are going to be strict and condemning with you.
And there's some psychological truth to that. You know, you find somebody who has a very, very hard line, very, very, I know someone he's coming to mind just now as I'm preaching many, many years ago, very hard line regarding others, inflexible when it came to certain standards. And then he ended up violating his own standards. And so, you know, everybody was kind of waiting for him and saying, he's the guy who judged others.
Now look at him. Yeah, it's true. But I don't think that's the real essence of what Jesus is saying, because there are times when maybe you aren't judgmental where people still judge you anyway. I think what Jesus is saying is, is that the stricter we judge others, the more strictly God will judge us. It says in the book of Romans chapter two, verse one, who are you that condemns another? Because when you condemn another, you condemn yourself because you're doing the same thing. In other words, if we're going to hold a high standard in certain areas of our lives, let's understand then that God is going to keep us to that standard.
We think to ourselves that we are really knowledgeable about the scripture. Fine. We'll be judged as those who are knowledgeable. We think to ourselves that we've attained a certain level of spirituality that is above others.
Fine. That's the measure by which we will be measured. This is very sobering. And so that's why we should be hesitant in making judgments. And we recognize that our judgments are temporal, whereas God's are eternal because God knows all the facts and we don't. Therefore, we are careful in the judgments that we make. We do not easily, easily make judgments.
And by the way, this is thrown in without any extra cost to you personally, except a moment of your time. You know, when it says that if you judge others, you too will be judged. I was talking a moment ago about the fact that there are people who, uh, are dishing out judgment. And then when you dish some judgment back to them, it's a principle of human nature I've seen over and over again that the people who are the strictest with others are the last ones to be able to accept strictness from others back again.
Have you ever noticed that? I remember someone who wrote a letter to me, a woman wrote a letter to me about the worship service because she was very critical of one little thing that happened once. And it was a very, very critical letter. Just, uh, it was, it was far too much of an overreaction. And so I decided to reply and I might've replied a bit in kind of fulfilling this verse.
And she just became so angry that she just left the church. In other words, I can make my judgment, but don't you dare make a judgment on me. It is human nature that can be seen over and over and over again.
The bottom line though is this. Our judgments are temporal. I'm sure that we all fail from time to time. We try to go by these principles, but we're not God. And there comes a time when we recognize that at the end of the day we have to commit to God the wider picture of judgment. We're commanded to judge. We're commanded to be discriminating. Discrimination is a bad word today. Of course, if it's applied in the wrong situations, racial discrimination and so forth, then we're opposed to that. But there is a sense in which being discriminating is the essence of spiritual growth.
What is the bottom line? The bottom line is simply this, that being discriminating is so important that it determines your destiny. Discrimination determines your destiny, whether or not you're going to be in heaven or in hell. That's how important it is for us to know what we believe and why we believe it. Next message in this series is on doctrinal discrimination, and I'm going to show you how the issue of salvation is central to the New Testament and to use that as kind of an example of principles that can be used to apply to doctrinal discrimination.
But what you believe about salvation determines your entire destiny. See, we're not preaching these messages to condemn people or to put people down. We're preaching these messages, first of all, to help people to walk righteously and to love God's word and to be in obedience to what it teaches and the way we are instructed to live.
That's our first and only agenda. And then, of course, to warn others about all that's out there today that is wrong, that many Christians subscribe to and believe and accept. How important is making judgments? Listen, in this very same passage where Jesus is speaking, Matthew chapter seven, he says, not everyone who says to me, I'm in verse 21, Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?
Then I will tell them plainly, I never knew you away from me, ye evildoers. Do you see how close it is possible to get to the kingdom, to call Christ Lord, to do miracles in his name and still be banished from his presence forever? Do we need to judge right from wrong, the broad way from the narrow way, the right kind of miracles versus the wrong kind of miracles, the right kind of profession of faith versus a wrong spurious confession of faith? It's at the heart of who we are as believers. And so I'm going to ask you to do something today.
It's very clear based on what we've said. I want you to begin. Would you now judge your own heart? What plank is there in your heart, in your eye, in mine?
What speck is there that needs to be taken care of? So then we'll be able to see clearly, more clearly to help others in this business of judging. Let's pray together. Our Father, your holy word says that if we as believers judge ourselves, we will not be judged by you and condemned with the world. And so we pray, Father, grant us honesty.
Show us the logs, the planks in our eyes. Help us, Father, to humble ourselves. Oh Father, we pray that you might help us to be rigorously biblical in our judgments. And grant us a wisdom that has to come from your loving hand. Now before we close in prayer, what is it that God has said to you that you need to talk to him about? Are you hesitant to make judgments because you know that you are committing the same sin?
Or do you make judgments not realizing that it may be from a self-righteous spirit? You talk to God right now. Father, we are so needy. Please bring us to repentance. Grant us an honest spirit, Lord, that you might reveal to us what you see in our hearts, that we might be fully confessed and forgiven, yielded so that we are in a position to make important distinctions in the midst of a confused world. Help us, we pray in Jesus' name.
Amen. My friend, I have to tell you that among all the passages of scripture, the words of Jesus that we've just been speaking about to me are the most sobering, almost chilling. Imagine standing in the presence of Jesus and saying, Lord, Lord, have we not cast out demons in your name? Have we not done miracles in your name? Only to hear the words of Jesus, I never knew you. Depart from me, ye workers of iniquity. If there's anything that you and I should be doing, it should be making sure that as we look into our own hearts with the power of the Holy Spirit, we come to the full assurance of faith that we have believed in Jesus and that our confidence is of course not misplaced, but rather in him alone as our righteousness.
And if you've never received Christ as Savior, you do that right now. I've written a book entitled Who Are You to Judge? Learning to Distinguish Between Truths, Half-Truths, and Lies. I hope that you have a pencil or a pen handy because I'm going to be giving you some info. For a gift of any amount, this book can be yours. Here's what you do. Go to rtwoffer.com.
That's rtwoffer.com or you can pick up the phone right now and call 1-888-218-9337. My friend, it's okay to be wrong about many things, but don't be wrong about your salvation, your confidence in Jesus Christ. The title of the book, Who Are You to Judge?
Learning to Distinguish Between Truths, Half-Truths, and Lies. It's time again for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question you may have about the Bible or the Christian life. The Holy Spirit lets a Christian know when he or she is sinning. This has happened for Emma who attends Moody Church.
Here's the full story. I heard your last two sermons at Moody Church about money and investing it, and you said something Sunday morning that really got to me. There's a verse in the Bible that you read that whoever is faithful in a little is faithful in much.
Whoever is dishonest in a little is dishonest in much. Well, a few days before I even heard your sermon, the Holy Spirit was telling me that what I was doing was wrong. You see, I'm a college student, and I live out of district for my college, so I'm using my friend's address as my own to be listed as in-district.
As you may know, living out of district costs much more than living in-district. I didn't think it was hurting anybody. It's just a little thing, like you said on Sunday, but lately it's been on my conscience. And Sunday morning, after hearing your sermon, I vowed to use my own address and pay whatever I have to pay.
But I was just wondering what your thoughts are on this. Do you think it's wrong? Oh, Emma, I'm so glad that you heard that sermon, and I'm so glad that God pricked your conscience, and I'm doubly glad that you did the right thing. Absolutely it was wrong for you to give a friend's address so that you would get cheaper tuition at university.
Fact is that if you're out of state, you have to tell that you are out of state, and you have to pay extra. But that's the rule. And God led you to do the right thing. This is a great lesson for all of us folks, and no matter what your dilemma is today, we have something to learn from Emma. Doing the right thing is often very, very difficult.
But it is so much better to do that and to have a clear conscience before God and before man than to rationalize our sin and continue to live in disobedience. Thanks, Emma. Thanks for writing, and thanks for your example. God bless you in the days ahead. Some real wisdom from Dr. Erwin Lutzer. Thank you, Pastor Lutzer. If you'd like to hear your question answered, go to our website at rtwoffer.com and click on Ask Pastor Lutzer. Or call us at 1-888-218-9337. That's 1-888-218-9337.
You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois, 60614. If you watch enough religious TV, you'll be confused about which doctrines are true and which are false. Next time on Running to Win, a pointed call to return to a standard against which doctrines must be measured, doctrines that impact your eternal destiny. Don't miss Judging Doctrine. Thanks for listening. For Dr. Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
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