Judgment or Discernment :: By Nathele Graham

When a person fails to follow God’s ways, there can only be trouble. It’s called sin. Sin is what makes a Christian stumble in their walk with God or keeps you separated from Him if you have not accepted Christ for salvation. If we don’t see our faults and repent, there can be serious damage to our relationship and fellowship with our Lord.

There seems to be an attitude among many Christians that is very wrong. Many seem to think, ‘I’ve accepted Christ, I’m forgiven, now I’m free to live how I want. My salvation is secure.’ On one level, that’s correct. If you’ve truly and sincerely accepted the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ for salvation, your salvation is secure. On the other hand, if you’ve repented of your sin, that means you’ve changed your mind about the sin you embraced before you met Jesus. If you’ve changed your mind about sin, then you won’t enjoy wallowing in it. When a person who has sincerely accepted Christ for salvation falls into sin, their salvation is secure. Fellowship and rewards will be lost, but not salvation. It’s important to recognize sin and turn from it.

“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (Romans 6:1-2).

Scripture will teach you God’s ways, and discernment from the Holy Spirit will reveal the sin you need to reject.

No matter how hard we try to use Jesus as our example of love and forgiveness and to live according to God’s ways, we fail. Therefore, we cannot look down upon and judge failures in others. Quite often, we don’t see our words and actions as sin because we can justify our own sin. Christians must honestly compare our actions to Scripture. Jesus said even our thoughts can be sinful. Paul says to take every thought captive unto the Lord.

The Apostle John tells us, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (1 John 1:8-10).

Do you get angry at people? Even if you don’t show anger towards a person but hold it in your mind, it’s still a sin. Do you have lustful thoughts about another person? That’s a sin, even if you don’t follow through with lustful actions. Remember, it’s God’s opinion of what constitutes sin that matters, not man’s opinion. Christians need to study Scripture and learn to discern.

We need to be very honest about our own sin and confess it to God. He knows when we sin, but we need to recognize it and tell Him. If we just sin, then go on as if we’ve done nothing wrong, it’s easy to keep committing that sin. If we confess it and sincerely ask for God’s help in overcoming it, He is “…faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9b).

Confess your sin to God…. not to a man. You need to humbly ask whomever you may have sinned against to forgive you, which is important, but it’s God you have ultimately sinned against, and His forgiveness is what matters.

Is a Christian supposed to judge? We aren’t to judge people. That’s up to God. We are to discern what’s sin and what’s not sin and help our brothers and sisters in Christ to turn away from it. Probably the most known verse is “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again” (Matthew 7:1-2).

If you want to do a little experiment, tell a fellow Christian they shouldn’t be living in sin with their “significant other,” or they shouldn’t tell those off-color “jokes.” Before you finish your sentence, they will tell you not to judge. Before you judge someone else’s sin, be sure that you’re walking a Christian walk.

“And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:3-5).

We need to examine our own life to discern the sin we are holding on to. Then, we can help others out of their sin.

It’s important that we study Scripture in order to know God’s heart. Otherwise, we are using our own standards to condemn another person and to condone our own sin. Read Exodus and Leviticus to learn God’s law to the Jewish people. Christians aren’t under the Law, but the Law shows us how not to dishonor God. These laws are summed up by the Ten Commandments, beginning with “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). Jesus simplified it for us. When asked about which commandment was the greatest, “Jesus said unto him, thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment” (Matthew 22:37).

If you love God, you will want to please Him. You will love people and leave judgment up to God. Jesus continued, “And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:39-40).

Jesus doesn’t qualify the love for your neighbor to say, ‘Love those who you don’t have a personality conflict with,’ or ‘Only love those who are your friends.’ He just says to love your neighbor. We tend to be very forgiving of “sins” our friends commit. We understand why a friend might have to lie, but if someone we don’t like shades the truth, we aren’t very forgiving. Instead of adding fuel to the fire of your resentment of that person, try loving them. The lie won’t go away, but you won’t judge and condemn them.

We aren’t to judge, but it is important to discern. We have the entire Bible to tell us what God does and doesn’t approve of. The Apostle Paul wrote much about sin and how Christians shouldn’t keep close company with someone who doesn’t obey God. How do we know what disobedience to God is if we don’t use discernment?

Corinth was a very pagan city, and the congregation there prided themselves on being very accepting and non-judgmental. Because of that, great sin was accepted into their fellowship. Paul took them to task.

“But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? Do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person” (1 Corinthians 5:11-13).

He doesn’t say to condemn everyone for sin. People who are not Christian cannot possibly understand or even care about God’s ways. But those who claim to be Christians need to turn away from fornication, coveting, idolatry, etc. If they don’t, then you should try to help them to walk closer to Christ, but they shouldn’t be your very best friend. Discerning sin is important. Judging people is for God to take care of.

After Jesus said not to judge, he said to judge the fruit of people. “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?” (Matthew 7:15-16).

In order to keep from being led astray by false teaching, you must know correct teaching. Discern the truth of what is being taught, and judge the fruit. Discern if there is truth in the words, and turn away from false teachers. “Judge not according to the appearance but judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24). Only study of Scripture will open your eyes to false teaching. The Holy Spirit will guide you. Pray, study Scripture, then discern what is God’s truth and what comes from false teachers. That isn’t judging, but it is wisdom.

God does not condone sin, but He does forgive. Don’t be afraid to ask Him to forgive you. No matter how great your sin, God is greater. There is one sin for which there is no forgiveness, and Jesus told us what that sin is. “Wherefore I say unto you, all manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come” (Matthew 12:31-32).

Each person must make their own decision to accept the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ in order to spend eternity with God. That decision must be made while living on this side of the grave. That means you recognize that you are a sinner and have no way to save yourself from eternal damnation. It means you have put your faith in Jesus. Whether you are the vilest of sinners or someone who is a really good human, there is no difference. If you have blasphemed and rejected the Holy Spirit, you’ve damned yourself. Salvation through the shed blood of Christ is the only way to find eternal life. Repent and give your life to Christ today. When you accept the shed blood of Christ as the atonement for your sin, the Holy Spirit is sealed within you. Accept Him, don’t reject Him.

Don’t judge people, but discern. Instead of condemning others, show Christian love and help someone come to salvation by your love. Your love can also help a fellow Christian return to a right walk with Christ. That Christian just might be you.

God bless you all,

Nathele Graham


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All original scripture is “theopneustos,” God-breathed.

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