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Bible verses about Usurping God's Authority
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Matthew 7:1-5

We cannot avoid judging. As the stock in trade of the mind, appraisals are inevitable. If we were witnesses to a flagrant violation of law in which innocent people were harmed, could we keep quiet because we are not to judge?

Does not Jesus command us to judge in verse 6? "Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces." Do we not have to judge who are "dogs" or "swine"? Considering verse 15 ("Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves"), do we not have to judge whether a man is a false minister? Do we not have to reject his teaching based on an appraisal of his fruits?

We must therefore take care to understand clearly what Jesus meant. He obviously did not mean we should not judge at all. Within the context of Luke 6:35-38, Jesus uses "Judge not, and you shall not be judged" to urge us to love our enemies, be merciful, forgiving, and generous. This very greatly modifies Matthew's account, showing that "Judge not . . ." is a warning against self-righteous severity, sharp-tongued criticism, and condemnation. Thus, it is not a command to be absolutely neutral and tolerant regarding moral issues, but a warning to be careful and loving when we judge. We can apply this admonishment to Romans 14:10-13 and James 4:11-12 as well.

There are practical reasons why Jesus would advise us about this. Of prime importance is that even though it is important that we judge rightly, it is even more important that we do not usurp the place of God! "Who are you to judge another's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand" (Romans 14:4).

Paul begins this letter to the Romans calling himself a servant of Jesus Christ. He reminds us that we are all His servants (verses 7-8). A servant does not have the same rights and responsibilities as a master. Though we are permitted the right of making an appraisal of conduct, we are not permitted the right of passing judgment upon a fellow servant. A fellow servant does not stand or fall at the bar of our judgment. The only judgment that matters is the judgment of our mutual Master. If He is satisfied or displeased, He will act in His good time and in His way. To usurp His responsibility is an act of sheer presumption.

This in no way means we cannot approach a brother to inquire about and understand his conduct so that we might know whether our appraisal is correct. Assuming that our intent in questioning him is for his good, why would we even approach him? Would it not be because our evaluation of his conduct had led us to conclude—yes, to judge—that he was in serious moral or spiritual trouble?

John W. Ritenbaugh
Judgment, Tolerance, and Correction


 

Matthew 7:2

"Be careful," He says. "You are stepping into a minefield when you begin to judge your brother!" Because the dangers are hidden, minefields are especially deadly, and judging beyond our area of authority is just as dangerous. If we ignore the warning and continue pressing forward, judging beyond our authority will blow up in our faces, ripping us to shreds!

Why are we warned so strongly against judging others? In The Complete Word Study Dictionary, p. 892, Spiros Zodhiates writes, explaining the difference between the words krites and dikastes (both meaning "judge"):

Krites, as used of God (Hebrews 10:30; 12:23; James 4:12) involves the inherent power to discern the character of a person. Similarly it is an attribute of Christ in the same manner as it is an attribute of God (Acts 10:42; II Timothy 4:8; James 5:9). On the human level, a krites is one who makes a judgment as to the character and actions of others without receiving such appointment from someone [i.e. God did not give us the authority] whereas dikastes implies a responsibility attributed by society and others. Therefore dikastes is more of a forensic term, a judicial judge, while krites is one who uses his subjective criteria to evaluate others.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Judging Our Brothers


 

Romans 12:17-19

Resentment and incivility, in which we take our revenge with a blast of insults, are not an option for us either, even when it may seem justified. Paul expects us to bring our relationships with others into the scope of our relationship with God. Would we do the same thing to God? In verse 14 Paul says, "Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse."

If we take vengeance, we encroach on the prerogative of God, seizing power that does not belong to us. By intruding, we get into the way of what He has claimed as His responsibility. Man is incapable of taking vengeance with proper wisdom, justice, and love. Paul instructs us, by faith, not to take the prerogative of revenge to ourselves but allow God to execute judgment.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Sixth Commandment (Part One) (1997)


 

1 Corinthians 4:1-5

Paul, embroiled in a situation where he was being judged for the way he conducted his affairs as God's apostle, gives some excellent advice. Passing judgment on someone based on our narrow perspective and subjectivity is an exercise in futility and vain, with nothing of spiritual value to be gained from it. That is why God does not want us doing it. Its prime motivator is to elevate (cf. verse 6) or justify the self.

Paul did not even pass judgment on himself! He certainly examined himself because he wrote to this same church, "Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Prove yourselves" (II Corinthians 13:5). Then why did he say he did not judge himself? Because we all are saved by grace through faith. We certainly are not saved by our own favorable judgment of our conduct. Though he could find nothing wrong with his conduct in this situation, he still would not step into Christ's area of authority as Judge. Even his blamelessness did not justify him.

Many things we judge in others are trivial and sometimes extremely "picky." Many situations do not involve sin at all but simply different ways of doing things. We tend to pounce on situations or characteristics that will hardly mean a thing a year from now—and certainly will matter nothing in a thousand years. There may be nothing wrong with pointing them out to someone concerned, but why focus on them to the point we pass judgment on the person?

John W. Ritenbaugh
Judging Our Brothers


 

 




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