I was scrolling through Facebook when I came across a shared article about Benny Hinn’s offices being raided by the IRS. A man, well-known throughout the Christian community, being investigated for the SECOND time for tax evasion and general fraud allegations. Without any thought, I clicked through and read the article.
A paragraph in the article read “There is more fraud in the name of God, not just in America, but in the world than any other kind of fraud”.
What does this mean for Christians? How are we supposed to distinguish the good from the bad? How are we supposed to know the truth from a lie? How can we prevent being deceived when people proclaim the name of Christ?
There’s a long time argument, mainly from those who classify themselves as believers, that Christians shouldn’t judge. The “should Christians judge” argument is usually introduced when talking about hot topic lifestyle choices that the Bible equates to sin. Exposing anything from modern Christianity, cursing, drinking, adultery and fornication, homosexuality, abortion, etc., seems to be off limits because God said: “do not judge”.
I would suppose that the particular scripture they’re referring to is found in Matthew 7:1, which says “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” However, saying that Christians should absolutely not judge is taking the scripture completely out of context. If you continue to read through Matthew 7, you’ll find that ‘judging’ is exactly what God is telling us to do.
Jesus simply says be careful that you do not critique your brother unjustly because with that injustice you will face the same judgment. Don’t be a hypocrite, be sure that both your life and your heart are without fault before God. Because when your heart is free from malice, then you’ll be able to help your brother.
Indeed, Jesus himself is telling us that we should judge. But he also tells us how to go about doing so. And it should be done with a whole heart after Christ. This is confirmed in John 7:24 “Judge not according to the appearance but judge righteous judgment.”
So should Christians judge? The answer is yes, and no. Christians have a responsibility to be sure the body of Christ stays in line with Christ’s word. So Christians are to judge other Christians with righteous judgment and in accordance with God’s word.
As far as unbelievers, or non-Christians, we aren’t to hold them to the same standard that we hold the church. Which means that we shouldn’t judge them for their wrongdoing because they haven’t chosen to do right. However, this doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t proclaim the good news of Christ to them, which also means making them aware of their sin. While we should expose sin in all circumstances, we should also be reminders to an ungodly world that God’s love and compassion towards us allow any person to be forgiven of all sins.
The burden to share Christ with the unbeliever goes beyond our words only. We should also live lives that point back to Christ, and in turn, let our deeds be proof to the believer.
Alan Schlemon posted a video on Stand to Reason that is just too good not to share and is right on topic with our question of should Christians judge. Aren’t Christians Commanded Not to Judge?
How do you pass righteous judgment?
We follow Christ’s example and seek Him in all situations. The Bible says that life and death lie in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21)- our words should always be led by Christ. Before we pass judgment on someone else, we should first turn this judgment upon ourselves. If you are found without fault, seek Christ’s word, His spirit, and His will on how to proceed.
What is discernment?
God gives us a powerful tool through the Holy Ghost called discernment. Discernment is using the Holy Ghost to assess actions, situations, people, movements, etc. by God’s standards. Every Christian should use the power of discernment to assess those proclaiming Christ. He instructs us to be knowledgeable and rooted in the faith that we not be swayed by every wind of doctrine.
Matthew 7 goes on to tell us to ‘beware of false prophets’. God is telling us that people will come in the name of Christ, but that we should ‘try the spirit’ to know if it is of Christ. We should use discernment (in the spiritual) to distinguish whether the works of these people are of God. Verse 20 says “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them”.
The Bible says that in the last days even the elect will be deceived. The only way to prevent this is to continue seeking Christ and guarding your heart with His commandments. Every aspect of a Christian should point back to Christ. The Holy Ghost, that dwells inside of us, should bear witness with other Christians through discernment.
Sinclair Ferguson wrote “How is such discernment to be obtained? We receive it as did Christ Himself—by the anointing of the Spirit, through our understanding of God’s Word, by our experience of God’s grace, and by the progressive unfolding to us of the true condition of our own hearts.”
Unfortunately, so many ‘Christian’s’ are being deceived by men like Benny Hinn who proclaim Christ. Matthew 7 also says that not everyone who does works in the name of Christ will be accepted into Heaven (verses 21-23). Maybe if more Christians would be led by the Holy Ghost using that spiritual discernment, we wouldn’t have so much fraud in the church house.