Chapter # 6 Paragraph # 5 Study # 24
Thesis: Do not attempt to use the Law to unjustly "punish" another to obtain your own goals.
Introduction: Last week we attempted to address Jesus' exhortation/promise, "do not judge, and you will not be judged." Since making judgments is an inescapable part of a godly life, and since God is going to "judge" all wrong doing, a proper understanding of the words requires some thought. About the only meaning that makes sense is taking the words to mean what Paul expressed in Romans 2: "do not judge others in an hypocritical way" because that is the only way to escape judgment for oneself. What that boils down to is this: do not do the evil that you recognize so easily in others.
This morning we are going to look into Jesus' next exhortation/promise: "do not condemn and you will not be condemned."
April 6, 2008
- I. The Thought in Context.
- A. The larger context is Jesus' instruction to permit your Father to develop His compassion in you.
- 1. There are few issues that kill the development of compassion quicker than the way of thinking involved in the statement, "he/she is only getting what he/she deserves."
- a. In the first place, it is not true and its falsity undermines compassion by the refusal to see what is "deserved" in its true light.
- b. In the second place, the very essence of Christianity is the provision of a just payment of what is deserved so that anyone may escape what is deserved because of compassion, and the willingness to focus on justice instead of grace undermines compassion.
- c. In the third place, it is hypocritical beyond measure to gloat over someone else getting what they deserve when we are not getting what we deserve.
- 2. Then there is the next step in the destruction of the development of compassion: being the person responsible for seeing to it that the one needing compassion gets "what he/she deserves".
- a. There is a progression in Jesus' words.
- 1) It is one thing to be hypocritical in judgment.
- 2) It is another thing to take steps to enforce that hypocritical judgment.
- 3) And it is altogether another thing to actually be the one who lifts the impact of the judgment, even if it is a true, unhypocritical thing.
- b. The second of Jesus' instructions regarding the development of compassion in oneself addresses not just the undermining of that development, but the active refusal to permit it.
- B. The even larger context is Jesus' instructions regarding the inclusive, uninhibited embrace of the Kingdom of God.
- 1. The Kingdom of God does not value material wealth, physical satisfaction, emotional pleasure, or status in the eyes of men over God's program to redeem the lost.
- 2. The Kingdom of God puts a premium upon seeing the lost, not as enemies to be fought, but valuable people to be redeemed.
- 3. The Kingdom of God moves by reason of the compassion of the King and the development of that compassion in the subjects of that King.
- II. The Thought Explained.
- A. The word group involves an intensification of the negative connotations of the failures of "righteousness".
- 1. There is a prefix on the main word that stands as a prepositional intensifier of the negative overtones of the action of the verb.
- 2. The main verb is at the root of another verb that is consistently used to refer to being made and declared righteous.
- 3. Thus, the negative overtones of the verb have to do with seeing one as unrighteous and the intensification involves pressing the issue in order to guarantee the punishment that is deserved.
- B. The "setting" of the uses of the word group in the New Testament is predominantly abusive.
- 1. The word in our text is only used four times in the New Testament and three of those four are in settings where the one doing the pressing for a punishment is doing so in a very ungodly and self-serving way.
- a. Note Matthew 12:7.
- b. Note James 5:6.
- 2. When these overtones of abuse are coupled with Jesus' insistence that His disciples refrain from the action in view, it is impossible to come away from this text without understanding that Jesus is demanding that His disciples refuse to get into the use of "justice" to "get even" and to obtain any of the four things that the Kingdom does not value over people.
- III. The Thought Qualified.
- A. These instructions by Jesus address actions taken by reason of inner attitudes.
- 1. The desired "inner attitude" is compassion like the Father's.
- 2. The problematical "inner attitude" is a hypocritical focus upon "justice" as a means of gaining what is not worth having.
- B. These instructions by Jesus have no application to vocational responsibilities that involve the enforcement of Law for the general good of the culture.
- 1. Judges, prosecutors, law enforcement officers, jailers, penitentiary guards, etc., all have a legitimate place even in a compassionate culture and have an even greater place in a heartless one.
- 2. Faithfulness to a vocational responsibility does not have any direct, negative impact upon the development of the proper inner attitude of compassion.
- C. There is a huge difference between using "justice" to "get even" and using "justice" to hinder the progress of iniquity.
- 1. If people are simply permitted to do evil without the imposition of justice, evil will explode all over the culture.
- 2. Attempting to hinder wickedness can be a smoke screen for darker motives, but it is a legitimate motive for the application of justice to an evil done.