Wednesday, January 19, 2005

RIGHTEOUS JUDGMENT

The word Judgment means a right or just decision or its execution. Right judgment is going to be seen on the last day when God judges the world. The Apostle Paul calls it "...the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God" (Rom. 2:5). Like it or not, it is one thing that all men can count on. The Hebrew writer says, "...It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes the judgment" (Heb. 9:27). God's judgment will be perfect. The Psalmist writes, ''The judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether'' (Ps. 19:9).

Our world is short on righteous judgment. For example, it is somewhat shocking to learn that a triple-murderer, sentenced to three life terms, is eligible for parole in 2017 after serving no more than 27 years. It is sad to think that each of his victim's lives is worth as little as nine years of his. Most people would agree that this is a failure of justice, but it happens every day. The world is not always fair, but God will judge all of these matters.

Why is there injustice in the world? Man does not have truth inside of himself; God reveals truth to him. The further that man strays from God, the further his society gets from making righteous judgments: this pertains to all matters of life. The function of injustice in the world is the denial or lack of respect for God. Paul warns that the rejection of God--as He is revealed in the creation--leads to a darkening of the mind: this affects thinking and judgment. He says, "They became futile in their speculations and their foolish heart was darkened" (Rom. 1:21). By rejecting truth, in the creation or in the Gospel, man cripples his natural, god-given ability to judge wisely. Thus good people suffer and evil men prosper. As darkness is the absence of light, so injustice and other sin is the absence of obedience to God.

There is real justice when the Word of God is consulted. In the last judgment, it is the Word of Christ that will judge each man (Jn. 12:48). Interestingly, it is this same Word that now sanctifies and sets you free if you abide in it (Jn. 17:17; 8:31,32). Jesus said that the Word is truth. With truth from God's Word, man can be like God who is perfect in all His judgments. By consulting with God's Word, men can accurately make judgments between what is good and evil (Heb. 5:14). This judgment applies to all areas of life. Lord, make me to know Thy ways.

Righteous judgment is the reality in heaven, but it is also possible on earth. The religious and civil leaders of Christ's day were a fairly unrighteous group of people. Jesus said to them, "...you judge according to the flesh" (Jn. 8:15). This type of judging is superficial and tends to be biased and unfair. But judgment in matters of this life does not need to be suspended; there is a better way. Jesus said in John 7, "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment" (v.24). In this way, we imitate God who is perfect. It is possible to judge or discern matters of this life when personal interests are put aside and people and issues are spiritually appraised. God calls for Christians to be just and right, and to discern the difference between good and bad. We may get angry or distraught over the injustice we see in this world, but let us all remember that God is taking note of it all.

- Dan Mayfield

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