Grayson Gilbert

On The Chosen: Jesus Is Not the Law of Moses. He is Far Better.

Recently, The Chosen posted an image of the actor who plays Christ with a line from season 3 that is supposedly a “mic drop” moment for the show’s producers. It shows the character responding to one of the Pharisees by saying, “I am the Law of Moses.” While many flocked to the post in support of the “mic drop,” many others expressed how flatly unbiblical this is. They rightly said that Jesus is not the Law, but that the Law instead reveals the righteous standard of our thrice holy Lord. Likewise, they were right to say that Jesus came to fulfill the Law in His perfect, active obedience to it all His earthly life.
Contrary to the expression of infamous pastors like Steven Furtick, the active obedience of Christ means that He in no way “violated the Law” out of love. More importantly, the active obedience of Christ is a vicarious obedience. We think of the vicarious substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ, meaning that He died in our place as our Substitute, and paid the wrath that we deserved. In the vicarious obedience of Christ, Jesus lived in perfect obedience, likewise, on our behalf. He fulfilled what we could not do: Jesus obeyed the Law, and due to His active obedience, and His passive obedience on the cross, we actually gain the benefit of being counted righteous before God. This is the doctrine of imputed righteousness, which is an alien righteousness—a righteousness not of our own, but Christ’s. This is important, so hang with me.
As we come back to the “mic drop” moment of season 3 in The Chosen, this becomes all the more nefarious. In fact, nowhere in Scripture does Jesus say to anyone, “I am the Law of Moses.” In the book of Mormon, however, you will find such a statement in 3 Nephi 15:9, “Behold, I am the Law, and the light. Look unto me, and endure to the end, and ye shall live; for unto him that endureth to the end will I give eternal life.” That alone should give people enough pause on the show, owing to the fact that Mormonism is a false religion that teaches a contrary gospel to the gospel of our Lord. In short, Mormon doctrine holds that it is your active obedience that will please God in the end, and earn your salvation.
2 Nephi 25:23 states, “For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do” (emphasis mine). Often this verse from 2 Nephi is used in conjunction with Moroni 10:32 to give clearer meaning, which says, “Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God” (emphasis mine). It is quite important to notice the all-important temporal modifiers to these Mormon scriptures, because they explicitly teach that grace is a commodity earned only after one has exhausted their own spiritual muster.
The LDS Bible Dictionary puts it like this:
“This grace is an enabling power that allows men and women to lay hold on eternal life and exaltation after they have expended their own best efforts. Divine grace is needed by every soul in consequence of the fall of Adam and also because of man’s weaknesses and shortcomings. However, grace cannot suffice without total effort on the part of the recipient. Hence the explanation, ‘It is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do’ (2 Ne. 25:23)” (p. 697).
But what does the Bible say of all of this? It is bupkis. Rubbish. Ultimately, it is damnable doctrine. Romans 3:10-20 lays out the plight of mankind so incredibly clearly that it leaves anyone without a source of comfort in their own ability to earn grace. Likewise, Ephesians 2:1-10 displays not only the hopelessness of those born under the dominating power of sin—but it lifts up the reality that we are saved “by grace through faith…and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Eph. 2:8-9). The good works which we walk in were prepared beforehand for us by the Father (Eph. 2:10), meaning that even our good works are a production of this grace in us. In other words: even our active obedience to Christ is a display of the riches of God’s grace. They are not what produces salvation, but a production of salvation.
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The Glories of Christ as Our Great High Priest

It is Jesus who enables us to approach the Father even in the first place. It is purely through the grace of God in Christ that we find ourselves placed before the Father, but it is not as if the Lord saves us by grace and then changes the rules of engagement. When we sin and are tempted to return to our old ways, that is precisely the time we ought to come to God, for in Christ, we have our perfect Representative who stands in our stead.

While the book of Hebrews is often subjected to rigorous theological debate on some of its contents, the book is one filled with a profound sense of hope. Nestled amidst the several warnings of apostasy one finds several passages intended to encourage the weary, lift up the faint-hearted, and ultimately, direct our affections and intellect back to the person and work of Jesus Christ. The overarching message of the book of Hebrews is the superiority of the Son of God, but its contents are never divorced from strict application to this core teaching. In three words, you could perhaps summarize that application in the command: don’t go back. The temptation, of course, was this very thing.

The weight of pressure and persecution had come upon the church in full and the cost of following Christ was high. Some would be imprisoned, some would lose all of their assets, some would succumb to the lure of sin—yet the pressure would be lifted if they merely turned back to their old ways as Jews and rejected Christ. Yet time and again, the author of Hebrews lifts up this simple reality: Christ is supreme. In fact, as he shows throughout the course of the letter, every aspect of religious life as an Israelite testified to the reality of Christ’s supremacy. Whereas the Old Covenant put forth shadows of this hope to come, the New Covenant would put forth the Son as the pure expression of God’s final Word to us in these last days.

It is in light of this, therefore, that he says the old way brings nothing but death and a fearsome judgment, whereas following Christ brings eternal life. The cost of following Christ might be high, but the cost of turning back was all the higher, as those who apostatized would never come to enter into His rest. The mindset begging to be cultivated then is one of heavenly perspective, meaning that the warnings and encouragements given in this letter are intended to bring the people of God to persevere to the final day. Though temptation should seize them and persecution should buffet them, the call remains: don’t go back.

In much the same way, the temptation to Christ followers today is to return to the former paths we once walked in darkness. Perhaps it comes through a functional denial of taking the hard road of suffering, or, perhaps it that Leviathan we call sin that lures us to its mirey depths. No matter how we stretch it, the call to persevere in our faith is what we must abide in, lest we find ourselves disqualified, having forfeited our heavenly reward by making a shipwreck of our faith. It is for this reason that we are called to hold fast to the confession of our faith—and here the author of Hebrews does not have in mind our own personal, subjective faith, but rather that body of doctrine called the faith. The reason we are called to endure in Hebrews 4:14-16? We have a great High Priest.

While sin bars us from the presence of the Father, it is this great High Priest who brings us into His very throne room. This is a far more glorious reality than most realize. Whereas the former high priests could enter into the holy of holies but once a year to make atonement, Christ is the High Priest par excellence. The Israelites might see the high priest pass from their presence into the tabernacle, but it is Christ Himself who passed through the heavens (Heb. 4:14). The God-man, Christ Jesus, came before the Father to make intercession on behalf of the Christian, and yet He needn’t do so on a yearly to make atonement, or even daily basis to make sacrifices and offerings as the high priests of old. Once was sufficient, and ever will remain sufficient (Heb. 7:27). The ministry of the former high priests, even on that great Day of Atonement, pales in comparison to the efficiency of the great High Priest, who rectifies our plight once and for all.

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The Deadly Peril of Being the Double-Minded Man

The perpetual state of double-mindedness is at odds with the Christian faith. These are two different realms, so to speak, that never intersect. In short, double-mindedness is sin, and sin that needs to be put to death quickly, lest the genuineness of our faith is tested and found altogether absent. It is here that the intersect of faith and works comes into play. It is not that our works save us—but that a genuine faith will produce such works that prove that we are genuinely in Christ. 

It is interesting, to say the least, that the term for “double-minded” only appears twice in Scripture, and both within the letter of James. The first occurrence deals with those who are subjected to various trials (see James 1:2-8). The point of James in this section is to encourage the faint-hearted in recognizing the purpose of such trials. Trials are akin to the testing of the genuineness of one’s faith (v.2), but what such trials produce is endurance—that quality every true Christian must have to reach the finish line and inherit the glories to come. Endurance itself produces a Christian who is “…perfect and complete, lacking in nothing,” indicating that the result is a mature Christian who comports themselves under trials in such a way that they actually grow in their faith, rather than move backwards.

It is in light of these trials that James then makes the statement in vv. 5-8, “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” Thus, if one is lacking the wisdom to navigate through trials, he is to simply ask the Lord with a heart of submission and faith. The doubter, as James calls him, will receive no wisdom, but will remain as one who is continually at odds within himself.

The extent of this double-mindedness though is not in part, but in full. Note that James says he will be unstable in all his ways. In much the same way then, the portrait of the double-minded man that James gives us is a rather bleak one. The Greek term he uses to speak of this man’s instability is ἀκατάστατος, which speaks of a never-ending state of restlessness and turmoil. He is, in other words, the epitome of what it means to be confused in all his faculties.

In intent, motive, thought, desire, speech, and deed, and in both his character and feelings—he is always hovering between two worlds. The state of his soul is never at peace, and he never truly learns to trust in God and His promises. Like the Israelites of old who straddled the fence between worship of Baal and Yahweh, he continually wavers between two opinions. He is quite literally unable to make up his mind between what is good and true, and what is evil and false. In short, his doubts render his faith nearly useless in the midst of his trials.

James is quite clear in what he is stating here: the man who is unstable in all of his ways will not come to find the wisdom which comes from above, which is “…first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy” (Ja. 3:8). His instability becomes a detriment to his maturity in the faith, yet ultimately, produces one who will fail under the tutelage of trials. In a very real sense, the implicit warning being given is that the double-minded man may just turn out to be the man who will not endure to the end.
This is particularly why James picks back up on this reality in v. 12 by saying, “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” It should be relatively clear to the reader to understand that if one is double-minded and unstable in all his ways, and he perpetually remains in such a state, there is cause for real concern over the state of his soul. If trials produce endurance, and endurance produces a mature Christian who perseveres to the end—one who lacks such qualities may indeed prove to be of the seed which falls on rocky ground who falls away when trouble and persecution comes, or the seed which becomes choked out by the thorns of the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth (Matt. 13:20-21).

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God Works All Things for Good

The faithful, covenant love of our Lord will never depart from you if you trust in Christ. You are safe in the grasp of the Almighty, not only through all eternity, but even now. He is actively working all things for good for those who love Him—and that “good,” which is your glorification, cannot be robbed of you no matter what may come.

It is little wonder why a verse like Romans 8:28 is a rally cry to many Christians. We consider Paul’s words, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose,” and apply them through various instances of life to find encouragement. Yet the richness of this verse goes well beyond merely the fact that God does indeed work all things to good for those who love God. The specific framework Paul works within in the context of chapter 8 is set in light of the glories that await us beyond this earth.

In Romans 8:18-25, Paul speaks of the reality of human suffering in a broken and fallen world that is eagerly awaiting the redemption of all things through Christ. While presently, this life is fraught with many trials and tribulations, the sufferings we experience are to be counted as incomparable with the glories to come. We groan, we wail, we suffer—yet with much hope as we persevere to the end, waiting for the redemption of all creation, and even our bodies. Yet in this, the tension that all mankind faces comes to the forefront, and the reason for this is simple: we must wait. This anticipation for glory builds more and more anticipation the longer we must endure this life. This anticipation for glory sustains us, and brings forth one major reason why we persevere: we hope in the age to come rather than in this broken and fallen age.

In Romans 8:26-27 then, Paul tells us that in the same way this hope for glorification sustains us, the Spirit sustains us, for He knows precisely how to intercede on our behalf before the Father. Where words and utterances fail us in our prayers, the Spirit transforms them into prayers that match the will of God. The very purpose of the Spirit’s intercession is not so we can feel good about His work in doing so, though we should have much joy in this fact. Rather, the Spirit’s work in transforming our failed prayers likewise culminates in us reaching the finish line, where we are ushered into the presence of our Triune Lord for all eternity. In other words, the Spirit’s work of intercession on our behalf is part and parcel to our endurance; we endure not only for the hope of the age to come, but specifically because part of the Spirit’s work is to bring about endurance in us.

Here then is where we find our particular reference that God works all things for good for those who love Him, and are called according to His purpose. And what is that purpose? According to verses 29-30, the “good” that God is working all things together for, is explicit. “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.” Human suffering has a purpose that culminates in glory. To make that ever clearer: the purpose of our trials and sufferings is to bring us to final redemption, where we see God face to face, free from the pain, devastation, and destruction caused by the curse of sin, our adversary Satan, and death itself.

What this then means is that our typical band-aid approach of this verse falls drastically short of it’s intended teaching. Rather than being a panacea that speaks to the trial itself somehow becoming something qualitatively good, it is what the trial produces that is good, namely, the salvation of our souls and redemption of our fallen state. Every moment of our life, from start to finish, is designed to sustain us to the very end of the age.

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Pride Cometh Before the Fall

The “new” tolerance demanded in our current political and social milieu is not one that is concerned with the truth, but your truth. If one’s beliefs run counter to what you believe to be praiseworthy, it is an afront to your very identity and personhood—at least if what you believe to be praiseworthy is in line with the prevailing cultural dogma. It is decisively not something one can tolerate, nor can the free inquiry and exchange of ideas take place over such matters. If you don’t agree, you’re bigoted, racist, homophobic, and whatever other slur one might throw to try and get it to stick.

As we enter into yet another June pridefully bedazzled with rainbow rhinestones and glitter, I can’t quite help but think of the prescient words of Carl Trueman from ten years ago:
“…the beautiful young things of the reformed renaissance have a hard choice to make in the next decade. You really do kid only yourselves if you think you can be an orthodox Christian and be at the same time cool enough and hip enough to cut it in the wider world. Frankly, in a couple of years it will not matter how much urban ink you sport, how much fair trade coffee you drink, how many craft brews you can name, how much urban gibberish you spout, how many art house movies you can find that redeemer figure in, and how much money you divert from gospel preaching to social justice: maintaining biblical sexual ethics will be the equivalent in our culture of being a white supremacist.”

It has been interesting, to say the least, to see just how many darlings of the reformed renaissance have made their choice over the last ten years. Some have departed from the faith altogether, others have joined arms with the social justice movement, and some still seem to try and hold on to some semblance of the historic faith whilst integrating various philosophical and theological systems that are at odds with the faith they profess.

In one sense, I wonder how much more proverbial ink can be spilt in the Twitter wars before people simply move on within their respective camps. On the other hand, I know that you have to run a good smear campaign on conservative Christianity before the dust settles because the goal isn’t merely to get the broader world to see people as narrow-minded fundamentalists. That is fairly easy to do in a culture like ours and if we are keen on the times, we see that much has already been accomplished.
What Trueman was getting at here is at the heart of what Christ said when He told His followers to count the cost. In many ways, this has already reached the ivory tower of academia. Professors have lost tenure for refusing to bow the knee to one’s preferred pronouns, Biblical scholars have been maligned by their peers if they are seen as too stringent on things like gender roles within the church, and many a seminary institution is broadening their appeal to make up for low enrollment numbers by doing nearly everything but returning to fidelity to the Word of God. And yet, as it always does, what runs through the seminaries trickles down into the pulpits and through the pews.

While we may still have little “pockets of resistance,” so to speak, I believe the true test of fidelity to things like the biblical sexual ethic will be in the days to come. The cost of social credit is fairly low right now—but what will you and I make of it if and when the choice between maintaining a Biblical sexual ethic and putting food on the table for the little ones arrives? We are creatures of much comfort, after all, and nothing quite clamps the pressure down on you like the very real potential of losing your job because your convictions to Scripture limit your ability to affirm “diversity.” Notice I say “affirm” rather than “accept.” This is where I truly believe the line has already been drawn in the sand.

In another work that was well ahead of its time, Don Carson spoke of the Intolerance of Tolerance. First, with regard to what would be coined “traditional tolerance,” Carson said:
“This older view of tolerance makes three assumptions: (1) there is objective truth out there, and it is our duty to pursue that truth….”
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The Problem is the Leaders: Why the Church is in Shambles

Numerous denominational institutions, conventions, seminaries, and churches alike are facing a reckoning for their failure to proclaim the oracles of God and safeguard Christ’s sheep from savage wolves seeking to devour. 

A recent worldview survey was released from The Barna Group detailing what many have been saying for years: there is a fundamental issue in the church and it stems from the pulpits. The results of this report are particularly damning, as they indicate only 41% of lead pastors, 28% of associate pastors, 13% of teaching pastors, 12% of youth pastors, and 4% of executive pastors actually hold to a comprehensive worldview. Taken on the whole, just under 2/3 of pastors embrace a form of syncretism, which is the blending of various belief systems together as one. In other words, purported ministers of the Christian faith don’t actually hold to the Christian faith, but an eclectic grab-bag of ideological, philosophical, and theological ideas that are fundamentally at odds with one another. The impact this has upon the congregants cannot be overstated.
When one considers past reports, such as The State of Theology from Ligonier Ministries, it is little wonder why so many Christians are embracing heresy condemned by the forebearers of our faith. It is little wonder why so many lead lives opposed to the faith they profess when those in leadership model a life of unbridled hedonism, a rejection of the Word of God, and an embrace of various competing worldviews and philosophies that run counter to the Christian faith. Many have no concept of how the Word of God applies to every aspect of life because they have never been taught how it applies to all of life.
Don’t misunderstand me to be saying that there is a reasonable excuse mankind can give in times of such ignorance; the onus is still upon us all to know and love God. Yet when the shepherds do not shepherd—or when they mislead the people to place their trust in false gods, false doctrines, and false practices, surely, they shall bear greater culpability. Afterall, Jesus did have much compassion upon sheep without a shepherd. Jesus did, in fact, vehemently oppose those who created many obstacles, burdens, and hurdles, for the people of God to jump through. Christ likewise despised those who twisted the truth, calling them sons of their father, Satan.
Shall we collectively scratch our heads in wonder and wring our hands in frustration at why is the church in such shambles?
Occam’s Razor would lead us to believe that these shepherds are not shepherding. And yet if these men are not shepherding, the question must be asked: precisely what is it that they do?
You see, it is the shepherds who will be held to the strictest account by God for their failure to teach sound doctrine (Ja. 3:1). It is the pastors who will be judged by God for their ineptitude to guard the flock from perverse doctrines and the carnal depravities of evil men. They are to be men, fierce men, building upon the foundation laid by Christ, and yet so many are keen on cutting corners and running roughshod through those actually seeking to edify the body. Rather than building upon the cornerstone, they have all but rejected it, crudely piling on the straw and fluff of competing, but blind, dumb, deaf, and lifeless gods. To borrow a phrase from Ezekiel, these shepherds are lifting up dung-gods before the people, smearing excrement on the pulpits and even the people of Yahweh.
Rather than lift up those sacred truths of old, they hide the Law of God behind the wall of the sanctuary. There is little cry of, “Thus saith the Lord!” Instead, many pepper their sermons with newspaper clippings, humorous anecdotes, and not-a-few out of context Bible verses so as to save face before the undiscerning ones. They preach canned sermons written by other men, lifting up the silver screen as if to find the shred of Christ “At the Movies,” as they ask the rhetorical question, “Are you not entertained?” Well do they tend to the goats, belittling, demeaning, defaming, and unhitching from the very Word of God as if to say the Christian faith is religion a la carte. You can form a quasi-Christian worldview and flourish, so they say. Many teach that you can compartmentalize your faith neatly in one part of your life, as if the Sovereign One does not demand wholesale allegiance, slavery even, to Christ.
The litmus test of the faithful minister of God is his integrity, yet we have all but abandoned the very inspired Words of our Lord when it comes to the qualifications listed for such men. Many find themselves in the crosshairs of the apostle Paul, who he condemns in Romans 2, for though they teach that others should not steal, they steal. Though they teach that none should commit adultery, they commit adultery. And though they proclaim that all men should flee from idols, they rob temples, raise up the high places once more, and neglect to teach themselves of that which they shout from the pulpits. The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of them.
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Pastor, Give the People What They Need, Not What They Want

My pastor has long used the phrase, “Preach the Word and let the chips fall where they may.” In a nutshell, this encompasses his philosophy of ministry (and my own). The central task of the preacher is to preach. This should be a relatively uncontroversial statement to make in one sense, but in our current church culture, where the pastor is more often seen as a CEO or “brand builder” rather than a shepherd, it is an unpopular statement to make. The expectations placed on pastors are often flatly unbiblical ones, partly owing to the congregant’s lack of biblical wherewithal, yet partly owing to the pastor’s neglect to preach the full counsel of God (Acts 20:27).
There are obviously many other duties tasked to the shepherd of God’s flock, but they all invariably flow from the ministry of the Word and prayer (Acts 6:4). Visitations, funerals, weddings, counseling, even administrative duties, all must fall under the auspices of this primary duty. When they don’t, these duties invariably transform into something other than what is intended of them. In other words, these duties, when done rightly, are an extension of the pastor’s primary task of preaching and teaching. Counseling, marrying, burying, and more, are to be born out of the pastor’s obligation to the Scriptures rather than simply a perfunctory duty, and especially the main duty.
There are constant temptations to let the central task of the preacher be something other than the ministry of the Word and devotion to prayer. The obvious example of becoming the next big name in celebrity evangelicalism is relatively low-hanging fruit to identify, but it is nonetheless something the broader church culture places high currency on. However, the more subtle examples of this abound in the various ministries that churches can participate in. That is not to say it is inherently evil that someone desires the church to have a soup kitchen, for example, but good social deeds are not the primary focus of the church. Rather, the Great Commission is (Matt. 28:16-20).
Yet if you were to ask the average layperson what the primary duty of the church is, it is highly doubtful the Great Commission would come to mind for many. Some would say social justice is, others would claim that a vibrant youth group is what’s needed. For many though, the last thing that would come to their mind is making disciples of Christ. Even for those who would lift up the Great Commission as the primary task of the church would not adequately define what that actually means or would place heavier emphasis on one of the three means Christ has given us rather than encompassing evangelism, baptism, and teaching as the way one makes a mature disciple. I have sincere doubts that many pastors would even adequately define this as the church’s primary duty; after all, the positions of those in the pews is often a reflection of what comes from the pulpit.
It is of no small consequence that Paul’s dying exhortation to young Timothy was to, “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction” (2 Tim. 4:2). The reason? “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths” (2 Tim. 4:3-4).
Brothers, we are living in this “out of season” time, where the multitudes prefer fables fit for old women to sound doctrine.

Are You a “Judgmental” Christian? Good.

What we should be looking for in correction of another believer is a pattern of sin, where the goal is one of restoration (Matt. 18:15; Gal. 6:1; Jd. 1:22-23). There are proper channels in which we are to do this in the life of the church (Matt. 18:15-20). We are likewise not to judge the unbeliever in the same manner as we would a brother, because God Himself will judge those outside of the church (1 Cor. 5:12-13). 

One of the most misused verses in the Bible is Matthew 7:1, “Judge not lest ye be judged.” Professing Christians and non-Christians alike will quote this verse in a myriad of ways—mostly though as a tool for deflection. In other words, it’s used as a “gotcha.” Drop Matthew 7:1 in any particular debate over issues of sin and apparently the debate is over. However, much like any other misused verse in the Scriptures, the problem is resolved simply by examining the context of the passage.
“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye” (Matt. 7:1-5).

Simply by reading this passage, one can see there is a bit more going on here than the fact that someone is judging another person. As we can see in v. 2, the conjunction “for” explains the reason behind the command not to judge. The way or manner in which we judge will be used against us. In other words, the same standard we apply for others will be the standard by which we are judged. There is an inherent warning here for people—that much is clear.

The implication is rather simple: judge and you will also be judged. How you judge someone is the same way you will be judged, hence why Christ explains we ought to first examine our own motives and actions first. If we are in sin, the primary focus should be upon “removing the log” from our own eye so that we can see clearly in removing the speck in another’s. It is then and only then that we can appropriately judge another—and the presumption of the passage is in fact that we will judge another. Notice, however, that the focus of Christ in Matt. 7:5 is that of the hypocritical person, who judges without respect to their own sins. In other words, there is still judgment that is deemed necessary to take place; the “speck” is not to be left in another’s eye, but rather, the one seeking to remove the speck from their brother’s eye ought to first inspect their own eye in order to rightly remove it.

This is the same thing in the mind of the apostle Paul in Romans 1:18-2:16. Here he deals with those who suppress the truth in unrighteousness (Rom. 1:18-20), reject God and the truth in favor of worshipping some element of Creation and indulging the lusts of their hearts (Rom 1:21-25), and are subsequently given over to degrading passions (Rom. 1:26-27), a debased mind (Rom. 1:28), and as a result are filled with a litany of evil practices and thoughts (Rom. 1:28-31). They know, in other words, that such things are worthy of death—yet they not only practice them but give hearty approval to others who do the same (Rom. 1:32). For this reason, these same types of people have no excuse, for in that which they judge another, they condemn themselves because they practice the same things (Rom. 2:1).

No matter how you stretch it, the demand placed on the one who passes unrighteous judgment is repentance, for we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things (Rom. 2:2). They should know they will experience the same fate as others who practice evil deeds (Rom. 2:3), for God’s patience is not a sanction of their sin, but a demonstration of His kindness, which is to lead to repentance (Rom. 2:4). Those of a stubborn, unrepentant heart will only store up further condemnation on the Day of Judgement, where God will reward each man their due (Rom. 2:5-16). Again, to put it as bluntly as one can, those who practice lawlessness will not inherit the Kingdom of God (Gal. 5:21; 1 Cor. 6:9-10) and their hypocritical judgment will only build up more and more wrath.
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Thirteen Resolutions in the Spirit of Jonathan Edwards

It was not until I started to read through the resolutions of Jonathan Edwards that I found myself drawn to the idea of making such personal resolutions. Here was a man who looked to the Scriptures and gave his earnest attention to obeying them by making the best use of his time on earth. His resolutions were thoroughly Biblical and practical and as we look back on his life, we can see the ways these things shaped his heart and mind. 

For as long as I can recall, I’ve never been one who is given to making New Year’s resolutions. I haven’t faulted those who do—but in my own personal experience, I saw them as relatively pointless. My sentiments behind this were simply that if you earnestly wanted to do these things, you should just do them, rather than make much ado about nothing. That’s not to say the goals in and of themselves are unimportant, but rather, what resolutions often seem to be is an exercise in futility, where people make lofty goals and aspirations, yet fail to follow through on them year after year. We all know there is an incredible spike in gym memberships and attendance this time of year—but give it a few weeks and things will settle back to “normal” and people will go back to eating cheeseburgers.

Where I failed in my understanding was that these goals are not supposed to be a sort of checklist to boast of our accomplishments, but rather, a series of benchmarks on what we aspire to be and do. Of course, these things can be good or bad, depending on the worldview one holds, yet it is likewise beholden to the motivations behind these goals. If our worldview is unbiblical, we may by common grace aspire to something good, but it will still be shrouded in vanity. Likewise, even those who hold Christian convictions can fall prey to faulty motivations on why they seek to do what they do, rather than take every aspect of our life captive, for the glory of God.

It was not until I started to read through the resolutions of Jonathan Edwards that I found myself drawn to the idea of making such personal resolutions. Here was a man who looked to the Scriptures and gave his earnest attention to obeying them by making the best use of his time on earth. His resolutions were thoroughly Biblical and practical and as we look back on his life, we can see the ways these things shaped his heart and mind. In other words, Edwards wasn’t merely a man who made much ado about nothing in his resolutions. He was a man that earnestly desired to glorify God in his life yet realized his own proclivity to fall short of that aim. I believe his resolutions were made for the purpose of refocusing his heart toward eternal things—to remind himself that he was bought with a price—that he is therefore a slave to righteousness, through the grace of Christ.

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