Last evening, the local news program was giving away some gas cards.  They were telling people to use them before Saturday, though, since at or around 6 pm will be the rapture.  It was a tongue-in-cheek comment aimed at the idea that 21 May 2011 is Judgment Day.

However, I want to discuss the idea of judgment in another context.  No, I’m not talking about Arnold Schwarzenegger.  Neither am I referring to Dominique Strauss-Kahn.  Rather, I’m referring to something Jesus said:

 24Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment. (John 7:24, King James Version)

Here, Jesus is actually telling people to judge.  We are to judge righteously, though.  Why?  Because by whatever measure we judge, we will be judged ourselves (Mt 7:1-2).

Question: Who was Jesus talking to?

You know, there are those who teach that only the Church can judge.  There are those who teach that only those at the top are put in positions of being able to judge even the smallest of matters.  We read something recently along those lines, where executive summary is that only the ministry can give judgments, and the lay people are supposed to let “ministers” walk all over them, even if it contradicts the clear Word of God.  So, is that true?  Who was Jesus talking to?

 20The people answered and said, Thou hast a devil: who goeth about to kill thee? (John 7:20, King James Version)

Jesus was answering “the people”, G3793, “ocholos”, “a casual collection of people”, “the common people, as opposed to the rulers and leading men”.

And, what else did Jesus say “to the people”?

57 “Why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right?

~ Lk 12:57 (NIV)

Are we not supposed to discern between good and evil?

 14But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (Hebrews 5:14, King James Version)

Who was Paul addressing here?  The reality is that one cannot know for sure, but it appears to be “to the Hebrews” before the fall of Jerusalem, thus preparing the way forward after that event.  However, we do know he addresses them thusly:

 1Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; (Hebrews 3:1, King James Version)

There is no indication here of him addressing a priesthood, ministry or even elders, but rather “holy brethren”.  Thus, we must take these as instructions for ourselves unless otherwise stipulated, and that includes the discernment of good and evil.

In short, it is a requirement to be a discerner of the spirits and to be a discerner between good and evil, otherwise we will not be able to “take heed that ye be not deceived” (Lk 21:8) and “be not deceived” (1Co 6:9b; 1Co 15:33a; Gal 6:7a).

That means everyone in the Church.  That means me.  That means every one of you.

To put it another way, we know that Eve was deceived (1Ti 2:14).  Was she punished along with Adam or not?

What fate is ours if we do not shake ourselves out of deception then?  Should we not rather call out to God to rid us of self-deception?  Should we not distance ourselves from false teachers and warn others to do the same?

In the words of Paul, “God forbid!”

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