GROWING IN GRACE #3
2 Pet 3:18
Out text continues to be: “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.”
Growing in grace is making progress in our understanding and application of the grace of God as it applies to us in our daily walk and as it applies to how we see other believers. We saw how repentance is the door to grace. It is walking before God in transparency and confessing our sins and being continuously restored by the blood of Christ (1 John 1:9). Now we will look at how this works as we look at fellow believers.
One of the difficulties of the Christian life is how we respond to other believers. It is in our nature to deal with them after the law. My first response to another’s wrong is “now he shouldn’t be doing that. Doesn’t he know that is wrong? He needs to get this thing right with God.” And if I don’t watch it, I will let him know how I feel on the subject! And I discover that he didn’t really want my opinion and now a wall arises between me and that brother or sister. I know that this brings a lot of question many of which I probably can’t answer. But what I have just said is true whether I can answer all the questions that arise or not.
I am not to judge a fellow believer. Jesus taught his disciples: “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.” This does not mean that I can’t know when another believer is wrong in a matter. And what Jesus says here is not contradicting what Paul tells the church at Corinth about the disciplinary judgment of her members concerning particular sins that will corrupt the church if allowed to continue. But Jesus does tell us not to judge in this context.
John 3:17 says, “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” The word “condemn” (krino) is the same identical word in the Greek text as the word “judge” in Matthew 7:1. Jesus didn’t come to judge the world. He came to save. Our attitude toward the other is to be the same as Jesus. We are here to save and restore. That is grace. Jesus said in John 12:47-48: “And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.” Judgment will come to the one who is wrong. Jesus tells us when in this verse. Now why does Jesus postpone judgment? Peter tells us in his Second Epistle chapter 3 and verse 9: “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us‑ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” Grace delays judgment for the guilty to have opportunity to repent. I believe this is a principle by which we are to deal with those who are wrong. We are not to deal with them in judgment but in grace. Grace never endorses wrong. Grace never condones evil. Grace is not letting the guilty one off the hook by restraining me from judging him. Grace is giving time for repentance.
How we respond to wrong in others can be a contributing factor in their restoration. It can also be a hindrance. For instance if we judge another believe in disobedience to what Jesus says in Matthew chapter 7, are not we guilty of sin? And when we commit the sin of judging the other, how is our sin to be dealt with? There is only one way to deal with sin and that is to admit that it is a sin and seek the Lord’s forgiveness (1 John 1:9). You cannot help the sinning brother by sinning yourself. You become as guilty as he is. And if you judge him, you are probably going to have to go to this sinning brother and apologize to him for judging him. Now that would be a real test to our submission to the Lordship of Christ. Me apologize to a brother that is bugging the fire out of me because he is doing something that I think he should repent of? Let me tell you. It is easier not to judge! Amen.
Now lets take a look at what Jesus says in Matthew chapter seven: “Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.” Jesus tells us that before we can help our brother that has a “mote” in his eye, we must deal with the “beam” in our own eye. Jesus did not say that the brother did not have a “mote” in his eye that needed to be removed. He just said that before we can help him we must get rid of the “beam” in our own eye. What is the beam? May I suggest to you that it is the spirit of judgment that we have toward the other’s “mote.” Grace is the only authorized approach that we have for helping a sinning brother or sister.
John 1:17 says, “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” Does this mean “grace and truth” did not exist under the law? No. But it was not the purpose of the law to set men free. It was the purpose of the law to condemn men and leave them helplessly condemned so that grace could come along and pick them up (Gal 3:24). What does it mean “but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ?” It means that Jesus is the Truth (John 14:6) and he as Truth brought grace to the sinner. The best illustration I have found in the Bible of this truth is John 8:1-11 where the scribes and Pharisees brought Jesus a woman caught in the act of adultery. They said, “Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?” I ask you. Were they right? Yes. They were right. Moses did say stone her. But may I suggest that they did not bring her to Moses but rather brought her to Grace. Does grace let her off and overlook her sin? No. You see grace and truth meet together in Jesus. It is a truth that the sin of adultery is a sin worthy of death under the law. So grace deals with it another way. Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” Grace sets the sinner free and pays the penalty himself. Did her sin of adultery get paid for? Absolutely. Jesus set her free and died in her place on the cross. Hallelujah!!!! That’s grace.
If we are to grow in grace we must understand how grace deals with the sin. It does not deal in judgment, it deals in mercy and forgiveness. But I must remind you at this point, I am not suggesting that sin is not condemned. Grace does not ignore sin. Repentance is the door to forgiveness. We must seek forgiveness for others. We must seek their repentance without becoming their judge. Judgment only makes one self defensive. When a person defends his sin it only becomes worse. Grace disarms. It keeps the other open to the truth of grace and forgiveness.
May the Lord bless this to our hearts.