NO ONE CAN JUDGE ME?
Written by Doug Ponder on September 29, 2013
This article is a recap of the sermon No One Can Judge Me? in the Embracing Diversity series. (You can also listen to the post-sermon Q&A here.)
World Without Judgment
Imagine a world without judgment, a world in which no one ever says, “That’s evil and wrong. Don’t do it.” You can do as you please. Sound like paradise?
It’s actually quite the opposite. It means a world in which things like rape, murder, racism, abortion, and the Holocaust can all happen, without anyone being able to say, “This is wrong and must be stopped!” Judgment, you see, is good. We tend to think of judgment as bad because we don’t like to be on the receiving end of things. But in reality, judgment is merely the declaration this is good and to be upheld and celebrated and that is evil and to be avoided and condemned. Judgment is the only alternative to chaos.
This is why statements like, “No one can judge me,” are so horribly, terribly wrong. Not only can we be judged, we must be judged. Judgment is the only answer to evil. It’s the only thing that can say, “Hitler was wrong. He needed to be stopped.”
Judgment Isn’t Bad
So why don’t we like the idea of judgment? And why is it so often that we hear someone defiantly say, “No one can judge me!”
Because we want to the freedom to do whatever we want to do, without rules, regulations, or guidelines. In fact, just about the only time we demand judgment is when someone stops us from doing what we want.
We have even begin to think in these ways. “Why does it matter what I do if it doesn’t hurt anyone?” “How does what I do in the privacy of my home affect you?” “Don’t I have the right to do what I want, so long as I don’t take that right away from somebody else?”
Kant Can’t Stop Us Now
These questions did not arise out of thin air. Philosophers have been asking questions about judgment and morality for centuries. Once they threw God out of the equation, however, they were left without a fixed point for judging good and evil. Fast forward to the mid-20th Century and already some were noticing the problem of where things were headed. “We approach a condition in which we shall be amoral [no morals] without the capacity to perceive it, and degraded without the means to measure our descent” (Richard Weaver, Ideas Have Consequences).
In other words, we now lack the capacity even to call things good or evil, and we lack the ability to measure just how bad off we really are. The Scriptures are clear on this matter, however. God alone is good. He is the source of goodness, in fact. It flows from him like water from a spring. Everything he does is morally praiseworthy, and he hates evil with every aspect of his being.
Guides to Goodness
To guide us into the good and away from all evil, God first gave us the Scriptures. God speaks to us through them, commanding what is good and condemning what is evil. The laws and commands of Scripture are meant to prohibit us from doing that which leads to harm, chaos, or death, while pointing us toward that which leads to peace, flourishing, and life.
The problem is that we so often don’t do the good, even when we are told what it is. We are corrupt from the inside-out, desiring what we know to be evil, wrong, even deadly. That’s why God didn’t just leave us with the Scriptures and say, “Okay, you know what’s good now. So go do it!” Instead, he sent his Son, Jesus, to judge evil once and for all. In his death on the cross, Jesus absorbed the judgment of God against all sin and evil. Though he didn’t deserve to die, Jesus gave up his life to show that the wages of sin is death. He absorbed the just judgment of God that ought to have fallen on us, allowing it to fall on him instead. And at his return, Jesus will eradicate forever the evil that he first judged through his death and resurrection.
God Alone Is Good
This also means that our actions really are good or bad, not based on how we think or feel about them, but based on what God says. Thus, we don’t have to guess about what is right and wrong, good and evil. Someone is definitively wrong who says, “I feel like it’s most loving to prevent my baby from being born into a world where they will be unloved or unwanted.” They are wrong because God says that their unborn is loved and wanted by him, and their actions are evil because murder is evil. When the world rebels against what God says is good, it helps to remember that there is a God, and we’re not him. What he commands is not just for his glory, but for our benefit. We ignore his commands at our own peril.
What this means for us is that we must look to Jesus. It’s no use saying, “I’m a little better off than that guy over there,” or “I’m not as bad as I could be,” for we’ve all committed sinful acts of evil that deserve to be judged. Indeed, they will be judged one way or another: either on the cross or in hell, the place of God’s final justice.
Sometimes people wonder, “Why can’t God just forgive me anyway? Why does it have to be hell or the cross?” The answer, as C. S. Lewis eloquently puts it, is this: “Anger is the fluid that love bleeds when you cut it.” By this Lewis meant that love is full of anger, anger toward those who seek to harm, hurt, or kill the beloved. God loves his creation, especially the men and women made in his image. He will not allow them to be oppressed, molested, and destroyed forever. “He has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead” (Acts 17:31).
Doug Ponder is one of the founding pastors of Remnant Church in Richmond, VA, where he serves in many of the church’s teaching ministries. He has contributed to several published works and is the author of Rethink Marriage & Family. His interests include the intersection of theology, ethics, and the Christian life. Follow him on Twitter @dougponder.