Judging in the place of God
“I instructed the judges, ‘ You must be perfectly fair at all times, not only to fellow Israelites, but also to the foreigners living among you. When you make decisions , never favor those who are rich; be fair to lowly and great alike. Don’t be afraid of how they will react, for you are judging in the place of God.’ (Deuteronomy 1:16-17)
“But in my opinion he has done nothing worthy of death… He could be set free if he hadn’t appealed to Caesar! ” (Acts 25:25 & Acts 26:32)
It seems there is a contradiction about judging others in the Bible? On one hand you have the words of Jesus, ‘Stop judging others, and you will not be judged’. Or that of James, ‘But you are not a judge who can decide whether the law is right or wrong; Your job is to obey it’. However we constantly see through the bible that people are often put in a position that requires them to make decisions between right and wrong.
Yet, there is no such contradiction. In fact they are almost two separate principles. Simply explained: How can we judge others when we are just as sinful, ‘for all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious standard.’ The warning not to judge others stems from this truth. Often the human heart takes on the attitude of being better or more righteous than those around you. This is the type of judgement that we are warned against. Only God, being perfect and without sin, has the authority to judge.
But, we also have a new life in Christ. This new life in Christ calls for righteousness and truth, not only for me, but for His church, for all those chosen to be His. The key to understanding this comes from this statement, ‘you are judging in the place of God’. This should not be a judgement by human standards, but by the Spirit.
This statement is both a warning and an encouragement to those who live by the Spirit. A warning that your decision needs to be God glorifying as you bear His Name, but an encouragement that Christ will give you the wisdom to make the right decision.
If we all lived by the Spirit, the need for such things would be no longer. Unfortunately we live in a world which rejects the Spirit and so we are in desperate need of Godly decisions in men’s lives. Just look at the life of Paul when he is arrested (Acts 21 – 28). We live in a world that no longer renders just decisions.
We make decisions based on the masses or what pleases those you need as your ‘friends’. Those who arrested Paul knew he was innocent, but bent and turned everything into something for their own gain (Remember, God can still use what happens to us for His purposes. No one can change God’s plan).
Listen to the words from Deuteronomy! Live by the Spirit, being fair at all times. Sometimes we are called on to judge between two parties. Do so with reverence and fear before the Lord, for we bear His Name. We are accountable to God, not people and so we are honest in all our dealings. Our course is always that which is right, our path in the light, not the darkness.