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by Jacob Ninan

When the devil went to Jesus quoting verses from the scripture trying to deceive Him into doing things against the will of God, he did not meet with any success, because Jesus had discernment, and was able to detect the spirit with which the devil was using the scripture (Mt.4:1-11). He had acquired this ability through the faithful exercise of His spiritual senses in the different situations of life (He.5:8,14). But the devil has enjoyed great success with the large majority of believers by use of words from the scripture, cleverly quoting verses either partially or out of context, and thereby misleading them. This goes to show the great importance of knowing the scriptures in a comprehensive way rather than just a few verses here and there.

One of Satan's most successful quotations is, "Judge not". We can hear this whenever there is an attempt to expose error. People would much rather hear, "Peace, peace", than something which would show up their nakedness. In this way, thy cut themselves off from the light (Jn.3:19-21). They would also love to hear about 'love' which covers the multitude of their sins, in the same way as dust is swept under the carpet - not cleansed away, but kept away from the light.

The same "Judge not" keeps people from listening to heart-felt warnings from spiritual brothers about dangers which they see around them. They do not perceive the fatherly love and concern these brothers have for them in warning them. The words of Jesus and His apostles contain many warnings, sometimes mentioning people by name, against errors and deceptions. If one did not understand the words of Jesus when He said "Judge not" in the right sense, one would think that He and His apostles were themselves guilty of judging others.

When we read Mt.7:1-5 and Lk.6:36,37 together, we can understand that we are not to judge others in the sense of condemning them in an unmerciful, unforgiving way. In judging others, we exalt ourselves over them, not remembering that we are what we are only by the grace of God (1Co.15:10), and that we do not have anything good in us that we have not received from God (Ro.7:18; 1Co.4:7). We have no right to sit as judges over others because they do not have to give an account to us but only to God (Ro. 14:4,12). We also have no spiritual authority to cast a stone at anyone because we ourselves have sin in our flesh (Jn.8:7;1Jn.1:8), and because we ourselves have sinned in many ways (1Jn.1:10; Ro.2:1).

Jesus Himself did not judge anyone in this way, while He was in this world, but He committed all judgment to the Father (Jn.12:47, 48;1Pe.2:23). But He did judge, in the sense of discernment (Jn.5:30; 8:15,16). He had to listen to the Father in order to come to the correct conclusions, because He was aware of His own weakness and limitations (Jn.5:19,30). Therefore He did not merely depend on what He heard or saw with His physical senses (Is.11:3,4). In this way, He was able to overcome the wiles of the devil, the cunning of His enemies and the deceitfulness of flesh and sin.

Jesus commands us to judge with righteous judgment, and not according to appearances (Jn.7:24). We have to do this not only for our own safety but also that the body of Christ may be built up in purity and wisdom. Jesus tells us to discern the times in which we live (Lk.12:54-57) because these are difficult days (1Ti.4:1-3; 2Ti.3:1-5). We have to discern the spirits in order to protect ourselves from deceiving spirits and false prophets (1Jn.4:1). We are not to swallow every so called prophecy or message from the word of God, but judge, assess and weigh everything (1Co.14:29; 1Th.5:20,21). Someone has said that Satan deceives people by giving them messages from the word of God which are quite unsuitable for their present need, e.g., warning people who are lukewarm against being fanatically extreme. May God help us to take God's warnings seriously so that we can be preserved on the way that leads to life.

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