Discernment Leading to Righteous Judgment

by Mike Ratliff

24 “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” (John 7:24 NASB)

Our pastor has been preaching through Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5, 6, and 7) since October. Today he preached through Matthew 7:1-6, which as I hope many of you know was the foundation for my series Judge Not!, which I wrote back in 2006. One thing I really appreciated in his sermon was that as he got to v6, which is where Jesus tells us that we must be discerning; i.e. that we must make proper judgments, he quoted John 7:24, which I placed at the top of this post. He even contrasted improper judging that Jesus was preaching against in Matthew 7 with proper judging that requires discernment and humility and the mind of Christ. I almost fell out of my seat when he gave the example of righteous judgment being warning Christians against the unbiblical preaching that was preached this very day by the pastor of the largest SBC church in California. 

He also named some very hot topics that are being heaped upon Christians in our time by our anti-Christian society such as abortion and homosexual rights. What are Christians supposed to do when we are confronted with these and other “dividing-line” issues about which so many other professing Christians have crossed the line of compromise in order to not be an offense? His answer was exactly what we have been saying here. Our standard has to be the Word of God. What God’s Word says about any issue governs our stance on anything and that means our discernment, like our conscience, is educated by it. The more truth we know the better at discernment we will be, but there is another element. We cannot be discerning if we are not also humble and abiding in Christ at the same time. If we are not then we will respond in pride and that is not going to be anything resembling “righteous judgment.”

Lastly, and because of this I had to really take to heart and do some confession and repenting. We are to be discerning and make righteous judgment about what is said and what is done using that evidence in light of what God’s Word says, but we must not go beyond that into their motives. That one got me. I am a problem solver at work and I want to get to the root cause of everything that is not working right. However, our role in discernment ministry is to be discerning and make righteous judgment and leave the rest to God.

Let’s pray about this my brethren and commit ourselves to be obedient servants of the living God doing what he has given us to do where has put us and for us to not go beyond that in any way.

Soli Deo Gloria!

11 thoughts on “Discernment Leading to Righteous Judgment

  1. Dear Mike,

    May God grant boldness to stand firm, humility to lay ourselves low to exalt Christ and wisdom to discern the application.

    Keeping running the race and fighting the good fight in the strength of Christ! Blessings to your ministry, charisse


  2. Amen. Christ often spoke to motives. So did the apostles. I am not Christ or an apostle, so in this I must not follow their example without clear evidence as to the motives. It is sufficient to identify the error. If we speak to motives at all, we need to be charitable.


  3. How rare it is to have a preacher who will name names. We see that the Apostle Paul named a few, warning saints to be ware of pied pipers of false doctrines. If we point to ourselves as the righteous example, we err. All men have error, this is not news. Let us point to the living Lord Jesus as THE example and warn the brotherhood of those who lead saints astray.


  4. God bless you Mike. I do believe we should not immediately think the worst (that others’ motives are knowingly sinister) though it doesn’t excuse us from the duty of humble reproof or exhortation (i.e. to receive these things in humility, consider the implications, and to speak more accurately and walk more circumspectly out of love and concern for others who are weaker. I say this so that we are not outwitted by Satan. For we are not ignorant of his designs.


  5. Thank you Jenny. I totall agree hence why our discernment must be completly submitted within the Lordship of Christ as we humbly serve him in the control of the Holy Spirit. I cannot know their motives, but I can certainly discern what is Biblical from what is not as you said. That is what we must bring into the light and follow Biblical guidelines in how it is addressed by the Church. Things get ugly when the Church does not do this as it should and wolves begin to take over and there is much apostasy as a result. We are in a dark time right now, but God is using this to show us the vivid dividing line between his light and that which is darkness. Let us obediently discern these things and prayerfully act as our Lord commands.


  6. once again excellent Mike!

    “but we must not go beyond that into their motives.”

    very true Mike. Many times I don’t even realize what motivates me. I can be deceived by my own wicked heart so easily thinking I’m living this Christian life for the Lord. All of a sudden when things backfire in me, I realize that In God rebuking me, my motives were selfish (my plans, My desires, my hopes etc)-in fact I’m horrified when I finally see that I was committing idolatry. If I have such a hard time with my own motives until the Lord graciously reveals them to me, I certainly don’t know others. Although I believe we can have an idea, it’s best to leave it with the Lord and give them the benefit of the doubt.

    Can’t tell you how many times, I’ve written on blogs just to delete my comments because I was not speaking in love and was not as you said “within the Lordship of Christ and “controlled by the Holy Spirit”. Many times I’ve had this pride well up in me or someone said something hurtful or I was judging hypocritically. Over time by God’s patience wimme and His grace, I’ve learned by how Jesus treats me in my life to let go and give it to him. Step away from the computer, repent of my pride and let the Lord cleanse me. He shows me usually that the very thing they did to me or said or how they were acting, I’ve done to JESUS (:::::[ ]:::::) OUCH! -I REPENT. Then I come back later with a clear and sharper mind to answer with humility, gentleness and love-God’s love. Jesus makes ALL the difference….


  7. Often confessing, and repenting…when I see how I have judged in a not righteous manner….. and I hear..’To his own master he stands or falls.’ Many times I have wondered at the way one writer has shared his experience of the Lord’s revelation from His word, and my heart thrills because that is my experience too..Then I read something else he has written….and am cast down..It seems almost like heresy..(or he is Arminian)…That’s when I do the repenting….!
    How good it must’ve been to hear your pastor on Sunday!


Comments are closed.