by Mike Ratliff
24 Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” (John 7:24 ESV)
What is the definition of the English word “fact?” The following is from the Merriam Webster Online Dictionary.
Main Entry: fact
Etymology: Latin factum, from neuter of factus, past participle of facere
Date: 15th century
1: a thing done: as aobsolete:featb:crime <accessory after the fact> carchaic:action2archaic:performance, doing3: the quality of being actual :actuality <a question of fact hinges on evidence> 4 a: something that has actual existence <space exploration is now a fact> b: an actual occurrence <prove the fact of damage> 5: a piece of information presented as having objective reality
— in fact: in truth
The part that says, “a piece of information presented as having objective reality” is where I would like to concentrate in this post. I am a firm believer that there is something called absolute truth. Also, there exist truths that are objective. These are facts. On the other hand, there is information that is subjective in nature that is presented as if it has objective reality when actually this is not so because there is nothing objective behind the “proof.” For instance, there are times when I use a form of the word “purpose” in what I write to convey a truth of God “purposing” to do something or that as Christians we should purpose in our hearts to obey the Lord, et cetera because these are found in Sacred Scripture, however, there are some who would attempt to make the case that this is “Purpose Driven” language and this “proves” that I have become compromised and am now a disciple of Rick Warren. I contend that this type of thinking is what our Lord was referring to in John 7:24 about judging by appearances.
A fact is something that actually possesses objective reality. It can be proven. When I teach that God is Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent, and Immutable, I use Sacred Scripture as proof. These truths are clearly taught in the Bible. When I or one of my good friends writes about Rick Warren or Bill Hybels and what they say that is unbiblical we give you what they have said and compare it with what the Bible says about that topic. This is how we expose the false. On the other hand, if we attempted to prove that a pastor, theologian or Christian writer was false or was compromised and the only evidence we had was akin to the example I used above about the use of the word “purpose” then what we have done is given you not objective, but subjective reasoning. When we do this, what we are doing is judging by appearances and are leading you to do the same thing, hoping you will “make the connection” that we have made subjectively.
When I think of the subjective I always go back to some team sports I played as a boy and teenager in which the umpires or referees would make calls that most of us knew very well were not based on facts, but on a judgment call by the man who was really only going on a split second glimpse of evidence of something that may or may not have really taken place. When I was in the US Navy, I was recruited to play as a replacement player on a military touch football team that played other military teams within our city. There was only one referee, but he wore the whole getup with the stripped shirt and white hat. I played defense. On one play, I tipped a pass that was intercepted by one our defensive backs. When this happened I was facing away from the line of scrimmage. When the pass was intercepted, I turned to block for the one who had caught it. That is all I did. I just turned around and bumped into a player on the other team. By then, our guy had passed us and was on the way to the end zone. We celebrated. Then the referee called the play back, pointed his finger at me and said I had clipped (blocked from behind) on the play. I got in his face and had to be restrained by some of my friends while the one I had supposedly blocked illegally was laughing his guts out. He had pretended to be blocked in the back by me when I really only bumped him face to face then stepped around him. I became so angry that I told the one who had recruited me that I was done and left to sit out the rest of the game.
The fellow who had pretended to be clipped was their team captain and that team’s style of play all through the game followed that pattern. On the play where I had tipped the pass I had actually tried to speed rush past him to get to the quarterback and he attempted to head slap me (illegal), but as I spun away from that and jumped towards the quarterback I made contact with the ball. That had angered him so what he was trying to do was anything that would cause me to become angry and, therefore, not play well. Yes, there is a parallel to the motives and actions of those who hate the truth of what we teach and how they attempt to distract us and cause us to become ineffective in our ministries.
There is a fellow who is an avowed enemy of John MacArthur. He is bent on telling the world that J.M. is a heretic and not really a Christian. Over the years that this blog has existed I have probably received dozens if not hundreds of emails and comments from him in which he insisted that he had proof about all of his allegations. I actually received one today. In any case, when I still interacted with him I always demanded proof not allegations. What I got was a great deal of subjective evidence based on the guilt by association and amphiboly logical fallacies. There was nothing that could even remotely be called objective reality in any of it. With each rejection, I would receive more data. Finally, the fellow feeding me the “evidence” proclaimed that I was guilty of being what the social-psychologists call a “transformational thinker. He then claimed, “You can’t attend to facts. You change facts to opinions and innuendo.” Well, you know me, I had to look up that one. This is an accusation that I am in league with Rick Warren, Bill Hybels and am a “Change Agent” like them. When confronted by “the truth” I turn it to merely opinion and innuendo because, in this way, I can lie to people, pretending to be one thing, but am actually in league with the very people who are decimating our Churches with the Purpose Driven deception. In other words, he accused me of being a lying hypocrite. Our Lord was accused of much worse than that.
10 But after his brothers had gone up to the feast, then he also went up, not publicly but in private. 11 The Jews were looking for him at the feast, and saying, “Where is he?” 12 And there was much muttering about him among the people. While some said, “He is a good man,” others said, “No, he is leading the people astray.” 13 Yet for fear of the Jews no one spoke openly of him. 14 About the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and began teaching. 15 The Jews therefore marveled, saying, “How is it that this man has learning, when he has never studied?” 16 So Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me. 17 If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. 18 The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood. 19 Has not Moses given you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law. Why do you seek to kill me?” 20 The crowd answered, “You have a demon! Who is seeking to kill you?” 21 Jesus answered them, “I did one work, and you all marvel at it. 22 Moses gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. 23 If on the Sabbath a man receives circumcision, so that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because on the Sabbath I made a man’s whole body well? 24 Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” (John 7:10-24 ESV)
Here is the Koine Greek from the NA28 of v24 (the line in bold above).
μὴ κρίνετε κατʼ ὄψιν, ἀλλὰ τὴν δικαίαν κρίσιν κρίνετε.
This literally says, “Not judge according to sight, but the right judgment judge.” The word translated as judge is κρίνετε. The words “according to sight” are κατʼ ὄψιν. Κρίνετε refers to the act of dividing, separating, making a distinction, or coming to a decision. Jesus said to not do that κατʼ ὄψιν. What does it mean to judge by sight or appearances? The word κατʼ (according to) in this context is metamorphically being used of the κρίνετε being made according to or in respect to ὄψιν, which refers to the outside or countenance rather than the inner character or truth. Jesus tells us here to not make our judgments based on the subjective, ever! Instead, we are to κρίνετε only with τὴν δικαίαν κρίσιν, “the right judgment. “ The word δικαίαν refers to that which is right according to God’s standards, which are just and good according to His character.
The word κρίσιν, judgment, is a separation, sundering, judgment, or sentence. We are not commanded to never judge here, but to judge only according to God’s judgment. This means that we will not use subjective reasoning, but will compare what the one under scrutiny says and does, comparing those things with God’s standards. This means that we will always judge objectively, based only on facts, the truth, not possible truth or innuendo or opinion. Why? These things are based entirely within fallen human reasoning instead of God’s perfect judgments.
Let us stand firm my brethren against the wiles and deceit of the enemy. When the enemy and his seed to attempt to deceive us let us prayerfully came back to the situation with δικαίαν κρίσιν. When we do God will allow us to see that what we are going through is simply an attempt to deceive. Let us also examine ourselves. Are we judging with την δικαίαν κρίσιν my brethren?
Soli Deo Gloria!