Question:

Question

Answer:

I think you are guilty of this. With all humility I come to you out of love so that you may stop preaching and standing with an iron fist as as one who judges every individual. You cannot condemn people to hell or preach from the pulpit that so-and-so are going to hell. It's not your right. May God humble your heart and you can come to repentance and reach out to those you have wronged.


Isn't it ironic that in order to make this condemnation, you had to pass judgment on me? By doing so, you have given the right to others to pass similar judgment upon yourself. "Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you" (Matthew 7:1-2).

It is true that no man has the right to condemn a fellow man to hell; such is reserved for God. "For we know Him who said, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord. And again, "The LORD will judge His people."" (Hebrews 10:30). However, it is a falsehood to state that evil actions cannot be identified and condemned. None of us are perfect; we all make mistakes; we all commit sins from time to time (Romans 3:9-23). A person in sin needs correction so that he will leave sin behind. "And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh" (Jude 22-23). Telling a person that his current course is wrong is called a rebuke.

Rebuking the sinner is a particular duty of elders and preachers. Elders must be "able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict. For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain" (Titus 1:9-11). Preachers are to "Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables" (II Timothy 4:2-4). What you are requesting is that I fail in my duty as a preacher to rebuke the gainsayers, such as yourself.

Such inaction is one of the reasons Israel fell. "His watchmen are blind, they are all ignorant; they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber. Yes, they are greedy dogs which never have enough. And they are shepherds who cannot understand; they all look to their own way, every one for his own gain, from his own territory" (Isaiah 56:10-11). Like a guarddog who does not sound a warning, Israel's watchmen did not give warning when the people strayed into sin. As a result they brought judgment upon themselves. "Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me: "When I say to the wicked, 'You shall surely die,' and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. Yet, if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul" (Ezekiel 3:17-19). No, I believe I will not follow that worn path of failure in letting the wicked lie in peace.

In addition, your judgment brings condemnation on past preachers. The apostle Paul warned Timothy, "Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm. May the Lord repay him according to his works. You also must beware of him, for he has greatly resisted our words" (II Timothy 4:14-15). Or ealier when Paul said, "But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort, who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some" (II Timothy 2:16-18). Your declaration is that it is wrong to say that others are in sin; hence, you have placed yourself in the position of condemning Paul.

No, sin must be rebuked and those living in sin must hear the rebuke. Even though you and others will not listen, there is always hope that the truth will reach the heart of some.


See also:

Effective Rebukes

March 15, 2005