The Benefits of God's Judgment

By Ernie and Mary Kroeger

Judgments are made by people all the time. These may be judgments of personal preference, of character, of governments, of churches, of Christians, of jobs or whatever.  These judgments are made according to the personal standards, beliefs and preferences that people endorse. Some judgments are hurtful, and some are helpful.  Many unjust judgments are made because of humanity’s fleshly nature and its ignorance of truth.

So why do Christians fear God’s judgments?  Is it because they think a judgment spells correction and punishment, and they don’t want that ?  God’s judgments are always true judgments; they always fit His perfect standard of righteousness and truth.  Many think that at some time in the future God will set aside a day or a time when He will reveal their many secret sins, failures and shortcomings, and hand out punishments accordingly.  They know they can’t argue with God, strike a deal with Him or bribe Him in any way, so they fear His judgment. They don’t know that His judgments are like radar to a pilot – to correct the error and to get us to our destination.   God wants a relationship with His children!   

Romans 8:6 states that “the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace,” and Gal. 5:17 states that “the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit.”  The natural mind is full of deceit and it always opposes the Spirit.  Therefore it is unable to know truth.  However, we are unaware of its unreliability; we believe that whatever we think is true.  We believe that our concept of God and our belief system is correct, and that our evaluation of ourselves and others is correct.  We cling to our customs, laws and traditions because we are so sure they are right, even though they may be wrong.   To get us on the right track, we need to hear a statement of truth.  God’s judgments are statements of truth, and truth reveals the lies we thought were truth.    

Those who read the Bible see God’s judgments from Genesis to Revelation.  If we fail to see God’s purpose for judgment, we will view it negatively and think of it as punishment instead of grace and mercy.  However, if we understand God’s purpose for judgment we will see why it is needed, and recognize that it is a wonderful work of grace, and that many blessings flow from it!  Christians with spiritual understanding will be thankful for God’s judgments, for they reveal truth.  Without them we will not recognize the corruption that is in our Adamic nature. 

When we truly see who we are in Adam, we will know our need of God’s mercy!  Adam and Eve were naked before they sinned, but they were unaware of it.  (Gen. 2:25)  God wanted them to recognize their nakedness so that He could clothe them with His righteousness.  God also wants us to recognize our nakedness - our bankruptcy and inability to make ourselves righteous, so we will come to Him and let Him clothe us with His righteousness.

Jesus Christ came to reveal God as Father and to reveal His love for humanity by providing salvation for all.   He came to bring life, and life does away with death!   He came to destroy the works of the devil.  Since humanity has received the devil’s mindset, its mindset is filled with lies and deceit. To overcome this wrong mindset we have to first recognize the error and be willing to accept truth.   Christ came to bring us truth, and truth reveals the lie and judges it.   Only by accepting Christ’s judgment, can we be freed from the lie and the works of the devil.  

Often we are baffled when we read statements in the Bible that appear contradictory.  In John 3:17 Jesus said that He did not come to judge the world but to save it.  Then in John 5:22 it says that God has given all judgment to the Son.  How do the two statements agree?   The answer is quite simple when we understand that the judgment by truth is necessary for our salvation.  Christ is the truth, and truth judges the lie.  We need truth to unveil the lies we thought were truth.  Therefore all His judgments are for our good. 

To get a better understanding of God’s purpose for judgment, let’s take a closer look at it and see what it does for us.  A judgment may be a judicial statement of verdict, censure or criticism, or anyone’s opinion or estimate; a true judgment is a statement of truth.  Without the knowledge of what is true, a righteous judgment cannot be made and the error or lie remains hidden.   Truth reveals the hidden lie.  This revelation separates the lie from the truth.  Truth is inflexible; it cannot be bent or changed in any way, for then it is no longer truth. 

The natural man is ignorant of spiritual truth because he does not have the ability to receive it.  In 1 Cor. 2:14 we read that the natural mind is UNABLE to receive truth.  The natural mind (the mind of the flesh) is very religious, full of deceit and lies; these lies have become its truth.  It creates its own rules and doctrines and ideas about God, and then worships the ideas it has created.  The natural man thinks he is worshiping God when in actuality he is worshiping himself.   He thinks he can make right choices, and does not realize that he is void of truth, and without truth he CANNOT make a righteous judgment.  In his pride and selfhood, he blatantly criticizes others without realizing that he is guilty of the very things he judges others.  For example, if someone accuses us of judging, the accuser is guilty of judging us.

The natural mind cannot understand spiritual realities, so it makes a lot of substitutions. Jesus told the Jews that they substituted the scriptures for life.  (John 5:39-40)  They thought they could get life by searching the scriptures, so they refused to come to Him who is life!  Believing a lie deprived them of life!  Since the natural mind wants us to be ignorant of its lies, it has to bring in substitutions that pose as truth, and these substitutions become traditions, and people refuse to forsake them.  It makes many substitutions:

- instead of Christ, it promotes doctrine

- instead of Christ’s righteousness, it focuses on doing good deeds in order to receive  righteousness.  This is self-righteousness!

- instead of intimacy with God in Christ, it substitutes going to church.

- instead of desiring life, they want to go to heaven.

- instead of believing that death is the punishment for disobedience, they emphatically proclaim that it is an eternal torture in hell! 

Often we wonder why our teaching is so ineffective, but we may be even more surprised that Christ’s preaching and teaching seemed so ineffective in spite of His perfect life, teaching, and the miracles and wonders He performed.   Why did His teaching not take root in people?   It was because the people only received truth in their natural mind, and the natural mind cannot receive it and digest it.  Peter received the revelation that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, but that knowledge did not keep him when he was accused of knowing Jesus. Why did he deny knowing Him?  In John 1:17 we read that grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.  Before Jesus came no one had the capacity to receive truth because no one had a spiritual mind.  Only after people were born again and filled with the Holy Spirit could this take place.  After the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit, they were transformed into spiritual beings.  Now they were equipped to receive truth, for in their transformation into spiritual beings they had received the mind of Christ!   

Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6I)   Let’s meditate on this for a moment.  Christ, the Anointing, is truth; He is also the resurrection and the life!  Christ is life, truth and resurrection!  Life is not in doctrines and creeds!   Neither is it synonymous with heaven.  Resurrection is not a future event –it is Christ!  In Christ we are resurrected out of our death in sins and transgressions!

How important is truth to us?  Do we love truth more than we love our traditions?  If we do, we’ll be willing to leave our former loves and the lies we thought were truth.  Christ told the Jews that they were already condemned, for they loved darkness (lies) rather than Light (truth) because their deeds were evil. (John 3:19)  Do we love our ignorance and darkness and traditions and doctrines instead of loving Christ?  Are we willing to leave our comfortable pews of ignorance and come to Christ to receive life?  

Our spiritual health is not as easily diagnosed as our physical health. When our physical body is sick or injured we look to the medical profession to give us an accurate judgment of our illness or injury.  We recognize our need for help.  However, in regard to our spiritual condition, we even need help to recognize our need.  It is God's presence, His very being as truth and light, that exposes our wrong thinking and desires.  Like an x-ray, it strips us of our lovely rationalizations and reveals our deepest need.  Just as an x-ray is not there to criticize us for our broken bones, God's judgments are not to bring condemnation, but healing and freedom from the lies that we thought were truth. It is our wrong belief system which causes us to accept the wrong solutions for our pain, and thus keeps us in bondage to self.

A doctor doesn't tell someone with broken legs that they will heal as he keeps trying to walk on them.  They need to heal first, and then he can walk on them.  God knows the exact solution for our needs!  He knows that our old mind and nature cannot be healed, so He gives us a new mind and a new nature.  In Christ, He gives us His mind and nature!  After that we learn to walk and live in this new mind.  His loving judgments show us when we've slipped back into our old broken ways of thinking and living.  As we come to trust these judgments and see how they release us from guilt, fear, bitterness etc. we come to crave them rather than fear them.

In 2 Thess. 2:10-11 Paul wrote, “And with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not love the truth so as to be savedFor this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.” Lovers of deception take pleasure in their lies and wickedness, and receive more deception;lovers of truth will seek truth, and God will reward them with more truth. 

Why does God give lovers of deception more deception, and lets them go on in their wickedness?  The natural mind gloatingly replies, “So He can give them a greater punishment.”  The spiritual mind knows that this is a lie.  It understands that lovers of deception have to recognize the emptiness of worldly pleasures, and come to the realization that lies do not satisfy!  Only after they come to the end of themselves, will they repent and come to Christ, the truth.  They need to be made willing to receive the judgment truth affords. 

There is a big difference between the Old Covenant judgment and the New.  The Old Covenant judgment accused us of our inability to be righteous, and had suitable punishments for the various offences.  God’s purpose for the law with its list of commandments, sacrifices, and punishment for each failure was that humanity should recognize its inability to improve itself and to make itself better.  The old humanity cannot be made upright in character; it has to die! 

The new covenant emphasis on judgment is not on punishment or retribution, but on separation between the lie and the truth.  This brings us a completely new understanding between the old covenant law-based mentality and the new covenant of grace, life and truth-based mentality.  The New Covenant judgment is against the carnal thinking that is still resident in the new creation man.  Although we have been born again and have been given a new nature and a new mind, we are still in need of instruction and separation from our carnal thinking.  God loves each one of us, but He hates carnality because it brings death and corruption to us.  The Law is unable to do away with our carnality, but Christ IN us is well able to do this. 

It may be a new thought to us that the Lord delights in exercising lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth.  In Jeremiah 9: 23-24 we read, “Thus says the Lord, `Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things’” , ‘Young’s Concordance and the KJV read “judgments” instead of justice.  His judgments bring justice.  He delights in showering us with love and judgments so that He becomes our righteousness!  We need God’s declaration of truth to bring judgment on all our thoughts, imaginations and ideas that are against the true knowledge of God!  If we do not receive His judgment we will remain in unrighteousness.  God delights in getting us out of our false beliefs and in bringing us into truth (Christ). 

Jesus came into the world to bring us truth, and truth reveals the lies that were masquerading as truth.  On the farm we used to have a cream separator, and it separated the cream from the milk.  Truth acts as a separator by being a revelator!  It separates the truth from the lies that have been so skillfully woven into our doctrines and the interpretation of the scriptures.  Only truth can perform this delicate surgery of division.   “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth, but a sword.”  (Matt. 10:34)  We know that “earth” is symbolic of carnality.  Jesus did not come to bring peace to our carnality, but to take it away. 

A description of the sword that brings separation between the life we have in Christ and the death that masquerades as life in religiosity is found in Heb. 4:12.  “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Theword of God is alive; it is a sharp sword that divides the soul and spirit, and discerns the thoughts and intents of the heart.  Christ is the Word that is able to do this.  Christ came to take us out of the carnality, selfhood, and the religiosity that is resident in the natural mind.

As we receive the truth that the Holy Spirit reveals to us, we will receive further revelation and understanding.  God’s word to us will progressively reveal the depths of deception resident in the natural mind.  When each revelation is accompanied with repentance, it will bring cleansing, liberty and victory.  The more we accept God’s judgments, the greater and deeper will be our inward joy and sense of victory.  It is much easier to accept God’s judgments when we recognize that they are for our good, and we understand that His love and mercy extend far beyond the depths of our own darkness. 

After the Holy Spirit was poured out at Pentecost, a new dimension of judgment entered.  John the Baptist prophesied that Jesus would baptize us with the Holy Spirit and fire; He would bring separation, for He would burn the chaff and gather the wheat.  The fire judgments take place in the realm of the Spirit.  The fire of the Holy Spirit judges those areas of our lives that motivate our actions.  He deals with the motives and intentions of the heart.  The judgment by fire is against our old traditions, carnal reasoning, and our ignorance of who we are in Christ.  It purges our unbelief, our obedience to the carnal mind, and our lack of faith to know and live and confess what God has created us to be in Christ.

These are the benefits we receive from God’s judgments or declarations of truth.   Before we learned truth, we hobbled along in our ignorance of what was wrong with us.  We knew we should have more joy, but we didn’t know what was wrong.  Then God’s judgment of truth came like an X-ray beam and brought to light the heart of the problem!  It pierced through all our confusion and excuses, lies and deceptions we thought were truth.  We learned that God loved us even when we failed and were disobedient, and that the salvation that is ours in Christ is greater than we had imagined!   We learned to identify with who we are in Christ!   We learned that God in Christ is not only with us when we face difficulties, but He is in us, and together we can overcome whatever is against us!  

God’s ways are made evident to a seeking heart.  Those who are thirsting for righteousness and have a love of the truth receive a better understanding of God’s ways.  “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will opened to you.” (Luke 11:9)  If our greatest desires and concerns are for money, health, jobs, houses and such things, we are merely longing for blessings.  The judgments of God will open our eyes to this fact.  The more excellent and most important way is to truly desire to know Christ with all our heart.  Paul’s heart cry was, “That I might know Him and the power of His resurrection.” (Phil. 3:10)  Knowing Christ in God in intimate relationship is far beyond physical healing and prosperity!

The message to the Laodicean church illustrates the fact that this church did not know God.  It needed to receive God’s judgment and let truth reveal the lies they thought were truth.  (Revelation 3:14-19) The word Laodicea means ‘justice of the people’.  This was a democratic church.   They voted on things – just like many churches do today.  God’s church is a theocratic church.  Christ is Lord, and He leads and directs it.  In God’s church, the pastors, elders and whoever else is involved in ministry do not control the church.  Neither does the one who contributes the most money.  In His church all hear from Him and do His bidding.

The deeds of the Laodicean church proved that they had not received God’s judgment, for they were neither hot nor cold.   So hot is good, and cold is good!  What does that mean?   To be hot means that they know what to accept, and to be cold means that they know what to reject.  Their deeds proved that they did not have truth, for they did not have this discernment.  Without truth it is impossible to have true judgment.  Without truth we fall prey to deception and lies.  Truth enables us to have true judgment and to know what to accept and what to reject. Thus hot is good and cold is good, but being lukewarm is unacceptable because we then lack the ability to make a correct judgment.  

Those who are lukewarm will accept anything that sounds good to them.  They do not check things out with the scriptures, nor do they ask the Holy Spirit’s guidance.  We see this happening everywhere around us.  For example, the scriptures do not teach that man is a free moral agent having a free will, but most Christians accept this teaching without batting an eye.  They do not realize that a free will cannot be influenced by lust, emotions or situations.   All the advertising that is taking place every day proves that we not only can be influenced, but that we ARE influenced. 

The lukewarm cannot differentiae between the natural and the spiritual, so the spiritual realm is reduced to the natural or earthy realm.   They think man can make himself better by making right choices – just like Adam and Eve did after they believed the serpent’s lie. They do not understand that living by choices means that they are partaking of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  In Christ there is no choice because there is no evil in Him.  Hearing the Spirit results in a life of obedience.  Jesus only did what the Father told Him to do, and those who are in Christ are also children of obedience. 

The lukewarm have no place in Christ.  The true Witness says, “I will spit them out of My mouth.”  (v.16)  What does He mean by that?  In Christ’s mouth are words of truth!  His witnesses must also have truth coming from their mouths.  God wants mouthpieces that speak the words He gives them!  Whatever does not come from Him is a lie.  Those who speak out of their own desires and thoughts are cast out.  He has no need of them; they are unusable to Him.  

This church thought that wealth was all it needed.   The people did not know that their spiritual state is not measured by the size of their bank account, and that their positive confession did not make them spiritual.  They said that they were a healthy, wealthy bunch, and had need of nothing!  A positive confession that is not based on truth sees no need of repentance, for it does not recognize its true condition.  Since this church had not heeded God’s judgment, the people did not know that they were wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.  God’s judgments are based on truth, therefore we have to hear His judgment before we can make a true judgment.  His evaluation or assessment is the only one that counts, because it is the only true one. 

Had the Laodiceans heard the Spirit, they would have repented of their wrong ideas.  Their lack of truth kept them in ignorance of their true state. They did not know that they were wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked.  They were poor because they did not have the riches of God in their life.  Their nature had not been refined by fire.  They were blind because they could not see spiritually.  Their spirituality consisted of being good church-going people, having a good reputation, participating in the weekly meetings and enjoying the social benefits and friendships and gossip their participation provided.   They were proud of their bigness and their affluence.  It didn’t matter that they were naked (trying to establish their own righteousness), for they were all blind.  They could sit around and enjoy themselves in their unclothed state, and no one knew the difference.  Only those who have eyes to see spiritually can see the sad state they were in. 

This church was advised to buy gold (the divine nature of love and truth) refined by fire. This gold cannot be bought with money.  It is a godly nature, and the only way we can get it, is by going through the judgment of fire!  That is the real road to riches – not to worldly wealth, but to enduring wealth in God.  The fire just consumes that which is not of God, and if we only want that which is of God, there is nothing to fear! 

They were also counseled to get white garments – garments of righteousness. The only righteousness that counts is Christ’s righteousness.   Our self-righteousness and zealousness for more righteousness by trying to fulfill the law and doing good works is useless; it can’t measure up to God’s standard.  Only the righteousness obtained through faith in Christ can take away our nakedness. 

Unless the eye salve of the Holy Spirit has opened our eyes, we will remain blind.  We won’t see our true condition.  When I was in that blind condition, I told God what a good church I was in, and how pure our doctrines were, etc.  When I was through telling Him how wonderful our church is, He startled me by saying, “Are you sure?”   That broke me up, and I replied, “If I’m wrong, then show me.”  God applied that eye salve to my eyes.  I went through the fire, and emerged with joy unspeakable!  How we need His eye salve of judgment to open our eyes to our wretched condition, and to the riches we have in Christ! 

For God’s kingdom rule to take effect in us, all our self-rule and reliance on self and keeping the law, must be judged and eliminated.  This can only take place through intimacy and trust in the Spirit’s teaching.  Relinquishing our will and learning obedience to His teaching is especially difficult when we do not understand that the difficulties we are experiencing are needed for our spiritual development.  In the knowledge that God’s judgments always flow from His love and mercy we can welcome them, walk in obedience, and grow spiritually! 

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