Judging on the Outside
Jesus was in hot water with the religious leaders in John 7 for in a previous chapter He had healed a man on the Sabbath, a day of rest. The Jews were such sticklers to the Law that it didn’t matter if the thing Jesus did was a good one. In John 7:21-24, Jesus reveals the hypocrisy of their judgement of Him for the Jews would circumcise someone on the Sabbath if the day of circumcision just so happens to land on it in order to fulfill the Law. He warns the Jews that when placing judgement on someone, be sure it is for the right reason (which is to glorify God) and not out of outward appearances.
Practice What You Preach
Have you ever been accused of placing high standards on other people but not applying those same standards to yourself. It’s very easy for people to create a double standard; to bend the rules when it’s convenient and then turn around and condemn those who would do the same. Why do we do such things? The rules that we apply to others ought to apply to ourselves. The answer is found within our sinful nature; we believe that we are above the rules and we follow them as long as it doesn’t produce an inconvenience.
In the passage from John, it’s obvious that the Jews had created a double standard in regards to the statutes brought forth by God. They would be willing to break a command of God in order to meet a requirement from the law of man. Did the leaders have the right to judge Jesus for doing good on the Sabbath when they in turn would violate it for their own gains? Absolutely not, because they were not practicing what they taught and therefore had no grounds to judge Christ.
Spirit of the Law
When we evaluate people’s actions, it must not be based on our standard because our standards are flawed by our sins. Instead, it must be based on the righteousness of God. What that means is that we must determine people’s actions according the Spirit of the Lord’s law rather than the letter of the law.
In the case of Jesus versus the religious leaders, they were condemning Him as according to the letter of the Law. It’s easy for us to get carried away with rules because they are visual and easy to manipulate. As a result some people fall into the false notion that these rules could save them from God’s wrath; even now there are believers in Christ that believe that this is the case.
Beware of Legalism
The idea that the law would save us is contrary to what is written in the Lord’s Word which says that it’s through faith in Christ that we are saved. If the law was able to save, then there was no need for Christ to come to earth and die for our sins. This form of thinking is called legalism and has no place within the body of Christ’s believers!
We must stop following the commands of God at face value and seek the Spirit of God that is found behind the command! Jesus knew the Spirit of God and understood that it was more important that a man be made whole; even if it was on the Sabbath. This understanding of the Spirit of the Lord’s law comes from a deep intimate understanding of the Word of God through prayer and meditation. Therefore, let us delve deeply into the Scriptures and learn live a way that glorifies the Lord. A life that’s based on His righteousness rather than on what we see.