How to Judge, Part Two
P. G. Mathew | Sunday, September 7, 1997
Copyright © 1997, P. G. Mathew
Do not give dogs what is sacred. Do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample under their feet and then turn and tear you to pieces.
In Matthew 7:1-5 Jesus told his disciples that they should not be hypercritical. In verse 6, however, we learn that disciples of Christ should not be uncritical. What we need is balance in our Christian life, so in the first five verses Jesus taught how not to judge, but in this verse he is telling us to judge.
What did Jesus mean when he said "Judge not"? He meant that we should not be censorious, hypercritical and hypocritical. He meant we should not condemn others or judge them based on appearance. Instead, we are to judge by the measure of mercy and love, and make righteous judgments according to God's word. But in verse 6 Jesus exhorts us by implication to judge. We must exercise our critical faculties in reference to the people to whom we preach the gospel.
Discerning the Audience
First, then, we must discern our audience. Jesus said some people are dogs and some are pigs. Now, the dogs of ancient Palestine were scavengers. They were the garbage disposals of the time, in other words. They were unclean, violent, and potential carriers of disease. The pigs of Palestine were probably the European wild boars, which the Israelites were divinely prohibited from eating. A pig represented all that was unclean, despicable, and hated.
So when Jesus says not to give dogs what is sacred and pearls to swine, he is telling us we must make certain judgments. He does not want us to give that which is holy to anyone and everyone without discrimination. What is that which is holy? The gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, a Christian must discern who is a dog and who is a pig when he is sharing the gospel with people. In this verse a Christian is prohibited by Jesus Christ from giving the holy things to the dogs and casting the most beautiful and precious things to the wild boars.
Jesus himself practiced this. In Matthew 13 Jesus used many parables to teach about the kingdom of God, and in verse 10 his disciples asked him, "Why do you speak to the people in parables?" Jesus told them, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them." Dogs and pigs are people to whom God in his sovereign wisdom does not reveal the secrets of his kingdom.
Dogs and pigs are those who cannot understand the inestimable value of the gospel. In Matthew 13:44 Jesus said, "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again and then, in his joy, went and sold all he had and bought that field." The gospel is a treasure for which sake you will liquidate all and buy it. And in verses 45-46 we read, "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls," such as the very expensive pearls from the Persian Gulf or the Indian Ocean. "When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it." That is what some people will do when they hear the gospel. But dogs and pigs have no discernment of the great value of the gospel, and they will treat it with contempt.
Therefore, as Christ's disciples we are to go and preach the gospel to all the people of the world. Yet we must be led by the Spirit of God, and if certain people reveal themselves to be mockers and despisers of the gospel by their behavior, we are not to continue to preach to them.
The Gospel Is Not for Everyone
Jesus taught this principle of using discernment when he sent his apostles out to preach the gospel. In Matthew 10:11-15 we read, "Whatever town or village you enter, search for some worthy person there and stay at his house until you leave. As you enter the home, give it your greeting." The disciples probably were to declare something like this: Salvation and peace to this house! And if the home was deserving, Jesus said, "Let your peace rest on it." But then he said, "If it is not. . ." meaning if that house was indwelt by people who were pigs and dogs, "let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town. I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom or Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town." The apostles needed to exercise judgment as they preached the gospel.
In Matthew 13:10-13 we saw how the disciples came to Jesus and asked him, "'Why do you speak to people in parables?' He replied, 'The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them.'" And then he gave further explanation: "'Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. This is why I speak to them in parables: Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.'" In other words, Jesus spoke in parables about the kingdom of God so that some people would not hear and understand. Only the elect of God who are enlightened will understand and be saved.
In Luke 23 we read how Jesus Christ was sent to stand before Herod Antipas. In verse 8 we read, "When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time he had been wanting to see him." Now you must remember that Jesus had previously called Herod a fox. "From what he had heard about him, he hoped to see him perform some miracle." Herod probably was looking for some entertainment from Jesus. "He plied him with many questions, but Jesus gave him no answer." Why didn't Jesus answer Herod? He recognized that Herod was a pig and a dog. Jesus could discern that Herod had no real interest in the gospel of God's kingdom.
In Matthew 11:23-24 Jesus pronounced a judgment on the town of Capernaum: "And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths. If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you." Why did Jesus say this? In verse 20 we read, "Then Jesus began to denounce the cities in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent." Although Jesus had performed many miracles in Capernaum, most people there refused to repent and believe in him. The people of the town had proved themselves to be dogs and swine.
Even so-called religious leaders can be dogs and swine. In John 8:44 Jesus spoke to some Pharisees who refused to trust in him and believe the gospel: "You belong to your father, the devil." In other words, Jesus was telling these leaders, "You are not the elect. You are not entitled to the gospel. No, you are children of the devil!"
We Also Must Discriminate
The book of Acts records how Paul also dealt with people who did not want to believe in Christ. We find this in several places, including Acts 13:44-45, Acts 18:1-6, and Acts 28:18-20. For example, in Acts 13:44-45 we read, "On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy," manifesting the character of dogs and pigs, in other words, "and talked abusively against what Paul was saying. Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: 'We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles.'"
Therefore, as we preach the gospel and observe the response of certain people to it, we will begin to see who are dogs and pigs and who are not. And as we are led by the Spirit of God, we should begin to discriminate. The Lord Jesus Christ forbids us to share the gospel with those who are dogs and swine. As a minister of the gospel, I am not authorized to preach to everybody and pray for everybody.
The Problem of Dogs and Pigs
What is the problem of dogs and pigs, meaning people who are totally depraved? In 1 Corinthians 2:14 Paul tells us, "The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them because they are spiritually discerned." In other words, a person who is not regenerate is unenlightened and depraved. And as we read in Romans 1, he suppresses God's truth in wickedness.
Let me encourage some of you at this point. When the gospel is preached to you, if your heart trembles at the word and receives it, praise be to God! Why? Such a response shows that you are not a dog or a pig. It demonstrates that God in his mercy has given you the secret of the kingdom of God. (PGM) It is evidence that the Spirit of God is working in you to give you understanding into spiritual things. You must consider it a great blessing that you tremble at God's word.
But not everyone will tremble at God's word. In Romans 9:22 Paul writes, "What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath--prepared for destruction?" We must understand that God does not always show grace to everybody. It is not his business to forgive, justify, and save everybody. Some people are dogs and swine, objects of wrath who are prepared for destruction. Such people will mock and despise the gospel.
In Titus 3:10-11 Paul speaks of such people as he tells us how to deal with certain people: "Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him." Why did Paul say that? He explains, "You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned." And in Hosea 7:16 we read about people who are like bows that are faulty. Such bows are twisted and deceitful in their very fabric and constitution. In my own pastoral life I have seen people who are twisted. If you tell them anything, it becomes twisted. I have learned to not continue to speak to such people.
Who Are Dogs?
When Jesus used the word dogs, what did he mean? In Psalm 22:16 we read, "Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me." Here the term dogs is used for evil men who opposed the Messiah and his gospel. Such evil men, such dogs, are violent, ready to tear apart not only the message but also the messenger.
The apostle Paul used the term dogs to speak of certain people who followed him wherever he went, opposing him and his message. In Philippians 3:2 we read, "Watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh." The Judaizers who opposed the gospel of God's grace were being called dogs by St. Paul. St. Peter also uses this term to describe false teachers in the church. In 2 Peter 2:22 he says, "Of them the proverbs are true: 'A dog returns to its vomit,' and, 'A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud.'"
We find another reference to dogs in Revelation 22:15. There we discover where such people will end up--outside of the kingdom of God. Verse 15 says, "Outside are the dogs," and then we are given explanation of who these dogs are: "those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood." Granted, this is not nice language, but the Scripture is truthful and realistic.
In 2 John 9-11 John tells us this about dogs: "Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching," meaning the authorized, apostolic teaching, the gospel, "do not take him into your house or welcome him. Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work." We must, in other words, understand the work of the cults and liberal Christianity. Such people do not have the gospel at all, and we must recognize that and act accordingly.
We must always remember that some people are dogs. In 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 Paul writes, "But thanks be to God, who always leads us," meaning the apostles, the preachers of the gospel, "in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him." The fragrance of the knowledge of God is spread everywhere by Christ through those he appointed to bear and proclaim the gospel. But Paul describes the reaction of people to the gospel: "For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life." Notice, God in Christ is not just spreading the fragrance of life through his apostles and missionaries. Oh, no. Some are saved by the gospel but others, by the same gospel, are confirmed in their death.
Let me repeat: If the Holy Spirit is speaking to you and causing your heart to be tender toward God, praise be to God! You should rejoice in God's mercy to you. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved.
We Must Judge
Therefore, in 1 John 4:1 we read how important it is for us to be able to judge, discriminate, and discern. As Christians, we are not to be naive people who believe everything, welcome everybody, and tolerate everything. Why? We are talking about life or death issues. Life is not a rehearsal; we do not come this way again. Whenever the gospel is proclaimed, those who listen are there by divine ordination that they may smell the fragrance of life or the stench of death.
So John writes, "Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world," and then John tells us that the test we apply is a doctrinal test.
In other words, a church and its members must believe in sound, orthodox, biblical doctrine, rather than telling people, "Well, you know, come on in. We are tolerant people. We are nice. We don't ask any questions. Let's all come together, hold hands, and meditate, looking at our own belly buttons." No! We want to know whom we are worshiping, and if we are not worshiping the eternal, almighty, sovereign Lord of the universe, the living and true God who revealed himself in the Holy Scriptures, woe unto us!
The early church would use this verse to tell those who were not true believers to leave whenever they were about to celebrate the Holy Communion. Why? They did not want to give that which is holy to dogs and pigs. So any catechumens, any mere hearers of the gospel, any unbelievers and any heretics who were present were asked to leave. Only those who loved God and were walking in obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ were asked to remain and participate in the sacred thing, the Holy Communion.
So we need to understand that we are not commanded by Jesus Christ to preach the gospel to everyone. We are asked to preach the gospel to all the people of the world, which means people from all languages and tribes. But that does not mean we must preach to every individual. God will direct us.
God does direct us to speak to people. In Acts 8 we see that Philip was guided by the Holy Spirit to share the gospel with an Ethiopian eunuch. As he returned home after worshiping in Jerusalem, this eunuch was reading Isaiah 53, but he did not understand it. Directed by an angel, Philip met him and explained the whole gospel. The eunuch was marvelously saved and baptized before he returned to his own country.
In Acts 16 we read that Paul wanted to go to Asia to preach the gospel. The Holy Spirit said "No" at that time. Then Paul wanted to preach in Bithynia, but again the Holy Spirit said "No." Paul kept moving, and when he came to Troas, he was given a vision of a man from Macedonia saying, "Come and help us." Paul and his companions traveled all the way to Philippi and there by a river he preached to a group of women. All of a sudden God opened the heart of Lydia, a dealer in purple, to respond to the gospel, and she was marvelously saved. Thus, we need to be sensitive to the Spirit's leading and guidance.
How to Treat Holy Things
What, then, will happen if you give that which is holy to dogs and throw that which is valuable to swine? They will trample down the message, but that is not the end of the story. Like the violent, unholy, unclean, vicious scavenger dogs, they will also come to tear you apart. They will hate you and speak evil things about you. They did that to Jesus Christ, to the apostles and to other disciples. I have experienced this kind of thing in my own life as well.
Therefore, when you share the gospel, make sure that you pray and seek the Lord. If a person begins to mock, despise, and treat the message with contempt, then you do not have to continue to preach to that person. Move on! God will lead to you another person, to one who is prepared by the Holy Spirit and chosen and elect of God. Such a person will want to hear the gospel. He or she will say, "Please, tell me all about it. Please, go on and on. I want to hear everything." And all of a sudden you will begin to see the word of God going into such a person. What a wonderful experience!
If this is true, then my question today to you is: Do you appreciate the holy things? Do you appreciate the pearl of great price? I hope that you will thank God for opening your eyes into the marvel and the wonder of the gospel. We must appreciate that God enabled us to see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, that God by a mighty miracle opened our eyes which had been blinded by Satan, and that we appreciate the gospel and our heart beats with the heart of God. If this is true of us, we will get up early in the morning to meet with God and eagerly desire to study the Bible. And as we diligently study under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, a great wealth of pearls will be brought out. Our hearts will be filled with the knowledge of God's truth and we will share it with those whom God wants us to share it with.
The Greatest Treasure
Let me tell you, the greatest thing in the whole world is the knowledge of the gospel. "Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent" (John 17:3). If we are Christians, we have received that sacred thing. We have been redeemed by the precious blood of Christ. We have sold all to buy the pearl of great price. The treasure was hidden, but God gave us understanding. He regenerated us and gave us a spirit of repentance. God granted us faith to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. We have been justified by faith and now we have peace with God and access to God. We have been adopted into God's family and now we rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. With St. Paul we now say, "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes." These are the precious, holy things.
As God's children, then, we recognize that our purpose is to share the gospel. But we must be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and have a spirit of discrimination. We must know our audience. We must ask the Holy Spirit, "O Holy Spirit, is this the person?" And God has given us to Holy Spirit to be with us, to guide us, to lead us and to help us.
May we thank and praise our God today for giving us his holy thing, the gospel of the kingdom of God! We enjoy it, we appreciate it, and we consider very seriously that our singular purpose is to declare this gospel. May God grant us great wisdom to do so in all our days. Amen.
Copyright © 1997, P. G. Mathew
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