Judgement vs. Conviction: Be Ye Not Deceived!

“And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.  Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou…So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her…And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.  When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?  She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.”

                                                                                                                              – John 8:3–11

Society has evolved and changed so much today that we struggle with everything.  We struggle with what’s right and what’s wrong, what’s hot and what’s cold, what should be honored and what should not, and who should get respect and who should not.  We have even gotten to the point where we attempt to justify things as long as it sits well with us.  For instance, we say that we should respect our elders yet there are prerequisites that they must meet before we give them that honor.  Are they truly my elder (because we have our own definition for that now)?  Are they worthy of being respected?  What have they done for me?  The one we hear most is I’ll respect them as long as they are respecting me.  Everything is debatable now and nothing is no longer set in stone or simply black and white.  Now, we have a grey area that it’s okay to operate in (at least in our minds), and we have a tendency to try and put our spin of knowledge on everything.  Question: When is enough, enough in our society?

It’s not just in our society, but it has now crossed over into the body of Christ or the church.  There used to be a time where you knew what the Bible said you could and could not do, could and could not say, could and could not be, but most importantly how to live and how not to live.  Now, we have entered into a time where people are now looking for all kinds of ways to try to twist and manipulate the Word of God as a means of continuing in their lustful, sinful, and carnal being.  We have gotten to the point where we dishonor grace, abuse mercy, scandalize the blood, and all the while neglecting true salvation. We now have a people that believe it’s okay to live like the world lives, be who the world tells you should be, or do what the world says it’s okay to do.  We have even gone so far as to say can’t nobody tell me how to live my life, especially the pastor.  However, it’s okay for us to mimic or mirror our life after the biggest celebrity or the person who has all the money in the world.  As a matter of fact, we have gotten to the point where people no longer value the standard of the Word but that of the world.  We no longer value people but we do profits.  We no longer value ministry but we do money. Question: When is enough, enough in our spirit?

Today, it seems that no one is capable of withstanding rebuke, reproof, chastisement, correction, or simply being told you’re wrong.  When did this become such a big deal?  I can remember when I was growing up in both the church and the world, it was nothing was for someone to come up to you and say “Baby, you know you shouldn’t do that or talk like that.  It’s not nice and it’s not honest.”  We took it in stride, and all we said was “Yes Ma’am or Yes sir” and tried to fix it.  Try and correct someone now and see how many different things you hear.  You don’t know my story and my life.  Who are you to tell me what’s not honest and what I should or shouldn’t do?  I’m grown, don’t nobody tell me nothing.  God forbid you correct somebody in the church now. They even have responses for you.  You don’t know me.  Who made you holier than thou?  God knows my heart.  Don’t judge me!  That’s why I can’t do church people, because they always trying to judge somebody and fix somebody. Ain’t we supposed to come as we are?  That one right there is the number one go to in the church now; come as you are!  It’s the slogan and anthem of almost every church.  Here’s my question:  If the people are always coming as they are, how are they leaving?  Are they leaving changed or charged (I’ll come back to this in a moment)?

There’s the problem:  we have confused judgement and conviction.  We have missed the mark with this one.  No one is teaching that although the two are very similar, there is still a very distinct difference between them.  Thus, we have arrived at the assignment of this article.  In the text above, we see where a group of men have basically caught this woman in the act of adultery and snatched her up immediately to bring before Jesus for his judgement.  However, what many people don’t realize is that this woman was not being used in the way that it is portrayed.  Yes, they wanted him to pronounce judgement on her, but they were more so seeking a way to trap him or trick him into doing something that would allow them to find wrong within him.  In other words, they were not nearly as interested in her doings as much as they were in the doings of Jesus.  How do I know this?  First they came and presented the woman and her sin before Jesus.  Then, they told him what the law of Moses commands.  However, they asked him what he thinks should happen.  Finally, Jesus says whoever is without sin cast the first stone.  Watch this.  The sin that Jesus was referring to was not simply any sin, rather it was that specific sin (adultery).  They wanted Jesus to denounce the law of Moses so that they could have justification for seeking to take his life.  Kean, this sounds good but where is your evidence?

In the times of Moses, whenever someone was caught in such an evil act the witnesses of such act were to be the first to lay hands or throw stones at the individual (Deuteronomy 13:9; 17:7); however, there was a stipulation.  This person (the witness) must also be free from or without the same sin in his or her own life.  Basically, in order to condemn (kill) or harshly judge someone for such an evil act the witness must first ensure that he or she is not a participant of the same evil or sin.  In comes the next part where Jesus says whoever is without sin cast the first stone.  The men started walking away not because they had any sin in their life, but because they had that particular sin in their life.  Hence the reason they didn’t bring the man before Jesus as well.  It was almost a style and a custom for men to be the supreme being in that time, doing whatever he wanted to do, with whoever he wanted to do it with, and however he wanted to do it.  Where they were looking for him to denounce the Mosaic Law, he actually upheld it and drew their minds to the specific qualifications of such law to be carried out.  Are you still watching?  Jesus asked the woman where are her accusers and has any man been able to condemn her?  She said they are all gone and no one was able to.  Jesus said neither do I condemn thee.  Now, Jesus is the man who knows it all so surely he knew that she had done what she done and with who she had done it with.  Why didn’t he condemn her?  Could it be because he was the salvation that the woman needed in order to restructure and reform her life?  I believe so.  Furthermore, I believe it was because of what he said earlier:  “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:17).  Wait.  Is that it?  No.  Jesus sent the woman on her way, but he told her something before letting her go.  He told her to sin no more.  There it is.  Jesus did not judge her, rather he convicted her.

To judge is unto condemnation, but to convict is to bring about correction.  There is only one person who truly possesses the power to judge, and his name is God.  So, how does one convict another?  It’s not by saying what you think or what you believe, rather it is by speaking the infallible, untainted, indestructible, irreproachable, double-edged sword Word of God.  If your saying of God’s word causes people to feel some type of way, then you have found a glitch in their system thus you have introduced conviction.  The problem that we face is people don’t know how to handle conviction, so they react by saying don’t judge me.  I have not judged you rather I have spoken the word to you.  The word has found something within you that is out of place or in place and shouldn’t be, which resulted in that feeling of attacked or your spirit being convicted.  Conviction is not a bad thing.  It means that there is still time for you to correct it and continue on with your journey.  However, we miss that opportunity when we allow our ignorance or inability to properly assess the damage delay or prevent us from repairing the damage.  Can I make a suggestion?  When conviction vexes your spirit, instead of shutting down and becoming defensive try to discover why your spirit is vexed and make the appropriate changes.  Well, I don’t know how to make the changes?  That’s okay also.  That’s the reason God has people in position to help you along the way.

Earlier I made the statement that Jesus was the salvation that the woman needed to restructure and reform her life.  Yet, before that I asked the question that as long as people are coming as they are, how are they leaving?  Are they leaving changed or charged?  Why are these two concepts related to one another?  I’m glad you asked.  According to the Word of God, we are to let our lights so shine that men can see our good works and glorify God in heaven (Matthew 5:16). What works are being referred to here?  Can I make my next suggestion?  It is not the works as in what you do for others, the many good deeds you do, or even the many ways in which we try and put ourselves on display.  The works that is being referred to are the works that God has instructed us to do, which always yields glory over to God.  It’s not to be done in a way of trying to portray to people that you are responsible; instead, it should be done in a manner where people can see the Jesus in you and desire that same Jesus for themselves.  Ultimately, when it’s done the right way God gets the glory by more people saying I want that Jesus as head of my life.  I want that Jesus as my savior, redeemer, deliverer, and transgression bearer.  Furthermore, I want that Jesus to show through me to reach others.

Thus, we have arrived at how the two are related.  To help me work this, I’m reminded of this old song that said, “I came to Jesus just as I was; weary, worn, and sad.  But, I found in him a resting place, and he has made me glad!”  When people come to you as they are, are they getting changed or charged?  Are they meeting salvation or similarity?  Are they being delivered or distracted?  I know it hurts and it’s not popular to talk like this, but somebody has to do it.  We spend so much time trying not to offend anyone, because we don’t want to lose a friend, relative, or make enemies.  So, what do we do?  When God sends us somewhere or to somebody, we get so caught up in who they are, their status, or what they mean to us that we miss the opportunity to let our light shine.  Instead, we let our lives (all the things we both do or have done; basically our similarities) shine, which in the end does more charging than changing and more distracting than delivering.  Now, we have a lot of people saying God sent me here and there, to this one and that one, and up high and down low.  That’s all fine, but ask yourself this question:  Did you accomplish your ministry or did you accomplish your mission.  (You’ll get that later). In actuality, when conviction is done right, in a loving and sincere manner, you don’t just gain a friend but you also add to and help build the kingdom of God.  Need more Bible?

Let’s look at the woman that Jesus met by the well.  He pulled no punches, and unconverted her entire story for her to see.  It wasn’t done out of harshness or in a manner to make her feel bad, rather it was done to convict and correct her.  By the time he finished ministering to her, she got so glad that she went and ministered to others and brought them unto Jesus.  Let’s examine the man that was possessed with a legion of demons.  He encountered Jesus on a road, and Jesus spoke to the demons and cast them into pigs.  The man ask Jesus if he could stay with him, but Jesus told him to go to his friends and tell them what God has done for him and had compassion for him.  All his friends marveled.  What am I saying?  There’s a difference between a ministry and a mission.  When we all get back to the basics of what true ministry is and how it is done, we can begin to see the glory of God revealed in such a way that the dead can rise, the lame can walk, the mute can talk, and the blinded can see.  Furthermore, when we as a people begin to properly handle conviction, there is a rest that has been established and remains for all who will submit and simplify enter in.  God bless you and stay encouraged!

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