By Bill Robinson, Jr.
Exercising one’s judgment in the spiritual realm is permissible in the absence of positive and/or negative divine instruction. Those judgments should be formed with a sensible aim of pleasing God. Paul prayed for the Philippians, “. . that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and all discernment. . . ” (1:9, American Standard Version).
The word translated “discernment” is rendered “judgment” in the King James. The interlinear has the word “perception” (Greek-English N. T., Nestle Text). It is a word which stands in contrast to knowledge. Knowledge of spiritual matters is gained through insight (study and practice) of divine revelation. “Judgment,” or “perception,” or “discernment” is acquired through the senses of man. Yet, those senses are to be governed by a knowledge of divine revelation (Col. 2:20-23). A man may rightfully exercise his judgment provided it does not violate divine revelation.
The exercise of a man’s judgment may prove to be faulty. However, if he has the right (in the absence of divine instruction) to exercise such judgment, he has not sinned! He has simply exercised poor judgment (period!).
It is time brethren wake up to the fact that poor judgment is not sin, whether it is exercised individually, or collectively. If the decision is a sin, it means there is either positive or negative divine instructions which prohibit such a decision. If so, let the one who disagrees produce the passage(s) and loving brethren will respect and admire such an one for pointing out their error. However, if there is no violation of divine instruction, then, let such an one who disagrees respect and admire another’s right to hold and act differently in the judgment.
Undermining elders and sowing seeds of discord, especially over matters of judgment, whether intentionally or otherwise, indicates a lack of love of brethren for “whom Christ died” (Rom. 14:15; 1 Cor. 8:9-11; 10:29-33).
The apostle Peter said, “Finally, be ye all like-minded, compassionate, loving as brethren, tenderhearted, humble-minded. . . ” (1 Pet. 3:8ff). To be “like-minded” does not mean we must agree on every single matter of judgment. It does, however, mean when we do differ over such matters we respect each other’s right to make a different judgment than our own. We are to be “like-minded” in that we all want to serve God, be guided by His will, and go to heaven. And, in matters of judgment where such a right exists, though we may differ, we still respect each other’s desire to serve God acceptably, to be guided by His will, and to go to heaven. When brethren mature to this level they will be compassionate, loving as brethren. Unfortunately, until then some will want to fuss. Insisting on their own way and with a “chip on their shoulder,” think they do “God service” just like Saul of Tarsus did before his conversion to Christ.
Guardian of Truth XXX: 15, p. 465
August 7, 1986