Discipline: Of Saints and Sinners

1 Corinthians 5:12  (KJV)   12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within?

Should we judge non-Christians? That’s a rhetorical question. It’s a given: we’re not tasked or entitled to judge unbelievers. But we are definitely responsible for rebuking and correcting believers. This has to do with judgment and not about sharing the Gospel. That one calls for a totally opposite response. We share the Gospel to unbelievers, not necessarily to believers.

If we’re among those who have not surrendered our lives to the Lord Jesus, we won’t subscribe to the same commands, precepts, statutes, teachings, and principles that the Lord holds His people accountable to. We will live according to what we see as right in our eyes. We will make our own rules and laws; define what’s right and wrong based on our personal opinions and/or feelings, governmental mandates and/or positions. Each one will have different standards because every person is different. We will do ungodly things and will not see anything wrong with them. In fact, we may promote our ungodliness with the most intense activism because we believe we’re right.

On the other hand, if we’re believers, we ought to expect to live under a totally different set of standards. We have the Scriptures as our authoritative source for belief and life. We willingly submitted ourselves to the Lordship of our dear Savior Jesus and to His Words – His commands. We can and ought to definitely call each other to it if we ever sway from them, either in our doctrine or in our ways. Why? Because we have a standard we expect each other to abide by. This is something we can’t expect from those who don’t subscribe to the same faith as we do. If I am a sinner, I will sin. That’s my nature. If I’m an unbeliever, I won’t believe Jesus or His Word. I won’t live according to it. That’s expected. But if I say I’m a follower of the Lord Jesus, I ought to follow Him. That’s expected of me and all His followers. And if we don’t follow, we really ought to have the courage to confront and rebuke each other. And if necessary, even to lovingly discipline those under our authority.

Dear God, our great and righteous Judge, You have given us Your Words that we may know what to believe and how to live. Your Words and ways are perfect; they’re wise; they’re the Truth. Please help us to live according to Your precepts, to be willing to be corrected when we’re wrong, and to be bold in lovingly correcting those who err, – in Jesus’ Name, amen.

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