20 July 2022 Anno Domini, the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.”
(John 7:24; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
In a world in which deceit is the preferred method of theft or intrigue, it is often very difficult to avoid judging by appearances. Whatever is metallic, yellow, and glitters is not necessarily gold, but may be polished brass. In the early days of my childhood, I picked blackberries to make extra money. It was actually fun. I would carry a pail of blackberries from house to house in the neighborhood, knocking on doors, and seeking patronage. I must admit that I placed the larger, more attractive blackberries on top. That is a very small illustration of the deceit that takes place every day on TV and internet ads.
Unfortunately, the ruse is as prevalent in many churches as it is in commercial industry – “Send ‘X’ amount of money and God will bless you.” “Tune in at 9 AM on Sunday and you will see miracles and wonders!” Of course, it is not likely that the Holy Spirit will be forced to stand by until that precise hour to come down to perform His miracles. “A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas.” (Matthew 16:4) If our generation is not a wicked and adulterous generation, then I would be curious to know to which generation you would believe that our Lord alludes.
So what proof does a wicked and adulterous generation need to know the majesty and power of God? Our Lord answers: “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” That’s all! WE know that our Lord suffered and died on the cross at Calvary in our stead to Redeem us of our sins. We know that He conquered death and hell and arose from the tomb three days following. What more do you need to know of Him?
Man usurps every possible truth to his own profit. There are many unscrupulous pastors in churches today that do the same. Their eyes are fixed on filthy lucre and their natures are best described as “wolves in sheep’s clothing.”
Well, you may ask, “Are we not commanded to judge not?” The answer to that question is found in our leading text today. We do not judge based on our opinion or of the appearance of the thing being judged. We must judge based on righteous judgment – the Word of God. If we judge by God’s Word in naming sin for what He names sin, then we do not judge with our own incompetence, but based upon His truth.
The Poinsettia is a beautiful flower, in which the leaves close to the bud take on such a rich color, that they are often mistaken for the blossom itself, which is, however, a very insignificant thing. So, men often cultivate their secondary powers to a brilliant hue, while the heart is shamefully neglected and appears miserably small.
The spiritual man does not do this. He seeks first the kingdom of God. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33)
Instead of his outward deceits, he places the spiritual above the fleshly as Paul counsels: “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” (1 Corinthians 9:27)
He observes the seen unreal with the eyes of the real unseen. Like the bank teller, the Christian does not study the counterfeit – he studies the bona fide script which enables him to recognize anything that differs therefrom. Knowing the Word of God as well as the bank teller knows legal tender will enable the Christian to separate the truth of the Gospel from the false gospels being taught prominently in our time. “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18)
He looks not at the present but for a future glory. The temporary and filthy rags of this world do not compare to the riches our Father has in store for us in glory. Why invest in a temporary inebriation in lieu of an eternal and glorious joy? Let us rather follow the example set by faithful Abraham: “For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” (Hebrews 11:10)
He sets his affection on things above in contrast to those who solely mind earthly things (See Colossians 3:2), And Enoch walks with God among men, and not as men walk with themselves. (See Genesis 5:22)
The sacrifices of God are not the fat burned at the altar: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” (Psalms 51:17) That is the inner beauty and not the outward glitter.