“An unjust man is an abomination to the righteous, and he who is upright in the way is an abomination to the wicked.” Proverbs 29:27

Our text explains that the key players in this drama are at opposite poles, both deplore the thinking of the other. So it has always been. Good and virtue versus evil and vice—there is no middle ground, though often sought by the well-intentioned and simple-minded, for the sake of a peace that never comes. The righteous man stands out in bold relief against the paler and muddled darkness of encroaching cultural decay.

We hear outcries for something called “justice” just about every day. Genuine justice is a noble and good ambition. God cares about justice. Psalm 82:1ff reads, “God stands in the congregation of the mighty; He judges among the gods. How long will you judge unjustly, and show partiality to the wicked? Selah…They do not know, nor do they understand; they walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are unstable… Arise, O God, judge the earth…” But all too often, when the ungodly are asked to define justice their answer appears to be anything but fair and just. More often than not the justice of the mob turns out to be a miscarriage of equanimity.

Into this fray every believer is commanded to venture. Do not fall prey to the erroneous idea that Christians are not to judge. If that were true then our Lord would not have commanded each of us, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with [the] righteous judgment” (John 7:24).

I assume the word “judge” would be more palatable to our 21st century ears if translated as “discern.” It is the Greek word krino, meaning “separate, select, chose; hence to determine, and so to judge, pronounce judgment.” The very idea goes against the cultural grain that evangelical Christians have been developing these last 30+ years. Christians want to be known for being loving but we have failed in being known for loving good, and knowing what “good” is takes discerning judgment.

The funny thing is that we make judgments every day. Besides the mundane choices we make without thinking, there are daily judgments we make about safety, work, savings, health, and what-have-you. Forming judgments and acting upon them is part of being human. Forming spiritual judgments and acting upon them is part of being spiritual. Micah 6:8 proclaims, “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” In other words, believers must form judgments based on heavenly values rather than earthbound values, if we are to be obedient to our God.

This judgment forming, judgment living, and judgment broadcasting based on godly values is precisely what puts us at odds with the world, and the worldling will not like it any more than his spiritual father, Satan, likes it. Paul explains spiritual blindness in 1 Corinthians 2:12ff, “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (scrutinize, examine, question, to hold a preliminary judicial examination implying more to follow).

To illustrate how out of step this kind of deliberate inquiry, and formation of conclusions worthy of life and lip, is in this day consider this: when was the last time you heard someone use the phrase “in my judgment” or “to be best of my judgment” in a conversation? Those phrases were often on the lips of my father and others of his generation. Now, people seem to be afraid to utter anything remotely sounding of certainty and thoughtful conclusion. No wonder believers have lost their salt-like qualities (Matthew 5:13).

“Judging righteous judgment” is to biblically discern what God says about a matter, then loving His truth, living His truth, and being able to defend His truth clearly. Our Lord is our example in this holy task, “I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me” (John 5:30). Paul states in Romans 2:2, “But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth…” The trouble with “adjusting” truth in order to find common ground is three-fold: adjusting God’s truth is an attempt to adjust God, accommodating a little evil only serves to give evil leverage for creating greater chaos, adding a little evil to truth poisons the whole.

Evil is never satisfied with accommodation, it wants only submission. Jesus says, “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much” (Luke 16:10). If you want a glimpse of the way justice will be meted out in the Millennium read Isaiah 11:1-5; it is a healing balm for any saint who has been trodden under by wicked “justice” seekers.

God commands Israel in Deuteronomy 16:18ff, “…You shall follow what is altogether just…” and that command reverberates down through the corridors of time for every saint. The command requires being thoroughly acquainted with God’s prescriptions for justice (Psalm 98:9, Leviticus 19:15), being practiced in spiritual wisdom (Hebrews 5:14), and pursuing clear thinking (Proverbs 31:4f). Your faithfulness in judging righteous judgment will not only make you known by the enemies who discover you (Ephesians 6:10ff) but also make you fast friends among the righteous (1 John 1:7). Trust and obey.