Condemnation Versus Correction
November 13, 2020 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement
When the scribes and Pharisees caught an adulterous woman, they wanted Jesus to condemn her to death. Jesus says to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7). Without undermining God’s holiness nor the intention of the law, Jesus confronts the sinful attitude of condemnation.
At this point, some may say, “Wait! What about confronting someone in their sin? We can’t just let sin run rampant, can we?”
This person would be correct. As much as condemnation has no place among Christians, so also condonation has no place among Christians. We do not condemn; but we also do not condone. So, what’s the path forward?
Notice what Paul says, and does not say, about Scripture in 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” He never says, “Scripture is profitable for condemnation,” but it is profitable for correction. What is the difference?
Let me highlight the differences between condemnation and correction with a series of contrasting statements.
- Condemnation does not spring from love for neighbor. Correction springs from love for neighbor. The scribes and Pharisees in John 8 had no love for the woman; they did not care for her well-being. They were not seeking her good. Contrast their actions with Paul’s call in Galatians 6:1, “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.” Correction is an act of love for neighbor.
- Condemnation does not seek restoration and reconciliation. Correction seeks restoration reconciliation. At its root, correction is seeking to restore health in one’s relationship with God and others. Condemnation has no such aim. Jesus commands such repentant reconciliation in Matthew 18:15, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.” If you condemn your brother, you will lose your brother.
- Condemnation is self-centered. Correction is other-centered. With the scribes and Pharisees, condemnation springs from a self-righteous reliance. They are prideful and enamored with themselves. They condemn because they believe it accents their righteousness.
- Condemnation is impersonal. Correction cultivates relationship. If there is no love for neighbor, there is no relationship. It is easy to condemn when you have no relationship. Correction aims to restore and deepen relationship.
- Condemnation rejects God’s authority. Correction submits to God’s authority. When we condemn another, we assume the authoritative role of judge. This role is reserved for God alone (see Rom. 12:19). Correction acknowledges that God is the ultimate authority, to whom we are all subject.
- Condemnation is hypocritical. Correction humbly acknowledges self-weakness. Paul says in Romans 2:1, “For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.” In other words, condemnation does not admit fault. Correction, on the other hand, does not boast of self-righteousness; it humbly submits to God’s authoritative and restorative Word. Those who pursue the path of correction understand that it always is a two-way street.
Let’s be mindful of this distinction. Condemnation has no place in the church; neither does condonation. Let’s depend on Scripture which is profitable for correction.