Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Called To Accountability~Embracing the Principle of Admonishment

Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.
Proverbs 27:6 NKJV

There's a theme that is prevalent right now in many churches. It echoes on many of the women's blogs that I read; I hear it among my friends. Often, it even fastens itself within my own heart. 

That theme is: don't judge me

Don't judge my house, my appearance, my children, my car, my makeup, my dog, my fingernail polish. Don't judge the circles under my eyes, what my kids eat, whether or not I'm gluten-free, who I stand for politically, how I spell my name. 

Just don't judge me. Keep to yourself. Just let me live my life the way that I need to or see fit. 

Don't judge me. 

Some of these things are very insignificant and really don't matter eternally--but there is a deeper principle here, and one that has become rooted in the hearts of modern Christians. This principle of "don't tell me what to do--don't confront me--don't tell ME I'm doing something wrong"--on issues that really do matter and do carry eternal significance.   

Issues that the Word of God is very clear about . . . open sin or disregard for God's Word, hypocrisy, compromise, anything in our lives that brings dishonor to the name of Jesus Christ.

And when someone does, they are almost immediately labeled "legalistic" or "judgmental." 

I'm going to say something controversial here, but something that I believe is strongly Biblical and something that has been heavy upon my heart for a long, long time:

 We are called at times to confrontation. And many Christians will call us judgmental.

Not about nail polish, or makeup, or dog breeds, but about things that really do matter eternally. 

There is a principle in Scripture, one that is very barely spoken about, and that is the principle of admonishment

We are called to it. 

Admonish (definition--Merriam Webster): 

~to express warning or disapproval to especially in a gentle, earnest, or solicitous manner
~to give friendly earnest advice or encouragement to 
~to say (something) as advice or a warning 

And there is a distinction made between making judgments on our brother or sister as if we are God and admonishing them, as  a fellow sinner saved by grace.

This distinction is very, very important. 

Admonishing is something vital within the Christian community whereas judging another believer in a way that sets ourselves up as better than that person is sin. 

Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.
Matthew 7:1-2 NKJV

There are times when we need to keep our mouth shut and pray about a supposed problem that we see in a another believer--not ignore it, but pray. Christ does not call us to criticism but to intercession--

When we discern that other people are not growing spiritually and allow that discernment to turn to criticism, we block our fellowship with God. God never gives us discernment so that we may criticize, but that we may intercede.
~Oswald Chambers

And sometimes that intercession leads to this deeper principle of admonishment. 

Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another. 
Romans 15:14 NKJV

Like it or not, agree with it or not, we are called to accountability with one another within the Christian church. The Scriptures are very clear about that--

but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
Hebrews 3:13 NKJV

When everyone within the Christian church is afraid of admonishing one another , we "exist" as a church in a murky mediocre puddle--and the Spirit of God is quenched. 

Truth carries with it confrontation. Truth demands confrontation; loving confrontation, but confrontation nevertheless.
~Francis Schaeffer

I really believe that this is why there is not more power in our churches. Because sin is so tolerated. We are all so busy with our own lives and problems and with our fascination with this principle of not judging anyone that we have  lost a sense of (as A.W. Tozer would put it) "the Holy." 

We are afraid to admonish, to gently warn. To turn someone and deliver them from sin--

let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.
James 5:20 NKJV

This admonishment must always flow from a spirit of humility, of determined gentleness, of the desire for the other person's good and for purity in the church. It must flow from love--and from a deep longing for holiness in the church, something that has been greatly lost. 

Indeed, we are losing our sense of "the Holy," our sense of the majesty of God and the authority of Scripture over our lives. This is reflected in our attitude of tolerating obvious sin in our own lives and in the lives of others. The fear of God has been greatly lost--

With our loss of the sense of majesty has come the further loss of religious awe and consciousness of the divine Presence. We have lost our spirit of worship and our ability to withdraw inwardly to meet God in adoring silence. Modern Christianity is simply not producing the kind of Christian who can appreciate or experience the life in the Spirit. The words, “Be still and know that I am God,” mean next to nothing to the self-confident, bustling worshiper in this middle period of the twentieth century.
~A.W. Tozer

We are losing our sense of true community, of true Christian love, of God's grace through repentance and turning from sin. 

Revival cannot come without true repentance. Revival will not come until we renounce hidden sins and allow ourselves to be judged by God's holy Word, the thoughts and intents of our hearts laid bare before Him. Revival will not come until we regain our sense of the Holy. 

Here is another almost foreign principle in the modern Christian church--that guilt can be the goad that drives us to the cross. 

Guilt in and of itself can be toxic to our growth as believers. But the guilt that brings us to our knees and causes us to search our hearts before God can bring us to that place of humility before Jesus Christ that drives the spear into our sin and kills it. Guilt can drive us to our knees and be a help to grace. David speaks about this kind of guilt after he sinned with Bathsheba--the guilt that lead to repentance and restoration. 

Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.
Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
And sinners shall be converted to You.
Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
The God of my salvation,
and my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness.
O Lord open my lips
And my mouth shall show forth Your praise. 
For You do not delight in burnt offering
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and contrite heart--
These, O God, you will not despise.
Psalm 51:12-17 NKJV

How grateful I have been for this principle of admonishment in my own life! It brings a smile to my heart to think of how many times my Mom has said to me "I'm just throwing out warnings." (or something else along those lines :-) Her words and admonishment and advice have saved me 
through the Holy Spirit of God from making many, many mistakes in my life. I am grateful to her for warning me and giving me the opportunity to search my own heart and motives before God. Where some would call other Christian's admonishment in their lives, "judgmental," when it is done in a spirit of love and in a true desire for the other person's good and the glory of God, it brings hope and grace and as the Word of God says, may save someone from a multitude of sins. 

So don't be so quick to feel "judged" by other believers when they genuinely confront an area of your life that may be off course. In our parenting, in our day to day relationships, in our marriages--another believer may be offering hope, not judgement.

And even if they are judging you, offer them grace--the same grace that you have received. Search your heart before God and submit to Him . . . He will make all things plain when we sincerely seek Him. 

So go ahead--judge with righteous judgement--with the discernment of the Holy Spirit of God--admonish, rebuke, encourage, exhort. And above all, make sure that your own life is right before God--be as hard upon sin in your own life as you are in the lives of others. Because it starts there first. 

And embrace this Biblical principle of admonishment--because judgment, true, righteous judgement begins in the house of God. It will flow from obedience and humility. It will flow from a sincere love of the brethren. And it's eternal effect will be peace. 

I'm not a prophet of doom; I'm a prophet of love. But love will bid a warning doom to the children who play on the freeway. We need to wake up.
~Keith Green


  1. Thank you so much for this message. It's very convicting, much needed and really blessed me.

  2. Oh this can be a hard subject. The speaking of truth without love falls flat. But words encased in grace are surely a gift.

    Rebekah, thanks ...

  3. Well said, Rebekah! Admonishment and judgement are two different things entirely. If we don't pause before saying it, it's probably judgement. If we struggle, pray, and ask God for the words, it's probably admonishment.

  4. Thanks for linking up this good word at Booknificent Thursday on!

  5. Rebekah, this is a sensitive subject, but you’ve handled it with grace and truth. I’m glad I stopped by today from Holley’s linkup.

  6. "This admonishment must always flow from a spirit of humility, of determined gentleness, of the desire for the other person's good and for purity in the church. It must flow from love--and from a deep longing for holiness in the church, something that has been greatly lost." ~ LOVED this from you (and the whole post) You are so correct and said this beautifully!!! :)

  7. Hi Bekki,

    Thank you so much for this very important admonishment. I can fall into the category too often of judging in my heart which then becomes critical and resentful when I should be lovingly confronting the person. Confrontation can be so uncomfortable and it doesn't seem to be received very well these days even from Christians. But I was convicted by your words that our confrontation and admonishment shouldn't be about judgement, but about a love for the brethren and a preservation of the Holy in the church, beginning with myself.

    I am so thankful for your humility and honesty in your writing. You are such a blessing.

    I miss you so much!

    Sending you much love.