Q&A: Condemning Sin
Q: I have a question about how you answer the rare occasions when Jesus apparently felt it necessary to publicly condemn sin: like the cleansing of the temple and his very strong judgments on Pharisees and rulers in Matthew 23. Also John the Baptist who not only preached strongly regarding public sins but was imprisoned for judgmental condemnation of Herod taking his brothers wife?
A: Thanks for the question. It’s important to remember that both Jesus and John the Baptist were operating under the First Covenant where it was understood that the job of prophets was to hold fellow Jews, and Jewish institutions, accountable to the terms of the covenant. So you find Jesus cleansing the Jewish temple, but he didn’t concern himself with pagan temples. And John the Baptist confronts Herod, the Jewish King, but he doesn’t go after Pilate or Caesar.
So too, we are only permitted to exercise discernment with people we are in covenant relationships with. So, for example, Paul tells the Corinthians to expel an unrepentant man from the church, but tells them, “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Judge [or practice discernment with] those inside the church” (I Cor 5: 9-13). Outside of such covenants, I contend, we are allowed only ONE opinion about people…”Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor 2:2).
Hope this helps.