“There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?”
who is able to save
The word “save” here does not refer to eternal salvation but a more general idea of deliverance. Only God can maneuver the events of creation.
and to destroy.
The word “destroy” does not mean annihilating into extinction of consciousness but to place people in a place of complete estrangement from God.
God alone can make the ultimate judgment to save or destroy people. He alone can execute His judgments. God’s judgment here has to do with “the sin unto death” for a believer. God puts to death some believers because they develop a hardness of heart in their sin.
1 Jn 5:16-17, “If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that. 17 All unrighteousness is sin, and there is sin not leading to death.”
Only God can properly execute His judgments; He needs no help from believers.
God never breaks His own standards (laws). He is always consistent with Himself. If He were otherwise, He could not be an absolute God. However, God can do some things to meet the demands of His laws when broken. Jesus fulfilled all the demands of the law by dying on the cross for our sins. He did all of the dying that needed to die. His death was sufficient to meet the perfect and absolute demands of God’s character.
Ro 8:2-4, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”
The purpose of the law is to bring us to Christ.
Ga 3:19-25, “What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator. 20 Now a mediator does not mediate for one only, but God is one.21 Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. 22 But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. 23 But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. 24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.”
Only God has the powers to save and destroy. We cannot usurp that authority and power. None of us is the author of any spiritual standards or laws that have the authority to save or destroy.
The law knows no leniency. The law can only condemn. God’s laws demand that He fully executes the penalty for their violation because He cannot violate His own righteousness. However, God can both be “just” and the “justifier” (Ro 3:26). Jesus died on the cross as our justifier of our sins. That is why He can be “just.” He does this without violating His own righteousness.
Ro 8:32, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”
God saves and destroys based on His absolute character. As God saves based on His character, He destroys on that basis as well.
Ro 2:3, “And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God?”
1 Co 4:3-5, “But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by a human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. 4 For I know of nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord. 5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God.”
No one is free from sin. Who can say that our motives are free from lust? That is why we do not have the competence to judge others. We are of the same ilk. Since we are not sinless, we cannot judge the motives of others with impartiality. Therefore, we have no right to inflict judgment on others. Only God has the right to save and destroy.
There is a time for judging, but it is at the Judgment Seat of Christ, and Christ will do the judging. Not all the facts are in yet. No creature has enough information to make an adequate judgment. Only the Lord has complete access to all the facts.
However, there is a legitimate judgment that we can perform. If we see a fallen Christian, we should go to that Christian and restore him to fellowship. This fulfills the law of Christ because it does not judge motive but the overt sinful acts and behavior of the fallen believer.
Jn 7:24, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”
Ga 6:1, “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.”
Have you really seen believers put to death (sickness, accident, whatever, etc.) for unrepentant sin? What about Jesus saying the people killed by the falling tower were no worse than anyone else?
Jack, yes I have seen as a pastor people die prematurely because of an extended period of unrepentant.