11 Non-judgmental Affections

By John Thiel, Godly Affections That Motivate Series, mp3

Scripture reading: Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

We want to behold someone who is exceedingly wonderful, and by beholding, to be affected. If we will behold the glory of God we will be changed. Don’t we need changing?

2 Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass [a mirror] the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, [even] as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Let us behold God’s wonderful love, His glory, so that it will give us another strong impetus to change. We want to study at length God’s affections to sinful humanity and let it affect our disposition. A disposition is something that is ever ready to express itself. And if we will look at someone who is revealing himself in love to us, it will change our disposition, it will affect us.

What Manner of Love

The apostle John looked upon Jesus for so long that he fell in love with Him. He, the son of thunder, became John the beloved; and this is what he said:

1 John 3:1 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.

Behold, he says. By beholding we become changed; and the apostle here says, Look at the manner of God’s love, what a love He hath been bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.

The plan of redemption is not merely a way of escape from the penalty of transgression, but through it the sinner is forgiven his sins, and will be finally received into heaven–not as a forgiven culprit pardoned and released from captivity, yet looked upon with suspicion and not admitted to friendship and trust; but welcomed as a child, and taken back into fullest confidence. {7BC 950.6}

Do you see the beautiful mental exercise that is here suggested? The gospel does not merely forgive the culprit. I am a culprit, you are a culprit; we are all culprits. But we are not simply culprits “pardoned and released from captivity, yet looked upon with suspicion.” How does humanity look upon a person when they know that he has done something wrong? With suspicion. But that is not God. Through the gospel we are “admitted to friendship and trust,” and “welcomed as a child, and taken back into fullest confidence.” O to look at God and pick up on this that it may affect our dispositions.

The Lord is constantly at work to open the understanding, to quicken the perceptions, that man may have a right sense of sin and of the far-reaching claims of God’s law. {1SM 183.2}

So this makes you think, Oh… law… sin… terrible! That is what God does want us to acknowledge.

The unconverted man thinks of God as unloving, as severe, and even revengeful; {Ibid.}

This is how the unconverted man looks at God. He sees Him and thinks, “Law, sin… See? God is severe and unloving.” Everything that God says is a reproach to man.

His presence is thought to be a constant restraint, His character an expression of “Thou shalt not.” His service is regarded as full of gloom and hard requirements. {Ibid.}

Have you sometimes felt that way about God’s expectations?

But when Jesus is seen upon the cross, as the gift of God because He loved man, the eyes are opened to see things in a new light. God as revealed in Christ is not a severe judge, an avenging tyrant, but a merciful and loving Father. {Ibid.}

As we see Jesus dying upon the cross to save lost man, the heart echoes the words of John, “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not” (1 John 3:1). There is nothing that more decidedly distinguishes the Christian from the worldly man than the estimate he has of God. {1SM 183.3}

Do you want to be distinguished from a worldly person? Then you need to have the right estimate of God. This distinguishes us.

Some workers in the cause of God have been too ready to hurl denunciations against the sinner; {1SM 184.1}

Isn’t this what we see around us? Even in the professed Christian world, in the professed reform mentality.

…the grace and love of the Father in giving His Son to die for the sinful race have been put in the background. The teacher needs the grace of Christ upon his own soul, in order to make known to the sinner what God really is {Ibid.}

What is He?

–a Father waiting with yearning love to receive the returning prodigal, not hurling at him accusations in wrath, but preparing a festival of joy to welcome his return (Zephaniah 3:14-17). {Ibid.}

And our attitude and predisposition to everyone around us must be affected by our estimate of God. Can you see then why this subject is so important? O how many times we just simply say, Oh yes, we know Jesus died for us; and when we spend some time in contemplating the cross, we think, Yes… But there is something here to contemplate so that we can see what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we, sinners, should be called the sons of God. “For God so loved the world…” That expression that He so loved the world is a continuation of the thought expressed by Apostle John, What manner of love. What manner? He loved us so much that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. He loved the world. Who was the world that He loved? Here are the people that God loves:

Romans 5:6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

Who did He die for? People who are yet without strength. But it goes deeper than that.

Romans 5:7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

It is so easy to just read that, isn’t it? But stop to actually contemplate this. What manner of love is it? He loved the sinner, and while the sinner was still sinning He died for him. Jesus died for the sinner while he was still sinning. He didn’t die for him after he had repented. He died for him while he was still sinning. Are you picking up something here? This needs to resonate in our hearts to stir something, some affections, to affect our disposition.

Come Back to Me Now

Let us examine this dimension of God’s love as it is illustrated by His attitude to a rebellious Israel. If you study the Israeli nation, the Hebrews of the past even to this point in time, you see something remarkable. How does God describe them?

Isaiah 1:4 Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. 5 Why should ye be stricken any more? Ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. 6 From the sole of the foot even unto the head [there is] no soundness in it; [but] wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment.

Here is the description of Israel. As you read that you may ask yourself, Is He having a go at them? But then, having just described what they are like, because His love is of such a nature that while we were yet sinning He died for us He then says to them:

Isaiah 1:18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

Who is He saying that to? The ones He just spoke about, saying they were sick from their head to their toe, the ones to whom He said, You are such a sinful nation, laden with iniquity. Come now, He says, let us reason together. Can you appreciate this amazing character? Notice God’s attitude to this rebellious nation:

Isaiah 44:21 Remember these, O Jacob and Israel; for thou [art] my servant: I have formed thee; thou [art] my servant: O Israel, thou shalt not be forgotten of me.

Israel! This wicked nation! He tells them, I will not forget you.

Isaiah 44:22 I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee.

Why does He say, Return unto Me? “You who are so sinful, I died for you while you were sinning. Please return to Me now.” What a mind. I just break down in tears when I see this love. “I have forgiven you,” He says, “I have died for you while you were still sinning, and now because you are so sinful and I have done this for you, please come back to Me.”

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

“Not an end of evil, not a consequence of your sins. I have died for your sins. I have died for you. I have died for you while you were sinning, so that you might be touched and come back to Me. And I have only thoughts of peace, and not of evil.”

This vein of thought that is displayed by God here was again powerfully manifested when they nailed Jesus to the cross, by the attitude He had to His own nation. He had shown them how sinful they were and they were nailing Him to the cross in absolute distaste. But what does He now say to show His continuing attitude to these sinful people?

Luke 23:33 And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. 34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.

Couldn’t He have said, “They should know”? Couldn’t He have said, “I’ve given them all the messages, they should know what they’re doing! Why are they doing this??” Is that what He said? No. “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” He had a heart of love in the midst of the mistreatments.

In heaven He will be there with the marks in His hands, and when some ask Him, “What are these wounds?” What will He answer? “Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.” Stop to meditate about it. Stop to appreciate this God. He has for the sinner affections that have not the slightest inkling of judgmentalism. His are non-judgmental affections. No matter what sins are being done there is not the slightest judgmental attitude. But rather, His heart is one to say, “I have covered your sins as a thick cloud, return unto Me. I am affectionately bound to you. I have only thoughts of peace for you, and not of evil.” This is God. This is His mentality.

When we become overwhelmed by our condition, when we become personally convicted of our own sinfulness, wanting to change and yet failing frequently, is there an attitude in God that can affect my disposition about me when I am overwhelmed? You know, if you were an Israelite in Isaiah’s days when He said, What can I do for you, you are rebellious, you are sick from the head to the foot, etc., wouldn’t you just feel completely discouraged and cast down? “What hope have I got?” And how often we feel like that when God unveils to us what we are like? But He reveals to us what we are like not in a judgmental attitude. What the unconverted heart will do is it will read His statements as a reproach. That is how an unconverted heart reads it – reproach. And every time our natural heart hears some things that God says, it is a natural thing for us to feel reproach. But I want to bring this point home now. Whatever God unveils about me, whether it be in my own mind or in any of my mistakes, it is not to be taken as a reproach. We do it, don’t we? But whatever God’s love is, it never reproaches. It simply identifies things to help me, so that I may return to Him quickly.

Atonement

Look at your experience and at what God is doing to help us when we feel totally reproached by our own self-condemnation.

2 Corinthians 5:21 For he [God] hath made him [Jesus] [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

We are seeing here God’s affections to sinful humanity, and we need to let it affect our disposition. God made Jesus the sin that I feel, the sinful hopelessness that overwhelms me. So when I look at God’s word and it shows me what a sinner I am, I look at this: He was made to be that sin. Why? That we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.

As I look at Him being made my sin my affections begin to be really drawn to Him. I think, I am condemned, and yet He is taking my absolute condemnation. And as I look at this, I continue beholding,

Hebrews 2:14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; 15 And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

We know we are going to die because of our sinfulness. Have you ever been overwhelmed with a sense that “if I don’t change I’m going to die; this beautiful scene that I’m in is going to be shattered”? Have you ever felt like that? I have fear because I’m a sinner. I see myself weak and failing, and I fear. So He was made to be sin for us, so that He could actually describe to me His wonderful love in the light of my fear. Therefore, since I am afraid of death and subject to bondage,

Hebrews 2:16 …he took not on [him the nature of] angels; but he took on [him] the seed of Abraham. 17 Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto [his] brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things [pertaining] to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. 18 For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.

This is something to meditate about in reference to our temptations that so easily overcome us. As I am so easily overcome with my temptations and I can’t see my way out of those failings and they come up before me again and again, I see Him suffering in that same temptation. And as I see Him, something happens inside of me; it gives me revival to resist the temptation. But if I am not looking at Him, if I am not meditating on Him, I will go straight back down again, because I am looking at my temptation, at my weakness, at my responses and my predisposition to not want to be affected by the discoveries of my sin. All these things are ruining me. But when I am looking at Jesus in the light of this it wipes that out; because having suffered being tempted He is able to succor me.

We see here this High Priest, who is still remembering His experience as though it was today:

Hebrews 4:15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as [we are, yet] without sin.

Here we have Jesus Christ who died for us while we were yet sinners, and who is now our High Priest in heaven knowing the experience that we are suffering under, the feelings of our infirmities. He knows them, He feels them with us.

We need not place the obedience of Christ by itself, as something for which He was particularly adapted, by His particular divine nature, for He stood before God as man’s representative and was tempted as man’s substitute and surety. {7BC 930.3}

Jesus was obedient, not because He had the divine nature. He was not adapted to obedience by His particular divine nature, for He stood before God as man’s representative and was tempted as man’s substitute and surety. This is really worth meditating upon.

If Christ had a special power which it is not the privilege of man to have, Satan would have made capital of this matter. The work of Christ was to take from the claims of Satan his control of man, and He could do this only in the way that He came–a man, tempted as a man, rendering the obedience of a man. {Ibid.}

Not the obedience of a divine being. This tells me something. As I go through my terrible experiences, I have to learn from Jesus how I, as a human being, can overcome those temptations; not as a divine being. And how can you do it but alone by doing what Jesus did – ever depending upon the help the Father?

“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God”? Men think that it is a great honor to be connected with an earthly king, but John tells us that by a life of obedience we may become the children of the heavenly King, and have connection with the Majesty on high. When Christ became man’s substitute and surety, it was that he might unite finite man with the infinite God, and connect earth with heaven. The Son of God took upon him the nature of man, bore insult, ignominy, shame, and death, in order to save a wicked world. He was tempted in all points like as we are, that he might become acquainted with our temptations; by this experience of suffering and trial, he opened the way that the sons and daughters of Adam may return to allegiance to God, and make their way back to the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God. That Jesus has been tempted in all points like as we are, that he is able to succor those who are tempted, has given men confidence to come to him and pour out all their sorrows before him; for he has borne our griefs, and is touched with the feeling of our infirmities. {ST, July 28, 1890 par. 4}

This language is so important. As I am grieving over my sinfulness, did Jesus grieve the same way? And as I see Him doing this, something happens to me. He is touched with my feelings?

After he has made an infinite sacrifice for us, will any of us be so ungrateful as to refuse to accept it? {Ibid.}

Next time you become downtrodden about your condition and you feel so hopeless about yourself and you can’t reconcile that you are ever going to change, right there and then apply this. “Jesus has suffered with me right here and now. He is suffering with me right here in this very experience.” And as you stop to let that sink in you become relieved from this condemnatory mentality, this condemnatory disposition which makes me feel so sinful that I feel I can’t ever be saved. You will be released from that because your heart will be rejoicing. But you can choose to refuse that meditation.

After he has made an infinite sacrifice for us, will any of us be so ungrateful as to refuse to accept it? He was our example in all things, and we are to study the life and character of our Lord, and learn of him meekness and lowliness of heart. {ST, July 28, 1890 par. 4}

The thing that actually causes a person to give up and feel that “I’m too sinful, I’m never going to make it” is not looking upon Jesus. It is to not be meekly submitting to the fact that “I am such a sinful person that I will actually believe that Jesus died for me just the same.” So people will say, I don’t want to believe it. This is the amazing thing I had to deal with when I led people into this understanding. There is one experience I will never forget – I had shown Jesus to this one person, right down to this kind of detail, and when he was finally convinced he said, Why would God want to do a thing like that for me?? And it was not an expression of acceptance; it was a way to say, “No, I can’t accept that. God wouldn’t do such a thing like that for me.” So those people have gone on in their path of disbelief of this amazing truth.

Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Because Jesus was in my experience of absolute hopelessness, whether at the cross or through the temptations of other dimensions, as I believe that He is right there with me, and if I don’t reject it, I am to come boldly unto the throne of grace. Instead of hanging my head in negative judgmentalism about myself, I come boldly straight to the Lord and say, Thank you, Lord. This is meekness. This is giving over. This is surrendering. Right there, in the midst of my temptations, in the midst of my darkness, in the midst of my judgmentalism about me and about what other people are doing to me. It is a complete alteration of my disposition.

With all our sin and weakness, we are not cast aside as worthless; we are accepted in the Beloved; for heaven has been opened to our petitions through the Son of God. {ST, July 28, 1890 par. 5}

So in spite of my deplorable condition, as I come boldly to the throne of God, my petition will be heard.

The gates are ajar, and the light of heaven will shine upon all those whom Jesus came to save, if they will but come within the circle of the beams of the Sun of Righteousness; for ample provision has been made for the salvation of every soul. {Ibid.}

Right there, in the midst of my deplorable wrangle and conflict about me, provision has been made, because God’s attitude is not a judgmental one. If He could say, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,” can He not now as my High Priest say, “Father, remember Me suffering as they are suffering right now; forgive them”? Come boldly to the throne of God. Apply this meditation to your real character responses.

As I meet up to mistreatment by people, to nasty things said about me, and to horrible judgmentalisms that I am even struggling with within myself, whether these things be real or imagined, what am I actually struggling with as I meet these circumstances?

The Trace of the Enemy

What are the traces that are upon me that cause me to go through these horrible circumstances?

The hard, cruel spirit which judges and condemns has left the trace of the enemy upon everything. {UL 169.4}

So when you next feel cruel and judgmental about yourself, what is that? It is the trace of the enemy.

But mercy is to come in and lay her broad impress upon every plan. … Christ has erected the cross. He does not call upon any man to manufacture tests and crosses for His people. {UL 169.4}

Because this is the trace that is upon everything, we see it in the ranks of Christianity and also of Seventh-day Adventists who profess to be law-abiding. When they see someone in their ranks that is committing a sin, that cruel spirit that judges and condemns is manifested.

How do these traces reveal themselves in our relationships? What are the experiences in the church and in the family by which these traces of the enemy are revealed?

There are some who imagine that it is their duty to be church tinkers. It is agreeable to their natural feelings to be seeking spot and stain in others; they watch diligently for something to reprove, and they become narrower and narrower in their ideas, until they are ready to make one an offender for a word. {HS 212.5}

This is the cruel spirit – making one an offender for a word.

In the Sabbath meetings, when all should be individually engaged in the worship of God, an accusing spirit is allowed to come in, and one bears testimony against another. This spirit is wholly unlike Christ, and leads to dissension and wrangling. God no more accepts such worship than he accepted Cain’s offering. There is no more effectual hindrance to growth in grace than this disposition to criticize and condemn others. {Ibid.}

This is the disposition that has to be changed.

We have in our experience seen this accusing spirit gradually enter the hearts of church-members until it had leavened nearly the entire church, and the result was that little of real godliness or of the spirit of Christ remained. {Ibid.}

Isn’t this the description of what we see around us, and what we often have suffered under in our own experience? We are looking at this amazing character of God so that our disposition may be affected and changed.

Unless men constantly cherish mercy, compassion, and love, Satan will encourage a fault-finding, selfish spirit which will crowd these precious graces out of the soul. {ST, July 27, 1882 par. 16}

These beautiful graces that we gain by beholding Jesus – mercy, compassion, and love – will disappear if we do not cherish them.

Those who have toiled long and unselfishly in the cause of God, should not be surprised if they are at last set aside. Many a man through whom God has wrought to achieve great results, whose influence has been felt east and west, north and south, is at last rewarded with neglect or cruel contempt. Ingratitude is natural to the unrenewed heart. No man is faultless, and many are ready to find some excuse for condemning or reproaching the one who has served them unselfishly. They forget that they themselves may be guilty of sins far more offensive in the sight of God than those of which they accuse his worn, wearied, and perplexed servant. {Ibid.}

It is this condemning and reproaching that chases away those characteristics of mercy and compassion. Jesus Himself was being mistreated.

They made the King of glory appear in as ridiculous a light as possible. They clothed Him with an old purple, kingly robe, which had done service to some king. They placed in His hands an old reed, and on His divine head a crown of cruel thorns, which pierced the holy temples and sent the blood trickling down His face and beard. The most contemptuous speeches were made before Him. But Christ did not cast upon them one reproachful look. {CTr 271.6}

What was going on in His heart? “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Reflecting upon Jesus, upon His amazing compassion, His mercy and longsuffering, can we retain any trace of the enemy? Can we retain this cruel spirit?

“He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” God permitted his beloved Son, full of grace and truth, to come from a world of indescribable glory to a world marred and blighted with sin, shadowed with the shadow of death and the curse. He permitted him to leave the bosom of his love, the adoration of the angels, to suffer shame, insult, humiliation, hatred, and death. And Jesus bore all this untold sorrow, that we might be changed to his divine image, and become the sons of God. John exclaims, “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us.” Is there not a response of gratitude in your hearts? Are you not lost in wonder and adoration as you contemplate the theme of redemption? {RH, February 28, 1888 par. 2}

My disposition has been affected by my meditation upon Him, and I am filled with awe, I am overwhelmed with His love, I can’t behold anything else but Him. And lost in the wonder and adoration that remains with me as I keep on looking at Him, I contemplate the theme of redemption and there is a response. There is a gratitude, an affection, that is raised within my bosom. And now the affection that has been raised in my bosom is a non-judgmental affection, so that as I meet with other people around me, there is not a single judgmental-harsh-cruel element left inside of me. The traces of the enemy are removed.

If we have a sense of the long-suffering of God toward us, we shall not be found judging or accusing others. When Christ was living on the earth, how surprised His associates would have been, if, after becoming acquainted with Him, they had heard Him speak one word of accusation, of fault-finding, or of impatience. Let us never forget that those who love Him are to represent Him in character. {MH 489.1}

If we have a sense of what we have meditated here and we realise that the cruel, hard, condemnatory, judging spirit is on everything we see, but that, as we look at Jesus, it is the opposite, our hearts are filled with affections of love to Him, and there will be no judging or accusing in my heart to anyone.

What is to be our exercise of mind when we detect the trace of the enemy in our disposition? The trace of the enemy has affected us, and we can acknowledge how many times we have done those types of things and how it has brought its baleful results. We have all suffered under those baleful results. So what am I to do? What is to be my mind exercise when I detect the traces of the enemy in my disposition?

The most careful cultivation of the outward proprieties of life is not sufficient to shut out all fretfulness, harsh judgment, and unbecoming speech. {MH 490.1}

As much as I do that, it is not going to achieve it.

True refinement will never be revealed so long as self is considered as the supreme object. {Ibid.}

How do I know if I regard myself as the supreme object? I have had to go through this many times myself. If someone is saying something horrible about me, I don’t like it. Do you? If there is a slight made upon me, my self is hurt and I don’t want it. I want them to change, because my self is hurting under what they are doing to me! But we are told that “true refinement will never be revealed so long as self is considered as the supreme object.” So I am going to lash back, because self is the supreme object.

Love must dwell in the heart. A thoroughgoing Christian draws his motives of action from his deep heart love for his Master. {Ibid.}

Didn’t your heart bubble with love for Him as we contemplated Him? Hold onto it.

Up through the roots of his affection for Christ springs an unselfish interest in his brethren. {Ibid.}

This is the answer. Have our affections been touched by the contemplation of Jesus? And as my affections are deeply rooted in Jesus, up from the roots of my affections for Christ springs an unselfish interest in my brethren.

Love imparts to its possessor grace, propriety, and comeliness of deportment. It illuminates the countenance and subdues the voice; it refines and elevates the whole being. {Ibid.}

You want to be more Christlike? I do. But try as you will, “the most careful cultivation of the outward proprieties of life is not sufficient to shut out” those harsh, judgmental reactions and dispositions. Where will those Christlike dispositions come from? By retaining what we have meditated in the commencement of this study, by continuing to see this amazing thing and letting it permeate my whole emotional life. And through the deep springs of my affection for Christ there is an unselfishness that begins to come forth, and it will produce refinement; it will show in my face and be revealed in my actions. It happens not by trying, but by dying with Jesus.

May this meditation abide with us, for it will make all the difference in our character as we prepare for the coming of Jesus.

Amen.

Posted on May 11, 2017, in Divine Service Sermons, Godly Affections That Motivate Series, Sermons by John Thiel and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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