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The Worst of Sinners

• Greg Boyd

In this dog eat dog world, we’re programmed to judge others. But to love others with unsurpassable worth, we must ascribe worth to them at cost to ourselves. In this sermon, Greg talks about how to put on love and take off judgment.

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God calls us to love others by ascribing worth to them based on the cross. This is the number one job description of Christians. Above all, we are to put on love which binds everything together in perfect harmony. This is because cross-like love is a reflection of the Trinity’s love for one another, and we are to mimic that life. To be one with each other as Jesus and God are one.

We have trouble ascribing unsurpassable worth to people because we are conditioned to love on the basis of the worth we find in people. This is judgment. And it’s easy to do. We usually love people based on how they treat us. If they are friendly, helpful, or loving towards us then we treat them in kind. But if they are mean, cynical or hateful towards us, then it becomes very easy to not be loving towards them. And, even if we don’t interact with them, we often put our filters of judgment onto others. Greg talks about people watching at the mall, and even though he didn’t interact with those people, he was getting life by judging them.

If we are to love above all, then we must put off all judgment. Judgment looks like a sin scale. We rate people’s sins, or their supposed sins, based upon our own understanding of which sins are worse than others. When we rate people’s sins, we invariably make our own sins not as bad. We tend to see our own sins through rose-colored glasses. This gives us life, because we see others as worse than ourselves. It started in the garden with Adam and Eve, and it continues to this day.

In this world, we play the accusers accusation game. We ascribe worth to ourselves and others based on our own judgments. This is how the world operates. We accuse others to make ourselves feel more alive. This is how Satan operates and this world is filled with judgment because of it. We simply play along. But God has given us a way of playing a different game.

We can choose to play God’s game of unconditional love instead of Satan’s game of judgment and accusation. Satan’s game is all about making ourselves feel better about ourselves at the cost of others. God’s game is about ascribing worth to others at cost to ourselves. We play God’s game because this is how God treated us on the cross at Calvary. It’s not just an arbitrary code of law, but a way of life that mimics perfect love. When we choose to play God’s game, we’ll receive nothing but love, mercy and forgiveness. But if we play the accusers game, judgments will come back to us.

Cross-like love binds us together with others where judgment separates us from others. This is the reason that we put on love. We are to be bound together as God is bound together. We were never made to judge one another. In this dog eat dog world, we’ve been programmed to separate others and judge them accordingly. And this is the opposite of Kingdom love. This is why Paul commands to, above all, put on love because it binds everyone together.

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Topics: Judgment, Love, Sin


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Focus Scripture:

  • Colossians 3:14

    And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

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15 thoughts on “The Worst of Sinners

    Kevin says: Wednesday June 5, 2013 at 10:36 pm

    “love them even if they have a gun pointed at your face.” My question is, “will daily practicing cross like love as a necessary part of the business of kingdom life strengthen our resole in, God forbid, situations in which, say, our wife or our children are being threatened with a gun pointed at their faces?”
    Would we be calm and loving in the face of that type of danger? Would we be so practiced at loving that we would be able to contain our strong, vibrant and instinctual emotions in that situation? Would our inner man be so filled with kingdom love that it would not, perhaps, even occur to us in that dreadful moment to try and defend our loved ones or retaliate in some way?
    Would not our survival instinct overwhelm our determination to love and lay down our life? For this to work, wouldn’t we also have had to teach our wife and children to also remain calm and enemy loving prior to that unimaginable scenario?
    Would our heart and mind be so faithful to the life of cross like love that we could simply turn our cheek away from the horror of our family being abused or killed, for to lay down our life would by definition mean that everything we have, including our families, belongs to God and we, in effect, have no right to try and save it? Are we literally commanded to do so and count it all as dung?

    Reply
    DMS says: Thursday June 6, 2013 at 8:54 am

    Kevin,
    Thank you, as we were watching this message my husband asked the exact same questions.
    This is pretty radical, and I also think about how God has created us with all of the emotions and responses that we require to flee from danger or a suggestion of such things. Hmmmm just have to wonder? God would have to strengthen us supernaturally and our family to withstand the onslaught of everything of the flesh still present to not react.
    Supernaturally for sure as I can’t even get over myself on a normal day let alone in the face of danger.
    My sense is that you are setting people up for failure or to strive yet again for perfection which we have not been called to do.
    Maybe a caution would be in order for this message “do not attempt to do this in your own strength as only God can enable you to withstand and during the test STAND”

    Reply
    Joann says: Thursday June 6, 2013 at 11:24 am

    I believe, which can test me all the time, is to separate the action from the person doing the terrible act. The act can be evil but the person is someone Jesus died for.

    Reply
    Doug says: Thursday June 6, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    Greg answered a question about 40 mins into the video: “How does one balance this kind of love in an emotionally or verbally abusive relationship?” He goes on to explain discerning the difference between offering one’s life up as sacrifice for another and having someone else make the decision to sacrifice your life for you. I interpret this as if someone is threatening my life or my family’s life then I am not wrong defending against this threat. There is some middle ground that is creating a gray area and I hope Greg can explain how this all fits together. Showing unconditional love toward another should not include allowing them to forcefully take something from me.

    Reply
    Vince Capobianco says: Thursday June 6, 2013 at 10:14 pm

    I wonder if we start by loving in our situations now, how long it would take for us to be able to let God love through us in even more difficult situations. As Greg said, even stepping away from the judgement game in our everyday lives is a form of sacrificing for others. If I can’t allow God to work in me to do that, then I am bound to fail in more difficult situations. I have made a list of people in my life I struggle to love, and I am going to make time to serve them. Already I’m finding myself more aware of God’s presence, and I’m content to rely on Him to transform me as I put love above all in my life. I’m excited!

    Reply
    Peter says: Saturday June 8, 2013 at 4:37 am

    I think your point, Joann, is well made. Just as God loves us and not our sin (although we are nonetheless responsible for our sins). It is easy to marry the sin with the person as Greg was doing in the shopping mall. And while in one sense it appears correct…..we become what we worship, whether it be food alcohol, drugs, sex etc…..if Jesus had acted like Greg (and the rest of us) when on Earth, who would He have found without sin?…..no, he came to save sinners through acts of love.

    Greg brings the point out further in his book “Repenting of Religion…..Turning from Judgement to the Love of God”. Chapter 10 – Reversing the Curse, I found particularly relevant and the section on “Loving without Judgment” where Greg writes, “At times we may have to intervene to stop destructive behavior. If it is our place, we may have to hold the person socially responsible for his or her behavior and stipulate consequences. For example, when some members of a family confront another who is an alcoholic because he is destroying himself and his relationship with them, this is loving. But it is never our place to pretend to be God. It is never our place to pronounce in our thoughts, words, or deeds a conclusion about the person other than the one God commands us to embrace because of Calvary. It is never our place to serve our own needs by judging others to be evil.”

    In a sense Greg’s message is but a taste of the more fully developed argument in his book, which is well worth the read and reward for those following this course of study.

    Reply
    kevin says: Saturday June 8, 2013 at 8:37 am

    Her’s a sweet little song i think was made for this topic; it’s called, “Jesus loves me but He can’t stand you”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4u8cjV1hMRQ

    Reply
    kevin says: Saturday June 8, 2013 at 9:11 am

    @ Joann Thank you! That would be the only logical starting point!

    Reply
    kevin says: Saturday June 8, 2013 at 11:49 am

    @DMS
    The thing that caught in my spirit was when you say that “…how God has created us with all of the emotions and responses we require to flee from danger or a suggestion of such things.”
    This idea is widespread even among believers; it is misguided at best. Keep this in mind; God’s originally created man had perfectly created and tempered emotions; when man rebelled and was forced to survive on his own, his emotional responses evolved to adapt to the now cursed earth where it now took great effort to even keep a sense of God’s presence. The first creation man certainly would have had many ‘positive’ responsive emotions; the latter man, Adam, Eve and we the people of God, possess the same emotions except today’s emotions and pampered feelings have been corrupted by the lust of the world and the pride of life and are Way off the charts! The world says we should allow, even encourage strong ‘passionate’ emotions to run wide open, that there’s nothing wrong with giving in to every whim of personal feeling or desire or to act on every instinct. The powers are happy when our feelings and worldly pursuits Rule us! We barely resemble the once pure Adam, much less the peaceable Messiah.

    We live a lie that tells us, “I got a right to feel this way! In the midst of crisis, we say as much to others. Generally, people believe themselves in control of their emotions or else they don’t deem it necessary to control them; for the most part though, these strong amplified emotions are controlling us to the point where to even consider nailing, our so-called God given ‘right to feel this way’ attitude to the cross on a daily basis is ludicrous. We latch hold of this lie and along with our flesh, keep it alive and IF terror calls on us we will act out of that lie and, in fear, respond like most of the world who use the excuse you just gave, that God made me like this, i can’t help it, it’s just human nature..no, it’s just Fallen human nature and it’s kickin our butts!

    We will use that lie along with other justifications such as the solution you proposed, that God will somehow supernaturally enable me to suddenly, in the twinkling of an eye and be filled with the mercy, compassion and love of Jesus to rise to the occasion in the event of an overwhelming crisis. How often do you get these supernatural surges of “can do”? If we are not daily practicing a Cross-like life, i feel it is silly to think it will magically surface if the day ever comes when we find ourselves in some horrific situation. Think about it; would it not be likened to say a man who is an undisciplined, under-prepared couch potato who hears someone breaking into his house and then runs to his seldom used exercise room to try and pump himself up real quickly so he’ll be ready for the attacker! Harumph
    You can glibly write this off as being ‘just too radical’ or you could see that if we are about our Father’s business in helping to bring about the New Kingdom and the New Earth, we must first discern what does and what does not belong there!
    I would rather be accused of ‘setting people up for failure’ or chance them falling into a perfectionistic mindset” than to be guilty of not teaching and not encouraging them with hope and that a Cross-like Zoe life CAN take root AND mature, that we ARE able to truly begin re-creating our mind, will, body and emotions; “for it is by faith you are saved..”

    “He who seeks to save his life will lose it; he who loses his life for My sake will find it.

    I apologize that i had to be harsh; i see this everywhere i go and it brings up in me a kind of righteous indignation, anger because I wish that i had brothers and sisters in the Lord who i could live life with, knowing we all were onboard having the same vision

    “He who seeks to save his life will lose it; he who loses his life will find it.”

    Reply
    Kevin says: Saturday June 8, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    Hey Guys; what would Greg have to say about this verse?

    “It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning”. 1 Corinthians 5:12

    In my little ‘faith community’, I am often told not to judge or question my brothers and sisters; I was recently met with the remark “isn’t it enough that they are in church?”

    Pathetic I say. Most recently it has been the lack of modest dress concerning the sisters that has me “judging”. This verse and others suggest that it is appropriate and even necessary to judge righteously. Aren’t we to be a ‘light to the gentiles’? Is it not us believers who are to bear the image of Christ before a world in chaos? If the world does not recognize us as separate and distinct from the world, are we then doing our job? This reminds me of another verse; “For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” 1 Peter 4:17

    Amos 3:2

    Romans 2:9

    Jeremiah 49:12

    1 Timothy 3:15

    2 Chronicles 6:23

    Romans 1:16

    Reply
    Annyo says: Monday June 10, 2013 at 11:14 pm

    It is hard to do it and Lord knows I struggle with it. Then I read articles like the one from the link below and it reminds me that it is possible even today.

    http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/02/woman-uses-bible-verses-to-ward-off-attacker/

    Reply
    Jacob says: Tuesday June 11, 2013 at 10:27 am

    It is just not the same, the Joker is not in either one of the boats and neither boat wanted to destroy the other. The Joker is the aggressor and batman had to risk his life in an attempt to take out the joker… there is a fine line between pacifism and apathy. If a bear is attacking a homeless drunk stumbling down the path. I may have the power to take out the bear but will I risk that? Apathy would say “who cares, why should I risk my life to save his”. Peace no matter what the cost. But, If this was a son you Loved, you would to get in that bears face at the risk of life and limb and go for peace through your risk of sacrifice. It is the “Bonhoeffer choice” that I pray none of us ever have to make. The truth is that most of our choices for peace don’t start at such an intense level. Most violence starts with a stubborn refusal to loose and argument with someone you should love.

    Reply
    Vince says: Saturday June 15, 2013 at 9:25 am

    Dennis, you have made some interesting points. I would like to know if Greg has taught on the verse in 1 Cor 5 that you brought up? I’d like to get his take on that verse. My email is vincecap@aol.com if you would like to speak with someone who has experience that “righteous indignation” you described.

    Reply
    andrew says: Wednesday January 29, 2014 at 9:23 pm

    I would like to know how one would apply this to Islam both past and present. Most of the former Christian Middle East and North Africa was conquered by Islam. These Christians were subjugated as Dihmmis, 4th class citizens, having to pay special taxes, not permitted to build new churches or repair old ones and any criticism of Islam or Muhammad means a breaking of the Dihmmi contract and death. Not to mention many many millions of Christian woman were forced into Muslim harems where they had to perform sexual acts for their Muslim masters. Today we are facing a resurgence of the Jihad on a global scale. Places like Sweden, Norway, France and Britain are looking at becoming Muslim majority countries in the next several decades, not that it takes a Muslim majority, just a significant minority of say 20% (read the history of Muhammad’s move to medina, where a minority of Muslims basically took advantage of the Jewish hospitality and took over slaughtering the Jewish majority in medina and the rest is history, the entire Levant, Egypt, then India where some 80 million Hindus were slaughtered. The Balkans where Christians where taken as sex slaves and boys castrated and forced to convert taken into the sultans house and trained as a slave army. It was not until the Christian Europeans began to fight back, yes, fight wars that had they not been fought you and I would not be here. Islam would have already taken over the entire globe. What we know as Judeo Christian, humanist, European civilization would not exist. Had the European adopted the non-violent Anabaptist position we would all be speaking Arabic and praising Allah and would have to adopt the Muslim view of Jesus who was not crucified, never rose from the dead and was nothing more than a prophet of Islam. I love most of Greg’s preaching, however, when it comes to Islam I must say that the harm that would come to billions of innocents precludes Christians from standing idly by while the wage jihad against all we hold dear.

    Reply
    Paul says: Thursday July 9, 2015 at 2:23 pm

    Just love the life-changing teaching and so much of what I am learning and growing in through Greg and the ministry of Woodland Hills. Thank you.

    Reply

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