The past two years has revealed/ exposed many in Evangelical circles, many image-bearers have demonstrated a critical spirit when it comes current events and one another. The person with a critical spirit usually dwells on the negative, seeks for flaws rather than good. They’re a complainer, usually always upset, and generally have a problem or a complaint about something. They often use this critical spirit with their tongue, their temper, and have tendencies for gossip and slander, Which Paul said were sins “worthy of death” They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” Rom. 1:29-32
A critical spirit is someone that considers themselves an authority or a master of a subject which qualifies them to point out the good and the bad. Their own knowledge and expertise is their authority; not a defined standard. [My way or the highway]. A critical spirit is an obsessive attitude of criticism and fault-finding, which seeks to tear others down — not the same thing as what is sometimes called “constructive criticism.”
Constructive criticism can have good qualities if used in a right manner or situation. A military instructor teaching me how too properly uses a HK416 assault rifle for the very first time. A carpenter showing me [all thumbs] how to properly build a deck from the ground up. A parent instructing their teen how to drive so they both can return home safe. A seasoned preacher mentoring a future pastor how to shepherd God’s children biblically. See, a critical spirit has its good qualities when used properly, but it also has an ugly side to it. One writer said “A critical spirit can approach people with no love, but a tone of condemnation. It works through a voice; the voice of condemnation. It constantly tells you how much of a failure you are.”
We see this in the ministry or among fellow believers in the church. They remind you that you don't read your Bible every day. They remind you how your heart is not right with God.” They remind you that you’re not serious about your relationship with God. Basically all its doing is saying “you're never good enough. or doing the right things” This is the exact opposite nature of God. It tears down rather than builds up. We are about to see this first hand men with accusing spirits using the letter of the law to lay heavy burdens and crushing its victims! Jesus warned us about this"….The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger.” Matt 23:1-4
The accusing spirit works hand in hand, with the family of religious spirits, and strongholds, including legalism. It’s so easy to find fault or to be critical of others, and not lead by example. What I find interesting is that it’s so hard to say something nice about someone; but it’s so easy to be critical about someone………even over the smallest of things. Paul said we are to be careful with one another “For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.” Rom 12:3
We’re all different, growing at different stages…we need to careful of what we say and do towards one another. We need to very careful how we live under the grace that has been freely given in Christ! Don’t be this person! “In May of 2000 a man and his wife, were driving down a highway when He was pulled over by the police for doing 68mph in 50mph zone. However the officer was not interested in his speeding but more interested in the Kit Kat bar he had been eating while driving. The Officer explained it was a serious hazard even though his wife had opened it – it was a potential distraction- He was cautioned and issued a $20 dollar on the spot fine, which later was withdrawn by the court.”
Just as the police officer who didn’t use good judgment in the story. We encounter a group of critical religious men who are no different, only focusing on minor faults, by blowing them out of proportion. What do we see in this passage that displays a critical spirit? (v9b-v10). Right off the hop we see the critical spirit of the “Jews” which is refereeing to the leaders of Israel [elders, rulers, scribes. Isn’t it interesting they could care less about his ability to walk again, but we’re so concerned about what he was carrying…….. His mat. (v12b)
Isn’t it interesting that they cared more about
their works than grace?
a dangerous place live, especially if you claim the name Christ as Lord. Why? It easily deceives the professing
believer; to think that they are doing is right and acceptable according to the
good intentional people [even in the church] follow after the tradition of men
telling themselves “thus says the LORD”. Please
don’t read into what I’m saying or misunderstand what
I’m trying to say! I love personal convictions
in the Christian life, but not every conviction is based on scriptural dogma.
For example! I believe…. we should abstain from all types of alcoholic drink! Does that make it wrong for a person to have an alcoholic beverage? No. A critical spirit would have a serious problem with what I just said! They would point out the bible is against alcohol and it’s forbidden!
No, the bible is not against alcohol,
the bible is against drunkenness!
Prov 20:1 says, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.” Paul says something similar to this, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, worthless, ruinous, reckless living.” Eph 5:18. Do you see what happens when we allow our personal convictions or worse, a critical spirit to dictate the bible? It produces little Pharisee’s of the 21 century in the church who critically say. "Don’t drink or smoke, Don’t dance or chew gum, Don’t have fun, laugh or play games or video games, Don’t wear anything but polyester. A critical spirit gives the idea that if you do these things then you’re a devil worshipper and God is not pleased. It means you’re not saved and going to Heaven. They would say “You’re breaking God’s Law, so you must do as we do, and you will be ok.”
This way of life becomes nothing more than
a system of men/men pleasers
This system of men usurps the mercy and grace of God found in the Scriptures, and it makes the gospel incomplete. It becomes a hard life of bondage to live by….. Because in reality you’re still trying to please God with your works.Is it wrong for someone to work on Sunday! The church would say yes! I would agree with them under one condition! If you have to work because your employer is expects you to work, then you better be a good steward and work unto the Lord. But! If you chose to deliberately ignore the fellowship or forsake the fellowship on your own free will, then there is a deeper issue to address here.
What I have found interesting throughout my ministry is the person who is critical of others when they do something on Sunday by calling it sinful and disobedience. It could be anything from cutting the grass, working in the garden or feeding the cows in the afternoon. What I like to do with a critical person is ask them this simple question! Did you go out to a restaurant for lunch after church on Sunday? If so, were you served by someone? So Shhhhhh! We need to careful about being critical of others because all it breaths is legalism, which the bible calls “human traditions” as Paul said “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” Col 2:8
Understand this passage before us this morning! The same Jesus that performed this miracle is the same Jesus who gave this man the freedom from the bondage of sin. The same Jesus that performed this miracle is the same Jesus who called us out of darkness into His glorious light. So again! What caused this uproar with the Jewish leaders? What caused such a critical spirit in these men? Was it “Do you want to be made well” (v6)? NO. Was it what Jesus said to the man "Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you"? (v14) NO.
No! All the commotion began with 7 simple words "Rise, take up your bed and walk." (v8) This little statement of divine grace caused so much commotion to the Religious types! The spiritually blind who said "Who told you to pick up your mat on the Sabbath" (v10). What were these men saying? Who and on what authority told you to do this? Who has the right to tell you to do this on this day? Who is this person that told you to break the Sabbath Law? His response is simple! “The man said...it was Jesus who made me well" (v15)
What was the religious elite's response to a man who was once lame for 38 years and now perfectly able to walk freely on his own? They never responded with excitement, amazement by saying "Blessed be the name of the Lord" No! They said, and thought nothing, but hateful and wicked words towards this man and Jesus. The Bible says "For this reason the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill Him,......" (v16a) Why? Because Jesus ".....He had done these things on the Sabbath" (v16b). We need to understand Jesus didn’t break any Laws. “And He said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath." Mark 2:27-28. The Sabbath was provided for man that we might have rest and comfort and relaxation.
What Christ meant to be a blessing,
the Religious types saw it as a burden!
The Critical religious turn the Sabbath into rules and regulations. The Sabbath according to Genesis and the Law of Moses, was a time of celebration because a worked six days, but on the seventh he rested to focus on God and to celebrate His presence and power. But when Christ came on the stage, the shadow or reflection of the Sabbath was no longer needed. We see this truth in the book of Hebrews “There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.” Heb 4:9-10
Everything is/has been completed in the Son. For example! “The Sabbath is like me having a picture of Julie before we were married. I would look at it over and over again! But when we finally got married I would look at the picture and realize I don’t need the picture as much
as I did before....Why? Because the day has finally come! She is her.
The Sabbath was a picture of rest….meaning our rest found in the reality of Christ in the gospel! Our rest is found in Christ alone! He is our Sabbath rest, that’s why we celebrate the Lord’s Day together. A day set apart [sanctified] to reflect on the death and resurrection of Christ, knowing that our rest is found in Him alone. So that we rest in Him and not in the traditions of men. “So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or Sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.” Col 2;16-17
Christ is our Sabbath rest! These men couldn’t see past this future promise which was written for them, throughout the Old Testament. Why couldn’t they see it? They had critical sprits [legalist] and harden hearts, unable to celebrate or rest in God. They could only observe it as some rule and not as a joy. To the critical person they see the gospel as “for God so loved the world He gave us a list, that whosoever might do the things on the list might have eternal life.” I can say without a shade of doubt say that Jesus would disagree with this kind of philosophy. “This is the day the LORD has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24
We need to be extremely careful in light of this passage. A critical spirit only leads to an un-victorious life or worse yet, a deceived one that thinks that they are Christian.
Our rest is found in the finished work of Christ.
Our rest is found in the forgiveness of sins in the finished work of Christ.
Our rest is found in Christ, not in the traditions of men.
Our rest is found in Christ, not in institutions or governments.
Our rest is found in a renewed spirit in the gospel.
One theologian wrote “One of the greatest gifts available to the born again Christian is the opportunity to be progressively spiritually transformed into the holy likeness of the God of grace as we daily rest in the finished work of Christ on the cross.”
Remember the completed and comforting words of Jesus, “it is finished” John 19:30. Never forget what Jesus said to those heavy with burden. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” Matt.11:28-30. What a privilege that is ours to celebrate the Sabbath rest as a joy and not as a burden. A critical person sees this as a rule or a burden, where the true believer sees this as a time of joy and blessing. Why? The Law that was given was full of grace and mercy as a picture of our present and future rest in Christ. The church’s greatest joy is to be obedient to Christ above all else and love our neighbor as ourselves.
Let’s begin…. 2022 less critical and more like Christ
as we live for Him and our future glory.