“Judgement And Discernment” or “What Did You Just Say?” or “Distinguishing the Fine Line”

“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them…all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light.                                                                                                                            (Ephesians 5:11&13 a.)

“And Jesus rebuked him…” (Mark 1:25)


In Scripture there are doctrines that seem to be very similar yet there is a fine line that distinquishes them from each other. Some examples being: sanctification as there are at least (4) four ways a child of God is sanctified by the Persons of the Godhead; Repentance and confession are similar but different; the doctrine of salvation and the doctrine of adoption, again similar but different as they teach us different aspects of our Father’s plans for us. Likewise Reproving and rebuking are similar but differentiated by a fine line.

What distinguishes the two?

  1. The attitude of the recipient
  2. The place and the timing
  3. The cause for the reproof or rebuke.
  4. Reasons for the reprove or the rebuke.
  5. Tone
  6. Urgency
  7. The Spirit’s directive, prompting and or compelling.

The attitude of the the recipient is a consideration in determining whether to reprove or to rebuke. Two examples: I know a man that overheard (2) two persons, in a line to enter a building, talking about Hell being a party with their friends. These (2) ignorant persons were carrying on and carrying on about the party in Hell. The man turned and ?’end them on their comments asking, “What did you just say?” and rebuked them for their jesting over a most serious subject. He continued to charge them with their folly and explained to them that Hell is not a place of revilry but of eternal torment and condemnation. One of the persons simply shrugged their shoulder as to say, “whatever,” and that was the end of the matter.  These persons were in need of a sharp rebuke due to the attitude, discussion matter and the timing and place. The reason for the rebuke was to remove any and all ignorance and to seek to bring them to a place of knowledge and understanding. The tone was sharp because the situation was urgent and the Spirit of God put a burden upon the man to deliver the rebuke.

The same man was in a bookstore and overheard two persons discussing some major storm damge to one of the person’s properties. The other person, a nice lady that worked in the bookstore, showed her concern and shock by repeatedly using the Name of our Lord and Saviour…at least (10-15) ten to fifteen times. The man that overheard this conversation hyperbolyzed by stating his ears were about to bleed from the offense of his Master’s Name being used in such a vain and profane manner. He thought to himself that this signified the unbeliever’s default position of calling upon God in time of trouble or shock. The man left and he sought to intercede on the lady’s behalf before God.

However, the burden of this use of God’s Name went with him. A month later he visited the store again and behold, as he was leaving this young lady appeared to begin her shift. Not believeing in coincidence and still having his burden he approached the young lady….

Persons can respond in all manner of ways when being reproved, rebuked, criticized, or corrected. Solomon said the wise man will receive instruction and will be thankful but the fool would not. One never knows how someone will react or respond to a correction. While the person delivering the correction is not responsible for the receiver’s reaction he will still be the recipient of that reaction. To deliver a correction, whether in the form of a reproof or a rebuke is, metaphorically, entering into a lion’s den or a fiery furnace. However, the one delivering the correction should know that the Lord stands with him.

…as he approached the young lady he said, “Miss, this is going to come from left field. It is not meant to offend. It comes from a place of concern and care and not from a place of judgement… A month ago I was here and I over heard you using God’s Name in vain and I wanted to tell you that He takes that very seriously.”  She responded with…

When our Lord would rebuke demons and expel them from persons they would depart Sometimes they would depart peacefully and sometimes causing injury to the vessel of their former inhabitance. Some would speak and others would hold their peace but their reactions were different and true to their nature. When Christ would rebuke Peter it was received properly, when The Lord would rebuke the priests, Pharisees, scribes, lawyers, and Sanhedrin they would react with a desire to murder him. When David was rebuked by Nathan the prophet, David went to God in tears and with a contrite heart. The responses and reactions vary from knee jerk retaliation to studied self examination and confession or repentance.

…the lady, in the bookstore, responded with a meekness and receptive spirit. She acknowledged the man’s concern and admitted it was not appropriate in public and that she often forgets the weight of her words. The man then wished her God’s speed after stating that whether it is in public or in private God’s Name is to be revered.

Q. Who should correct through the use of reproof or rebuke?  A. The Christ-ian, who is called by God to “judge all things,” and to prove whether they are good/evil; truth/false; right/wrong (1 Corinthians 2). In the passage that states that we judge all things seems to imply that to judge is natural to the new creature in Christ. To judge and to discern is part and parcel of the Christ-ian. While we do not decide any kind of punishment and we are not judgemental in our discernments we are still called to discern and reprove and or rebuke as that is part of our calling…it is letting your Light so shine before men that they might glorify God as Ephesians 5:13 from above cites.

Intentions and preparing to deliver correction:

  1. Intent: Your intention is to help a beloved and to bring glory to God. This action must come from a spirit of love and never from condescention.
  2. Before you deliver any type of correction you must examine youself and make a good confession before God. You must remove the beam from thine own eye before seeking to assist another in the removing of the speck in their eye.
  3. Remember you are acting as a little Jesus (respectfully and reverentially written) and not a little Holy Spirit. Your task is not to guilt or convict but to persuade and to convince using the Word of God.


The differences between the reproof and the rebuke are these: *A reproof is used when there is sufficient time to discuss the situation and to explain your concern from Scripture. *A rebuke should be used when little time is afforded and it is used when the one rebuked is aware of what they are doing. *A reproof is used with a believer who seemingly is off track or headed off track. *The rebuke is used when a person has left the narrow path and backslid. *A reproof is a calm and loving correction and or education or instruction in righteousness. *The rebuke is a charge and a warning delivered with a tone of authority and is meant to shock and cause confession and repentance. *The reproof is delivered with an opened Bible and (2) two opened minds. *The rebuke is delivered with an authority and from a place of potential church discipline. *A reproof is delivered with a countenance of mercy and grace. *A rebuke is the entire weight of Scripture being dropped upon the recipient of the rebuke. *A reproof is delivered with the hand in a velvet glove. *the rebuke is delivered with a stern countenance and an iron fist….on a flat surface and not to the face.

A word of counsel: We/ you/one should not march around Christendom seeking out opportunities to reprove or rebuke. A reproof or a rebuke is used when a problem or cause for concern presents itself. I have know of persons that were quick to rebuke, passing right over the reproof. I know a guy that would call members of a church if they missed a service. This guy would call them with a rebuke and cite Scripture or rather misapply Scripture to make his point. This rebuker is now in the wind; he attends no church.

The best persons to offer a reproof or a rebuke are persons who themselves have received the same from a caring pastor or believer or from God, Himself. The reproof or rebuke should come from a person who cannot excuse the sin(s) or action(s) or attitude of someone but can certainly understand them as we are all “Simul justus et peccotor” or saints and sinners at the same time.

Conclusion, To offer or deliver a reproof or a rebuke it must come from a place of love, concern, sympathy, empathy or understanding; it must come with God’s glory and the recipient’s best in mind; it must come from a person of moral, ethical and spiritual authority and/or maturity if the person is to be taken seriously. Without the above criteria it is a fool’s errand and if the above is not present one is not a messenger of understanding, instruction and loving correction but is instead a hypocrite.

If you know the Lord at all you know His position and thoughts concerning hypocrites and their pride-filled self righteousness and their overblown view and opinion of self and self worth. He likened them unto vipers. In other words, He likened them to a viper that slithers pridefully, looking down their nose at the plebians, and appraising a persons worth, all the while they themselves are worthless in terms of bringing glory to God and being a help to others.


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