The Justified Effect
By Dr. Ken Matto
How dare they call me and tell me I have a spiritual problem? (Slam, goes the phone!)
I am angry with him for telling me I sinned! (Slam, goes the door!)
Who does he think he is, telling me to get my spiritual priorities in order? (Slam, goes the car door as you leave church in a huff!)
I am sure you have seen it at church and other places-people becoming very angry because someone had attempted to stop them from going down a wrong or sinful path. If you plan on becoming involved in the lives of friends or others at church, prepare to (figuratively, at least) have your head cut off, fingers broken, legs amputated, eyes scratched out, etc. People who have a problem with anger or other sins like to hold on to those sins; and when it is pointed out to them (according to Biblical method and not arrogantly), feel they have a right to become defensive and instantly revert to "The Justified Effect."
The Justified Effect is the attitude that many Christians take when confronted about their lifestyles. They believe they are justified in being angry or avoiding someone, believing they have a correct handle on their Christian walk. "If someone dares to tell me I have a spiritual problem, I am justified in being angry," they say. The Justified Effect is nothing more than verbal or seething retribution. Does God have anything to say about the Justified Effect? He surely does; but it is not what many think.
At this point, pastors who may be reading this know exactly what I am writing about since most pastors must be involved in the inner workings of their congregations and, as a result, have lost many members owing to the Justified Effect of their congregants. The Justified Effect is nothing more than progeny of pride. Let us ask the question, "What if someone says or does something to me? Do I have the right to hold any type of grudge or seek any type of revenge?" Revenge does not always come in methods of specific counterattack, but may surface in many subtle forms like gossip, avoidance, consistent defensiveness, sharp speech, anger, etc. In other words, do I have the right to engage the Justified Effect to protect myself? And the answer is a resounding, No.
The Bible gives several ways we are to act toward someone who brings us a proper reproof. Before we look at these, let me inject this counsel. If someone points out to you that you are engaging in something which is contrary to God's Word and the Christian life, then you need to receive that reproof with a proper spirit. In my Christian walk, one thing I have learned is that when God wants to reach a Christian before they go down the wrong path, He will normally send the most unlikely person as a messenger of warning.
There are Christians who believe God has called them to correct every fault in the body of Christ, but the person I am writing about is the sincere one who comes to you in the right spirit. If you refuse God's counsel, it could mean many years in the furnace of affliction until every vestige of pride is stripped away; and then God can deal with the problems. Anger, and related responses to reproof, are nothing more than "Protectionist Pride."
How can I avoid the "Justified Effect?" and live a peaceful life? For the answer to that we must look to the Scriptures.
1. Crucified unto the world
(Gal 6:14 KJV) But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.
This verse reveals that Paul was crucified unto the world and the world was crucified unto him. Anger and retribution are part of the world system. We are to crucify ourselves to worldly ways. Crucifixion means no turning back. This verse simply interpreted means the world had nothing he wanted and he had nothing the unsaved world wanted yet needed.
2. The Old Man is crucified
(Rom 6:6 KJV) Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
The old man is crucified that our body of sin might be destroyed. Anger and retribution are of the old man and the body of sin. Ephesians 4:22 & 24 commands us to put off the old man and put on the new man.
3. Sin is not to reign
(Rom 6:12 KJV) Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.
This verse tells us that sin is not to reign in our mortal bodies. There is no way to expunge all sin from the body human but that does not mean it should be elevated to a place of rule. Sin is to be in subjection to our spiritual life.
4. Love the messenger
(Mat 5:44 KJV) But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
This verse tells us to love our enemies and bless them which curse us. How much more should we love our brothers and sisters in Christ?
Let us summarize the four points.
1. Crucify the snare of trying to protect your ego.
2. Crucify the desire to get angry.
3. Crucify any sin which reigns in your mortal body.
4. Crucify the desire to malign the messenger.
Did you ever ponder the reason why God calls us sheep? It is because each of us are prone to drift. if we begin drifting, it may be very slowly at first, but if we continue, we go farther from the flock. This is why God sends someone across our path to stop us. If we refuse the advice God is sending us, we will progress no further in our walk with Christ until God deals with our recalcitrant nature. When He accomplishes that, we may then progress in our Christian walk.
I am thoroughly convinced that God will always send someone across the path of a straying Christian before they drift too far. This is the mercy of God saving a person much tribulation. When the messenger is rejected or rebuked with a response such as, "Who do you think you are?" or "Take the log out of your own eye before you talk to me." What is that person really saying? They are in essence saying they are perfect, their life is in order, they know more than other godly people, and no one tells them how to live.
What a sad commentary on attitude. What do you think would have happened to David if he would have rebuked Nathan? Or to Naaman if he neglected the reasoning of his servants and rejected the simple directions of Elisha? Or to Joshua if he rejected God's rebuke about Achan in Joshua 7? If these characters in the Bible were not above accepting and acting on biblical reproof, then we better not ride too tall in the saddle and believe we are above being corrected. It is appropriate to say, "Woe unto the Christian who refuses God's counsel." The Justified Effect is never justified in a believer's life. We are to be dead to the ways of the world. Till we meet at Jesus' feet