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Spiritual men, therefore, whether those who are in authority or those who are subject to authority, judge spiritually.

Augustine of Hippo, The Confessions of Saint Augustine, Book Thirteen, Chapter 23 (Page 290)

Hello Readers, hope all’s well. Time for another post. And today it’s my final post about The Confessions of Saint Augustine by Augustine of Hippo. After today, I’m putting this book on the shelf and I’m done posting about it. I hope you’ve enjoyed what I’ve written so far.

Today’s post comes from the end of this book. It comes from a passage that talks about “Spiritual men.” And I found it very interesting. It got me thinking about who is a Spiritual man (or woman) and who isn’t. What’s a Spiritual person like? What do they do? And other things like that.

Today’s Augustine reading may be a little harder than the others so far. It’s a little less clear, a little more difficult. But it’s something important to think about, because in the choice between being Spiritual vs. carnal, we want to be Spiritual.

So how do we do that? Augustine sheds some light on the topic in today’s reading. Read on, and let’s find out.

Spiritual People Judge Spiritually

Augustine starts off his portrait of a Spiritual person as simple as can be. “Spiritual men judge Spiritually.”

Spiritual men, therefore, whether those who are in authority or those who are subject to authority, judge spiritually.

Augustine of Hippo, The Confessions of Saint Augustine, Book Thirteen, Chapter 23 (Page 290)

So what does that mean? Well, think of it this way. If we’re Spiritual people following Christ, we’re focused on Spiritual matters rather than worldly ones. We’re focused on the things of Heaven rather than the things of earth (Colossians 3:2). So when we’re presented with a situation in our life, we look for the Spiritual meaning of it and act based on that.

Spiritual people are paying attention to the Spiritual meaning and nature of things.

But Augustine said Spiritual people “judge Spiritually.” OK then, how exactly do we judge Spiritually? He first explains what not to do:

They do not judge by the light of that spiritual knowledge which shines in the firmament, for it is inappropriate for them to judge by so sublime an authority. Nor does it behoove them to judge concerning thy Book itself, although there are some things in it which are not clear. Instead we submit our understanding to it and believe with certainty that what is hidden from our sight is still rightly and truly spoken.

Augustine of Hippo, The Confessions of Saint Augustine, Book Thirteen, Chapter 23 (Page 290)

Spiritual people must be Humble, and remember their place. No human being on earth has the right or authority to judge by “the light of that Spiritual knowledge which shines in the firmament.” That authority, God’s authority, is far, far too high for us. We must never presume to judge by it. We must always remember our place … that’s what I take away from this paragraph. How about you?

Next, we must never judge the Bible either, but submit to it and obey it to the best of our imperfect human ability. If there’s something we don’t understand, we can study it, ask other Christians about it, pray over it, and so on. We can form opinions about what we read, there’s nothing wrong with that. But in the end, if there are things we don’t understand we must be content to let God have His secrets (Deuteronomy 29:29).

(29) The secret things belong to the LORD our God. The revealed things belong to us and to our children forever: to keep all the words of this covenant.

Deuteronomy 29:29 (CEB)

If there are things God does not reveal to us, He has a reason for not doing so. And a Spiritual person will be OK with accepting that.

So a Spiritual person judges Spiritually. But they also stay Humble in remembering their place, and they don’t judge God’s Word either. Alright, so what can a Spiritual person judge then? Other people?

Spiritual People Don’t Judge

Nope. Spiritual people don’t judge. Heh heh. I know that’s the opposite of what we started with, above. But before Augustine tells us the answer to this, he continues explaining more of what not to do. And knowing what not to do is a valuable lesson, so let’s pay attention.

Augustine reminds us of our human limits, for Spiritual people and everyone else. We are not the ones who judge the law. But what we can do is be a doer of the Word to the best of our imperfect human ability. To try our hardest, and give our absolute greatest effort to walking our Spiritual path.

Even though we are saved by Grace through Faith and not through our actions, God did make us to do good works (Ephesians 2:8-10). So if our Faith is true, we should be doing good works in our life, because Faith without works is dead, after all (James 2:17). That’s why we must be doers of the Word, and not people who only listen to it (James 1:22). That’s also how a Spiritual person is, according to Augustine.

In this way, even though a man is now spiritual and renewed by the knowledge of God according to the image of him who created him, he must be a doer of the law rather than its judge. Neither does the spiritual man judge concerning that division between spiritual and carnal men which is known to thy eyes, O God, […]

Augustine of Hippo, The Confessions of Saint Augustine, Book Thirteen, Chapter 23 (Page 290)

That second thing Augustine says is a crucial point. Who are we to judge who’s Spiritual and who’s not? Who are we to judge who walks in the flesh vs. the Spirit? We don’t know these other people, we don’t know their lives or what they do in private. We can take guesses and assumptions, but those can all too easily lead us astray.

Who are we to judge who’s Spiritual and who’s not? Even if we see other people do things that would be the fruit of a non-Spiritual life, a life of catering to the flesh, at the end of the day we don’t know for sure. We don’t know everything about their life, only what we see on the surface. The reality of their life could be very different from what we assume based on what we see on the surface. So who are we to judge who’s Spiritual and who’s not?? Someone who looks like they aren’t Spiritual at all could have a very deep and fulfilling Spiritual life in private.

Now sure, there is an element here of “you will know them by their fruit.” As in, if we spend time viewing a person’s actions we could have the info we need to know if they walk in the flesh or the Spirit. But we need to be careful on this point, because we don’t know what people’s lives are like or what they do in private, alone. At home in private, they could very well be more Spiritual than us!! It could be that they have an even deeper personal connection with the LORD than we ever have!! When it comes to people in this world, nothing is for sure. We can never make assumptions. There’s so often much more to the story than what we see.

Besides, Jesus told us not to judge if we don’t want to be judged ourselves (Matthew 7:1-2).

It reminds me of Romans 14:4. Maybe the full context of Romans 14 doesn’t fit today’s topic exactly, but still, I was reminded of it. Romans 14:4 asks us, who are we to judge the LORD’s servants?? We may have our disagreements with other people serving the LORD, and we may do things much different than them. But at the end of the day, let their lives be between them and the LORD. It’s not our job to judge how “good” they’re doing at being a Christian. Jesus Christ is the judge of that. This is what Romans 14 is about.

(4) Who are you to judge someone else’s servants? They stand or fall before their own Lord (and they will stand, because the Lord has the power to make them stand).

Romans 14:4 (CEB)

Augustine isn’t done with this point yet. He keeps going, saying a Spiritual person doesn’t judge society either, or who’s a sinner or who isn’t.

Nor does a man, even though he is spiritual, judge the disordered state of society in this world. For what business of his is it to judge those who are without, since he cannot know which of them may later on come into the sweetness of they grace and which of them may continue in the perpetual bitterness of their impiety?

Augustine of Hippo, The Confessions of Saint Augustine, Book Thirteen, Chapter 23 (Page 290)

Society looks like such a mess, and people are sinning everywhere. But we must not judge society, Augustine says. And if we look in the Bible, where does it ever say for us to judge society?
We must also remember that we are all sinners (Romans 3:23). Never forget how we lived in sin before being Saved by Jesus Christ. Jesus gave us chance after chance … infinite chances. He is always calling sinners, Patiently, never giving up on them. So who are we to judge the sinners of the world, then? How do we know they won’t change their ways and turn to Jesus tomorrow?? And were we not like them, not too long ago?? Everyone deserves the chance to be Saved from a life of sin, like we were. We must never give up on people, remembering that Jesus comes to find the one lost sheep. It’s not for us to judge who will turn from sin one day and who won’t.

It all comes back to Matthew 7:1-3. Don’t judge.

(1) “Don’t judge, so that you won’t be judged. (2) You’ll receive the same judgment you give. Whatever you deal out will be dealt out to you. (3) Why do you see the splinter that’s in your brother’s or sister’s eye, but don’t notice the log in your own eye?

Matthew 7:1-3 (CEB)

So we must be kind to those we feel the most judgment toward. Witches, New Agers, nonbelievers, people in religious error (Mormons, etc.). We must be kind and nonjudgmental, as Christ commands us. Let God decide what to do with these people. Chances are high He may Save them one day.

But the Gospels make it clear how we must deal with others. We must love our neighbor (no matter their religion, etc.) and all others as we love ourselves. We must pray for those who persecute us. These commands are simple, but not easy sometimes. Sometimes they’re very hard. But we make things much, much harder for us if we add being judgmental into the mix!!

Spiritual People Judge Themselves

But wait a minute … didn’t the first quote say “spiritual men […] judge spiritually?”

Finally, Augustine finishes up by telling us what a Spiritual person does judge.

The spiritual man also judges by approving what is right and reproving what he finds amiss in the works and morals of the faithful, such as their in almsgiving, […] And he judges of the “living soul,” which is then made to live by the disciplining of her affections in chastity, in fasting, and in holy meditation. And he also judges concerning all those things which are perceived by the bodily senses. For it can be said that he should judge in all matters about which he also has the power of correction.

Augustine of Hippo, The Confessions of Saint Augustine, Book Thirteen, Chapter 23 (Page 291)

Alright, there we go. Now that’s something we can understand and get behind.

The Spiritual person can judge the Spiritual progress of other Christians doing this Christian Walk; people who consent and want to be judged on this basis so they can improve. And the Spiritual person can judge their own level of progress and general health of their soul. Then they can prescribe themselves treatments of Prayer, fasting, abstinence, penance, Charity, and so on. The Spiritual person can judge the things they have the power to correct: Their Spiritual health, and their actions.

So if we want to be Spiritual people, which we should, let’s judge ourselves Spiritually. What are we doing in life? Does it Glorify God, or not? Are we living a life that’s getting us closer to God, or not? How’s our Prayer life? Do we go to church? And how are we doing with avoiding sins??

In all things, let’s focus more on the Spiritual meanings and significance than anything else. Let’s not be distracted by worldly matters. While being careful not to judge others, we live in this world in such a way that we can grow closer to God. We devote our life to doing our utmost (and imperfect) human best to follow Jesus and draw closer to Him every day. We pay attention to our own Spiritual progress and learning and keep trying to improve, always reaching for higher levels.

In other words, what’s it like to be a Spiritual person?? I would say … … it’s pretty much being someone who does their very best to live the Gospel!! That’s how I see it, what I took from this reading. How about you, what do you think? Leave a comment below.


Well that’s all for this week. If you enjoyed today’s post, be sure to Subscribe using the link below. And please consider Supporting My Blog using the Tip Jar. Any amount is much appreciated!

Until next time, be strong and do good!

Your new best friend in Christ,

99:9

<<<EXALT THE LORD OUR GOD AND WORSHIP AT HIS HOLY HILL; FOR THE LORD OUR GOD IS HOLY>>>


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