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Correspondence School - Series 2 - Lesson 11 - Judgment and Justice

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1. What is judgment? Explain the Scripture, "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment" (John 7:24 A.V.).

In Lesson Seven on "Spirituality, or Prayer and Praise," we learned about the twelve powers of man or the twelve faculties of mind. These are also called "the twelve mind centers in the conscious-ness" of each individual. In the following lessons we then took up certain of these faculties for specific study, and now in this lesson we come to the power, or faculty, of "judgment."

All previous study and prayer has revealed to us that these powers of man are primarily ideas in Divine Mind. Thus, we see "judgment" as an idea in Divine Mind, therefore a principle that covers a certain action of mind, and one of the twelve faculties of man's mind.

Jesus said, "For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see" (John 9:39). James, the son of Zebedee, is that disciple of Jesus Christ who represents the faculty of judgment in individual consciousness. In the body, this faculty has its seat of activity or expression in the lower part of the nerve center called the "solar plexus."

2. What is meant by the term "righteous judgment"?

In God, righteousness refers to the right relationship of ideas inhering in Divine Mind. In man, righteousness refers to the right understanding and right use of these ideas under the direction of the indwelling Christ. Exercise of the faculty of judgment enables us to determine the right place and the right use for everything. All the powers of man must be understood and used in a righteous manner. Jesus admonished us to "judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment" (John 7:24 A.V.)—the Revised Standard Version reads: "Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgement." "Righteous judgment" is the right use of the judgment faculty or judging from the law of Absolute Good.

The faculty of judgment functions in the mental realm in operations that involve comparison, discrimination, discernment, evaluation of ideas, things, people, circumstances, and situations. One of the definitions from Webster is: "the operation of the mind involving comparison and discrimination, by which knowledge of values and relations is mentally formulated." Rightly used, this faculty arrives at right conclusions; it enables us to determine the right place and use for everything. Thus, we come to see that good judgment involves balance. While the faculty of "order" had to do with right relationships, it takes the faculty of "judgment" to decide on these relationships so that all might be put in balance, or order.

We are constantly using the judgment faculty in all phases of our life. The good taste we exhibit in the things we do at any given time exercises this faculty. The ability to taste our food is related to this faculty, for we judge whether it is fresh, good to eat, or even if it is the right time to eat it. This ability gives us protection from many dangers that occur in daily living; we are able to discern whether gas is escaping; whether anything is burning; we discern noises in our homes, in our cars, in the outdoors, all because the judgment faculty is heeded.

When Jesus told us we were not to "judge by appearances" He knew that to rely only on the evidence of the five senses would give us a distorted picture. For example, one being interviewed for a position might give evidence in appearance that he is well suited to the work, but when the faculty of judgment is based upon Truth, a revelation might come in a very simple way, showing this one to be unsuited for this particular position. On the other hand, another individual, judged by appearances, might not seem to be the desired employee, but a deeper evaluation might reveal that he has qualities that in the overall picture would fit him very well for the work. There is little in our life that does not come within the scope of our judgment faculty, but its use must be founded upon understanding, love, and faith, in order to produce "righteous judgment."

When we judge from appearance only, our use of the judgment faculty often becomes biased and prejudiced. We criticize and condemn, and usually fix some penalty by thinking of a form of punishment which should be meted out to the guilty one.

"He may be guilty or not guilty; decision as to his guilt or innocence rests in the divine law, and we have no right to pass judgment" (CHRISTIAN HEALING, page 122).

In the wrong use of our judgment faculty we produce thought forces that will react upon us.

"The metaphysician finds it necessary to place his judgment in the Absolute in order to demonstrate its supreme power. This is accomplished by one's first declaring that one's judgment is spiritual and not material; that its origin is in God; that all its conclusions are based on Truth and that they are absolutely free from prejudice, false sympathy, or personal ignorance" (CHRISTIAN HEALING, page 121).

Jesus said, "Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get" (Matt. 7:1, 2).

Goodness is man's natural expression; thus, his true judgments are always good. His goodness can be expressed, however, only when he is set free from limited concepts of justice. Obedience to the eternal principle of Absolute Good, which includes the moral law (high principles of human conduct) lifts man into a higher state of consciousness than does just the obedience to the moral law alone, the interpretation of which is given through Moses.

We find these quotations in the Scriptures:

"Surely there is a reward for the righteous; surely there is a God who judges on earth" (Psalms 58:11).

"The Lord reigns . . . righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne" (Psalms 97:1, 2).

"Thy steadfast love, 0 Lord, extends to the heavens . . . Thy righteousness is like the mountains of God, thy judgments are like the great deep; man and beast thou savest, 0 Lord" (Psalms 36:5, 6).

These quotations may be interpreted spiritually as well as literally. Spiritually, "the earth" represents formed substance, a God-consciousness, created and established throughout the universe. The universal principle of causation, Mind, includes all principles. Among these principles of Being, the Lord God or Jehovah God is the creative life principle that originates and sustains all life, all consciousness, from the highest to the lowest levels of intelligence. In the mental and physical states of Being, the Lord (Jehovah) operates as a causative force, the formative power of thought, forming ideas in the conscious-ness of mankind and shaping bodies in the physical world. Thus, the Lord or Jehovah represents the forming and shaping principle of Being.

In these forms and shapes the Lord (Jehovah) inheres and expresses Himself to make God manifest according to the degree of intelligence ruling in the form or body. The Lord (Jehovah) judges in the earth, the formed realm.

In the first three chapters of Genesis this principle is called the Lord God (in the Authorized and Revised Standard Versions) or Jehovah God (in the American Standard Version). Beginning with the 4th chapter of Genesis, the word God is omitted, and thereafter this principle is referred to simply as the Lord or Jehovah. This shows that the power to accomplish results has externalized or descended from the Absolute state, where it functions as the creative principle producing only that which is perfect, to the mental realm, in the human consciousness, where it functions as the mental law of cause and effect.

3. What is justice? What is the sure way to establish justice in one's affairs?

The word justice is associated with law. It is the "administration of law . . . according to the rules of law or equity" (Webster). Justice is the divine law of balance, the equalizing law of good in action, brought about by righteousness.

"Spiritual laws are eternal verities and must work out according to Truth. A principle inevitably demonstrates its own exactness as a rule of action. Justice is a divine law that tolerates no violation. Justice decrees for man health, happiness, and abundance. But justice does not bring forth figs from thistles. If man disobeys the rules of health, harmony, or supply, ^the law of compensation becomes manifest. Misuse of the power that makes him well, happy, and prosperous when correctly and intelligently employed, reacts according to principle in sickness, inharmony, and poverty" (KNOW THYSELF, pages 131, 132).

Divine justice is God's love and mercy in action and is well expressed on pages 120, 121 of CHRISTIAN HEALING as follows;

"As God is love, so God is justice. These qualities are in Divine Mind in unity, but are made manifest in man's conscious-ness too often in diversity. . . . When judgment is divorced from love, and works from the head alone, there goes forth the human cry for justice."

Justice is often represented by the figure of a blindfolded woman holding in her hand a balance scale. It thus suggests that justice is impersonal and impartial. May we not say that it also suggests that the eyes must be turned inward, where true spiritual principles I are at work, and not outward, toward appearances? True spiritual principles express impartially. We read further in CHRISTIAN HEALING, page 122:

"Whatever thought you send out will come back to you. This is an unchangeable law of thought action. A man may be just in all his dealings, yet if he condemns others for their injustice, that thought action will bring him into unjust conditions; so, it is not safe to judge except in the Absolute."

Systems of law differ in different countries and among different people. Also, man-made laws constantly undergo change so that what is considered "just" at one time is not so considered at another. Therefore, it is clear that human laws may fail to provide for the highest justice; they are more for the purpose of insuring an orderly system of social relationships.

We can establish justice, order, and prosperity in our personal affairs by invoking directly the divine principle of justice, which will continually work out for us the problems of life.

"If you think that you are unjustly treated by your friends, your employers, your government, or those with whom you do business, simply declare the activity of the almighty Mind, and you will set into action mental forces that will find expression v-« in the executors of the law„ This is the most lasting reform to which man can apply himself. It is much more effective than legislation or any attempt to control unjust men by human ways" (CHRISTIAN HEALING, page 126).

Instead of fighting for our rights we may get them easily by mentally declaring words to this effect: "I ask nothing in selfish-ness, and my own comes to me through divine law." We must be willing, however, for the principle of justice to work both ways. It is necessary not only that we should desire to receive justice ourselves but that we should also be willing to grant it to others.

The fact that there are courts of justice shows that in mankind there is an inherent recognition of law and that an effort is being made to establish justice. Human effort alone to establish justice, however sincere, may not always be effective. Only through spiritually quickening and exercising the faculty of judgment according to the standard of Absolute Good can men judge righteously.

Condemnation and jealousy are forms of misjudgment. When they become fixed habits of mind, they cause mental and physical inharmonies, which are classed as diseases by those who study only effects. Jesus warned against these adverse mental states and in the form of commands gave instructions for overcoming them. Those who would do spiritual healing must follow Jesus, and when persons suffering from the effects of exercising unjust judgment come to the counsellor, they shall be treated definitely for the purpose of freeing them from the habit of condemnation of self and of others.

The counsellor may begin the treatment with affirmations such as these:

"I do not condemn anyone, and I am not condemned." "There is no criticism or condemnation in me, for me, or against me.”

Such statements are acknowledgments of a just law. An affirmation of Truth places one in the attitude of obedience to the law. Faithfulness to the Truth will dissolve the state of consciousness that the habit of condemnation forms, however firmly established it may have become. Finish the treatment with an affirmation of the forgiving love of Jesus Christ, and there will be a cleansing and renewal of the whole man.

"The forgiving love of Jesus Christ sets me free from the mistakes of the past and the results of the mistakes of the past."

Persons who ascribe evil or selfish motives to others or grieve over real or fancied wrongs sometimes let the belief that they are un-justly treated become so firmly imbedded in their mind that their whole life is embittered by it. Timid persons also often feel that life is unfair to them. They feel that they are being elbowed out of their just rewards by more aggressive people who push forward and take what they want whether they are worthy or not. These attitudes, however, are not discerning of the Truth. They are not based on understanding of or faith in divine justice, and they prevent a person from claiming his own good. Active faith in the justice of God puts the law of justice into operation for the individual. The habit of condemning persons who seem to enjoy undeserved success is erased by everyone who looks back of appearances and sees the unchanging, eternal Principle of Absolute Good, God, as always operative.

4. Explain the Scripture "Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors" (Matt. 6:12).

"Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors" (Matt. 6:12). This principle of righteousness is at the foundation of all right relations between men. Forgiveness and mercy are included in the idea of divine justice. If we desire forgiveness and justice, we must first grant them to others. We cannot expect a just God to forgive us our sins while we are missing the mark of the right use of our judgment faculty by condemning others. There must be balance.

The word debt as used in the Lord's Prayer is used more in the meaning of transgress or trespass. Each of these words indicates a passing from one standard to another when used in this manner. Because an individual is conscious of some offense, he must learn to forgive, but we find that "forgiveness" is first of all what takes place in the person's own consciousness. By forgiveness an individual sets himself in right relationship to God, and then he automatically is set right with his fellowman. When Jesus referred to our need for forgiveness before the Father could forgive us, He was being very scientific. Whatever we hold in our own mind is a part of our consciousness, of us; and until we release an error from consciousness, there is no room for the Truth to come into our mind. We can see, therefore, that condemnation closes the door of our mind to God's Truth, and we are unable to use our judgment faculty "righteously."

5. What is the "day of judgment" and where is the judgment seat? What is chastening?

It is written in the Scriptures that "he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness" (Acts 17:31), but we must also remember "with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day" (II Peter 3:8). We do not consider the "day" of the Scriptures to be the same as our twenty-four-hour day.

Spiritual enlightenment reveals that "days" are symbols of the state and the action of universal Mind. These Biblical texts about judgment have nothing to do with "time," The "day of judgment" is no specific date, because every day is a "judgment day," for every thought, feeling, and action brings its own reaction or judgment, its own experience in the manifest realm.

The "judgment day" is a time of fruition, the time when the effect or the result of some cause or causes has reached maturity and produced a condition or circumstance in mind, body, or affairs, whether good or bad. As we unfold spiritually, we come to recognize and understand the "day of judgment." We realize that there is a law of Being at work in us that cannot be violated in the slightest degree without causing suffering. We find that we experience conditions or demonstrate (show forth) according to our knowledge of this law and we seek to learn more about it and the way it works in our life.

"God is law and God is changeless. If we would bring forth the perfect creation we must conform to law and unfold in our mind, body, and affairs as a flower unfolds by the principle of innate life, intelligence, and substance" (PROSPERITY, page 58).

We come to see that the "day of judgment" is not a day in time when God sends us to eternal bliss or to everlasting punishment. It is, rather, an activity within our own consciousness wherein we begin a separation between the true and the false states of mind that have been built up and become secondary-producing laws in our life.

"The 'day of judgment' to us is any day that we get the fruit in body and affairs of some thought or word that we have expressed" (JESUS CHRIST HEALS, page 161).

6. Quote at least four commandments of Jesus, giving Bible references, that will help one to overcome the tendency to unwise judging.

God is the source of judgment "We shall all stand before the judgment seat of God" (Rom. 14:10).

Thus the "judgment seat" is God within, the Son-of-God consciousness in each of us. It is this spiritual consciousness that enables us to decide what is right, and every day we are judged according to the kind of judgments we make. Many unhappy, seemingly unaccountable experiences that men have are simply results of unwise judgment at some time in man's life experiences. These "judgments" can be a blessing if they are accepted as such, as is shown in texts such as the following:

"When thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness" (Isa. 26:9).

"Judgment was given for the saints of the Most High, and the time came when the saints received the kingdom" (Dan. 7:22).

"He brings justice to victory " (Matt. 12:20). "He will faithfully bring forth justice" (Isa. 42:3).

All persons who resist "judgments" (experiences) instead of over-coming through them turn "justice into poison and the fruit of righteous-ness into wormwood" (Amos 6:12), for "they err in vision, they stumble in giving judgment" (Isa. 28:7).

Those whose "mouth does not sin in judgment" (Prov. 16:10) are the obedient ones who do not complain when they receive the re-actions to their judging but rejoice and look upon the "judgments" as opportunities to overcome and to gain a better understanding of what is right.

The concept of a God who chastens has been a stumbling block to many. The Bible explains that "when we are judged by the Lord, we are chastened" (I Cor. 11:32), or we might truly say we are chastened by the mental law of cause and effect.

"Chastening" is a process of mind action that takes place in man's consciousness when he "comes to himself," as the prodigal son did in the parable found in Luke 15:11-32. This process is not punishment sent by God upon His beloved son. It is a cleansing and purifying process that begins in man when he turns his attention and interest toward the Father within himself. This process is exemplified in the steps that were taken by the prodigal son as he "came to himself," then arose, and went toward his father's house. Every step in that direction made him cleaner and purer in mind and heart (in thinking and feeling). When he reached his father, he was chaste, that is, he was refined, he was free from every thought and feeling that had debased, defiled, or cheapened him in any way; he was free from the desire to be in the "far country."

We find many statements in the teaching of Jesus that help us to overcome the tendency to judge unwisely:

"Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get" (Matt. 7: 1, 2).

"Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven" (Luke 6: 36, 37).

"And as you wish that men would do to you, do so to them (Luke 6:31).

"Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?" (Matt. 7:3).

The doctrine of eternal torment has no foundation in the Bible. The word hell is from the Anglo-Saxon word helan, meaning "to conceal." There is nothing about the word to suggest a place or torment. Anything that conceals our good from us is "hell."

A word in the Bible most commonly translated as hell is "Sheol" in the original Hebrew. Sheol originally meant grave or pit. Later it came to mean the place or state of quietness in which the spirit of the dead rest, awaiting resurrection. Sheol never had the meaning of a place of torment.

When the Old Testament was translated into Greek (in the Septuagint) the word Sheol was translated as Hades. In classical mythology Hades is the kingdom of the dead. To the pagan Greeks and Romans it contained Elysian Fields for the good, as well as a place of torment for the wicked, but Christian thought removed the abode of the good to another region; thus it came to mean a place for the wicked. The authors of the Bible, of course, had no such place in mind.

7. What is the meaning of "fire" as spoken of in the Scriptures?

The writers of the Bible, and Jesus also, did believe that the wicked experienced torment, but they knew that its purpose is not to punish eternally but to purify and refine. They chose the word Gehenna to describe it. This word does not refer to a hell, as it has been translated, but to the valley of Hinnom, Ge Hinnom, a deep ravine near Jerusalem that was used as a dumping ground for rubbish, garbage, and dead animals. To consume this refuse a fire was kept burning.

"Hell-fire" is not for the destruction and torment of men but for the burning up of dross.

"For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble—each man's work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. ... If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire" (I Cor. 3:11-15).

"God is a devouring fire" (Deut. 4:24), consuming not men but their sins and errors. The fire cannot be quenched. It must utterly consume every root and branch of wickedness. This is the work of the Holy Spirit, which is God in action in man's soul, body, and affairs. When man recognizes this activity in him and becomes open and receptive to it, he does not need to strain and use mental effort to rid himself of false beliefs, wrong concepts, and destructive attitudes and habits. He only needs to give his interest and attention to it and cooperate with it in all his thoughts, feelings, words, and actions, and it does the work of cleansing, refining, and purifying him. "The chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire" (Matt. 3:12).

The widespread belief in "heaven" and "hell" as actual places to which souls are consigned for eternal bliss or punishment is due, first, to the influence of Greek mythology and Oriental mysticism and, second, to the fact that most people have thought of God as a "person." As long as this belief is held, it is natural to believe in heaven and hell as actual places, one the abode of God, the other the abode of His adversary; but the knowledge that God is Spirit and that "the kingdom of God is within (Luke 17:21 A.V.), brings the freeing realization that "heaven" and "hell" are states of consciousness that will become manifest in the outer.

8. Explain the "unpardonable sin."

In considering the subject of judgment and justice let us not neglect the subject of "blasphemy against the Holy Spirit." "He who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven" (Luke 12:10). Because Jesus pronounced this sin as unforgiveable, it has come to be known as the "unpardonable sin."

In the light of all of Jesus* teaching we find that He did not consider it blasphemous to mention the name of God (as it was considered under the old Jewish law) or to claim the same attributes. He Himself claimed oneness with God. Over and over He mentioned God as His Father. "I and the Father are one" (John 10:30). "Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in me?" (John 14:10). We accept Jesus' interpretation of "blasphemy against the Holy Spirit" as being an "unpardonable sin" only so long as man fails to claim his oneness with God, the Father, and begins to act like a son of God.

As long as man fails consciously to recognize, accept and respond to the Holy Spirit (God in action in him), he is in an "un-pardonable" state of mind. He is not claiming his divine birthright as a son of God and he is not exercising the spiritual dominion that was given to him in the beginning. He is in bondage to inclinations and tendencies to believe in two powers, to believe in a separate self; and he exercises his will in opposition to his divine nature. In this state of mind, he closes the door of his consciousness to the activity of God in him, thus bringing adverse judgments upon himself. God can only do for man what He can do through him. "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me" (Rev. 3:20). The moment that man turns to the Spirit within himself, in faith, in that moment he becomes an open channel through which the perfect work of the Holy Spirit may be done. In that moment he is "pardoned."

9. Give three affirmations that will help to quicken one's faith in divine justice.

In conclusion, it is well to keep in mind that in any consideration of judgment and justice, the forgiveness and love of God are freely extended to us at all times. The love of God transcends the mental law of cause and effect. The great teaching of Christianity is: The love of God is so great that when we trust Him, respond to His love, and accept its activity in us, this love becomes a "saving grace" in us and justice is established in our life.

As previous lessons have stated, it is well to repeat again that the "grace of God" is the love of God for man. It is more than a quality, for it is the law of love in action, meeting man's every need. As we respond to the action of this love, we are aware that it is a "saving grace" in that it reveals the good ready to fulfill our life upon our acceptance. Because "grace" reveals the Truth of our relation to God as His beloved, it "saves" us from continued wandering away from principle in our thinking, feeling, acting, and reacting. Our judgment becomes truly "righteous judgment," and we are thus saved from making mistakes that would result in difficult experiences in our life.

10. What is the "saving grace" of God?

All of the God qualities given to man as his divine inheritance are "gifts" and cannot be earned; yet in another sense man must "earn the right" to use these "gifts" by preparation of his consciousness as a worthy vehicle for their expression. God's "grace," the full-ness of His love, cannot be earned, for it is a gift, yet each son of God must consciously lay hold of the gift by his acceptance in thought, word, and deed. It is for this reason that prayerful study of each power or faculty reveals its nature and the right way to use it.

"And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that you may always have enough of everything and may provide in abundance for every good work. As it is written, 'He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor; his righteousness endures forever" (II Cor. 9:8, 9).

"When Infinite Wisdom established the rule of right and honesty, He saw to it that Justice should be always the highest expediency."
—Wendell Phillips.

This lesson was transcribed on April 20, 2021 by Coy Brock.