God’s will is done when He breaks and hinders every evil plan and purpose of the devil, the world, and our sinful flesh, which do not want us to hallow God’s name or let His kingdom come; and when He strengthens and keeps us firm in His Word and faith until we die.

It is God’s good and gracious will to destroy the evil plans and purposes of the world.

And so—today—we pray for God to break, hinder, and destroy the evil that is Critical Race Theory.

Have you heard about this?

Critical Race Theory, because it’s an indefinable thing, is an evil thing, corrupting our language, the way we speak about sin and grace.

Along with that—it’s evil because it finds fault with some not all, using a different standard whenever a different result is needed.

If it were only and always about observing and working to rectify inequities in the law and how the law is applied to people—if that’s what it was and only what it was, every Christian already agrees.

“For the measure you use will be measured back to you” (cf. Luke 6:38), Jesus says.

It is, of course, meet, right, and salutary for pastors—today—to preach against sin.

That’s what Joseph did, for his brothers, saying, “As for you, you meant evil against me…” (Genesis 50:20).

That’s what St. Paul did, for the church in Rome, saying in chapter two, “There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil…” (Romans 2:9).

That’s what Nathan and the prophets did.

That’s what John the Baptist did.

And that’s what pastors do, today.

Because—for all of them—that’s what God did and commands, then and today.

That’s what Jesus does, Himself, saying, “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye” (Luke 6:42).

So—clearly—to preach and teach against sin is meet, right, and salutary.

It’s good to do so. Right to do so. And for our soul’s good to do so.

But notice that this preaching and teaching is against actual sins that have been committed.

Joseph’s brothers meant evil against him in that they actually did conspire to—at first—kill him—but then—sell him into slavery.

The church in Rome was practicing evil—and still are—so they are without excuse. That’s how St. Paul says it:

“You have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same [evil] things” (Romans 2:1).

We don’t preach and teach against hypothetical sins or imagined sins that may send us to hell.

We preach and teach against actual sins, committed in our thoughts, words, and deeds that—apart from repentance and faith in the Lord, Christ—do indeed condemn us to hell.

Does that make sense?

Joseph’s brothers actually sinned. It’s not helpful to them if Joseph doesn’t name their sin and forgive it.

The church in Rome actually sinned. It’s not helpful to them if St. Paul doesn’t name their sin, so that they would hear the Law, flee to God for forgiveness, and receive it.

And I know it’s no fun to talk about, but you actually sin, too. It’s no help to you for sin to be generally despised but not specifically.

I don’t mean naming the sinner. I mean naming the sin.

So that you would hear, and flee to God, and be forgiven.

When I say that it’s meet, right, and salutary for pastors to preach against specific sins, I mean that for your own soul’s good—you remove the log out of your own eye.

And we do that, we confess actual sins, in repentance and faith, to receive forgiveness, to be certain of our salvation, and then yes, to help our brother with the speck in his eye.

This kind of preaching and teaching against actual sins committed by people here and close to us is necessary.

Today—it’s necessary for me to warn you against the increasing evil of Critical Race Theory.

Critical Race Theory is an increasing evil in the world, if for no other reason than that it’s an indefinable thing.

Basically, according to this theory, race is the only thing that matters.

Not your behavior. Not your values.

Not your environment.

But race—that’s the only card you can play.

Push back, though, and ask for a definition.

What is “Critical Race Theory”?

And here’s where the fun begins.

Critical Race Theory is a theoretical framework and set of perspectives and academic principles by which structural and institutional racism may be examined.

That’s it. That’s the practically useless definition.

What if I use the same definition for God?

Listen to this nonsense:

“The Holy Trinity is a theoretical framework and set of perspectives and academic principles by which structural and institutional [God] may be examined.”

Big words next to complicated words.

Throw in “theoretical” and “academic.”

And you sound like a Harvard professor.

Critical Race Theory, because it’s an indefinable thing, is an evil thing, because it corrupts our language, the way we speak about sin and grace, God, man, forgiveness, judgment, and everlasting life.

Along with that—it’s evil because it finds fault with some not all and rewards some not all, using a different standard whenever a different result is needed.

If it were only and always about observing and working to rectify inequities in the law and how the law is applied to people—if that’s what it was and only what it was, every Christian already agrees.

“For the measure you use will be measured back to you” (cf. Luke 6:38), Jesus says.

Equal treatment under God’s law is usually the first or second thing you cover when catechizing children.

But “when people get used to preferential treatment, equal treatment seems like discrimination” (Thomas Sowell).

The Lutherans dealt with this in Article II of the Augsburg Confession, “On Original Sin,” and said: “Our churches teach that since the fall of Adam, all who are naturally born are born with sin, that is, without the fear of God, without trust in God, and with the inclination to sin, called concupiscence. Concupiscence is a disease and original vice that is truly sin. It damns and brings eternal death on those who are not born anew through Baptism and the Holy Spirit” (AC II.1-2).

The first article defines God as good.

The second article defines all who are naturally born as being born with sin.

That’s how the Lutherans confessed it, and we still do.

St. Paul says it this way: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:23-24).

And it’s St. Peter who says in Acts, that “God shows no partiality [literally: that God is no respecter of persons], but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him” (Acts 10:34-35).

If Critical Race Theory had only to do with treating every human being equally under the law—we’d have to agree.

But in practice that’s not what it does.

On paper, it does nothing, because it’s an indefinable thing. It’s harmless, but it dies the death of a thousand qualifications.

In practice, though, it doesn’t treat everyone equally.

Every parent and every person will need to know how to speak and how to teach this correctly—especially when the world seems hell bent on making every single conversation about race.

If you’ve never heard this from me before, hear it now: There is the one human race, and we’re all in this together—poor, miserable sinners, redeemed by Christ the Crucified, in need of the Grace of God.

But about Critical Race Theory, here’s what I mean.

It’ll be taught to your children or grandchildren.

It’s probably already been taught to them and you.

Officially in school, unofficially on tv, or by means of peer pressure on social media and interactions with the world, they’ll be taught to hate and blame themselves for everything.

They’ll be taught to hate America.

And you’ll need to be able to teach against this.

One hour of church each week with a twenty-minute sermon won’t cut it—let’s not fool ourselves—when an eight hour school day and every show and commercial break is working to produce cogs for the machine and not children of God.

I read this recently—it was a comparison between Critical Race Theory and original sin.

Original sin, as you know, is the consequence we carry in our flesh for a sin not committed by us.

Critical Race Theory teaches the same thing—so it was suggested—that you carry the guilt and burden of sins committed by your forbears.

Where I was reading this, the Christians had no answer, no response.

So they agreed.

But see—original sin is true for all.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

And all who are naturally born are born with sin.

Not just some.

Not just the majority. Not just the minority. All.

When the world and worldly men want to speak in practically useless ways, insist upon the words of Jesus.

“For the measure you use shall be measured back to you” (cf. Luke 6:38).

Today—let it be enough for us to hear and understand Jesus, who says, “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36).

There’s no qualification there; it’s spoken to all.

Hear it from the perspective of having been forgiven; hear it from the perspective of God’s mercy.

Without help from you, in Christ, God has forgiven all sin and raises unto eternal life all who believe in Jesus.

Your Father is merciful—to you and to all.

Be merciful to others—everyone of them.

Who are you to judge, condemn, or withhold forgiveness?

And for that matter—who has God called you to be?

“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you” (Luke 6:36-38).

There’s always a way to cheat the scale.

To make it heavier when you sell and lighter when you buy. Or heavier when you need to show how healthy you are and lighter when you know you’re not.

You like it when the bank finds an error in your favor. You hate it when you’re found to owe a dollar more.

Insist upon the words of Jesus.

And the measure of His mercy.

There was no sin in Him—no log or speck.

His beam was cross-shaped.

And He carried His to cross and death—so that you would not—so that you would be preserved from hell and pit.

To be merciful to all—especially you.

To call all—especially you—to be His children.

This is the good and gracious will of God.

In Jesus’ name, Amen!

Trinity 4 Sermon, 2021
Luke 6:36-42
Rev. Benjamin Tyler Holt

“Judge not, and you will not be judged” (Luke 6:37). That’s the way of the faith—the way of Christ.

But this is the way of the world right now: if you are a certain way, you’re not to judge but relearn. You’re not to condemn but praise. You’re not to forgive—because there’s nothing to forgive in the first place.

You are not to judge.

But if you do, and if your judgment runs afoul of the Do-Not-Judge mob, the judgment with which they judge you will be swift and terrible.

And of course, their judgment isn’t wrong, because Pharisees and hypocrites are never wrong.

I’m not describing just one side of things.

We’ve all been on the receiving end of hypocritical judgment.

We’ve all also ignored the beam in our eye for the speck in our brother’s.

Black, White, Young, Old, American, or not—that’s the way of the world.

Everyone judges everyone else.

Who hasn’t judged their neighbor for walking the wrong way down the aisle at the store? What was never a problem is now a problem, because the stores want to remain open. They can’t trust your judgment—so they have to tell you which direction to walk up the aisle.

And who hasn’t walked the wrong way down the aisle? No one’s in this aisle anyway, right? That’s only for when it’s crowded. They can’t tell me which way to walk.

Everyone judges everyone else, and so, all are judged.

But when Jesus says, “Judge not, and you will not be judged” (Luke 6:37), He actually means, “Rely not on your own judgments, condemnations, forgiveness, and gifts.

Your judgments are uncertain. You lack objectivity.

Your condemnations are fluid. As much as we want things to stay the same, we don’t want them to be like they were. We’re cynical about how things are, and we’re naive about how things were.

This is the way of the world: what is popular is right, and what is right is popular.

For the world, it has to be that easy, or the sheep without the Shepherd wouldn’t know what to protest or who to give bravery awards to.

This is the way of the world: what has always been true, isn’t true anymore because we want to be liked and we want to be paid.

So Jesus says, “Judge not, and you will not be judged” (Luke 6:37), so that we would lean not on our own understanding and judgment—but on the wisdom and judgment of God.

It sounds so obvious—trust the wisdom and judgment of God. But, oh my, how that breaks our hearts.

Consider your place in life according to the Ten Commandments. Have you been disobedient, unfaithful, or lazy? Have you been hot-tempered, rude, or quarrelsome? Have you hurt someone by your words or deeds? Have you stolen, been negligent, wasted anything, or done any harm?

Do you hear and learn the Word of God gladly?

Or do you spurn the proclamation of God’s Word by retreating from any understanding of it that isn’t the size of a bumper sticker on a Ford Fiesta.

If you want to be able to make a good confession, you must study and learn good theology. Start by going to your pastor’s Bible study. He’s there to help you.

It’s optional for you to teach your children how to kick or throw a ball well, how to root for the home team, and how to bake chocolate chip cookies for your pastor—would that it were not so, but those things aren’t necessary. They’re optional.

But it’s not optional for you as a parent to teach your children about Christ. You can say that it’s someone else’s responsibility—pastor, Sunday school teacher, day school teacher, or the tv—but it’s your responsibility, Mom and Dad.

So it’s not optional for you to ignore the preached Word of God, to refuse to gather around Word and Sacrament with your congregation.

The Lord’s Supper is never virtual.

You may be able to pull up your preferred preacher online, but do you still dress for church, and sit and stand, and bow your heads, and sing with gusto?

Or do you change the channel until the voice speaking says the things that you want to hear?

À la carte Christianity is not Christianity.

You don’t get to pick and choose what you believe.

It’s not a buffet, and it’s not a swap meet.

It’s not a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure novel.

And that is the wisdom and judgment of God.

Your judgments are often myopic or simply wrong.

So, “Judge not, and you will not be judged” (Luke 6:37). Rely on the certain and final judgement of God.

Admittedly, at first, that sounds like a terrible idea.

Who hasn’t God broken apart, with breach upon breach? Whose face has not been red with weeping? Whose eyelids have not dipped into deep darkness?

If our adversary is the Almighty God, to rely on His certain and final judgment might seem to doom us all.

But that’s not who God is. That’s not what Jesus says.

“Judge not, and you will not be judged” (Luke 6:37).

Rely on God’s judgment.

Or, as He also says, “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36).

All of these commands have a promise attached to them, and in the promises of God, we trust.

Your Father in heaven is merciful.

He judges you—not according to His wrath, that was poured out and extinguished on Christ who sat in the place of sinners and was crucified.

God judges you according to His mercy.

He condemns not those who trust in His mercy.

He forgives those who believe their sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake.

He gives to those who give to others what God first gave to them.

That means the mercy of God is greater than your sin. Greater than our adversary, the devil. Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.

So rely on the judgment of God that crucified the Lord of Glory, out of love, to save sinners, even Pharisees and hypocrites.

These promises of God are where we begin.

Your Father in heaven is merciful. Trust in His mercy.

You will not be judged. You will not be condemned. You will be forgiven. And it will be given unto you.

Because your Father in heaven is merciful, because you trust in His mercy, His judgment, His forgiveness, His gifts, and His condemnation and destruction of evil—“Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord” (Romans 12:19).

He promises, and with these promises in mind, we remove the log from our own eye: I am a poor, miserable sinner, but I flee for refuge to God’s infinite mercy. And your Father in heaven is merciful.

Remove the log and confess the mercy of God in Christ.

Then, you can see clearly to help your brother with the speck that’s in his own eye.

That is the way of the faithful—the way of Christ, who had no sins of His own that He must be forgiven, yet He humbled Himself, taking the form of your servant, being obedient to the point of death, even death upon the cross, that you and all the world would be reconciled to God.

“The measure you use shall be measured back to you” (cf. Luke 6:38).

And our Father in Heaven is merciful.

Trust in His mercy. Trust in His judgment.

Lean not upon your own understanding, and rejoice that it’s God’s will and pleasure to destroy evil.

We see this plainly with Joseph, I think.

The brothers lie to Joseph, saying, “Your father gave this command before he died, ‘Say to Joseph, “Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin because they did evil to you”’” (Genesis 50:16-17).

I say that’s a lie, because it’s not recorded that Israel commanded his sons to say to Joseph.

So they lie—right before they ask for forgiveness: “And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father” (Genesis 50:17).

But the brothers thought the son’s forgiveness was due only to the father’s presence—not so.

“Joseph wept when they spoke to him. His brothers came and fell down before him and said, ‘Behold, we are your servants.’ But Joseph said to them, ‘Do not fear. Am I in the place of God? You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones’” (cf. Genesis 50:17-21).

Joseph takes no umbrage with either his father or his brothers. He’s content that God has used it all to save the many.

The Son loves His brothers not because of the Father’s command—but He himself loves them and provides for them and comforts them.

And—“Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”

Jesus Himself loves you, calls you friend, and lays down His life for you.

Black, White, young, old, American, or not—that’s the way of Christ.

The wisdom and judgment of God, in whom we trust.

In Jesus’ name, Amen!

Trinity 4 Sermon, 2020
Luke 6:36-42
Rev. Benjamin Tyler Holt