I took part in a panel discussion a few weeks ago on this topic. A discussion ensued in a private forum where some posters expressed views that suggest people like me, who insist on emphasizing the love of God for all persons, are, let’s say, not really Christians at all because we appear not to have any standards, and because we don’t simply state whatever the Bible says. I think I hold myself and others to a very high standard, however, and I think I am pretty clear on what the Bible says also. Here’s my response, in part:
Jesus was faced with people who ultimately condemned (judged) him because he refused to judge a sexual sin (the woman taken in adultery: immediate context for the John 8 passage) even though they could point to chapter and verse to say she should not only be condemned but punished; because he was so lacking in (their idea of) discernment that he tolerated uncleanness (eating with unwashed hands) and moral failure (eating with tax collectors and “sinners”). These were the sorts of things that incensed the moral gatekeepers of the day, the Pharisees. He healed indiscriminately; touched a leper, refused to rebuke a woman known to be immoral (at the house of Simon the Pharisee, the muttering round the table was, “If he knew what kind of woman she was….”, obviously a question of their judgment concerning his evident lack of discernment). Of course, Jesus knew in every case what was going on, and made conscious decisions not only to do these things but to use them as occasions for teaching about the scope of God’s love for people and the nature of love and forgiveness. He speaks without compromise about the absolute condemnation from God which is to fall on those who, having received mercy, fail to offer it to others in turn. “So will my heavenly Father do to you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” This says to me that love and forgiveness, not moral rightness or knowledge, are the essential beginning-point of any real discernment “in the Spirit.”
One day soon I will lay out my understanding of the thrust of the argument present by Paul in Romans chapters one through three, which I take to be an extended exposition of Luke 6:37, remembering that Luke the evangelist was Paul’s traveling companion, they worked together, and are likely to have drawn from one another’s material.