In James, the Holy Spirit uses the word “condemnation,” (James 3:1) in Luke, it is “damnation,” (Luke 20:47) they are separate in their distinction in one point, the first speaks of a teacher of the Word of God, one who perhaps has or has not been called to do so, but nevertheless is under contract, so to speak, to do so in complete truth. The other, damnation, is in reference to the false teachers, those who know the truth of the Scriptures, but have determined for reasons known only to themselves, to corrupt the Holy Word of the Lord.
Think here on the Roman Catholic Institution, the Jim Jones’ of the world, or perhaps Simon, to a degree, who desired to purchase the power of the Holy Spirit. For whatever reason, these individuals have at least the words of truth, but have seen fit to modify them for their own reasons, most generally, I believe that would be for pride’s sake, the money, the accolades, and following of others is welcome, but secondary. The question that is revolving around in my head on this subject is this, what is greater condemnation, and what is greater damnation.
How does one suffer more in the Lake of Fire? My finite mind can only contemplate a higher temperature in the center of that terrible place, perhaps a greater despondency, or the unquenchable knowledge that the state they are in is indeed and always will be eternal, no escape. In our minds, Satan would of course be in the center, as it were, of this great lake, and then most would put Judas Iscariot right beside him, but that begs the question, and I speak as a foolish, unlearned person here, but would that not infer that the edges of the lake would not be as hot, that it would be reserved for those who have sinned less?
Perhaps this knowledge is not necessary for us, but when taken in comparison to the verse in the Book of James, it can be used as a reference, for condemnation does not infer happiness, if you will, on the part of the Lord towards those who are teachers of His Word. There is of course a difference between those who witness and those who teach, one is bringing the knowledge of the resurrection and redemption to the lost, the other is, at least, attempting to expound correctly on what a born-again believer’s life is to be lived as, and here is where the axis is met when we contemplate this, those who are teachers, whether we will hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord,” (Matt. 25:23) or whether we will receive condemnation, and perhaps only hear, “Welcome.”
From this point on in this letter to you, I have no more than any other man in history has had, conjecture, and here is the point in our teachings that either of those two rewards will be exacted. Remember, those in reference in the verse in James are indeed saved, but as stated earlier, if they have been called by the Lord to teach or not is in question.
There are at least two items that every man knows as truth within himself who have indeed been called to teach, three for sure. That it is not them that does the teaching, these men are not just filled with the Spirit, they are led by, empowered by, and submitting to Him in this area constantly. There is a great, personal fear in them that they could be wrong, and the possibility of dishonoring the Lord God is always at the forefront of their minds.
Second would be a humility that they will not accept as their own, for these men are adamant, the words of truth must be brought to all who will listen, and at times, even to those who will not, for he can see the lost on fire, screaming eternally, he can feel their hopelessness.
Lastly, or at least in the top three, this man knows he is unworthy to do what he has been called to do, in his mind, he is the last person ever born that the Almighty should have entrusted this great and most important task to. He knows who the worst, most vile sinner who has ever lived is, he is. “My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.” (James 3:1) The man who wrote these words understood the burden, but did not shirk it when it was laid upon his back.