If there is one Bible verse that is known by both Christians and non-Christians alike, it is Matthew 7:1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.
Sadly, this verse is a favorite of Christians and non-Christians to be pulled out and wielded against anyone who might be perceived as being critical of their actions, words, or deeds. This is particularly true when those actions, words or deeds are sins, rebellions, or heresies that are being held tightly and ones which the holder doesn’t want to let go of.
But is that really how it is? Are we because we are Christians not to judge others?
Let’s look at what God’s word says about judgment.First we’ll look at Matthew 7 and the teaching of Jesus…
Matthew 7:1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.
2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.
If we look at the whole text we can see that this is not a call not to judge, but a call to be careful and judge rightly. To first look at ourselves and then once we have examined our own sin, then we will be able to see clearly to look at the sin of our brother. Jesus is saying “DONT BE A HIPOCRITE!”
Know that you will be judged as you judge others, so judge rightly! Look first at your sin and do something about it…repent and be forgiven, and then you will understand that your brother also be given opportunity for repentance and forgiveness.
But you will note here that once you have dealt with the beam in your own eye, you can see clearly to cast the mote from your brother’s eye. Once you have removed the beam from your own eye, you can see more clearly what God expects and your judgment is no longer based on appearances or man’s ideas, but on GOD’S WORD.
This is consistent with John 7:24, which clearly says that we are to judge….
John 7:24 Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.
Those who in error claim only Matthew 7:1 and throw out the rest of the passage do so in error, because clearly not judging others will not keep you from being judged! We shall all have to stand before the judgment seat of Christ…
2 Corinthians 5:10 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
Jesus does not teach that we are not to judge; but instead he teaches HOW we are to judge…. By first examining and repenting of our own sin.
So we see that we are to judge; but to judge righteously. This is a judgment that allows for repentance and forgiveness; it is a judgment that realizes that until the LAST DAY, there is always room for repentance and forgiveness and that ONLY God know the heart and at what stage of work he is at in a man’s heart. It is a judgment of things temporal and not eternal, for ONLY GOD can judge the eternal salvation of man.
So, if we are to judge and we are to judge rightly, and we are not to judge eternally, then what is it that we are to judge and on what things should we withhold judgment?
Areas to withhold judgment….
We should withhold judgment on personal preferences (non-moral issues) on which the Bible has no clear teaching Romans 14:1-23 speaks about not judging another believer because of their eating preferences (vv.1-4), or how they view the significance of special days (vv.5-8).
Still Paul makes it clear that our own convictions on these matters should not become a stumbling block to other believers, else they become a moral issue (vv.13-23).
We should not judge people just by their outward appearance (John 7:24; James 2:1-4). Someone’s stature…their height or weight, the color of their skin or hair, their ethnicity. All of these are areas where the Bible clearly has no scriptural substantiation for judgment. However, this does not apply to issues of modesty in dress as the Bible clearly addresses modesty in dress, the adornment of the body with jewelry and tattoos and yes even hair.
We should not judge the value of another Christian’s service (1 Corinthians 4:1-5). This text deals with the divisions in the church a Corinth jealousy over gifts and the holding one ministry more esteemed than another. This is not to say that we are not to be discerning. But we must not to condemn others because they are not doing what we think they should be doing. Some plant and some water, but ultimately it is God who causes the growth (1 Corinthians 3:1-9). We shouldn’t think that we can preach better than another or that our calling or ministry is more valuable than another, or that someone who doesn’t have the same gift and calling that we do is any less a Christian or important to the Kingdom.
We should not judge others through evil speaking (James 4:11-12). An example might be to speak of someone as worthless, or good for nothing. We must remember that even the most vial of sinners is someone Jesus came to save!
We must not judge another’s salvation. Only God knows!
Areas that we should Judge:
Christians are to judge disputes between members of the local body of believers so they can settle these disputes (1 Corinthians 6:1-8). This is so that the problem doesn’t spill over into the non-believing world, which discredits the church’s witness to the lost.
The local church is to judge the unrepentant sins of its members, and to take the appropriate actions. Unconfessed sin needs to be publicly judged rightly and condemned (1 Corinthians 5:3-5).I Corinthians 5, Paul makes it clear that Christians are to judge those in the church. Concerning a man who sinned in the church Paul said, “I have already passed judgment on the one who did this, just as if I were present” (I Cor. 5:3). He also said, “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. Expel the wicked man from among you.” (I Cor. 5:12-13).
This is done according to God’s Word (see Matt.18:15-20). The purpose of this judgment is not to condemn, but to restore the sinful believer into useful service (Galatians 6:1-5).
If the sinful believer refuses to repent, then we are to break fellowship with them until they do repent (1 Corinthians 5:11-13; 2 Thessalonians 1:8; 3:6). Christ rebuked the church of Thyatira for not judging a woman who was a false teacher and prophetess, and who was sinning (Revelation 2:20-24).
We are to rightly judge the doctrinal teaching of preachers and teachers by God’s Word (Matthew 7:15-20; Acts 17:10-11; 1 Corinthians 14:29; Titus 1:10-16; 3:10; Hebrews 13:7; 1 John 4:1; Revelation 2:20-24). Peter and John both encouraged the Jewish leaders to judge what they were taught to see if it was true or not according to God’s Word (Acts 4:19). Paul tells the Corinthians to judge what he was saying (1 Corinthians 10:15).
We are to rightly judge potential Elders/Pastors and Deacons to see if they measure up to the qualifications given in the Scripture (1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9).
Much of the apostasy in the church today is a direct result of our failure to obey God’s Word and appoint people who are qualified according to God’s Word.
We are told in 1 Thessalonians 5:14 to “admonish the unruly.” In verse 15, we are told to “see to it that no one repays another with evil for evil.” So it is clear that we as believers have to be discerning about other believers. This doesn’t mean that we are to go around looking for every little speck or flaw, but that when we see people doing things that are clearly unbiblical then we are to speak up and say something.
We are to examine or scrutinize ourselves to see if our faith is real (2 Corinthians 13:5-7). This testing is to see if we are truly saved and if we are doing right in the sight of God. We are also told to judge (scrutinize) ourselves before we partake of the Lord’s Supper to see if our spiritual condition is correct (1 Corinthians 11:31).
What if Christians do not judge?
God holds us responsible for keeping silent when we should speak out on sin. We are indeed our brother’s keeper!
God said, “When I say to a wicked man, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn him or speak out to dissuade him from his evil ways in order to save his life, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. But if you do warn the wicked man and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his evil ways, he will die for his sin; but you will have saved yourself” (Ezekiel 3:18-19).
The Church of Ephesus was commended for judging false apostles as false: “I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false” (Revelation 2:2).
Many Christians believe that they don’t have the right to judge another. They have bought into the worldly teaching of tolerance. The word tolerance means that the TRUTH is subjective and there is no absolute truth. This means no one has to right to tell someone else that they are wrong, because one person’s opinion is just as good as someone else’s. We hear such things or even ourselves say such things as, “who are you to judge me, or to tell me if I am right or wrong?”
According to the latest statistics (The New Tolerance, by Josh McDowell and Bob Hostetler, pages 173-174) 50% of Christian youth do not believe that an objective standard of truth exists, while 53% of the adults do not believe in absolute truth.
Two-thirds of the 70% of Americans who say it is important to follow the teachings of the Bible reject moral absolutes.
When this attitude enters into the church you have to ignore the Scriptures, because the scriptures do teach that there are absolute truths.
Christians need to take to heart the words of Peter and other apostles in Acts 5:29 when told that we are not to judge anyone, “…We ought to obey God rather than men.”
We must stop propagating the worldly teaching that no Christian has a right to judge another.
Most that enter cults today like Catholicism, Islam, Mormonism, the Watchtower Society, and the likes are people who are searching for God, searching for HIS holiness, searching for ABSOLUTE TRUTH, and they don’t find it in Christianity, because too much of Christianity has bought the doctrines of devils, tolerance, humanism, and easy believism. The precious doctrine of God’s Grace has been exploited as a doctrine of Lasciviousness and we are afraid to speak the TRUTH of God’s word; we are afraid to speak and stand for righteousness and holiness and thus we look and sound like the world, and we sick and divided like the world, and thus we are rejected like the world by those who really want to find God and ultimately we are responsible for continued lost state in spite of the fact that they believe that they are the CHURCH.
By Mercy and Grace through the precious blood of Jesus we are free FROMsin, but not free TO Sin; and it is not only Biblical to Judge, it is required!
The Gospel is simple but it is not easy; it requires our willingness to lay all that we have and are on the alter before God.