Who Am I To Judge?
In this day of Christian apostasy, one of the most twisted and contorted biblical concepts is that of the idea of judging. Are Christians forbidden to judge others? Is it somehow unchristian to judge? Is it mean spirited to judge others? If we are left to live with the opinions of most Christians and their preachers’ we would be led to believe that the Bible forbids Christians to judge, and if one does do so, it is the equivalent of some of the most heinous sins ever committed.
Those Christians that are vocal about their salvation, and are caring enough to share the gospel with the world, are often judged by their less active brethren as being wrong or misguided if they are perceived to be judging someone. The world has heard of this idea that Christians are not supposed to judge others from their Christian friends or from a radio or television preacher. This often resorts to them trying to shut down an evangelizing Christian by shouting the popular slogan “Judge not, lest ye be judged”.
Well, as with all other sound doctrine, a doctrine is only as sound as it is presented in the scriptures. Therefore, let us examine the scriptures and see if the popular notion of “judge not” is actually biblical or not. Popularity of a teaching is no way to determine whether any teaching is correct or not. Only the scriptures can determine that. As Paul stated to the Bereans by commenting that they were more noble than the Thessalonians because they “searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11), we will do likewise.
What does the Bible actually say about judging? The first place to begin our examination should be with Matthew 7:1. This is one of the most misused verses in all of scripture. In my experience, this verse is more well known by the world and Christians alike than John 3:16.
Mt 7:1 ¶ Judge not, that ye be not judged.
As you can read, it does not say “Judge not, lest ye be judged”. As a matter of fact, it is to the level of comedy how many people quote this as if it is in the Bible. After examining 14 English versions, including the most popular ones, this quote is nowhere to be found. Admittedly, the sentiment is found in Matthew 7:1 but the above is thrown around as an indictment upon the critical Christian in an effort to reprove him for his wrongdoing. If one is going to attempt to correct a Christian with the scriptures, it does him no good to make a fool of himself by misquoting it. The least one can do is to quote it correctly or just paraphrase it, and by also not quoting the above while insisting that it is the scriptures because it is not.
I recall a recent incident while I was out street preaching and I was asking the hearers if they knew any of the Ten Commandments. Many of these hearers unfortunately claimed to be Christians and they proceeded to display their ignorance of the commandments in the face of the unbelievers, which became very laughable to them. That was disappointing enough, but the most appalling thing to come out of this dialogue was when one person shouted out that they thought that “Thou shalt not Judge” was one of the commandments. This is unfortunately what has become of Christianity today in America. It has become ignorant of the Book and thus those Christians present an ignorant view of that Book to a lost and dying world.
Obviously, “Thou shalt not Judge” is not one of the Ten Commandments, but if you were to listen to American Christians for very long, this has become somewhat of a rallying cry for them. I do not know why this is, but I can guess that it is an attempt to cover their cowardice. This charge is leveled against any preacher or Christian that attempts to correct the errors of their Christian brethren or who attempts to warn the lost of the grave results of their sins against God.
Now, let us get back to Matthew 7:1. This verse is not written in a vacuum totally void of any context. The verse should remain in its context and be examined in that context in order to learn exactly what it is teaching. Taking verses out of their context is so common among Christians, that there is no wonder how much ignorance is spewed from pulpits and blogs around the country.
2Ti 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
This verse above tells us a couple of things. First, that one must study the Bible to show his own approval of God. And secondly, that one must “rightly divide” it. In other words, make sure we keep it in its context by understanding to whom it is written and for what purpose. This also warns us that it is possible to wrongly divide the word of truth. To illustrate the point, I will use an extreme example of how the Bible can be twisted to prove a false teaching.
Mt 27:5 And he (Judas Iscariot) cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.
Jg 7:17 And he said unto them, Look on me, and do likewise:
If we examine the two verses by ripping them out of their context and put the two together side by side, we could teach that the Bible promotes suicide by hanging. Of course, this is absolutely absurd, but my point is to show you how dangerous ripping verses out of context can be.
In Matthew 7:1, we have read that we should not judge so that we will not be judged. This is true if we read this verse alone and not along with its context. We could therefore easily conclude that the Bible forbids judging others or we will be judged of God. Unfortunately, when we read the rest of its context, we learn no such thing. If we stop at verse 1 and develop our position on it alone, we would be guilty of judging the verse without hearing the whole matter.
Pr 18:13 ¶ He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.
Here is the rest of the context:
Mt 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. 6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.
Now we can begin to see what the Bible is saying here. First we see that with whatever judgment we use to judge others we ourselves will be judged. Notice too that the context has nothing to do with God judging us, but with how others will judge us. Others will judge us as hypocrites if we say one thing and do the opposite. We will be judged by others according to how we judge them. If we say that prayer is wrong (and it is not of course) and those same hearers see us praying, they will determine us to be hypocrites. The whole purpose of this portion of scripture does not have anything to do with forbidding Christians to judge others, but rather it is actually teaching us how to judge others properly. It is telling us to judge ourselves first, and “then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.” Did you see that? In case you willingly missed it in a desperate attempt to hold to your false teaching, read it again. It clearly says (vs 5) to remove the beam out of your own eye so that you can cast out the mote that is in your brother’s eye. We learn in the context that after we judge ourselves, we are to feel free, and actually have a duty, to clear up our brother’s eyesight as well. If we do not judge ourselves, verse 6 makes it clear that the unsaved (the swine which to the Jews was an unclean animal) will not take our good instruction (the pearls) very well and will disregard it (trample it) and then use it to judge you with if you are the hypocrite (one who hasn’t judged himself first).
This is pretty simple stuff. It is certainly not brain surgery. This is exactly the reason why Christianity is mocked in our society. The gospel (if actually being preached) is held with disdain because the message is delivered by hypocrites. This is a shame and should not be.
Now, when a man or woman has judged themselves on a matter and begins to go about casting the mote out of their brother’s eye, they are met with scorn by other Christians and the lost alike (not very good company to be proud of being in harmony with). For example, many times when I go out preaching in the world, I make it a point to tell others that they are sinners and in need of a Saviour. This is the proper Biblical method of preaching. All one has to do is look to the scriptures and see that the first recorded words of John the Baptist and Jesus himself were “Repent”. This word has no meaning outside of the context of pointing out that the hearer has broken the laws of God. Repent means to turn from something and more specifically from sin.
Eze 14:6 Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Repent, and turn yourselves from your idols; and turn away your faces from all your abominations.
Eze 18:30 ¶ Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord GOD. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin.
Joe 2:14 Who knoweth if he will return and repent,
Jon 3:9 Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?
The preacher must preach repentance or he is not preaching the gospel at all. Look at what the Apostles preached.
Ac 3:19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;
Ac 5:31 Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.
Ac 17:30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
Ac 20:21 Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus taught his disciples after his resurrection that they should preach repentance:
Lu 24:47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
Now how can one preach repentance and not judge that all men are sinners? How can one obey the scriptures without judging that all men are sinners? This is what we must do if our misguided brethren are correct. According to that position, Christians cannot judge and therefore should not judge others as sinners and therefore not preach repentance. As we have read, this is an instruction to disobey the commands of Jesus and to ignore the example of the Apostles.
Ac 5:29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.
As with Matthew 7:1, if a man were to judge that drunkenness is wrong for him to do, is he then wrong to point out another man’s drunkenness? No he is not. I am not going to get into how this should be delivered, but what I am trying to prove now is that it is not wrong to judge. If a man is preaching to a crowd and a person in that crowd says that he is a fornicator, is it wrong for the preacher to preach to that man that fornication is wrong? Of course not.
Moving along, let us look at another popular portion of scripture that has been mutilated almost beyond recognition. This would be John chapter 8 and the account of the woman caught committing adultery in the very act. It is in this account that Jesus tells the Pharisees that he that is without sin, let him cast the first stone.
The obedient Christian that points out another man’s sins is usually met with the rebuke of “let him who is without sin cast the first stone” and “Judge not, lest ye be judged”. We have dealt with the latter, so now we will deal with the former.
Here is the passage we are referring to :
Joh 8:1 ¶ Jesus went unto the mount of Olives. 2 And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them. 3 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, 4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? 6 This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. 7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. 8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. 9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
As we can read here, Jesus says “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her”. This is then taken out of its context and applied somehow to judging anyone about anything. It is used to try to muzzle the preacher from judging others with words. As any elementary reading of the passage can discern, Jesus is talking to Old Testament Jews under the Old Testament law who were actually picking up real stones and preparing to throw real stones at a real person in judgment against that person’s adultery. The passage is used metaphorically (wrongly I might add because this is a real life incident and not a metaphor) to somehow prohibit any judging of any kind. That is, quite frankly, a pathetic reading of the passage. How does a real life incident about the Old Testament judgment of an adulteress have anything to do with forbidding of a New Testament Christian preaching against sin? This passage has no bearing whatsoever on a preacher preaching today against sin. When someone today wants to cast an accusing finger at another for “judging” they quote this passage. Well my friends, a preacher is preaching, he is not gathering real stones to throw at anyone. That is what Jesus was forbidding. Not preaching. As a matter of fact, the judgment of the Pharisees under the law was correct according to the Old Testament scriptures, as they were living under its authority.
Le 20:10 ¶ And the man that committeth adultery with another man’s wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.
Their judgment wasn’t wrong except if we note that the man was not brought forth, but the adulteress was surely worthy of death (regardless if you think that this was too harsh because we are all worthy of death – see Romans 6:23). What then was Jesus teaching us in this passage? He was teaching us that when you have the Saviour with you, you have mercy. We can all have the Lord Jesus as our Saviour if we repent and have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and are thus born-again. However, note what is usually left out when one is referencing this passage of scripture.
Joh 8:11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.
Notice that he judged her wrongdoing and insisted that she “go, and sin no more”. How is it then when a preacher points out sin in someone’s life and tells them to sin no more or to repent, somehow he is a bad Christian? This is exactly the example that our Lord has given us.
Another point that has to be made is the false accusation by misguided Christians against the preacher of righteousness that he should not condemn people. This too is more of an indictment against the accuser than the accused, for if the accuser had known their Bible, they would know that a preacher cannot condemn and is not condemning anyone, but is simply pointing out that the lost are already condemned. In other words, they are only announcing God’s condemnation of the lost sinner.
Joh 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
As one can read (it is amazing what reading the Bible instead of listening to preachers tell us what to think can do toward clearing up our ignorance), Jesus didn’t come into the world to condemn the world because it is already condemned. The preacher who reminds the world of their standing as a condemned person is doing no wrong at all, especially if we examine the preaching of the apostles as described in the Acts of the Apostles. All that that preacher is doing is telling the truth, and it appears by my experience that most Christians apparently are comfortable avoiding telling that truth to anyone. What the real tragedy is, is that not only are they comfortable displaying their ignorance of the scriptures, they become actively opposed to the Christians who are not afraid of telling the truth. Ignorant Christians have become the biggest obstacle to the gospel because they give comfort to the sinner that everything is ok, and that God loves them as they are etc. (This deserves another note for itself, and Lord willing will get it soon).
Finally, to hammer the point home, we will look at more scripture which commands the Christian to judge.
Joh 16:7 ¶ Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. 8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 Of sin, because they believe not on me; 10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; 11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.
Notice that the Comforter (Holy Ghost) came into the world to reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and judgment to come. How do you suppose he does that? He does that partially through Holy Ghost filled Christians. There must be judgment proclaimed by Christians and the reproving of sin.
1Co 6:1 ¶ Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? 2 Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? 4 If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. 5 I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?
As is obvious, we are supposed to do some judging or how else are we going to prove ourselves fit for judging the world in the Millenium? Paul is rebuking the church here for being unable to judge the smallest matters.
Also, the Bible uses words which imply that a judgment must be made by the Christian in order to fulfill the commands of the scriptures. These words include but are not limited to rebuke, reprove, admonish, chasten etc.
Eph 5:11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.
2Ti 4:2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
How can a Christian perform this without judging that another has sinned? Not only is he supposed to judge them, he is supposed to tell them so.
Here is another.
1Ti 5:20 Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.
Not only is a Christian supposed to judge another that sins, he is commanded to publicly rebuke them (that is if they are sinning in public) or to rebuke them before the whole church (that is if it is known of the church – if a matter is between two people, Matthew 18 tells us to begin dealing with it between the two parties privately). If our brethren’s false teaching on this subject were correct, then the one doing the rebuking would be ridiculed for “judging others”. They are proposing that we should all disobey the scriptures.
Tit 2:15 ¶ These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.
Well, we not only should rebuke, but we should do so with authority, not whining and comforting the sinner and begging them as some teach. We also have no need to be concerned with whether or not we are despised for doing so. In other words, we do not care more about what our brethren think or what the world thinks than we do about what our Lord thinks about whether or not we are obedient.
Here is a beauty. This one puts a major wrench in the typical cowardly, backslidden Christian’s weak and unscriptural teaching.
Re 3:19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
We learn here in Revelation 3 that Jesus rebukes and chastens them that he loves and tells them to repent. If we are to display the love of God in our lives, do you think we should follow the love of the Lord or not? Some give lip service to love in words only, while some others show their love by rebuking and chastening sin, and telling them to repent. Some of us know these things and thus try to instruct those who oppose themselves. This is the point of this note.
2Ti 2:25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
With that, we will sum up this thesis. The popular teaching of “thou shalt not judge“ is erroneous. It is false on its face. Not only are we to judge, but we are to judge ourselves first. We are to rebuke sin and sinners. We are to display the love of God by doing so, and we are to obey these commands of scripture.
Do you have the spiritual fortitude to do so, or are you going to continue to apologize for sin in your life and in the lives of others? May this be instruction to you and help you to grow to be a man or woman of courage in the things of the Lord. Besides, as soldiers (2Tim 3:2), what kind of king commissions soldiers to fight a battle against no opposition? Many Christians live in a fantasy land free from opposition and free from conflict. Others do not relish the battle but are willing to fight it for the name of our King and for His worthiness and because they love Him. They only wish they didn’t have to fight their fellow soldiers at the same time as they fight the enemy but instead pray that they can receive reinforcements on the battlefield with other good soldiers of Jesus Christ.