Judging is a topic that many have misunderstood. We all judge, even if we don’t recognize it as judging. We make many judgments every day. Whether or not to make a judgment is in itself a judgment. Can we judge that something is right or wrong? Should we judge to words and actions of others? Most will tell you that judging is a sin. What do the scriptures say?
Everyone’s favorite verse on judging comes from Matthew chapter 7:
Matthew 7:1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.
If that verse means to never judge, then we have a contradiction in scripture with Jesus and the Apostles. There are many cases in scripture where someone judged.
Jesus judged the works of others, and told us not to be like them.
Matthew 6:2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
Matthew 6:5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
Matthew 6:16 Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
Matthew 23:13 But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.
Paul judged the actions of Peter.
Galatians 2:11 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.
Paul judged the actions of Hymenaeus and Alexander.
1 Timothy 1:20 Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.
2 Timothy 4:14-15 14 Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works: 15 Of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words.
John wrote about Diotrephes.
3 John 1:9-12 9 I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. 10 Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church. 11 Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God. 12 Demetrius hath good report of all men, and of the truth itself: yea, and we also bear record; and ye know that our record is true.
Were Jesus, Paul, and John (among many others) gossiping? Of course not! They were giving warnings to the people, but in order to do so they had to make a judgment of the actions of others.
We are warned against fellowshipping backsliders.
1 Corinthians 5:1-13 It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. 2 And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. 3 For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 6 Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? 7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. 9 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: 10 Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. 11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. 12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? 13 But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.
Paul was rebuking them for not judging sin. How can we know to dis-fellowship someone for sin if we can’t judged that they sinned?
Paul continues to warn us of who we fellowship.
2 Timothy 3:1-5 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
How can we know to turn away if we can’t judge their works? Paul is telling us to judge their works.
Paul tells us that the Saints will judge the world.
1 Corinthians 6:1-5 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?
1 John 4:6 We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.
How can we know the spirit of error if we do not judge what is true?
Philippians 3:17 Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.
How can we be an example if no one can judge our walk with God? How do you mark someone without making a judgment?
Some things were judged as good to give us examples.
2 Thessalonians 3:9 Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us.
1 Timothy 4:12 Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
Titus 2:7-8 7 In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, 8 Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.
James 5:10 Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.
How can we be an example if no one can judge our works?
Are these judgments a contradiction from Jesus’ command in Matthew 7?
Let’s look at this verse again:
Matthew 7:1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.
The problem is that most people stop there. They fail to read on down. If we stop there we will have contradictions in scripture, because there are plenty of cases where Jesus and the Apostles judged. We must take the complete passage in context and rightly divide the Word of God. This is not a contradiction in scripture. The scriptures simply need to be rightly divided. Let’s look at the complete passage in context.
Matthew 7:1-5 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.
Jesus is telling us not to judge someone else if we have something in our lives. He’s telling us not to judge hypocritically.
Matthew 7:3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
Jesus is telling us to first remove the beam from our own eye, and then we can remove the mote from our brother’s eye. How can we see a mote in our brother’s eye if we can’t make a judgment? Jesus tells us to judge: starting with ourselves.
Matthew 7:5 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.
Jesus is telling us to make a judgment in ourselves first and clean our own lives up. Then, we can work on helping others. We are to judge others, just as we are to judge ourselves.
Jesus tells us how to judge. We are to judge righteous judgment.
John 7:24 Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.
Jesus tells us to judge fruit.
Matthew 7:16 Ye shall know them by their fruits.
How can we know them by their fruits if we can’t judge their fruits?
We are to judge doctrine.
Galatians 1:8-9 8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
How can we know if doctrine is true or accursed if we do not judge?
John told us to judge the works of others.
1 John 5:16 If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.
Before we can judge the works of others we must judge ourselves.
1 Corinthians 11:31 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.
If we judge ourselves, to see whether we are doing God’s will, then we will find in ourselves the wrong that we do and change. We will not be judged if we judge ourselves and fix the problems in our daily walk. We judge ourselves by the Word of God.
How do we judge? We are to judge all things by the Word of God. Judging according to the scriptures does not make us the law-giver or the final judge. Only God is the final authority, but He gave us His Word to judge right and wrong by. Just because we are not the final judge does not mean that we can’t make a determination of someone’s final destination. For example, who would not judge that Adolf Hitler went to Hell when he died? We have enough information about his life and from the scriptures to make that determination. The problem today is that making a determination is not ‘politically correct’. I would rather be ‘Biblically correct’.
Who is to judge? Who should judge right from wrong, false doctrine and true doctrine? Who should judge if something is a sin? Jesus’ teachings in Matthew 7 are not only to the elders of the Church- they are to everyone. It is not a sin to judge if it is done according to scripture. We are not to have the wrong attitude and be judgmental. Also, we are to allow those in authority to handle situations properly. Everything must be done in proper order. If judgments are based on the Word of God they will be righteous judgments. We are to judge righteous judgment based on God’s Word- starting with ourselves.