JUDGE NOT PART 2

INTRODUCTION

Jesus admonished us in Matthew 7:1, Judge not, that ye be not judged.  This is one of the most recited verses in all of Scripture. Yet it’s one of the most misunderstood, misapplied, and abused. The verse is most-commonly evoked in cases of sin, doctrinal error, or morality. And it is thus quoted to authoritatively and unequivocally declare that Christians have no right to judge others—including other Christians—who are involved in sin or error. It is perhaps a well-intentioned plea for Christians to just shut up, leave people alone, and let God do the judging.

I am not an advocate for judgmentalism. I detest that spirit and the aura of self-righteousness that goes with it when I see it manifest in Christians.

Christ prohibits us from judging other people and I believe we all need to give heed to our Lord and quit judging people. Let God do the judging and let us do the praying. We serve the cause of Christ best by befriending people and extending a helping hand instead of cutting them down and making them feel like dirt. The Word of God that we share in kindness and love, and the Spirit of Christ that we manifest with all meekness and gentleness, will minister conviction, life, and the hope of change. Judging them will not.

What I am against, however, is the thoughtless or flagrant use of Matthew 7:1 that produces a silence about sin where there ought to be none; and the use of our Lord’s prohibition to foster the accommodation, tolerance, and acceptance of sin among God’s people. Sin’s killing us. And our silence has resulted in a tragic and lamentable lowering of the righteous morality that Christ wants His followers to have.

What I’d like to do in these blog posts is provide balance to the prohibition by bringing out the whole counsel of Scripture.

In my first blog post we saw that the same Jesus who forbade us from judging people in Matthew 7:1 also allowed and commanded us to judge people in John 7:24, howbeit judge righteously. So the prohibition against judging people isn’t absolute. There are times when it’s alright for us to judge. When can we do so and not get in trouble with the Lord?

TIMES WHEN WE CAN JUDGE

(1) WE CAN JUDGE SINNING MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH. There was a professing Christian in the church at Corinth who was engaged in fornication and incest. The Corinthian believers, like many today, turned a blind eye to it, said nothing, and did nothing, about it. Paul wouldn’t stand for it. He asked them in I Corinthians 5:12, For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within?

Paul tells us that we are to judge those who are within. He’s talking about the church. We are to judge those who are a part of our church. Not our visitors, but our members. And the judgment that he has reference to has to do mostly with the judgment that precedes, or ends up in, church discipline. If one of us is messing up the church has a God-given right to judge us and, if need be, discipline or excommunicate us from the church. See verses 3 and 13 also.

(2) WE CAN JUDGE THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE GRIEVANCES IN THE CHURCH. Like many of our churches today, the church at Corinth had a lot of problems. There was a lot of bickering and fighting going on in the church. They were taking one another to court to try and settle their disputes, grievances, and complaints.

Here again, Paul wouldn’t stand for it. He asked them in I Corinthians 6:1-7a,  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?  (6)  But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers.  (7a)  Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another.

The judgment that Jesus speaks of in Matthew 7:1 has more to do with private or personal matters. Paul speaks of judgment in cases of moral sins in 1 Corinthians 5. And here is 1 Corinthians 6 Paul speaks of judgment as it relates to civil, legal matters. These are matters that can be, and are usually, taken to a court of law.

According to Paul, CHRISTIAN SHOULDN’T BE TAKING CHRISTIANS TO COURT. If you’ve got a problem with another church member and the problem is serious enough that you could go to court over it; then, instead of going to court to get it settled, you need to bring the problem to the church and have the church settle it—not the court.

Paul is laying forth the fact that the church is authorized to act, settle, or resolve problems and conflicts between its members. When there are problems in the church, it’s okay for the church to judge its own without fear of disobeying the Lord’s prohibition against judging in Matthew 7:1.

(3) WE CAN JUDGE PREACHERS AND RELIGIOUS LEADERS. John counsels us in I John 4:1, Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

When it comes to religious matters, especially matters of doctrine or belief, Christians are authorized and commanded to try the spirits. That means to discern, examine closely, and pass judgment on the truthfulness of the doctrine, person, and spirit who’s promoting it. So here again we see that Christians can, will, and are even commanded, to judge. IT IS NOT ALWAYS WRONG OR SINFUL TO JUDGE.

Alas, however, as we see in Matthew 7:1, there are times when it’s sinful and wrong for us to judge people. Coming up on my next blog post in this series on JUDGE NOT PART 3, I look at one of the times when it’s wrong for us to judge. It’s an eye-opening series and I invite you to drop by and let Jesus the Master Ophthalmologist set your eyes aright. God bless and see you in part 3.

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