How many times have you confronted another Christ follower about their sin and been met with the response, “Judge not, lest you be judged”?
Are you aware that Mathew 7:1 is the MOST quoted verse in the bible? It’s quoted more than John 3:16. Why do you suppose that is? I can remember standing in a grocery line and hearing a woman justify her foolish choice for a presidential candidate, even after being told by another bystander of his poor moral choices in the past. Her reply was, “But you know, we aren’t supposed to judge.” Ha, imagine that!! Isn’t that what an election is? However, it goes to show how distorted and naive we are when it comes to what the Bible truly says on the subject.
As we look closer at Mathew 7:1-5 we see that God EXPECTS His people to make the hard decisions of judgment when necessary. In the context of this verse (and the verses to follow) Christ calls for judging after you’ve FIRST judged yourself. You see, Jesus was pointing out the self-righteous attitude of the religious leaders. Their desire was to “lessen” the person being judged in order that they would be seen as “greater”. If Christ was calling us NOT to judge, how could he have said several verses later, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves…by their fruits you will know them” (Matthew 7:15, 20, NKJV). How can you possibly know who is a false prophet unless you make judgments about their “fruits” (teaching, actions, etc.)? As Christians, we must make judgments in these cases.
Here are several other bible references where we’re commanded to “judge”:
Seek good, and not evil, that you may live; and so the Lord, the God of hosts, will be with you, as you have said. Hate evil, and love good, and establish justice in the gate; it may be that the Lord, the God of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.
The way of peace they do not know, and there is no justice in their paths; they have made their roads crooked; no one who treads on them knows peace.
1 Corinthians 1:10
I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.
1 Corinthians 2:15
The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one.
The ENEMY has been lying to us hoping that we will not judge because he knows the type of judgment that pleases God. Satan has sold us on the deceitful idea that tolerance and acceptance are the answers to the sins of our brothers & sisters in Christ.
So the question then becomes, “how do we judge and when is it appropriate to judge?”
1. We should always judge scripturally & never judge when God’s Word is silent on an issue. A great example of this is when we find ourselves dealing with issues where our opinion seems to be the only basis for judgment.
2. Pray for good judgment ability. James 1:5 tells us, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
3. We should judge mercifully. The Father has shown a great deal of mercy towards each of us. Likewise, you and I should exercise mercy towards others. One time Jesus sent messengers into Samaria to prepare for His arrival, and His messengers were rejected. What did James and John say? “Lord, should we call fire down from heaven and consume them?” They wanted to judge the Samaritans right then and there. Jesus replied with a rebuke, saying, “you don’t know what manner of spirit they are of.” They may have been right in their assumption, and perhaps Jesus knew they were right, but He didn’t want them assuming a wrongful place of judgment reserved for Him.
4. We must first evaluate and judge ourselves. We must never forget that we are NOT spiritual conquerors, but rather fellow strugglers. The hope in spiritual judgment is for the person being rebuked to experience restoration, rather than falling into further rebellion.
I’m brought back to a statement that Dr. David Platt once said when preaching from Acts 5:1-11, “the greatest hindrance to the advancement of the Gospel will never be opposition from outside the church. The greatest hindrance to the advancement of the Gospel will always be sin inside the church.”
If we choose not to deal with the REAL issues of sin within our spiritual families (aka: churches) then we are acting in direct disobedience to God. The questions then become 1.) Will we do it and 2.) Will we do it with wisdom, mercy and with restoration in mind?
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