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Judging –

to Judge or not to Judge

 

By Bart Nelson

 

 

 

 

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How do we decide? What does the word of God have to tell us?

 

Mt. 7.1 “Judge  not, that you be not judged. 2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. 3 And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. Do I want to be judged? I don’t think so! If I do judge, I’ll be judged in the same way. The Golden Rule is the operative here. Instead of judging others, I must take a close look at myself – OUCH! How do I measure up to Jesus and the Bible? Speck and plank are the same size, distance is what makes the difference. But the plank keeps you from taking out the speck, it blocks a clear, unobstructed view!

 

Mt. 12.1 At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath. And His disciples were hungry, and began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. 2 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, “Look, Your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath!” 3 But He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: 4 how he entered the house of God and ate the showbread which was not lawful for him to eat, nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? 5 Or have you not read in the law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless? 6 Yet I say to you that in this place there is One greater than the temple. 7 But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. 8 For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” The Pharisees were noted for judging, and doing so incorrectly. Here, Jesus corrected them by revealing what God wants – mercy and not condemning the guiltless.

 

Mt. 15.10 When He had called the multitude to Himself, He said to them, “Hear and understand: 11 Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.” 17 Do you not yet understand that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated? 18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. 19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. 20 These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.” External, religious things are not a priority with God. Yet, these are the very things we tend to judge…. Jn. 7.23 If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath, so that the law of Moses should not be broken, are you angry with Me because I made a man completely well on the Sabbath? 24 Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” We dare not judge by the exterior. 1 Cor. 4.3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by a human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. 4 For I know of nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord. 5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God. Gal. 2.6 As for those who seemed to be important--whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not judge by external appearance--those men added nothing to my message. “We tend to judge each other by our actions and ourselves by our good intentions” Ed Cole. We can’t even judge our own heart – Jer. 17.9-10 – so how do we think we’re capable of judging others? Only God knows the hidden things. We must wait until the correct time – judgement day! Remember where we read about judging the exterior? This is why we can’t and shouldn’t judge the exterior, because only God knows the heart and motives. Col. 2.16 So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, 17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. External things, what is usually judged, are not what’s important.

 

Mk. 6.11 And whoever will not receive you nor hear you, when you depart from there, shake off the dust under your feet as a testimony against them. Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!" When our message or we ourselves are not received – even then the judgement is up to God!

 

Lk. 6.36 Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. 37 “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. How merciful, patient, and forgiving has God been to me? Think carefully, deeply, because that’s what I am to show to others.

 

Jn. 8.4 they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” 6 This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear. 7 So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them,  He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” 8 And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9 Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. 10 When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her,  “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her,  “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” Am I without sin? NOT! Then I must keep stones to myself!

 

Rom. 2.1 Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. 2 But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. 3 And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? 5 But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 6 who “will render to each one according to his deeds”: 7 eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; 8 but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath, 9 tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; 10 but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 11 For there is no partiality with God. Do I want to be judged and condemned in the same way that I would do to another? Nope, not even. I need to realize that God’s goodness and patience is what leads me and others to repentance. Judging others stores up wrath, indignation, tribulation and anguish for me.

 

Rom. 14.3 Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him. 4 Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand. 7 For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. 8 For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. 10 But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. 12 So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. 13 Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way. We are not to judge those who have more or less liberty than ourselves. Each of us lives to the Lord our individual master. Each of us will give an account of our lives to the Lord, so we need to make sure we are doing what the Lord wants for us and not worry about everyone else.

 

James 2.2 For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, 3 and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, “You sit here in a good place,” and say to the poor man, “You stand there,” or, “Sit here at my footstool,” 4 have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? 12 So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. I don’t know about you, but I want all the mercy I can get, and as little judgement as well, whether from God or man. Therefore, that’s what I need to show.

 

James 4.11 Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. 12 There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another? Do I want to judge the law and make myself a lawgiver, thereby slapping God in the face? Lord forbid!

 

To conclude this section, not only are we to not judge others, but we are to show mercy to others. We are not to judge because we are guilty of the same thing and because we show partiality. Instead, we are to be loving, accepting, receiving, etc.

 

Are There Things We're Supposed To Judge?

 

We do need to discern certain things – especially spirits and words of prophecy. We're not to condemn or pass a sentence on others. Mt. 7:15-23 "Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits. Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE INIQUITY.'” There were thorn bushes in Israel that produced a fruit that looked like grapes and a thistle plant that produced a fruit that looked like figs. These folks were deliberately trying to deceive and posing as ministers. Those who did miracles also practiced iniquity – i.e. their own will not God’s. We can know folks by their fruits, but sometimes the true fruit is not immediately discernable. Another note is that these folks were telling everyone about their gifting, which may or may not have been real, but the fruit wasn’t quite as evident. The words, actions, and results were to be examined to see if what was produced was profitable and not poisonous.

Lk. 7.43 Simon answered and said, "I suppose the one whom he forgave more." And He said to him, "You have rightly judged."

 

Acts 17.11 These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so

 

Rom. 16.17-18 Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.

1 Cor. 2.14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one.

 

I Cor. 10.15 I speak as to wise men; judge for yourselves what I say.

 

1 Cor. 12.10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.

 

1 Jn. 4.1-3 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the {spirit} of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.

2 Jn. 9-11 Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds.

Any judgement must be based on the word, not on matters of taste. Is. 8.20 To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.

 

We are to judge things in our own life and choose what is excellent for ourselves. Rom. 12.9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. 1 Cor. 11.27-32 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world. 2 Cor. 13.5-6 Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? Unless, indeed, you are disqualified. But I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified. Phil. 1.9-10 And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ. Heb. 5.12-14 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil. 2 Pet. 1.10 10 Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble. Holy Spirit will convict of sin, especially when we invite Him to – Ps. 139.23-24 Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. He is the only one truly capable Jer. 179-10 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?  I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings.

Here is how Jesus said we are to help someone who has sinned against us. We're not to gossip, passing the offense onto others, etc. The first one we're to tell, other than God in prayer, is the offender.
Mt. 18.15-17 “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ 17 And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector. In these next verses, Paul, the very one who said we should not judge, says we should judge Christians who are immoral. We're not talking about gray areas, trite things, matters of taste. We're to judge those who are immoral and refuse to repent. We are not to associate with them. Later, when this one repented, he was allowed back into fellowship. The goal here is to see someone restored from immorality. This has nothing to do with judging on trivial matters, but immorality! 1 Cor. 5.9-6.7 I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler--not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES. Does any one of you, when he has a case against his neighbor, dare to go to law before the unrighteous and not before the saints?  Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? If the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life? So if you have law courts dealing with matters of this life, do you appoint them as judges who are of no account in the church? I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not among you one wise man who will be able to decide between his brethren, but brother goes to law with brother, and that before unbelievers? Actually, then, it is already a defeat for you, that you have lawsuits with one another. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded? Paul shows us the goal in Gal. 6.1-2 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.