Does The Bible Condemn Judging
By J.R. Ensey
Jesus addressed this question in Matthew 7:1,2—“Judge
not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye
shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured
to you again.” An analysis of these verses and the root words
will reveal that, to the Jewish mind, judgment was synonymous with
condemnation, and tantamount to sentencing. Verse two helps explain
that by showing the nature of judgment (krina): it was the verdict!
The “measure” is the severity or otherwise of the sentence.
In both of these scriptures, the passives refer to judgment by God.
The point is that how we judge another is how God will ultimately
What Jesus is pleading for is gentleness in our estimation of the
lives of others. Hypocrites will trust in themselves and despise
others, condemning them to merely make themselves appear in a more
favorable light. Paul's admonition for us to esteem one another
better than ourselves is the Christian approach toward overcoming
this problem (Philippians 2:3). He suggests that we manifest mercy,
remembering our own weaknesses (Galations 6:1).
does not mandate silence or blindness, however. Christ did not leave
the church at the unrighteous mercy of hypocrites and evildoers,
or promote tolerance for wolves among the flock (Acts 20:29). As
shepherds, pastors and church leaders we must protect the flock.
We are to be watchmen on the wall, not dumb dogs that cannot bark
(Isaiah 62:6; 56:10).
has the obligation to constantly be evaluating. Judgment is almost
too harsh a word and conjures up ideas that are foreign to church
discipline and spiritual correction which Christ ordained for His
body. The pastor must discern the difference between a sheep and
a wolf. That calls for evaluation of character, deeds, and attitudes.
If not, the man of God would never have been instructed to “reprove,
rebuke, exhort.” (II Timothy 4:2). Jesus said, “By their
fruits ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:16). This is not to
protect the hateful person who would attack others then hide behind
the label of “fruit inspector.” However, Jesus expected
even the simple to be able to know the difference between a lemon
and an apple, just as we should know the distinction between a dedicated
believer and a rank sinner.
not too difficult to see the difference between a condemning, censorious
spirit, manifested for selfish motives, and one that is alert to
common dangers which afflict the body. Any way you slice it, leadership
must make and pass judgment at times on the merits of one's qualifications
to be an active participant in the functions of the church.
someone observes a flagrant violation of the principles of righteousness,
or the breaking of vows by which men are bound together in fellowship,
he is not in spiritual jeopardy to judge in himself that it is wrong
and to take biblically ordained action. Jesus would never have left
instsructions with us like John 7:24, I Corinthians 5:9-13, 6:2-5,
Luke 17:3, or Matthew 18:15-20 unless He meant for us to carry them
out. When Jim Bakker of TV’s PTL Club admitted his immorality
with a church secretary and his payment of hush money to keep her
quiet, procedures were begun to defrock him. It was amazing that
the Charismatic media, many of the PTL supporters, and even some
of the secular personalities, began to wail about “judging
him.” “Who are you to judge?” church officials
were asked. But were they really judging a man who could be innocent
in the sense of condemning, or taking action out of wrong motives?
Of course not. They were doing their duty to initiate disfellowshipping
procedures. Bakker had already confessed and condemned himself.
Liberal-minded individuals tend to use the term “judgmental”
to quiet any criticism of their deeds, and make any standard of
behavior appear narrow or foolish.
In John 3:16-17 Jesus said, “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. For God sent not His son
into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through
Him might be saved.” The world has condemned itself through
gross disobedience. Jesus didn't rush down here to whack the world
with a rod of judgment, but came to offer them life, and a way to
escape final sentencing. All a man has to do to be finally sentenced
to eternal damnation is...nothing. He is condemned already by his
waywardness. In John 12:47-48, Jesus explains that men will be judged
(condemned) by their own rejection of His word.
adultrous woman who was brought to Jesus was ringed by her accusers,
probably including actual witnesses. When they slinked away under
the searchlight of Jesus' words, she was left alone with Jesus.
“Woman, where are thine accusers?” (John 8:10 KJV) “Has
no one condemned thee?” (John 8:10 NIV) “No man, Lord.”
“Neither do I condemn thee. Go and sin no more.” He
was not legally qualified to judge (condemn, sentence) her since
he was not an eyewitness. But as the omniscient Christ (knowing
she was guilty) He could say, “Go and sin no more.”
He explained it to the Pharisees: “You judge by human standards;
I pass judgment on no one. But if I do judge, my decisions are right,
because I am not alone. I stand with the Father who sent me”
(John 8:15-16 NIV). This is an expression of the John 3:16 principle.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Judging (condemning to a particular sentence) is to be left to those
who are in authority to do so. Knowing that wrong has been done,
reporting it to the proper authorities, and handling the matter
scripturally is not condemned in Matthew 7:1. Jesus here is denouncing
unrighteous judgment ( as opposed to righteous [John 7:24]), or
that which is censorious and condemnatory for selfish motives. Neither
Jesus nor Paul condemned judging per se: “Judge not according
to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment" (John 7:24);
“But do not ye judge them that are within. Therefore put away
from yourselves that wicked person...do ye not know that the saints
shall judge the world? And if the world be judged by you, are ye
unworthy to judge the smallest matters?” (I Corinthians 5:12
Therefore, when a believer is seen indulging in sin, it is not wrong
to bring the matter to his attention and ultimately to the whole
church (Matthew 18:15-20). Sometimes it is our duty to judge, and
we are safe to do it, if we do it with pity for the sinner and with
grief for the dishonor done to God (Psalms 19:136). Those who are
required to sit in judgment of others behavior may find solace and
comfort in the the word of the Lord given to Isaiah: “Woe
to those who...acquit the guilty for a bribe, but deny justice to
the innocent...all who have an eye for evil will be cut down...those
who with a word make a man out to be guilty, who ensnare the defender
in court and with false testimony deprive the innocent of justice”
(Isaiah 3:22,23; 29:20,21). To permit the guilty to go free, or
the innocent to be denied justice, is to invite the displeasure
of the Lord.
This obligation to judge, however, does not justify accusation or
condemnation based on wrong motives. Should that happen, God will
ultimately judge that person with the same judgment—he will
be condemned as he himself condemned others (Matthew 7:1-2).