Judgment and the Christian

Is it true that as Christians we’re not to judge anyone? We hear it all the time, right? “Judge not” people say. Everyone, no matter how worldly, seems to have studied this passage carefully. They’re like Jack Van Impe with it (some of you will get that). Are Christians called to judge anyone? Do only the childish Christians at best ever do so? Can we even tell anyone they need Jesus if we can’t judge things? If we must judge, how so? How can we ever do so in a way that honors God and doesn’t make us unnecessarily obnoxious? If we can’t judge, then what do we do with all the passages that show we’re called to judge others? These are all good questions that should shape our approach to evangelism and apologetics. Obviously, I won’t deal with even close to everything on this in this short devotional.

I’m just going to copy/paste Psalm 145:5-9 here and let it sit there:
Let the godly ones exult in glory;
Let them sing for joy on their beds.
Let the high praises of God be in their mouth,
And a two-edged sword in their hand,
To execute vengeance on the nations
And punishment on the peoples,
To bind their kings with chains
And their nobles with fetters of iron,
To execute on them the judgment written;
This is an honor for all His godly ones.
Praise the Lord!

I say it’s foolish to say, “Christians shouldn’t judge.” It’s un-biblical, confusing, and actually quite dangerous. Everyone judges. Not every judges rightly. Claiming to not judge is a dogma of nearly every cult in modern day Christianity. The only door necessary for open apostasy is accepting everyone without judgment.

So, here’s the verse we of course hear quoted so often from our Lord: “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” Matthew 7:1-3. The context is horizontal. The judgment in view here is not between God and man, but between man and man. This is about how we deal with each other. Even if I were to somehow actually never judge anyone it is not propitiation for our SIN. We will all still be judged by God so Jesus isn’t saying don’t judge people so that God won’t judge you. He’s saying take heed how you judge and remember the eternal judge is over us all. Jesus is talking about the fact that if others will judge us as we judge them, we should be as prudent and gracious with others as we’d have them be to us. And it also clearly deals with hypocrisy. Vs. 3 shows that Jesus is talking about the fact that we’re to be about warring with our own sins primarily, and not with those of others. He’s saying don’t look without grace on others so that they will not look without grace at you. The idea is the hypocrisy of beams in my eye while I pretend to be able to help others with specks in theirs. A sound foundation for humble judgment (not an oxymoron) is reflected in what he says next in vs. 5: “…first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Note: you can and you should do this! This is what sanctification is all about. God uses Christians to love on and refine other Christians. He also, of course, uses Christians to save others. In vs. 6 immediately following, Jesus refers to people as “dogs” and “pigs” clearly intending for his disciples to be able obviously to judge who the dogs and pigs are: “Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” He’s talking about people. I watched a clip of an LGBTPPPFQA pride parade this week. Entirely naked “men” and “women” in front of others. In front of kids. They’re dogs and pigs who trample God’s every word underfoot and would tear me in pieces if they could. I judged them for this, protecting my pearls, and I know for certain also that if I was them I’d want nothing less from someone who knows the truth than that I’d tell them.

Here’s how I want you to judge me, reader: as a sinner who’s pled guilty to the judge and received grace and sometimes needs to be judged by others to help me honor that grace more in my life. All my cards are on the table with those I love. I want accountability. I want correction. I invite criticism. CH Spurgeon once said of me the following:

This quote is true of me. And because God has saved me from me, I’m now free to know that it’s true of you also. I can freely love you and even if I have to judge something you’re doing, with my eyes on Jesus, I can do it with love and kindness. Please love me enough back to judge me if I’m sinning also. Or even if I’m wrong about something. If we know that we’re not above the judgment of others, we need not fear welcoming the same and extending it to the same ends- God’s honor and our joy. 2 Corinthians 1:24; 3 John 4. Jesus said they’ll judge us as we judge them. I can and do welcome that because I judge by God’s word. Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” John 7:24. There are no contradictions in Christ. The saints should judge as redeemed sinners having even the secret sins of their hearts laid bare before their God. We must know who God is and who we are to judge with love and with equity.

There’s no non-sinner on earth. This is a fact. Romans 3:23. No one judges as God. He alone is the judge of all of us. All Christians bind and we all loose under heaven, but we are not on the throne of perfect holiness. God’s Law is his to judge over us all. It’s a terrible delegation he’s given believers and so we must be careful. I can be wrong. I can be deceived. I can be swayed. I can be foolish. I can judge for the rich or the handsome. I need help. I need reminders. I need God’s wisdom and multiple counselors. Only God is perfect in judgment. All of our judgment then is geared toward mercy to all, and not to condemnation. God’s made his standard known. We must all be born again. We’re then just like police officers on the streets under the judge. We give out tickets only. The summons is what we issue. We know the law, but our authority is under the judge. We’re not the judge, but we’re to judge, as ambassadors of that good and righteous law, to live in accordance with it, and to let God hand out the sentences in the end.

In Romans 2:3, we see the same hypocrisy decried under Jesus’ teaching in the sermon cited above when Paul asks: “But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God?” Hypocrites get the beam out and then can help others with their speck. The message is much the same. A non-hypocrite is Peter feeding the sheep (part of which is getting out their specks) after his restoration. John 21:15, etc. Paul also helped Peter with a speck in his eye when he played the hypocrite in Antioch. Galatians 2:11-14.

I’ll resist writing on for too much longer today, but there would be far too many blatant contradictions in the Bible if judgment was indeed a cuss word as many falsely assert. Frankly, it’s not nice to not judge. Judgment is part of what it means to, “…not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4. Look at Paul’s words to the Corinthian body throughout the whole of chapter five. In vv. 12-13 there we read: “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.” Wait Paul, don’t you know that Jesus said we just can’t judge?! We do not know God’s standards against sexual immorality, Paul. He’s not made it plain enough, sir. So, unless he comes incarnate again and judges among us, we would never stoop to such vile things! No, friends. This would not be wisdom. Paul commands judgment in accordance with Jesus’ command to judge righteously.

We should be slow to speak and slow to judge. Amen. Quick to forgive. Quick to show mercy, etc. But we must judge sin. First our own (judge as you wish to be judged) and then, when needed and appropriate, in love and gentleness, the sins of others in our lives. Ezekiel 3:18 even goes so far as to say, “When I say to the wicked, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn him or speak out to warn the wicked from his wicked way that he may live, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand.” Not everyone’s fit to judge because we do not do it with love. Sure, we can blow this bigtime. If you can’t judge with love, bring it to God. Repent. Focus on the beam in your own eye. Love people enough to judge yourself and live out this Gospel in the world.

Here’s a last example of how patently un-biblical it is to say we should never judge. Specifically regarding judgment in the church, Jesus laid down principles for sound judgment for every generation in Matthew 18:15-20. There Jesus shows us to confront the sin of others at the lowest level, to judge it individually and collectively, and then to exact a heaven-witnessed judgment on anyone not submitted to our judgment. This requires nothing short of judgment. So much for flat out “judge not” foolishness.

Last thing I have to add. Yes, I believe there is a separate and higher or stricter judgment for those who profess the Faith than for those who don’t. There is a judgment inside the church or among those who call themselves members of Christ and another type for the non-believer, but if I can’t judge that someone who does not have Jesus needs Jesus, I can’t preach the Gospel to them at all can I? Just doing evangelism requires judgment. “You need a Savior” we say. If someone asks us “from what”? we must judge. Without Jesus, I a sub-judge know that someone will be sent to hell in the end. I must judge that as true in their lives. Psalm 5:5; John 3:36. Far from this hardening me or making me callous if I’m a mature disciple, this motivates me to war with my own sin so that I can love others enough to be free enough to judge and call them to Cross.

God bless!

Joseph Pittano

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