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Judging and the Child of God: A Close Look at Matthew 7:1
How often, in our efforts to take a stand, and to stand, for the truth and withstand error, we have been taken to task with the use of such Scripture passages as "Judge not, that ye be not judged" Matthew 7:1, and "the servant of the Lord must not strive" 2 Timothy 2:24. These passages taken out of context can induce some Children of God to great irresponsibility. However, it is the purpose of this message to examine the Scriptures as a whole and see what they have to say about judging others, or judging what they say or do.
But, FIRST, members of The Body of The LORD Jesus Christ, Pay ATTENTION! Satan LOVES it when one Child of God, *HYPOCRITICALLY* judges another Child of God for their sin! You know what Satan calls the one doing the judging? His next VICTIM!
Truth, not sprinkled with Mercy, is Brutality!
The Scriptures have a lot to say about judging others. Since, however, one Greek word, "krino" is most often used in discussing this subject, and since this is the word the LORD Jesus Christ, used when He said, "Judge not," we will deal only with those passages in which this Greek root "krino" (to judge) and its derivatives, "anakrino" (to judge strictly) and "diakrino" (to judge thoroughly) are used. In this way, there can, at least, be little or no "strife about words."
If the interpretation so often placed upon our LORD’s words, "Judge not," were consistent with the Scriptures as a whole, the Apostle Paul would not have taken such strong exception when he and Barnabas "had no small dissension and disputation" with the Judaizers who had come to Antioch, seeking to bring the Gentile believers there under the Law, or as later at Jerusalem, the Apostle Paul "gave place by subjection" to these same Judaizers, "no, not for an hour, that the truth of the Gospel might continue with the Gentiles" Acts 15:2 and Galatians 2:5.
As to the root word "krino," (to judge), it should be observed right away that some of the passages using this word urge us NOT to judge, while others teach as strongly that we SHOULD judge, indeed, that "he that is spiritual judgeth all things" 1 Corinthians 2:15, so that the interpretation of any Scriptural statement on judging must be determined, not by any "private interpretation," but by the context and/or of related Scripture passages.
"Judge not, that ye be not judged" Matthew 7:1.
Our Lord's words here have, of course, to do with judging persons, obviously for what they do or fail to do, but in Matthew 7:5 there is the indication that they have reference to a certain type of critic, "Thou hypocrite," or one who has a "beam" in his own eye, while criticizing the "mote" (which means any small, dry particle) in his brother's eye. Such a critic would surely not be the "spiritual" person of 1 Corinthians 2:15.
Thus Matthew 7:1-2 is a warning that if you are to judge others, you must expect others to judge you. The parallel passage in Luke 6:37-38 brings this out even more forcefully. The Apostle Paul, also, in Romans 2:1, says to those who hypocritically judge others, "wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things."
In Romans 14:4-13 the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul speaks on this readiness to judge others. He deals with the friction between those on the one hand who feel free to "eat all things" and those on the other who are convicted that they should only "eat herbs", "Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth; for God hath received him" Romans 14:3.
Then, in Romans 14:10-13, The Holy Spirit urges those on both sides to refrain from criticizing each other since all of us, each one individually, will one day give a personal account to God, "But why dost thou judge thy brother? Or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. So then, every one of us shall give account of himself to God. Let us not therefore judge one another anymore; but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother's way"
It is important to note that this has to do with judging one another as to way of life. Romans 14 has to do with judging one another in matters NOT specifically dealt with elsewhere in the Word of God. Such judgment should be left to Christ, at whose "judgment seat" we shall all one day stand. Notice the Apostle Paul DOES say to not put a stumbling block in your brother’s way. This means, say, you feel free to have a glass of wine with dinner. But your brother in Christ, lives the absolute opposite, AND he is coming to dinner. The Apostle Paul is here telling those who feel free in this manner, to abstain from the glass of wine at this particular dinner for your brother’s sake.
In the same vein the Apostle says in 1 Corinthians 4:5, "Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God."
Let us then, rather be criticized than to criticize, rather be judged than to judge, EXCEPT in matters where God has given us the clear knowledge of His Will. To the Galatians, for example, who had been enticed to go back under the Law after The LORD Jesus Christ, had so gloriously set them free, the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul wrote, "Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage" Galatians 5:1. And then he proceeds to tell them in stern language how they will belittle Christ, and what the results will be if they continue in their course.
Also, he writes to the brethren at Colossi, this time urging them NOT TO ACCEPT the criticisms of those who would bring them under the Law, "Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come, but the Body (the substance) is of Christ" Colosians 2:16-17.
But where God has clearly made His truth and will known believers SHOULD judge between truth and error, not only standing for what is right, but withstanding what is wrong, Ephesians 6:11-13, and this often involves "judging" and "withstanding" persons involved. Using the same root, krino, the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul says,
"But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man"
1 Corinthians 2:15.
The truly spiritual Child of God is so far above the wisest people of this world, and even, so far above the mass of Christians with whom he or she comes in contact with regularly, that he can understand THEM, but they can never quite understand HIM. It is a sad fact, however, that in the Body of Christ, today, as in that of the Apostle Paul's day, there are so few, comparatively, who are truly spiritual and truly QUALIFIED to judge. Referring to the senseless and shameful contentions among the Corinthian believers, the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul wrote, "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?" 1 Corinthians 6:5. Here he reprimands them because there is not one man among them who is spiritual enough to reprove the wrong and defend the right.
Indeed, Paul himself, an eminently spiritual man of God, once found it necessary to rebuke Peter publicly, even though Peter had been used of God to bring thousands to Yâ-hwéh Yâhuwshúa`s, the LORD Jesus Christ’s feet before Paul had even been converted.
Now, let’s read that passage carefully, "But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles; but when they were come he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the Circumcision. And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him, insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation (hypocrisy). But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the Truth of the Gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou being a Jew, livest after the manner of the Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?" Galatians 2:11-14.
WOW! This must have been embarrassing to the Apostle Peter. BUT, who can deny that the Apostle Paul was absolutely right in thus dealing with this crisis, stepping in immediately to rebuke Peter's hypocrisy in going back on the great truths which God had revealed with regard to the oneness of Jewish and Gentile believers in the Body of Christ. The Apostle Paul's action was not only right; it was necessary lest Peter "build again" the wall of separation between Jewish and Gentile believers which he himself had been used by Christ, to "destroy" (Galatians 2:18 and Acts 15:9-11).
While the Apostle Paul, in 1 Corinthians, deals with judging in the context of spirituality, he is not the first in Scripture to declare that God's people should, when truly qualified, judge others. When the LORD Jesus Christ, Himself was judged by His antagonists, He said, "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment" John 7:24.
Surely Christ indicated by these words that His hearers should judge fairly and rightly, though "hypocrites" as in Matthew 7:1-5, should take care not to judge at all.
In 1 Corinthians 6:2-3, the Holy Spirit, through the Apostle Paul, declares that believers, members of the Body of Christ, will one day "judge the world" and will EVEN "judge angels" basing upon this fact his exhortation that they should be able to judge in matters pertaining to this life, 1 Corinthians 6:3, and reproving them for their inability "to judge the smallest matters" 1 Corinthians 6:2. And then in 1 Corinthians 6:5, as we have seen, he speaks to their shame that there is not even one among them who is spiritual enough, and therefore respected enough, to judge between his brethren.
Thus Christ, calls upon His people, not merely to judge others, but to be such as are qualified, morally and spiritually, to judge in matters concerning truth and error or right conduct and wrong.
As the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul instructs Timothy and Titus, both truly spiritual men of God, to act in situations in which it is necessary to judge. To Timothy He writes, "Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear" 1 Timothy 5:20. And, "reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine" 2 Timothy 4:2. Then, to Titus He writes, "For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I have appointed thee" Titus 1:5. "For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision; Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake" Titus 1:10-11.
Not just anyone would be qualified, spiritually and morally, to judge the “wrong-doing” Children of God to whom Timothy and Titus ministered, but these two men of God WERE thus qualified and the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul instructed them to do so firmly.
This brings us to a most important subject pertaining to us all:
In the Apostle Paul's well known passage on the LORD's Supper, he warns against partaking of this sacred memorial in an unworthy manner, 1 Corinthians 11:27, as some of the Corinthians were indeed doing. "Let a man examine himself," he says, "and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup" 1 Corinthians 11:28.
It was because they had been so irresponsible in this matter that it had become necessary for Christ, to discipline them. Many among them were "weak and sickly," and some had even been taken away in death. 1 Corinthians 11:30. This would not have been necessary, the Holy Spirit through the Apostle declares, if they had judged themselves. 1 Corinthians 11:31-32. Each one carefully examining himself in the presence of the Christ, so that he might be in the proper spiritual condition to celebrate the death of Yâ-hwéh Yâhuwshúa`, The LORD Jesus Christ, for sin.
Concluding the remarks about living so that they could partake of this remembrance in a worthy and sincere manner, He says, "For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world" 1 Corinthians 11:31-32.
All of us should surely take the Holy Spirit’s exhortation through the Apostle here to heart. If we would judge ourselves God would not have to discipline us for our irresponsibility and we would be in a better position to serve Him as those who are truly spiritual.
Now, be VERY aware that the fact that a man judges others does not of itself indicate that he is truly spiritual. As a matter of fact, someone who judges himself and is truly spiritual will NOT be quick to judge others. Yet, it SHOULD be our desire to BE truly spiritual so that we might correctly "judge all things". 1 Corinthians 2:15. And, therefore judging, stand for what is Scriptural and right and withstand what is unscriptural and wrong, even when, in so doing, it is necessary to withstand those who teach or practice what is unscriptural and wrong?
So let’s STOP the use of such passages as 2 Timothy 2:24 and Matthew 7:1 as excuses for irresponsibility and for the criticism of those who seek to stand true to Christ and His Word. Let us rather consider prayerfully all that God says about judging, that we might truly please and honor Him!
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” Acts 16:31
So There You Have it!
Spread this message to everyone you know, far and wide. The time is short
Grace be to you and peace, from God: our Father, and the LORD Jesus Christ
In The LORD Jesus Christ,
The Lion and Lamb Ministry
David Picos, D.D.
Minister and Ambassador for Christ in the Ministry of Reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18-20; Ephesians 3:2,9)
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