The phrase ‘Judge ye not’ is perhaps one of the most misunderstood and misapplied biblical concepts.
Rarely does anyone want to confront sin, and rarely does a sinner want to be confronted. This presents a problem.
As the avalanche of immorality in America continues consuming many professing Christians, the idea of judging has become even more unpopular. You and I have choices to make regarding how to deal with the issue of sin in our culture and sadly, there are believers who think we should never mention the behavior of others.
In that case, how are we supposed to share the gospel of Christ, repentance from sin, and the need for forgiveness from God and eternal salvation?
Rather than address sin invading the church, we open the door to even more compromise by accommodating immoral behavior because we don’t want to offend anyone. But is this what Jesus taught?
“Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Luke 13:4-5
Jesus used every opportunity – including death – to warn others. I strongly suggest we not exercise our right to be silent.
How can we turn a sinner back to God if we don’t make a judgment and say anything about sinful behavior? James wrote:
My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins. James 5:19-20
The apostle Paul told the church at Corinth not to associate with people who claimed to be Christians, but were living sinful lives (1 Corinthians 5:9). He urged the committed believers to judge those within the church and let God judge those who are outside (1 Corinthians 5:12-13).
So let’s be very clear on this: We are not to judge unbelievers; we are to share the gospel with them, because without Christ and the Bible they have no moral compass. We are instructed to judge fellow believers as long as we do it with a spirit of humility and love, not hypocritically.
There are two types of judgment in the Bible: krino judgment is to “try, convict and punish”; anakrino is to “scrutinize, investigate and determine”.
“If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day.” John 12:47-48
The word Jesus uses here for judge is krino: “to try, convict and punish”.
“But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. 1 Corinthians 4:3-4
The word for judge in this verse is anakrino: “to scrutinize, investigate and determine”. Anakrino is used 14 times in the New Testament in these ways: examine, question, discern, judge, account.
Nine times out of ten, people use the words, ‘Judge ye not’ completely out of context. Even those with limited knowledge of the Bible and Christianity have either heard or have used these words themselves. This has become laughable in a culture today that promotes the idea of tolerance, but is quite intolerant when it comes to biblical Christianity, morality, and absolute truth.
Moral relativism seems to be the new law of the land. Everyone determines their own morality, and when man decides what is right or wrong, it becomes easier to defend the indefensible. After all, if the Bible does not apply to every person, well – then anything goes!
The people of Israel knew all about this and the result is always lawlessness.
In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes. Judges 21:25
In the Old Testament, the God of creation often judged the people of Israel, and either blessed or punished nations depending on their obedience or rebellion. After Jesus Christ conquered the last enemy, death, by His resurrection, God the Father transferred all power and authority to His Son (Matthew 28:18). The deity and authority of Jesus are non-negotiable facts in the true Christian faith, and the Bible teaches Jesus will one day judge all humanity.
As believers, we have the Holy Spirit to help us discern good and evil, and the love of God should move us to compassion; to share the love and grace of Jesus Christ and to encourage and warn fellow believers entangled in sin.
This may seem obvious and elementary to some, but in today’s culture of hyper-tolerance it must be repeated: it is necessary to make moral judgments.
First, no one is without sin, and if someone says they do not sin, they are simply fooling themselves (1 John 1:8). Assuming you and I have confessed our sins and have received God’s forgiveness, we know how awful it feels to commit a sin and be distant from God, so we should help others be reconciled to Him.
Let’s be clear on another point: only God knows what’s in a person’s heart. All we can do is judge behavior according to the teachings of Scripture.
The concept taught in Matthew 7 is to judge yourself or examine yourself first, and then you will see clearly to address someone else’s sin. Some folks seem to think Jesus said never attempt to take the speck out of your brother’s eye (mention their sin).