Judge Others.  Jesus Said To.

“Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”

Jesus Christ (John 7:24)

We often hear from both atheists and Christians that the Bible says that we are never supposed to judge others.  To put it as nicely as possible, that’s baloney.  We all know deep down that it’s not true.  If we catch someone stealing a television, we’ll yell at the thief, “Put that back!  Stealing is wrong!”  It wouldn’t cross our minds that we’re doing something wrong by saying that.

But we all know the atheist’s three favorite verses in the Bible:  “Judge not lest you be judged” (Matthew 7:1), “He who is without sin cast the first stone” (John 8:7), and “God is love” (1 John 4:8).  Why are these his favorites?  Because they allow the atheist to escape accountability to God.  He is guilty before God and doesn’t like to hear about it  – just like the thief would like people to stop judging him and saying that stealing is wrong, especially the cops, judges, and lawmakers (until the thief becomes the victim of theft). But there’s bad news for the atheist.  These verses don’t say what they think they say.  The Bible commands us to judge, and these verses are fully consistent with the rest of the Bible.  Let’s take a look at them one at a time.

 

“Judge not lest you be judged” (Matthew 7:1)

Here is the full quote of what Jesus said:

Judge not, that you be not judged.  For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.  Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye?  You hypocrite, 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.  (Matthew 7:1-5)

The problem with interpreting this passage to support non-judgmentalism is that Jesus says to judge in the last line – “take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”  He is commenting on how to judge, not forbidding it.  He is condemning hypocritical judgment, in which the person judging does a poor job making judgments about his own life, but thinks that he is an expert at solving the same problems in other people’s lives.  It’s like a person who is constantly in financial trouble confidently telling another person how to make financial decisions.  Jesus warns that such a person is inviting scrutiny in his own life on the same issue:  “You’re in a financial mess!  Why should I listen to you?”  Jesus says that once a person is able to make judgments about his own life, then he is competent to take the speck out of someone else’s eye.  A person who learns from his financial mistakes and becomes a success is then in a good position to give financial advice to others.  Or as in the AA program, alcoholics that kick the habit are able to help others with the same problem.

The Pharisees thought that they were experts in the law of God, but Jesus pointed out that they were really substituting human traditions for the law of God.  For example, they would dedicate money to the temple in the name of their parents, and claimed that by this they had fulfilled the command to honor their father and their mother (Matt. 15:1-9).  Mishandling the application of God’s law to their own life so badly, they were in no position to give advice to others on how to be faithful to the law of God.

 

“He who is without sin cast the first stone” (John 8:7)

The popular interpretation of this passage is that only someone who never sins can declare that someone else has sinned.  But the issue before them, adultery, was a criminal act under the law of Moses.  Given this context, the popular interpretation would require us to conclude that Jesus was demanding that the State be abolished because it would mean that nothing could be called a crime.  All judges in court systems are sinners, all legislators who make the laws are sinners, and all executives who enforce the laws created by the legislators are sinners.  So the popular interpretation is absurd.  Jesus was not an anarchist.  He recognized the authority of Caesar (Matt. 22:21).

Here’s an alternative interpretation that makes sense:  “without sin” refers to the particular sin under discussion, adultery, not absolute sinlessness.[1]  Jesus was expressing the rule that a person who should be prosecuted for committing a particular crime is not a legitimate witness against someone else for that same crime.  If these men were guilty of adultery, they should be the “stonees,” not the “stoners.”  How did these men know how to find the woman “in the very act of adultery” (John 8:4)?  Probably because they had visited that location to engage in adultery themselves. That’s why they left, leaving no witnesses against the accused.  The law of Moses required at least two witnesses, and those witnesses had to be the first ones to cast stones to execute the criminal:

On the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses the one who is to die shall be put to death; a person shall not be put to death on the evidence of one witness. The hand of the witnesses shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. (Deut. 17:6-7)

If the witnesses refused to initiate the execution, no execution could take place.  Jesus is not saying anything against the law of Moses; He is upholding it.  He is not saying that stones should never be cast.  “He who is without [this] sin cast the first stone” means, “If you can do it lawfully, go ahead and stone her.”  Shocking, isn’t it?  But this is the real Jesus, not the Sunday School Jesus, meek and mild.

The Pharisees thought that they had trapped Jesus.  As one who claimed to be the Messiah, the Pharisees knew that Jesus would have to uphold the law of God.  Yet the Roman government had taken the authority to execute criminals away from the Jews.  Only a Roman court could execute a criminal (which is why they had to deliver Jesus to the Roman authorities to have Him put to death).  Jesus avoided the horns of the dilemma by endorsing the Mosaic law, but showing the Pharisees that the requirements of the Mosaic law had not been met in order to carry out a judgment against the woman.

Jesus’ last words to the adulteress release her from liability before the impromptu court, but He still judges her for her sin of adultery:  “Go and sin no more.”  He’s like a judge who tells an accused when charges are dropped because of tainted evidence, “The police didn’t get the goods on you this time, but don’t let me see you back here again.  Stay out of trouble.”  There’s no support for non-judgmentalism here.

Lastly, there is good reason to believe that this passage doesn’t belong in the Bible.  There is probably a note to that effect in the margins of your Bible.  The passage is not found in the oldest extant manuscripts.  So this is hardly a good passage for non-judgmentalists to stake their case on.

 

“God is love” (1 John 4:8)

God is love.  That’s His fundamental nature.  So the liberal thinks that he can ignore all the harsh stuff in the Old Testament.  That was just because humanity was less evolved, but the New Testament expresses a higher view of God’s nature when it teaches the “new commandment” of love.  But once again, the liberal is pouring his own ideas into the Biblical text.  When Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another:  just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another” (John 13:34), He was quoting the Old Testament. Leviticus 19:18 says, “you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  So the Old Testament teaches the same ethic here.  Since the Old Testament is no less God’s word than the New, and God’s fundamental nature is eternal, you would expect the Old Testament to express God’s nature of love as much as the New.  If the Old Testament God does not seem loving, then you need to change your definition of love to conform to God’s.

The newness that Jesus mentioned was 1) in having the new example of perfect love to follow, Jesus Christ (“just as I have loved you”),  and 2) in a new expansion of the practice of the commandment to love others with the expansion of the “light” of Christianity as Christian belief spreads throughout the world.  As John says about the commandment to love one another:

Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard.  At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining.  (1 John 2:7-8)

Furthermore, harsh punishment to the enemies of God is not something left behind in the Old Testament era.  Jesus talked more about Hell for those that refused to believe in Him than He talked about heaven.  Eternity in Hell is a penalty far more severe than the capital punishment meted out against God’s enemies so many times in the Old Testament.

And also, while God is love, the New Testament also says that “God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:29).  God’s just wrath against those who rebel against Him is also a part of God’s eternal nature.  The expressions of God’s mercy outweigh the expressions of His wrath, but the wrath is still there, as Numbers 14:18 says, “The LORD is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, to the third and the fourth generation.”

In the immediate context of John’s quote, non-judgmentalism is indefensible.  John defines what he means by love:  “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments” (1 John 5:3).  The details of Biblical law are what define Biblical love.  But modern liberalism, both secular and religious, wants to set law and love in opposition to each other, especially the law of God in the Bible, with its condemnation of adultery, homosexuality, and high taxes (1 Sam. 8).  1 John is not on their side.

 

Jesus judged

Jesus told the Pharisees, “You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?”  (Matt. 23:23)  That’s pretty severe judgment.  Examples of Jesus making severe judgments could be listed for pages.  The whole Sermon on the Mount is a series of condemnations of the evil teachings and practices of the Pharisees.   Jesus told the Pharisees that they should judge, but with a different standard than what they had been using:  “Has not Moses given you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law. . . .  Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”  (John 7:19, 24)

 

John the Baptist judged

The one who prepared the way of the Lord, John the Baptist, publicly rebuked King Herod for marrying his brother’s wife contrary to the law of God.  (Matt. 14:3-4)  He was beheaded for it. Jesus said of him, “Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist” (Matt. 11:11)

 

The Apostles judged

The apostle Paul said, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9-10).  Homosexuals are going to hell – not very politically correct, is it?

The apostle Peter launched into a denunciation of false teachers similar to Jesus’ condemnation of the Pharisees.  He calls them “waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved.  For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error.  They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption.  For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.” (2 Peter 2:17-19)

The apostle John coined the term “antichrist” to describe anyone who “who denies that Jesus is the Christ” (1 John 2:22). Contrary to the doctrine of the antichrists, “No one who denies the Son has the Father” (1 John 2:23). As part of denying the Son, antichrists refuse to confess that “Jesus Christ has come in the flesh” (1 John 4:2). That would include most liberals, both in the church and outside it. They teach that someone can come to God the Father apart from His Son, and they claim that Jesus’ physical life, death and resurrection either did not happen or are irrelevant to the “spiritual” message of Christ.

James, the brother of Jesus, was a fire and brimstone preacher, telling his audience to repent, resist the devil, and turn from their lusts:

You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God?  . . .  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double minded.  Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.  Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up. (James 4:4-10)

 

We are commanded to judge

Not only did Jesus and the Apostles judge, they told us to judge.  We already saw where Jesus said take the speck out of our brother’s eye after we have learned to examine our own life by the same standard (Matt. 7:5).  In Luke 17:3 He commanded us to rebuke a trespassing brother: “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.”  Likewise Paul said to rebuke sin.  In 1 Timothy 5:20 he says, “Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also may be fearful of sinning.”  In Titus 2:15 he tells Titus, “These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority.  Let no one disregard you.”  In 2 Tim. 4:2 he tells Timothy to “reprove, rebuke, exhort.”  In 1 Thess. 5:14 he says to “admonish the unruly.”  In Rom. 15:14 he tells the Roman church that they are “able to admonish one another.”  In Eph. 5:11 he tells the church, “Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.”   Paul tells the Corinthians to establish church courts to judge disputes between believers:

Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases?  Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life!  So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church?  I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? (1 Cor. 6:2-6)

Jesus and Paul commanded the church to excommunicate church members who have been rebuked but remain unrepentant for their sins.  Jesus says that if a brother that has sinned against you will not repent after being confronted privately, and then will not repent when confronted by two or three witnesses, then “tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.  Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”  (Matt. 18:17-18)  If the church’s judgment is accurate in excommunicating a member, Jesus says that God Himself will remove the person from the kingdom of heaven.

Paul says,

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife.  And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing.  When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. (1 Cor. 5:1-5)

Paul expresses the hope that the one cast from the kingdom of God into the kingdom of Satan will learn his lesson and eventually be saved.  But the idea of excommunication is cruel and unusual punishment to a lot of American churches because of the influence of Roger Williams, who rejected the idea of a church body having special divine authority and claimed that the church was merely an association of people with no more authority than any other voluntary assembly of people, like the Lions Club or the Red Hat Society.[2]  But for anyone who calls himself a Christian, the teaching of Scripture should trump the teaching of the Roger Williams tradition.

The Bible teaches that to give a godly rebuke is an act of kindness and to be considered a blessing to the one who receives it.  A person who wants to live a life pleasing to God should be grateful that someone shows him where he has veered off the path.  In Psalm 141:4-5 David says,

Do not incline my heart to any evil thing, to practice deeds of wickedness with men who do iniquity; and do not let me eat of their delicacies.  Let the righteous smite me in kindness and reprove me; it is oil upon the head; do not let my head refuse it.

In Prov. 25:12 Solomon says that a godly rebuke should be valued like fine jewelry:  “Like an earring of gold and an ornament of fine gold is a wise reproof to a listening ear.”  A godly rebuke should be gladly excepted, as  Prov. 10:17 says, “He is on the path of life who heeds instruction, but he who forsakes reproof goes astray.”  Prov. 12:1 says, “He who loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.”  Prov. 15:5 says, “A fool rejects his father’s discipline, but he who regards reproof is prudent.”  Prov. 29:1 says, “A man who hardens his neck after much reproof will suddenly be broken beyond remedy.”  Eccl. 7:5 says, “It is better to listen to the rebuke of a wise man than for one to listen to the song of fools.”  Finally, Heb. 12:5 says, “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by Him”.[3]

 

“Don’t judge”—in certain ways

All judging is not godly reproof however.  The Bible condemns certain ways of judging.

  1. The Bible says not to judge hypocritically, which means to fail to accurately judge your own life by the same terms that you judge others’ lives, as we saw in Matt. 7. The Pharisees claimed to follow Moses and the law of God, but they nullified the law of God by their human traditions.  The Protestant church broke with the Roman Catholic Church because of this very issue.  But Protestant churches have developed their own traditions that have no Biblical basis, and yet are seen as Biblical standards.  As long as Christians fail to diligently study the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, they will continue to make inaccurate judgments about what the Christian way to live and think really is.  Jesus said that if you can’t follow the law of God better than the Pharisees, then that is a sign that you are not saved:

Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matt. 5:19-20)

  1. The Bible says not to judge hastily, that is without sufficient evidence. We shouldn’t judge without having diligently investigated the facts.  Proverbs 29:20 says, “Do you see a man hasty in his words?  There is more hope for a fool than for him.”   In Deut. 13:14 God says that when someone is accused of committing a crime, the court is supposed to “enquire, and make search, and ask diligently” about the matter (also see Deut. 17:4).  Furthermore, the Bible requires at least two or three witnesses to corroborate the facts in order for a public accusation to be made:  “One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established” (Deut. 19:15). The Apostle Paul upholds the same standard in the church in 1 Timothy 5:19:  “Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses.”  We saw in the case of the woman caught in adultery that this standard could not be met because all the alleged witnesses walked away.
  2. The Bible says not to judge humanistically, that is by human standards rather than by God’s law.

Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying, “Why do your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders?  For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.”  But He answered and said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?  For God commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother”; and ‘He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him die the death.’  But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever you would gain from me, it is a gift to God”’; and in no way he honors his father or his mother.  And you voided the commandment of God by your tradition.  Hypocrites!  Well did Isaiah prophecy of you, saying, ‘This people draws near to Me with their mouth, and honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.  But in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.’”  Matt. 15:1-9.

Some Christians are under the impression that the Pharisees strictly followed the law of Moses, but we see here that it was the oral traditions of the elders that they followed rather than the written word of God.  At another time Jesus told them, “Has not Moses given you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law. . . .  Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” (John 7:19, 24)  As we have seen, Biblical love is defined by God’s law.  John says, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments” (1 John 5:3).

  1. The Bible says not to judge falsely. The ninth commandment is, “Do not bear false witness against your neighbor.”  That should be enough said.
  2. The Bible says not to judge unlovingly. “But speaking the truth in love, may [we] grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ” (Eph. 4:15).  We can speak the truth without love, for selfish, boastful, or vengeful purposes and tear down the body of Christ.  This is what gossip often is.  You aren’t exposing a sin in order to correct it, in order to help the one who committed the sin to overcome it, but simply to feel superior to the other person.  Usually when we tell a third party about someone else’s sin, it’s not doing anything to fix the situation.  Paul warns against young women in the church being “idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not.” (1 Tim. 5:13).  “Tattlers” create bitterness and infighting, which is the work of Satan.  It tears down the body of Christ rather than builds it up.  Paul adds about these “tattlers,” “For some are already turned aside after Satan” (1 Tim. 5:15).  An issue should usually be directed to the person with the sin, or a supervisor who’s responsible for that person.  But even when we do confront someone directly over a sin, we should do it respectfully.  Paul advises the young pastor Timothy, “Do not sharply rebuke an elder, but exhort as a father, and the younger ones as brothers, older women as mothers, the younger women as sisters in all purity” (1 Tim. 5:1-2).

Four problems with non-judgmentalism:

  1. It’s inconsistent with Scripture, as the discussion above has shown.
  2. It’s irrational (self-refuting) – A person who says that “it’s wrong to judge” is making a judgment against those who judge. This is akin to the statement often made by atheists that “there are not absolutes.”  The statement itself is an absolute statement.  It makes a universal negative claim that there are no universal negative claims.  These types of self-refuting statements are endemic to atheistic thinking.[4]
  3. It entails amoralism – To forbid judging is equivalent to never making ethical distinctions. Nevertheless, non-judgmentalists make ethical judgments all the time:  Save the environment, make love not war, tax the rich and give to the poor, etc.  They don’t want all laws abolished.  They want their laws to replace other laws – humanistic laws to replace laws from the Christian past.  Even though it’s self-refuting, atheists like to claim that there are no absolute standards of morality.  They try to have their cake and eat it too by using utilitarianism as their guide to right action.  They claim ethics is just a matter of efficiency to achieve greater pleasure than pain.  This way they think that ethics can be removed from the realm of “dogmatism” and reduced to a scientific investigation of empirical facts.  But “efficiency” has no meaning apart from a goal, which leads us back to an absolute.[5]

It should be noted that the self-refuting amoralism of non-judgmentalism has found its way into interpretations of American Constitutional law through the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.  This clause is often said to prohibit “discrimination.”  But there is no ethics without discriminating between right and wrong.  The distinction between right and wrong can be incorrectly defined in particular cases, but that makes the issue one of bad ethical discrimination versus good ethical discrimination, not an issue of discrimination versus non-discrimination.  Whether a particular ethical distinction is valid or not depends on which ethical system one appeals to.  It’s not worldview-neutral.  Most people at the present point in history would agree that a person’s skin color has no ethical significance, therefore discrimination based on skin color is illegitimate.  But some want to say that homosexuality is a class of people that are discriminated against by sodomy laws and laws that define a family.  They often talk as if merely defining homosexuals as a class and pointing out that the class is being treated differently is enough to prove that anti-homosexuality laws violate the equal protection clause.  But thieves would like to do the same thing – have the State stop discriminating against them by making laws against their behavior.  To treat everybody “equally” without regard to an ethical system would mean making all behavior equally blameless in the eyes of the law; in other words, all laws would have to be abolished.  Laws against homosexual behavior are illegitimate discrimination only if it can be proven that homosexuality is like skin color and genetically determined.  But even here the issue of worldviews comes up.  All facts are interpreted facts, and from the Christian perspective, no matter how many facts the scientists have studied and not matter how smart they are, they do not know more than God and are not smarter than God.  The Bible teaches that homosexuality is a sin, and engaging in homosexual relations is punishable by the state.  Therefore it is not genetically determined and laws against it are not illegitimately discriminatory.[6]

  1. It disarms Christians of their weapon to defeat evil. I’ve spoken of non-judgmentalism mainly as an atheist view, but the language has been adopted by probably most Christians in our day. Without Christians able to identify the fallacies of anti-judgmentalism, atheists are allowed to advance their moral agenda and stop Christians from asserting theirs.  The atheist shouts, “The Bible says do not judge,” and the Christian is supposed to stop asserting the moral authority of God’s word.  Ephesians 6 lists the armor of God that Christians are commanded to put on.  Every part is defensive except one offensive part, “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:17).  It’s the sword of God’s word that “judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Heb. 4:12).  When Christians are deceived into non-judgmentalism, they have laid aside their only weapon to defeat the enemy.  When Christians lay aside the authority of God’s word, in which we are given God’s standards for living and God’s solution to sin through Jesus Christ, the atheists avoid the power of the word of God to convict the heart of sin and to provide the blueprint to build God’s kingdom.  Satan’s kingdom, by default, triumphs.  When confronted by the devil, even Jesus Christ Himself, God in the flesh, used God’s word to defeat the evil one.  “It is written” Jesus declared, and the devil was forced to flee.  Martin Luther summed it up well in his hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”:

And though this world with devils filled should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God has willed His truth to triumph through us,
The prince of darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure;
One little word shall fell him.

Who are you to judge?  You know you will be asked that, and you may have already asked it to yourself.  You are an ambassador for Christ (Eph. 6:20), that’s who!  Revelation 1:5 says that Jesus Christ is “Ruler of the kings of the earth.”  You are an ambassador of the King of the universe, the King of kings.  It’s not your word that you bring.  It’s God’s word.  And no one can escape the judgment of God.  And there is no other way of salvation than that which is given in God’s word.  Those who say you shouldn’t judge will judge nonetheless.  They ask “who are you to judge?” only to substitute the word of man for the word of God as the ultimate authority.  But whether they like it or not, you have a duty to proclaim God’s word.  As Paul says, it will be the savor of death to those who are perishing, but the savor of life to those who are being saved (2 Cor. 2:16-17).

[1]   Greg Bahnsen, Theonomy in Christian Ethics (Phillipsburg, NJ:  Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1977) p.230-32.

[2]   He says that no person or group of people have the authority to form a church unless they were personally commissioned by Christ:  “I desired to have been dilligent and Constant Observer, and have been my selfe many ways engaged in City, in Countrey, in Court, in Schools, in Universities, in Churches, in Old and New-England, and yet cannot in the holy presence of God bring in the Result of a satisfying discovery, that either the Begetting Ministry of the Apostles or Messengers to the Nations, or Feeding and Nourishing Ministry of Pastors and Teachers, according to the first Institution of the Lord Jesus, are yet restored and extant” (The Complete Writing of Roger Williams, vol. III, 160).

[3]  Greg Bahnsen, Theonomy in Christian Ethics, p.478.

[4]  See “Christian Civilization is the Only Civilization – In a Sense of Course,” Part I, at http://www.christianciv.com/ChristCivEssay.htm#Dialectic_Tension.

[5]   See the section “Ethics” in “Christian Civilization is the Only Civilization – In a Sense of Course,” Part II, at http://www.christianciv.com/ChristCivEssay_Pt2.htm#Ethics.

[6]   See “Homosexuality:  Rhetoric and Reality” at http://www.christianciv.com/Homosexuality___Rhetoric_and_Reality.html.

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39 Responses to Judge Others.  Jesus Said To.

  1. Pingback: Will the Real Nazis Please Stand Up?!! | Christianciv Blog

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  3. gary says:

    Imagine talking to someone who attempts to justify the horrific crimes against humanity committed by Adolf Hitler or Joseph Stalin. What would you think of such a person? Even if they condemned such behavior today, their justification of brutal crimes committed in the past would not be excusable. You would look upon such a person with disgust and contempt and consider them incredibly immoral.

    So let’s take a look at Christianity. Practically every version of Trinitarian Christianity, from fundamentalist to liberal, sees Jesus as the God of the Old Testament. To deny that Jesus is the God of the Old Testament is to deny the Trinity. If Jesus is the God of the Old Testament he is guilty of some of the most barbaric, horrific acts of infanticide and genocide known to man. Yet Christians of all stripes pray and worship this mass murderer of men, women, and little children.

    Any Christian who refuses to condemn and denounce the God of the Old Testament is immoral.

    • Mike Warren says:

      Gary, the logical fallacy of your comment is begging the question. You assume that you have a rationally defensible standard of morality by which you can condemn the God of the Bible. Your attack on the Bible is like a Christian saying “x is immoral because the Bible says so,” but you substitute your godless ethic for the ethical authority of the Bible. You would expect the Christian who appeals to the ethical authority of the Bible to prove why you, an unbeliever, should listen to the ethical authority of the Bible. A Christian will find homosexuality abhorrent, but why should you as an unbeliever adopt the Christian view? Likewise, I ask you why I should believe your godless standard of ethics? I am an unbeliever in your godless view of ethics. You need to provide a reason for me to care about what you find abhorrent. And as you might expect, I don’t think that you can make the case that godless is ethics is rationally defensible: http://www.christianciv.com/ChristCivEssay_Pt2.htm#Ethics

    • Timothy Burt says:

      What kind of fool would judge The Lord God of Israel?

    • Laura says:

      Any Christian who condemns and denounces the God of the Old Testament is not a Christian.

      Duh.

    • John says:

      God cannot murder (either directly or through the proxy), because He created all life (are the limits of life). Heb 9:27

      From your perspective God murders all life, because He created the end of it.

    • spw says:

      Gary, if you read the beginning of Genesis of who sinned first in the eyes of God, you will see why these sinful acts took place in the old testament,as you say. God is not the cause of all the evils that took place and still takes place today, that honor goes to Satan himself, for talking the first ones to sin into what would change what we now have, which is a wicked world that we live in. As far as Jesus is concerned with being the God of the old testament, He has always been God the Son from the beginning of time. Why would God say “we” when He created the heavens and earth and all living things? Because God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit has always existed before the beginning. Gods word is very clear with what I’ve said. Sin and injustices will always be until Satan no longer roars around like a lion deceiving people like yourself. May God open your eyes and heart to His Truth so you will no longer be swayed by mans way of thinking, who are beneath the holiness of God our Creator.

  4. Michael says:

    Thank you I have learned so much. What scriptures do you give to a person that is always snappy and gets upset about smaller things ?

  5. Chimwemwe says:

    Thanks brethren. A very informative and detailed article here.

  6. Laura says:

    Thank you for writing this thoroughly rounded article. I only had time to scan it, but seems like one I will chew on and digest well, so the next time someone tells me not to judge, I will have a sound, biblical reply 🙂

    I think you omitted an important verse, spoken by Jesus, telling us to inquire of the Father before judging (at least, according to my understanding):

    John 5:30 (NKJV)
    I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.

    Anyway, thank you for writing this important Christian “resource.”

  7. Jake says:

    Hello, don’t you think the judgement in Heaven is enough? I was always taught not to judge homosexual people because they would be judged in Heaven. Thus, why judge people on earth? Why not look like a people who do not judge, thus making us look nicer in everyone else’s eyes?

    • Mike Warren says:

      Jake, the article demonstrates that what you have been taught is mistaken. Christians are supposed to preach God’s word, which includes a message of judgment for those who don’t repent of their sins against the Law of God. “Looking nicer” will present a false view of God’s message to those who are in rebellion against God. They have to repent of their sin in order to expect God to be nice to them, especially in the afterlife. We cannot manipulate conversions by falsely representing the word of God.

    • Jesus Believer says:

      It not about just how we look in everyone eye. Though we do have to set a standard but we have to set it in the will of God. If you judge righteously you would be judging them in a way to help them not condemn them. By telling them what there doing is wrong because they may not truly understand. You could be helping to save them from eternal fire and by doing this you give them a better chance at entering into the kingdom of heaven as well. You’re helping them make a choice by giving them biblical information. We can’t ignore the sinning or the sinning spreads because of lack of knowledge and that would be the Christians fault.

      • RC Barron says:

        Except, Jesus himself said to the self righteous that the tax gatherer and the prostitute would enter Heaven before he would. This article on judging is completely off. In all the scripture sited it gives only God the right to Judge. In none of the points above are we as Christians given the right to judge others.

  8. I think your 5 points on how to judge correctly (or how not to judge) are where we, as Christians, fail. In so doing we give non-believers ammunition.

    The point of our initial judging should be as Christ’s: not to condemn, but to give a chance at correction and forgiveness. It is only after loving correction, that we are to walk away from the unrepentant sinner.

    In order to lovingly correct, we have to get close to someone and allow them to get close to us. This is tricky because at no time should we be interpreted as approving of sinful behavior (as taught in Romans 1:18ff). The unrepentant man approves of the sinful.

    Jesus socialized with sinners, but he never became a sinner or encouraged them to sin. So should we as we recognize(judge) sin, it should be lovingly corrected – both in our own life and in the life of those we encounter. To do anything less, is to deny love.

    • John says:

      “Building a bridge of relationship” or being friendly before presenting correction or rebuke is not a requirement in Scripute. The Bible is full of examples – from the prophets to Jesus – that did not follow such politically correct model.
      It would seem that you are basing your advise off of societ and not the Bible.

    • RC Barron says:

      The larger questions then. What is sin and what is not. And if Jesus covered our sins and those of others with his blood, and they have accepted Jesus Christ into their heart, then they are covered by Christ. So we as Christians have NO grounds to stand on in our judgement of others. Christ said many times as much.

  9. Jay says:

    What Jesus said was that if you do judge, then, you will be judged by your own standards. And, the take the log out of your own eye first. What he was saying was if you ignore your own faults, then you will ignore the faults of others. The Bible is the one book that while millions claim to have read it. Far fewer took the time to understand what it said. Sunday Christians.
    People speak about God giver rights. God and Jesus cared more about how a person should act.
    The Thou Shalls, The Give to Caesar, The Do unto others, Love and forgive your enemies. The judge not.
    ALL acts, no rights mentioned.

    The only one who can judge IS GOD. THAT’s what Jesus meant. PERIOD.

  10. Léonie says:

    Hullo,

    Would you be willing to answer a question regarding the homosexuality thing? Because homosexuality is not limited to human behavior. It occurs accross the breath of the animal kingdom, in the same percentage range as it occurs in the human population. So why is it a sin in human nature, rather than the way some people were created, when it is also such a prevalent part of the rest of God’s creation?

    I am, by the way, a liberal Christian, but I’m asking seriously and respectfully. I have my own opinion, but I’m curious to know yours.

    • Mike Warren says:

      We don’t get our morality from animals. We get our morality from God. Animals can provide positive examples of moral behavior (“Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!” Prov. 6:6), but acting like animals can be wrong as well (“But these people, like irrational animals–creatures of instinct born to be caught and destroyed–speak blasphemies about things they don’t understand, and in their destruction they too will be destroyed” (2 Peter 2:12). Nature was cursed at the Fall (Gen. 3:17-18; Rom. 8:20), so we cannot assume that animal behavior is moral. And even if something is right for animals does not mean that it is right for humans. The creation of Eve from Adam was unique, and that unique creation out of the flesh of Adam is the basis for sex and marriage only between the complementary pair of male and female. If you reject God and accept naturalism, your reasoning from animals makes sense; but then you should drop the “Christian” part of your “liberal Christian” identification.

      • RC Barron says:

        You don’t have the right to tell anyone to drop their Christianity. Doing so is offensive to the Lord who gave is life for all and for all our sins. And by that I don’t mean the person you are judging is a sinner. We are all sinners in God’s eye but we were saves by the blood of Christ. Either his death and resurrection covered us, or it did not. You are not given the power to decide that.

    • John says:

      Animals kill others.
      Is it okay for people to kill other people?

      You are not basing your beliefs on th Bible but on society.

    • RC Barron says:

      It’s very clear that being gay and being a homosexual is not a sin in the bible. If you carefully read the bible you will see the later translations have subverted the true word of God. Romans 1:24-32 thru Romans 2:1-24 is about the differences of Jews and Gentiles. It’s not about homosexuals. And the entire and beautiful overview his about how Jews should not judge and Gentiles need God. Just because there is a point in the text about “God giving up men and women to do was is unnatural with their own kind” many people try to say this is about gay people and homosexuals as we know them today. It’s not!

      Corinthians that same thing. They have taken liberty with the original greek word arsenokoitai, which does not mean anything about loving and consensual relationships between sam sex partners. It means to overpower and have sex with or to rape! It’s used in instances in Greek text of those days to describe rape again young men by powerful men or Gods.

      There is not a single place in the bible that speaks against a loving and consensual relationship between two people of the same sex.

      • RC Barron says:

        I want to ad. that there is not a single part of the bible that speaks negatively about two consensual same sex relationships. There are many parts that state positive examples, like David and Jonathan.

      • Mike Warren says:

        The Genesis to Revelation Bible teaches that sexual relations are only allowed between male and female. The scope of Romans 1 is all creation, not the difference between Jews and Gentiles. God’s law defines love, and same-sex sex is not loving. It’s a perversion of God’s creation.

  11. GFresh says:

    Part of this page reads:
    “The Apostles judged

    The apostle Paul said, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9-10Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)). Homosexuals are going to hell – not very politically correct, is it?”
    That is not Paul judging, he is making a statement. That is not judging. The logic on this page is bad.
    Additionally, the word homosexual didn’t exist back then, so this use of the word is an assumption.

  12. GFresh says:

    JESUS’ supposed own words:
    “Luke 6:37New International Version (NIV)
    37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven

    Matthew 7:1-6New International Version (NIV)
    7 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

    Forgive and you will be forgiven. Judge and you will be judged the way you judge.

  13. GFresh says:

    Matthew 6:14-15 NIV
    14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

  14. GFresh says:

    Mark 11:25
    25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”

  15. Laura says:

    This is an EXCELLENT and in-depth article, I really appreciated the time and effort you put into this. I myself have gotten quite weary of the “judge not” rhetoric. If we were never to judge, after all, we could not in any way carry out a lawful society. It would be impossible.

  16. J says:

    Why do people like to take do not judge figuratively or loosely and judge honestly with right judgement as if it meant judge people. Jesus never said – Use earthly knowledge to judge others. – Earthly knowledge is more like earthly ignorance.

  17. Bronchae Brown says:

    Be careful brother. You may appear as guilty as those “atheist” you attack in this article. You have cherry picked and paraphrased scriptures to serve your purposes. You article is frought with examples. But look at your reference to John 7:19-24. Jesus is not authorizing judgement, rather cautioning that his trial is not even following the standards the Pharisees purport to uphold.

    Also look at your reference to Matt 7:1-5. This scripture clearly differentiates between judging “seeing the speck in your brother’s eye” and helping your brother “removing the speck.” Don’t just judge (see) help improve the condition.

    The biblical admonishing are to caution people that they are not “the judge” God is. Clean up your own behavior and then, help others clean theirs. Human spiritual judgement is irrelevant as humans have no authority to spiritually sentence.

    My critique is not a judgement of you but an attempt to help you correct an error in logic that could result in your being judged harshly by the one true God.

    • Mike Warren says:

      Bronchae, you have judged that I am “guilty” of twisting Scripture. You are judging me. As I point out in the article, non-judgmentalism is self-refuting. It’s an error in logic. Everybody judges. Ethics is impossible without it.

      In John 7:19-24, Jesus is judging the Pharisees for not following the law of Moses. The Pharisees claimed that to be their standard, although they did not actually obey it very much. But it was also Jesus’ standard of right and wrong that His disciples are supposed to follow (Matt. 5:17-20, 20:2). “Right judgment” (John 7:24) is to judge according to the law of Moses. As for Matt. 7:1-5, you say yourself that it is about cleaning up others after you clean up yourself, but you are judging others by making the judgment that the other person is not clean. And remember the context of Matt. 7:1-5 includes Jesus saying that He did not come to abolish the law of Moses – obedience to it is the visible evidence of whether you are Jesus’ disciple or if you are a hell-bound Pharisee (Matt. 5:17-20).

      “Spiritual judgment” in the sense of making the final pronouncement of a person’s eternal destiny is only for God. But humans have the obligation to make ethical judgments about behavior – both their own and others’, and the Bible is the source of our standard for making those judgments.

      Bronchae, it sounds like non-judgmentalism has been ingrained in you at church you whole life, but since it violates logic and Scripture, you need to abandon it.

  18. Bronchae Brown says:

    I think we have a semantics issue and a context issue. With regard to semantics, As you say in your next to last paragraph above ‘”spiritual” judgement in the sense of pronouncement of a person’s spiritual judgement’ acknowledges that judgement and critique are different things because a pronouncement comes with judgement.

    With regard to context, I believe only God has the authority to pass a spiritual judgement. I believe that scripture does not preclude man’s right to create and enforce societal laws.

    I think we are in agreement that judging happens everyday, but have a difference of opinion about distinction between judgement and criticism.

    If you re-read my message I did not pass judgement on you, and clearly stated “you may appear” which is different from “you are.” .. Semantics.

  19. Bub says:

    I have been in baptist churches most of my life (now in my 60’s) and this is just one of what I call “preacher lies” that are knowingly taught in those churches. Another one is “The biggest problem in our churches is a lack of forgiveness”. False. The bigger issue by far is a lack of repentence. Another one is “If you don’t give to this church, you are robbing God” False. You may be endangering the preacher’s pay check, but as long as you are giving to Godly causes, you are not “robbing God”.

    The one correction I would make to your article is where you say “judge not” is primarily used by atheists. I would say it’s primarily used by preachers as in “Judge ME not. When I get caught stealing from the church, or having an affair”, etc.

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