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Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged

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(Part I)
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 (Matthew 7:1-2).

Matthew 7:1-2 is speaking to a specific group of people. Sadly, many have misused the above scripture in an attempt to silence someone from speaking against sin.

Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged: The Targeted Group



The scripture of Matthew 7:1-2 is instruction and warning targeted at a specific group of people. These people are identified in verse five of the same passage. Notice that the strategic misuse of "judge not" almost always involves omission of the scripture/s just above and/or below the one being taken out of context. The misuse of Matthew 7:1-2 is no exception.

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. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye: and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye (Matthew 7:1-5).

The first part of the above passage is often quoted by people who willfully live in sin who don't want to come to repentance as well as Christians who are unwilling to confess sin. It is quoted in an attempt to silence the person through whom God chooses to speak the part of his word which condemns an individual's sin. This commonly used tactic rests on the teaching that because everyone has been a sinner, no one will be used by God to tell another about his sin. Such a belief is Satanic because it is in direct and sharp contrast to the scriptures of both the Old and New Testaments.

Again, this passage specifically singles out a group of people who indeed are not in a position to tell others about certain sins of which they are themselves guilty. This group is the people to whom Matthew 7:1-2 is targeted and to whom it is forbidden that they rebuke others. This targeted group are hypocrites (fifth verse of the passage).

Notice in the passage that the brother who is doing the judging as well as the brother who is being judged have the same problem. There is something in their eye. The one has a mote in his eye; the other has a beam in his. Nevertheless, they both have a problem in the same exact area--their eye. If the brother doing the judging had had a problem with his foot, but not with his eye, he could see clearly to help his brother get the mote out. His foot wouldn't be a hindrance. However, if they both had the same problem in their foot, why would the brother being judge listen to the brother doing the judging?

The brother with the beam in his eye has the same problem as his brother with the mote in his, but to a greater degree. His problem is a beam; therefore, he has surpassed the severity of his brother's problem which is still in the mote state. To illustrate this, let's say that brothers Jim and John both have trouble controlling their temper. Jim lives in Canada. John lives in England Jim, when angered, may say a curse word or two. He knows that he should hold his peace, walk away, do whatever he has to do to not sin in this way; but, in this stage of his growth in Christ, he is not fully surrendered to God. Let's say that John, on the other hand, will not only curse when he is angered but will fight and afterwards, plots how he is going to get even. Now let's say that Jim and John don't know each other but come to be in each other's presence at a social gathering in Jim's country of Canada.

Someone angers Jim and he says a curse word or two which John witnesses. John, knowing that Jim doesn't know him, gets on Jim's case about this. Instead of praying for Jim as he should pray for himself and instead offering encouraging, but gentle reminders of what God's Word says about the sin of cursing, including himself in the group of people who need to overcome, he places himself on a pedestal above Jim concerning righteousness. John is guilty of the same sin to a worse degree, but takes advantage of the situation knowing that Jim doesn't know his track record back in England. He's the one with the beam in his eye attempting to remove the mote (splinter) from his brother's eye. He is a hypocrite and Matthew 7:1-5 speaks to hypocrites. We read in Romans 2:1-3:

Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things, And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? (Romans 2:1-3)

Jim is instructed to receive the scriptures although they come from a hypocrite (Matthew 23:3, Philippians 1:15-18). This does not, however, excuse the hypocrite before God.

Judging Chistians: They Are Appointed



The meaning of "judge" is someone appointed to try legal cases, pronounce sentence and/or decide in a dispute. The word also means to have or form an opinion about something or someone.

People accept that the judges of the various court systems of the world have the authority to pronounce sentence and decide in legal disputes. They may disagree with the judge's decisions, which indeed may be biased but, until and unless the judge is removed from his office, people know that they have the authority to judge. Many judges abuse this authority and will answer to the Great Judge in judgment day; nevertheless, whether honest or dishonest, they have been given authority to pass judgment. It is not ,however, this type of judgment with which people who attempt to use Matthew 7:1-2 in their defense, have a problem.

The judgment that so many protest is the rebuking of their sin. The Bible, being the example and final authority on the Christian faith directly answers the question of whether Christians should make such judgments.

And when he (Moses) went out the second day, behold, two men of the Hebrews strove (fought) together: and he said to him that did the wrong, Wherefore (why) smitest (hit) thou thy fellow (neighbor)? And he said, Who made thee a judge over us? (Exodus 2:13-14)

Judge Not?



And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses sat to judge the people.... (Exodus 18:13)

Moses was justified in telling his Israelite brother about his wrong as he himself was not guilty of such a wrong. Moses did not mistreat his brethren and then attempt to rebuke the same behavior in someone else. Moses, on the other hand, had vehemently defended an Israelite being mistreated by an Egyptian (Exodus 2:14); therefore, he was not the hypocrite to which Matthew 7:1-5 speaks. In Galatians 2:11-14 we read, "But when Peter was come to Antioch, I (the apostle Paul) withstood (criticized) 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. 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?"

The apostle Paul, not being guilty of the wrong that Peter was, had authority to judge even another apostle, Peter, in this way. Paul's teaching on this subject is of great enlightenment for several reasons. We see his examples as a judge in Galatians 2:11-14, and we see it again in 1 Corinthians 5:3-5:

For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may ("may," not "will") be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

You might say that because Paul was an apostle, he had greater authority to make these judgments. Yes, the authority to deliver to Satan belongs exclusively to the Lord, as does all judgment, but God's Word explicitly and repeatedly commands that his servants actively participate in the ability to judge; the ability and authority that we have received from Him and that is exercised under His control. To not allow God to use us in this way is disobedience.

The passage of 1 Corinthians 6:1-5 reads. "Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? And if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? How much more things that pertain to this life? If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. I speak to your shame. It is so, that there is not a wise man among you? No, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?"

We cannot judge in disputes without being willing to point out wrong deeds that have been done. Did this authority belong only to apostles? How can we sensibly make such a statement when we have just read in the above scripture, "...Set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church." Are the apostles the least esteemed in the church? Of course not. Also, Paul tells all believers to follow (imitate) him, as he followed (imitated) Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1).

We learn that Christians do not make themselves look good in the eyes of God by refraining from the stern reproof (rebuke) of sin. How can the rebuke of sin be so unappealing to a Christian who claims faith in the very One who came to destroy sin (1 John 3:8)?

Through Paul, we also learn that our judgment of the unrepentant is not the same as that of those who claim to be of the household of the Christian faith. Paul said, "But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother (claims he is saved) be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? Do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person" (1 Corinthians 5:11-13).

Does this mean that Christians should not rebuke the sin of the unsaved but only that of those who claim they have received salvation? Of course not. Remember that to judge not only means to decide in disputes, or have an opinion or judgment about something, it also goes so far as to pronounce sentence or punishment. Paul pronounces sentence on the disobedient brother in the faith in 1 Corinthians 5:3-5. This is a form of judgment taken a step further than simply telling someone about their sin.

Christians are to speak sharply against sin, irrespective of whether the guilty party is a member of the church or not. But, the passing of sentence is restricted to taking place within the household of faith. Regarding the world as a whole, the rebuking of sin is a judgment that the Christian is commanded to do.

And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove (rebuke) them (Ephesians 5:11).

Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly (disobedient)... (1 Thessalonians 5:14).

When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou (you) givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand (Ezekiel 3:18).

Finally, let's look at a verse in the book of Romans:

Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? To his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand (Romans 14:4).

On the surface this scripture appears to contradict all that has just been said; therefore, let's take a closer look. Beginning at verse two of the same chapter of Romans we read:

For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. Let not him that eateth despise (look down on) him that eateth not: and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him (Romans 14:2-3).

The fourteenth chapter of Romans is referring to the literal eating of certain foods/meats. Some Jews who became Christians were not used to the freedom of being able to eat pork and other animals that had been declared unclean, and did not agree with the Gentile Christians who continued to eat them. Likewise, there were Gentile Christian converts who looked down on Christian Jews who refrained from the consumption of such animals as pork and thereby not enjoying the freedom they had in Christ. The above scriptures teach us that neither was the Christian Jew to scorn the Gentile believer for eating unclean meats, neither was the Gentile believer to scorn the Christian Jew for not eating because both were accepted by God. Furthermore, scripture explains that if the Christian Jew still saw the pork as unclean, to him it was unclean, and he should not eat it against his conscious (Romans 14:23). The same rule applied to the Gentile.

Some will try to make this eating and the reference to meat symbolic of actions or non-food things. The fourteenth chapter of Romans is very literal. Some Christian Jews were bothered by the fact that their new Christian brethren among the converted Gentiles ate what was still unclean to them. In this same manner, some Gentile Christians were bothered by the fact that their Christian Jewish brethren still rejected the eating of animals who had been declared unclean in the Old Testament. Each were to have consideration for the other. The Gentile Christian was not to use his freedom to eat all meats if it caused harm to the faith of the Christian Jew nor was the Christian Jew to allow his restrictions on eating to harm the faith of his former Gentile Christian brother or sister.

The kingdom of God is more important than our freedom to eat meat or our beliefs regarding the rejection of the formerly unclean meats. Brethren in Christ who truly love one another will not place enjoyment of freedoms nor adherence to restrictions above the love of Christ--the love we are commanded to have for the brethren. The words clean and unclean refer specifically to animals and to the people they represented in Old Testament times, namely the Gentiles (Acts 10:9-35, Genesis 7:2, 8, Leviticus 11th chap.)

"Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block (interference with one's salvation) or an occasion to fall in his brother's way. I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth (thinks) any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean. But if thy brother be grieved (bothered by) with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably (lovingly). Destroy not him (his faith) with thy meat, for whom Christ died. Let not then your good be evil spoken of. For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink: but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost" (Romans 14:13-17).

Just as God does not allow his servants who eat all meats to judge those who reject the meats declared unclean in Old Testament times and vice versa, he also does not allow judging among his servants regarding chosen days for worship (Romans 14:6, Colossians 2:16). Again, notice that the fourteenth chapter of Romans which spells out the areas in which a servant of God is not to judge another, is not speaking about sins against God but rather about each servant's personal relationship with the Lord in the areas of meat-eating and observance of sabbath days.

Exercising our freedom to eat pork and other animals that were declared unclean in Old Testament times compels us to understand the impact that this freedom can have on the health of the physical body.
©2007


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Comments/Comentarios:

Hello. I just wanted to thank you for this well written piece that brings clarification to how Christians are to speak out against sin. I hear this Scripture misused way too often in order to defend sin and it drives me crazy. My only comment would be to say that Jews who believe in Yeshua call themselves Complete Jews or Messianic Jews, but rarely Christians as it conveys conversion rather than completion. Great job, though. Thank you - I hope some will click the link I posted on my Facebook. Peace in Messiah.
by: crystal
Posted on 2012-11-08 23:33:54


To Crystal:

Thank you very much for taking the time to share your feedback on the article and to explain about our Jewish brethren who believe in Yeshua--that they refer to themselves as Complete/Messianic Jews. We are familiar with the term Messianic Jews, but not Complete Jews. Thoughtful comments such as yours help us all to understand one another better. Also, we appreciate the FB link.

Heavenly Manna
by: Heavenly Manna
Posted on 2012-11-09 02:59:53


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