I believe that Christ's command “Judge not...” is one of the best known and most often quoted, yet the most abused and most misunderstood of all Christ's commands. No two word's have been more used and abused over the past two decades than these. Every sinner on the streets, every backslider and every carnal Christian knows this particular command and they use it to their own advantage. In fact every true believer knows it yet few use it correctly. With such confusion surrounding it and such abuse of it it is then amazing that godly preachers and teachers do not more often preach specifically on this text or minister on the biblical teaching of how to judge. Most preachers have never preached one full message on this never mind a full series yet this is desperately needed in this hour.
With this in mind lets set this statement of "Judge not..."in its correct biblical context and find out what Christ was actually saying and who He was saying it to. We find these words at the beginning of Matthew 7 but they are almost never placed in context when used by Christians. Few Christians even know the rest of the verse or the following verses. Verses 1-5 is concerning wrong unbiblical judgement made by a hypocrite who is judging some issues in other Christians lives while ignoring big issues in his own. In verse 5 Christ addresses the person and the type of person this command refers to, “Thou hypocrite..." This Greek word used here for hypocrite means to act under an assumed character or to play a part on the Greek theatre stage. Here is a Christian playing the hypocrite in judging in a sinful, fleshly manner. It is to this person that Jesus says "Judge not..."Someone who will not deal with their own sin cannot and must not judge others. They do not have the ability to judge righteously and if they do judge in such a state they themselves are in danger of judgement. King David in II Samuel 12:1-11 is a perfect example of this. When Nathan confronts David with the story of a man who had great herds of sheep who stole the only lamb of a poor shepherd David is outraged and says the man will die after repaying four-fold what he took. Nathan applies the point by saying “Thou are the man.” Christ states clearly in verses 1-2, “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.” Hypocritical judgement is like a boomerang – it will come back upon your head eventually. There is a day when we shall all be judged by God. On that day, our standard of judgement by which we judged other Christians will be used in our own judgement. If you can judge others then you have enough light to judge yourself.
Judge Not does not mean Never Judge
Even this hypocrite is not told to never judge in the sense of to never again do so, and he is not told that his ability to see something in his brothers eye and his desire to remove it is wrong in itself. There was nothing wrong with judging the problem was the person judging. In verse 5 Jesus says “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.”Judging is not condemned out rightly. It is only condemned under certain circumstances. The first act of being qualified to correctly deal with issues in other people’s lives is to deal with your own. It is not wrong to “cast out the mote” from your brothers eye. In fact Christ teaches here how you can get to the place where you can do it righteously and correctly. When we deal with ourselves we are actually brought to a place where it is right to discern the mote in a brother’s eye and to then help get it out of his eye.
Furthermore, it is not a wholesale command to not judge because Christ in verse 6 gives further instruction concerning making wise careful judgements about certain individuals who hang about churches who Christ calls dogs and pigs. He says, “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.” To do this we will have to make a judgement concerning people as to whether or not they fit Christ's description of being dogs and pigs. Then in verse 15-19 of the same chapter instruction is given concerning, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” How are we to beware of such? We will have to make a judgement concerning the fruit of their life and ministry: “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” All of this reveals that Christ was not placing a ban on judging but was dealing with false hypocritical judgement in the church. But He quickly goes on to show that He expected believers to be discerning and make judgements concerning people who professed to be sheep but who were in fact dogs, pigs and wolves. Those who take Jesus command to “Judge no” out of its context and who demand that we must not judge Christians or anyone in the church are actually twisting Christ's true teaching and denying and contradicting what He actually teaches here. Judging is Christ's way to help your brother and to protect the church from series spiritual harm.
judging in the Bible is not condemned and neither is it something negative. It is neutral; it can either be used correctly or abused. When used correctly it is a great blessing in the church and in the life of the individual believer. This word “judge” in the Greek is krino and I believe this one word contains three specific truths which we must take head to as we study what the Bible says concerning judging and as we make judgements in our daily lives.
i) to scrutinize, to investigate, interrogate and determine by asking, questioning, discerning and examining. You will have to take time and consideration to judge correctly.
ii) to weigh, separate, compare and evaluate. You will have to weigh all facts and considerations to judge correctly.
iii) to select, chose, determine, decide, draw a conclusion or condemn. Having weighed all the evidence
you will have to make a decision or come to a conclusion which will affect your actions in the specific situation.