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Do Not Judge Me!

Do not judge me! This statement is heard daily in these times of post-modernism where many hold that absolute truth is an impossible destination. However, such a statement is self-defeating for if there is no absolute truth then that statement cannot be absolutely true, and can itself be (and is) false. Thus, such an understanding must be dismissed as logically erroneous. Yet, the world still decries that the Christian has no right to “judge” anyone else. This belief is alleged to be founded on the very words of Christ Jesus as found in Matthew 7:1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” The non-believing world and the non-repentant Christian know this verse by heart, and they use it as a “fine sounding argument” so as to say, “Leave me alone and allow me to sin in peace.” Paul warned the church in Colossae to avoid being deceived by such arguments which sound correct and proper, yet are neither. Some ask, “How can one love, as the Christian must, and judge others at the same time?” Their answer is generally, “They can’t and that is why Jesus said to not judge.” But how did Jesus intend this passage to be applied? This is the million dollar question. This blog is intended to provide the answer, free of cost to you.

What Do Other Verses Say?

 In Acts 8 we find the narrative of Peter and the Sorcerer named Simon. In this narrative Simon (who himself believed and was baptized into Christ) attempts to purchase the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and the ability to pass them on to others through the laying on of his hands. Peter’s response in 8:20 – 23 is interesting, “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money. You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.” Is this not judgmental in nature?  In 1 Corinthians 5:11 Paul states, “But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.” Does this verse not mandate judgment?  In Galatians 1:6-9 Paul states, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel – which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!” This entire passage is full of judgment.  1 John 3:10, “This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.” Again the reader clearly observes the need for judgment. And in 1John 5:16 – 17 it is written, “If anyone sees his brother commit a sin that does not lead to death, he should pray and God will give him life. I refer to those whose sin

does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that he should pray about that…” How can this be accomplished if one is prohibited from discerning right and wrong in the lives of others?  Indeed, this exercise could be applied to each and every New Testament book. So what is the student to believe? If we are not to “judge” as many believe then the inspired writers of the Scripture have entered into a contradiction. Worse yet, the Bible deconstructs itself. So is it proper to throw the inspired text aside in order to please the sinful nature of humanity? Should we discard the input of these men? Were they unloving and hypocritical? If so then why would they give their lives as martyrs in order to advance the gospel of Jesus? They did the true loving thing by warning the world about the coming judgment of the Lord. A proper hermeneutic (method of interpretation) of the biblical narrative and original language enables us to see this alleged conundrum for what it is – a matter of reading our will into the word of God. Conclusion

It is beneficial to understand that some meaning can be “lost in translation” so to speak. In the Greek the word judgment κρίμα (krima), can mean judgment as in condemnation; or κρίνω (krinō), judge; pass judgment; or ἀνακρίνω (anakrinō), examine; judge; question (The Lexham Analytical Lexicon to the Greek New Testament. 2011). So then the question becomes, “What is the correct context or use of the word?” Man has not the ability to condemn anyone to hell – that will be the responsibility of the Lord. However, the Christian must examine and question in order to “discern” right and wrong. This ability to discern comes from the Word of God which is the absolute truth as it alone is the source of objective moral correctness (all human systems are subjective – and thus cannot be used to “judge” others. The result is unlivable chaos – see your evening news for confirmation). Let’s return to Matthew 7:1 and this time look at the following verses, as well. Additionally let us do so with the understanding of the original Greek word for judge – κριθῆτε (Root: κρινω, verb, aorist, passive, subjunctive, second person, plural), to judge, to pass judgment on, (The Lexham Syntactic Greek New Testament, SBL Edition: Expansions and Annotations: Mt 7:1. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2011). Matthew 7:1-5, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” So we see that the Lord did not prohibit discernment of the actions of others, but the practice of doing so in a hypocritical manner. The word hypocrite is also misunderstood today. In the Greek it is ὑποκριτής (hypokritēs), meaning a pretender. It was often used of actors who were merely pretending to be someone they were not. Such can be a proper application to those who claim Christianity in some cases, but it is not true of someone who falls short but is actually attempting

to be like Christ. Either way, what the Lord prohibited was the practice of judging in a hypocritical manner – don’t judge someone if you are only acting as a Christian yourself. Don’t judge someone for a sin when you yourself have an unrepentant sin the size of telephone pole in your life. Jesus clearly says to remove that plank and then help your brother. I conclude by quoting the well-known and highly respected theologian, John Stott: Jesus’ words judge not, that you be not judged are well known but much misunderstood. To begin with, we must reject Tolstoy’s belief, based on this verse, that ‘Christ totally forbids the human institution of any law court’, and that he ‘could mean nothing else by those words’. But Jesus’ prohibition cannot possibly mean the one thing Tolstoy says it must mean, for the context does not refer to judges in courts of law but rather to the responsibility of individuals to one another [who among us would want the secular courts to disappear so that chaos could rule the day? Yet, “do not judge,” as held among the masses, would mandate such an unfortunate decision or result in a double standard]. Next, our Lord’s injunction to ‘judge not’ cannot be understood as a command to suspend our critical faculties in relation to other people, to turn a blind eye to their faults (pretending not to notice them), to eschew all criticism and to refuse to discern between truth and error, goodness and evil. How can we be sure that Jesus was not referring to these things? Partly because it would not be honest to behave like this, but hypocritical, and we know from this and other passages his love of integrity and hatred of hypocrisy. Partly because it would contradict the nature of man whose creation in God’s image includes the ability to make value-judgments. Partly also because much of Christ’s teaching in the Sermon on the Mount is based on the assumption that we will (indeed should) use our critical powers…What we should do is to apply to ourselves at least as strict and critical a standard as we apply to others. “If we judged ourselves truly”, wrote Paul, “we should not be judged.” We would not only escape the judgment of God; we would also be in a position humbly and gently to help an erring brother. Having first removed the log from our own eye, we would see clearly to take the speck from his (Stott, J. R. W., & Stott, J. R. W. 1985. The Message of the Sermon on the Mount; Matthew 5-7: Christian Counter-Culture, pp. 175–179. Leicester; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press).

What we do we must do in love. Peter tells us to address others in “gentleness and respect.” And discerning right and wrong in others and warning them about the Day of the Lord is the loving thing to do. To fail to do so would be very unloving. If the church cannot discern right and wrong then it would need to shutter the doors for she would no longer serve a purpose in this world. Yet, Christ founded the church and gave her instructions on how do things until His return. This we must do until this world transitions into the new. Lastly, I sincerely hope that those who are inclined to disagree with this blog post are able to refrain from “judging” it as wrong, for I would surely be disappointed if I were the cause of someone violating their own standard of not judging the belief system and thoughts of others.

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