The Great Sayings in the Gospel
Judge Not! Really?
1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.
2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
4 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?
5 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. KJV
I realized as I read this text for the message this week that I have been wanting to preach a message from it for a long time. The reason is that, in my opinion, the entire subject under discussion here is misunderstood and misused by many people.
Some folks, I think, are convinced that the main use of this text is so that they can have a ‘smart’ answer for anyone who ever criticizes them in any way. ‘Judge not that ye be not judged,’ has been the response of people for as long as I can remember. But is this really the idea that Jesus would have us take away from this text? I am sure that it is not.
“He that is spiritual judges all things,” Paul said in one place (1 Cor. 2:15). And in another, he said to a church, “Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?” (1 Cor 6:5)
Just a brief look at the things said concerning the subject will demonstrate that there is far more to the subject than the trite phrase of our day, “don’t be judging!”
Christianity, by definition, is all about judging.
The founder of our faith, Jesus Christ the Son of God, went everywhere judging people. I know that because I know what He preached, “repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” There is no way to preach repentance without talking about sin, condemning it, and urging people to put it away from themselves.
On the other side of that same discussion, He affirmed the admonition of the OT, “Be ye holy for I am holy.” There is no way to be holy without knowing the definition of holiness, know what is holy and what is unholy and then making a judgment between the two issues. It is looking at people and discriminating between those who live holy lives and those who do not, imitating the godly ones and rejecting the example of the ungodly.
When Jesus told us to go into all the world and preach the gospel, He was talking about the same gospel He preached, “repent.” Therefore, He sent His people out to judge and condemn sin, calling sinners to repentance.
Jesus harshly ‘judged’ the Pharisees.
13 But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.
14 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.
15 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves. KJV
When Peter delivered that great message on the Day of Pentecost, he ‘judged,’ his audience.
22 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:
23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:
24 Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it. KJV
Paul ‘judged’ the Galatian people for having turned aside from the gospel.
1 O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? KJV
If Jesus is to be taken in Matt. 7:1, as specifically forbidding all ‘judging,’ then how do we find the apostles continually doing that which was forbidden?
Look at how Paul instructed the Corinthians concerning the matter.
1 Cor 5:1‑5
1 It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife.
2 And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.
3 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,
4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ,
5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
1 Cor 5:12
12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? KJV
2 Cor 6:14‑18
14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?
16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,
18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. KJV
In each case a moral judgment is being rendered by believers concerning other people, under the sanction of the Holy Spirit.
So, what is Jesus saying?
First of all, He is pointing out that if a person does not want to be criticized, he should steer clear of the Christian duty of making value judgments and seeking to help others do the same.
Secondly, He is pointing out that judgment must begin in one’s own house before he engages in helping others.
Thirdly, the goal of the matter is that we judge in the right way and, so, actually help our brother to remove the speck from his eye.
Jesus did not say, “leave the matter alone, it is not your responsibility to judge.” He said, “judge rightly, help your brother, but first judge yourself.”
The issue here is hypocrisy. Jesus was a fearless critic of the Pharisees because they dealt hypocritically with people concerning moral judgments.
4 For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. KJV
When Jesus turned the standard of honesty and integrity upon them, they were revealed to be frauds and He does not want His people to be frauds.
It is absolutely true in life that whenever you make a moral judgment, either one concerning a brother, a friend, or one or concerning society in general, someone is going to feel morally bound to determine if you yourself are faithful to the principle you are articulating.
Speaking to supposed knowledgeable people concerning the Law of God, Paul said:
21 Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal?
22 Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege?
23 Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God? KJV
If you speak the gospel of repentance to people, they are, for sure, going to judge whether you are true to the principle.
In all reality, he is saying, “if you are going to speak the gospel to others, make sure that you are working seriously on the issue of repentance in your own life.” Otherwise, you are just another religious hypocrite.
I saw an interesting quote from J. C. Ryle this week. “Of all the sins into which people can fall, none seem so exceedingly sinful as false profession and hypocrisy.”
So, how are we to deal with this text?
The answer to that depends on your answer to another question, “what is it that you want in life?” If your goal is to never be criticized or ‘judged’ by other people, then, by all means, keep your mouth shut concerning repentance. You cannot do the one without experiencing the other.
If your goal is to be godly, then you are duty-bound to make moral and spiritual judgments concerning life, based on the Word of God, and share those judgments with others.
It is a fact of life that some people are not going to take kindly to those judgments and are going to heap criticism upon you, accusing you of being unfaithful to the principles you affirm.
Your task is to make sure that any such criticisms are false.
Understand this, just because you have sinned, even sinned greatly, you are not automatically disqualified from rendering moral judgments.
Go back to the text in Acts 2 where Peter was condemning, ‘judging,’ his countrymen for their treatment of the Lord Jesus. Remember that Peter had failed badly that day of Jesus’ crucifixion as well, cursing and blaspheming, insisting that he did not know Christ. And he did it not once but three times. How, then, does he have the gall to stand and criticize others, to ‘judge’ them for their sins in regard to Jesus?
Two things are in play here. First, Peter has acknowledged his sin and repented of it. Secondly, sin is sin even if you are dealing with a sin similar to your own. If you have truly repented and put away your wickedness, you are qualified to criticize, ‘judge,’ that sin in others.
The repentant thief may justly speak against stealing. The repentant adulterer is not a hypocrite for speaking against immorality. The repentant liar may speak publicly and directly against lying, etc. You get the point.
If it were not so, then no human could ever speak against, ‘judge,’ the sins of any other human and that is just not the model we see in scripture.
Now consider another issue with me.
If you are awakened tonight at 3 AM by that annoying neighbor that you have always had problems with, and he tells you that there is smoke coming from your roof, are you going to be angry with him?
If our goal is godliness, then any help we can get in correcting ungodly behavior should be appreciated, no matter what the source, right?
Even if an enemy rightly points out wickedness, inconsistency, or hypocrisy in our lives and that assessment is true, then we should be grateful. We should thank him, agree with him, and immediately set to work to repent of whatever it was that he saw in us that was sin.
On the other hand, just because someone criticizes us, friend or enemy, it does not necessarily follow that their criticism is just. Consider what they said of Jesus.
2 And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.
3 And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth. KJV
10 And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples.
11 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? KJV
62 And the high priest arose, and said unto him, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee?
63 But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.
64 Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.
65 Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy. KJV
The bottom line is that just because someone criticizes you it does not automatically follow that their criticism is true. Evaluate it, thank them for it if it is true, reject it if it is not.
Make sure that you are following Christ in repentance. By His grace, through prayer, cast every ‘beam’ out of your eye.
Then, help your brother/sister with the speck in their eye.
This is what you are called to do. This is your task.
24 Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment. KJV
Finally, do what you do in love.
29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. KJV
Make sure that any ‘judging’ you do is done in love with the interest in your mind to be of spiritual help to the one to whom you offer your judgment.
1 Peter 3:8‑9
8 Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:
9 Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. KJV
Even enemies are to be dealt with in love, even if we are offering harsh judgment for their sins. Our goal should be their repentance and we should endeavor, so much as lies within us, to keep ourselves from improper anger.
Even as Peter delivered the condemnation of murder against his countrymen he was desiring that they repent and be saved.
Paul harshly condemned his countrymen for their rejection of Christ and then said:
1 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. KJV
Render righteous judgment. Deal with your own sins honestly. Speak the truth in love. Be thankful for helpful criticism. Offer helpful suggestions (criticism, judgments).