Friday, July 3, 2015

Who Are You to Judge Me?

One of the most popular verses today is Matthew 7:1 "Judge not lest you be judge." Christian and even the unbeliever will quote this verse, especially if you say something they’re doing is wrong. This is especially true in our day of tolerance, but it really isn’t tolerance they are looking for as much as acceptance. They want us to accept their way of life or their teaching or whatever it might be, don’t question it or call it sin. If you do you’re judging! We have really seen this lately in regards to the Supreme Court decision on same sex marriage. But it is true on subject like

Should Christians judge? Are Christians to judge other Christians? What does the Bible say about judging others? The word "judge" in its various forms (judging, judgment, judges, etc) is found over 700 times in God's word. One whole book of the Bible is titled "Judges" for it was written at a time when God raised up judges to lead His people.

The Authority on Judging
The Bible makes it very clear that there is one supreme Judge of all, that is God Himself and He alone has the authority to determine right and wrong motives and behaviors. There are many verses in Old Testament that point out that God is Judge: 
  • God is a just judge, and God is angry with the wicked every day. (Psalm 7:11).
  • He shall judge the world in righteousness, and he shall administer judgments for the people in uprightness. (Psalm 9:8).
  • Let the heavens declare His righteousness, for God himself is Judge. Selah (Psalm 50:6).
  • For the Lord is our Judge, the Lord is our Lawgiver, the Lord is our King; He will save us. (Isaiah 33:22).
When we come to the New Testament, we find that the Father has committed authority and judgment to the Son. Jesus spoke of this authority before He ascended to heaven after the Resurrection (Matthew 28:18).
  • “For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son.” (John 5:22).

  • “I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness. And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.” (John 12:46–48).

  • Because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead. (Acts 17:31).

  • The Bible makes it very clear that one day Jesus will rightly judge all humanity based on each individual’s faith in or rejection of the Son of God. The Judge of the universe has made a judgment about salvation, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
 
Let's consider the idea of judging as it relates to believers and unbelievers. The methods are different when dealing with these two groups, but the goal is reconciliation. Unbelievers need to know Christ and be reconciled to Him, and believers need to grow in Christ and be reconciled to each other.
 
How Judging Relates to Unbelievers
Whenever we present the gospel to unbelievers, a judgment is made regarding their standing with God. The Bible clearly declares that all men are sinners, have fallen short of the glory of God, and are in need of redemption from their sins (Romans 3:23). We should present the gospel lovingly and graciously and it not our opinions that matter but rather what the Bible clearly says!
 Many feel that Christians should not make judgments on issues such as abortion, adultery, homosexual behavior, and same-sex marriage. When a Christian says, for example, that homosexual behavior is a sin and that same-sex marriage is wrong, he or she is often met with objections like the following:
 
“Who are you to judge two people who love each other?” “Who do you think you are, telling someone who they can and cannot love? You’re a sinner, too!” “Someone’s private life is none of your business. Don’t judge them.” Some will even quote Matthew 7:1, where Christ said during the Sermon on the Mount, “Judge not, that you be not judged.”
 
There are significant logical problems with the claim that believers should not make judgments. The first becomes evident when we read the context of Matthew 7:1. “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.” (Matthew 7:1–5)
 
Here, Christ is warning believers against making judgments in a hypocritical or condemning manner. That type of judging is a characteristic often associated with the Pharisees during the ministry of Jesus. Many people who quote “judge not” from Matthew 7:1 fail to notice the command to judge in Matthew 7:5, when it says, “Then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” The point Jesus emphasizes here is to judge yourself first before you make judgments about others. (Also, notice the discernment and judgment required in Matthew 7:15–16, (20).) In the broader context, Jesus is telling believers to be discerning when it comes to false teaching and false prophets because they “look” Christian, but their goal is to lead the flock astray (Matthew 7:15–20, Luke 6:43–45).
 
As Christians, we should be living godly lives so that we can first concentrate on our own repentance of sin. Sanctification is a lifelong process of being transformed every day into the image of Christ. Without this, we have no place in helping another brother or sister. What Christ teaches His believers in Matthew 7 is that if we ourselves are not personally repenting of our sins, we are in no place to tell others how sinful they are acting. But the Bible does tell us to preach the gospel—and part of the gospel message is that people are sinners in need of salvation. 
 
How Judging Relates to other Christians
We often hear claims from Christians that we are not to make judgments about other believers, especially as it relates to their erroneous teachings. They tell us that we should simply love one another and not judge. But is it really showing love, if we allow our another Christian to remain in error and even deceive others? Loving others requires that we graciously correct them when they fall into error (Matthew 18; 1 Corinthians 1:11; Galatians 6:1). Those who err do not necessarily know they are in error; they are possibly deceived or ignorant. So we gently and carefully correct the error in regard to teaching, no matter what the situation. After all, this is one of the responsibilities of the church: to teach sound doctrine and correct erroneous teaching (2 Timothy 2:25, 3:16; Titus 2:1). For example, we have to use discernment (judging between right and wrong) if we are to obey verses like 1 Corinthians 5:11–13; 6:4; 2 Thessalonians 3:6; 1 Timothy 6:20; and Titus 3:9, just to name a few.
 
But let’s consider what judging is not and then we’ll look at what judging wrongly is.
 
What judging others does not mean:
It is not judging someone to be discerning with regard to his character or teaching. Many people quote Matthew 7:1 about not judging others, but they never bother to read down to verse 6, where Jesus says, “Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine.” To obey this verse you must make some judgmental decisions about the person’s character!
 
Later on in Matthew 7:15, Jesus says, “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” It takes a discerning sheep to recognize, “That’s not a true sheep! That’s a wolf dressed like a sheep!” It requires judging the man’s teaching as false.
 
Romans 16:17-18 urges them to “keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.”
 
Some would say that it’s okay to expose the false doctrine in general terms, but that you should never specifically name a false teacher. But in 1 Timothy 1:19, Paul mentions that some have rejected faith and a good conscience, “and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith.” He doesn’t leave it there, but goes on (1:20), “Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan, so that they will be taught not to blaspheme.” In 2 Timothy 2:17, he names Hymenaeus and Philetus, adding (2:18), “men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset the faith of some.” In 2 Timothy 4:10, Paul tells Timothy, “Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me….” In verse 14, he warns Timothy about “Alexander the coppersmith,” who did Paul much harm. In 3 John 9-10, the apostle of love warns the flock about “Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them,” but “does not accept what we say.” Paul names two quarreling ladies, Euodia and Syntyche, urging them “to live in harmony in the Lord” (Phil. 4:2). He pointedly tells the church in Colossae, “Say to Archippus, ‘Take heed to your ministry’” (Col. 4:17). He named names!
 
The apostles were not, in any of these instances, wrongly judging others. So we must conclude that it is not judging someone to exercise discernment about ungodly behavior or false teaching. It is not judging someone to speak to him about sin or false teaching. If you see your child about to run in front of a speeding car, you would do everything in your power to warn him. If you see a brother in Christ about to ruin his life by sin or by believing false doctrine, love should motivate you to do everything possible to warn him.
 In James 5:19-20, we read, “My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.”
 
Paul taught that it is the responsibility of every spiritual believer to confront a believer who has fallen into sin (Gal. 6:1). It should begin in private, unless the sin is public to start with (Gal. 2:11-14; 1 Cor. 5:1-13). The Lord Jesus taught this kind of confrontation in Matthew 18:15-18.
 
It is not judging someone to evaluate spiritual maturity or doctrinal views for ministry. To make wise ministry decisions and to shepherd the flock, you must make judgments about a person’s character and doctrinal views.
 
What judging others wrongly looks like:
We judge others wrongly when we criticize him out of jealousy, bitterness, selfish ambition, or some other sin, rather than seeking to build him in Christ. James 4:11 challenges our motives in judging, “Do not speak slander one another.” Slander, means to malign someone or damaging his reputation by sharing false or deliberately misleading information. But the word that James uses has a broader meaning that includes any form of criticism or running someone down from selfish motives.
 
We judge someone wrongly when we assume that we know all of the pertinent facts and motives behind the person’s words or actions. Proverbs warns us that “He who answers a matter before he hears it, It is folly and shame to him” because “the first one to plead his cause seems right, until his neighbor comes and examines him” (Prov. 18:13, 17).
We judge someone wrongly when we set up human standards, rather than holding to God’s word as the standard. Paul devotes two chapters to this problem. In Romans 14, vegetarian believers were judging those that ate meat. Others observed certain days as holy and judged those that did not. In 1 Corinthians 8, the problem was that of eating meat that had been sacrificed to idols. In areas where the Bible does not give definitive commands it is wrong to take my personal convictions in such areas and set them up as standards to judge those who do not share your convictions. This what Pharisees did when they added dozens of man-made rules to God’s law, and then judged everyone that did not keep their rules. They were majoring on minors and were focusing on outward appearances, but their hearts were far from God. They neglected God’s commandments and held instead to the traditions of men (Mark 7:6-9).
 
We judge someone wrongly when we do not first judge your own sin before trying to help him with his sin. This is the real teaching of Matthew 7:1-5. He does not say that it is wrong to help your brother get the speck out of his eye, but rather, before you try to do so, deal with the log in your own eye.
 
We judge someone wrongly when you share confidential or personal information with the wrong intent. It is easy to sound spiritual saying, “I wanted you to know about this situation so that you could pray.” The truth often is that we just wanted to feel important because we know something.
 
So it is clear from Scripture that we should not judge a person’s motives, we can't see into their heart. But the Bible is as equally clear that there is a time to judge the fruit and actions of someone who claims to be a follower of Christ. We should never condemn, but should are to have discernment as to whether or not the life is matching up with the profession!
 
Why? What really is at stake? What really ought to concern us? The glory of God! It is absolutely true that God is love, but the same book of the Bible that this is often quoted from (1 John 4:8-10), also tells that "God is light and in Him is no darkness at all" (1 John 1:5). This chapter goes onto to tell us that our life ought to match our profession, "If we say that we have fellowship with Him and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth." It is inconsistent to say that I'm a Christian and then practice or live in a way that is in opposition to the Word of God.
 
As a Christian I ought to be concerned with the glory of God and with His rights! There is so much made of people's rights today but what about God's rights? What about the rights of the Lord Jesus? Paul makes it clear in 2 Corinthians 4:3-6 that Satan wants to blind men’s eyes to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ! As a Christian that light is to shine in us and ought to shine out of us (2 Corinthians 4:6-7, Philippians 2:9). Our lives ought to demonstrate not only the love of God but the holiness of God as well (1Peter 1:15-16).

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