So, are we to judge, or not?
There are several concepts happening here that most people will not stop long enough to think about. They are so busy protecting themselves from having to follow any laws that they accept the first explanation that suits their needs. When someone hears something they don't like, they immediately quote Matthew 7:1
1Do not judge, or you too will be judged.
. All this accomplishes is to silence the one speaking the truth.
Let's start from the beginning. The only time we hear that phrase, "You're not suppose to judge others!" is when someone brings up a statement from the Bible that condemns a particular action. You know, like saying that "homosexuals will not enter the kingdom of heaven." or "unrepentant sinners will be thrown into the Lake of Fire." This is immediately taken by the hearer as a statement of judgment by the one who quotes the Bible. They fail to think about the fact that God said it first.
Even extensions and generalizations of phrases like these create strong emotions in people. Things like "Homosexuality is wrong." or even "The Bible says not to do that." are shouted down as judgmental.
What did Jesus say?
First off, Jesus' whole sermon on the mount was about the beatitudes, a description of the type of behavior we are to exhibit as Christians. The very next verse behind the one they quote says that the way we judge will be the basis for our own judgment:
1"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." (Matthew 7:1-2)
So, what does this mean to us? If telling someone what the Bible says is considered a judgment, then, by that measure, we are not allowed to spread the gospel. If we see someone doing something that the Bible says not to do, are we not allowed to tell them? If we tell them what the Bible actually tells us to do that they are not doing, is that also a "judgment" that we are supposedly not to make? If we are not allowed to let people know what God says about acts that will lead to their ultimate death, then how do we communicate the will of God to others?
What is being judged?
Well, how did Paul act after he was convinced by the Lord Himself of the truth? In 1 Corinthians 5:3, he made a statement that seems to fly directly in the face of Jesus' words:
3For my part, even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. As one who is present with you in this way, I have already passed judgment in the name of our Lord Jesus on the one who has been doing this.
Wait a minute. How could Paul do something that the Lord said not to do, and do it "in the name of our Lord"? Maybe it's because he actually understood what the Lord's words said. Notice I did not try to sell you my view by saying that the Lord's words meant something other than what He said. What did Jesus actually say?
You will be judged...
To paraphrase, without changing the meaning, He said, "However you judge another, you will be judged in the same way." Now, at the very end of time, we will all be judged, right? How will we be judged? By what measure will we be judged? By the word of God.
If you judge by your own preferences, or even by the whims of whatever craze is current in society, you are judging based on personal choice. This is what Jesus meant when He said that you will be judged by your own criteria. That will not work out for any of us. But, let your judgment be based on the word of God.
So, whether or not you judge, you will eventually be judged by God's word. If you judge a situation based on the word of God, that does not change the way you will be judged. However, another difference is that we are not judging the destination of the person, only the situation that person is presenting to the world. Letting them know that they are doing something that will affect their final judgment is not the same as judging what we think is going to happen to them. Now, how can I say this?
We can repent and change our fate, if we change
Well, read a little further in 1 Corinthians 5 and take a look at verses 12 and 13:
12What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13God will judge those outside. "Expel the wicked person from among you."
Here, Paul is telling the congregation that it is the duty of those in the church to police the activity of those claiming to be followers of Jesus. Judging the actions of the members, and making appropriate recommendations, is a necessary part of being in the body of Christ. Unlike the liberal culture of today, we are not to be proud of our tolerance of blatant disobedience to God in our churches.
Judging an act to be clearly disobedient to God is necessary
We need discernment and good judgment in today's churches. Yet, with the proliferation of gay pastors and the acceptance of openly practicing gays in our churches, along with ignoring the fourth commandment and mixing paganism with our Christianity, that is exactly what today's churches do not have. While making it publicly known their position on those subjects, they are demonstrating their pride in their own tolerance.
Is that last paragraph a judgment?
Of a situation, yes. Of their final destination, not at all. The whole purpose of a warning is to give someone a chance to change their fate. If you see someone in the street about to get hit by a car, you warn them. If you see someone's child start to run into a busy street, you warn them or their parents.
You have judged that a situation exists that will have dire consequences if it continues, so you try to warn someone. If these situations continue after the warning, and the one you have warned tells you to mind your own business, you have done your duty. You have judged and acted. The results of their actions from that point are on them.
What else can you do?
With the situations just described, you can only help to a point. You might even go to an authority for that situation, such as the local police or Child Protective Services, if you have time and if one exists.
With the situations in the churches, you can only bring the situation to the attention of the pastors or others who are responsible. If you are one of those responsible, you can have the disobedient expelled until they come to their senses, as Paul advises. If you are not responsible, then you can only watch to see if the ones who are responsible take action. If they do not, then you can only leave the church.
"What? Leave the church?"
While this may sound a little extreme, go back to 1 Corinthians chapter 5. Take a look at verse 11:
9I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people - 10not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.
The fact that those responsible for the congregation accept something that God has said is disobedience means that they have put their wishes above those of God. That is idolatry, and Paul says not to "even eat with such people." If an entire church is tolerant of disobedience, then it is not a church of God or of Jesus. (Matthew 7:21
21Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
and Luke 6:46
46Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?
) It requires a judgment to be able to identify a course of action.
So, look around you, and then judge
Take a look around your church. Consider what you know about their actions and whether they are in line with the will of God. If you are not sure, take a look at our pages at Christless Christianity and Pagan Christianity? for some hints. Don't just take our word for it. Check the references we give from the Bible. But, then you should make a judgment.
Once you get over your surprise, discuss it with your family and see if you shouldn't heed the warnings that the Bible gives to us throughout and find a new church. It won't be easy, because there are very few who have found the right path. (Matthew 7:13-14
13Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
) Or, you can decide not to judge and just stay on the broad path with "everyone else" - it is ultimately up to you.
Disagree? Find an error? Contact us at email@example.com and give us your view.