In Matthew 7:1 (Amp), Jesus says, “Do not judge and criticize and condemn others, so that you may not be judged and criticized and condemned yourselves.”
By itself, it seems Jesus opposed judging, but when we read and study the context — in Matthew 7:1-5 — the entire meaning changes: He’s not telling us not to judge but how to judge. And we know this is true when we take into consideration everything else He said about judging:
- Jesus asked “the crowds of people” (v. 54), “You playactors (hypocrites)! You know how [intelligently] to discern and interpret and prove the looks of the earth and sky; but . . . why do you not judge what is just and personally decide what is right?” (Luke 12:57, Amp).
- Jesus told us how to judge by telling us how He judged: “I am able to do nothing from Myself [independently, of My own accord–but only as I am taught by God and as I get His orders]. Even as I hear, I judge [I decide as I am bidden to decide. As the voice comes to Me, so I give a decision], and My judgment is right (just, righteous), because I do not seek or consult My own will [I have no desire to do what is pleasing to Myself, My own aim, My own purpose] but only the will and pleasure of the Father Who sent Me” (John 5:30, Amp). [Note: While we have the Father to lead us in righteous judgment, we also have the Word of God which upholds the highest standards of righteousness for us to measure by (See 2 Timothy 3:16-17).]
- He explained further how to judge righteous judgment: “Be honest in your judgment and do not decide at a glance (superficially and by appearances); but judge fairly and righteously” (John 7:24, Amp).
- Jesus judged the Pharisees for the way they judged: “You [set yourselves up to] judge according to the flesh (by what you see). [You condemn by external, human standards.] I do not [set Myself up to] judge or condemn or sentence anyone. Yet even if I do judge, My judgment is true [My decision is right]; for I am not alone [in making it], but [there are two of Us] I and the Father, Who sent Me.” (John 8:15-16, Amp).
- Jesus gave us a very specific MO on how to judge someone in a way that is descent and in order: When a brother or sister in Christ stumbles in sin (1) Go to them personally, one on one, and show them their fault. If they do not repent, (2) Go to them again with two or three others, so every word is upheld by the testimony of two or three witnesses. Then, if that does not bring them to repentance, “tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a pagan and a tax collector” (Matt. 18:15-17). He then finished-up in verse 18 by saying, “Truly I tell you, whatever you forbid and declare to be improper and unlawful on earth must be what is already forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit and declare proper and lawful on earth must be what is already permitted in heaven.” So, we are admonished to judge things but only as the Truth of Heaven dictates.
Paul also had much to say about judgment:
- “…The spiritual man tries all things [he examines, investigates, inquires into, questions, and discerns all things], yet is himself to be put on trial and judged by no one [he can read the meaning of everything, but no one can properly discern or appraise or get an insight into him]” (1 Cor. 2:14, Amp).
- When Paul was informed of sexual immorality in the Body of Christ at Corinth, he gave them very specific instructions in First Corinthians 5:1-13 on how to handle the situation:
(1) It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, impurity of a sort that is condemned and does not occur even among the heathen; for a man has [his own] father’s wife.
(2) And you are proud and arrogant! And you ought rather to mourn (bow in sorrow and in shame) until the person who has done this [shameful] thing is removed from your fellowship and your midst!
(3) As for my attitude, though I am absent [from you] in body, I am present in spirit, and I have already decided and passed judgment, as if actually present,
(4) In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, on the man who has committed such a deed. When you and my own spirit are met together with the power of our Lord Jesus,
(5)You are to deliver this man over to Satan for physical discipline [to destroy carnal lusts which prompted him to incest], that [his] spirit may [yet] be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
(6) [About the condition of your church] your boasting is not good [indeed, it is most unseemly and entirely out of place]. Do you not know that [just] a little leaven will ferment the whole lump [of dough]?
(7) Purge (clean out) the old leaven that you may be fresh (new) dough, still uncontaminated [as you are], for Christ, our Passover [Lamb], has been sacrificed.
(8) Therefore, let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with leaven of vice and malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened [bread] of purity (nobility, honor) and sincerity and [unadulterated] truth.
(9) I wrote you in my [previous] letter not to associate [closely and habitually] with unchaste (impure) people-
(10) Not [meaning of course that you must] altogether shun the immoral people of this world, or the greedy graspers and cheats and thieves or idolaters, since otherwise you would need to get out of the world and human society altogether!
(11) But now I write to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of [Christian] brother if he is known to be guilty of immorality or greed, or is an idolater [whose soul is devoted to any object that usurps the place of God], or is a person with a foul tongue [railing, abusing, reviling, slandering], or is a drunkard or a swindler or a robber. [No] you must not so much as eat with such a person.
(12) What [business] of mine is it and what right have I to judge outsiders? Is it not those inside [the church] upon whom you are to pass disciplinary judgment [passing censuring sentence on them as the facts require]?
(13) God alone sits in judgment on those who are outside. Drive out that wicked one from among you [expel him from your church].
- In 1st Corinthians 6:1-8 Paul scolded the Church at Corinth for not judging matters in the family of God. Then, in verses 9 through 20, he makes a call to holiness to the Church which requires the Body of Christ to follow through on what he covered in verses 1-8. The context of 1st Corinthians 5 and 6 gives a strong contextual call to the Body of Christ to judge unrighteousness within itself so it can truly honor God. [Note: 2 Cor. 5-11 is the follow-up to 1 Cor. 5-6:8]
- Paul stated that if “we searchingly examined ourselves [detecting our shortcomings and recognizing our own condition]” we would not have to be judged (1 Cor. 11:31, Amp). He restates this to the Corinthian Church in 2nd Corinthians 13:1-10.
- In Galatians 6:1 (Amp) Paul said, “Brethren, if any person is overtaken in misconduct or sin of any sort, you who are spiritual [who are responsive to and controlled by the Spirit] should set him right and restore and reinstate him, without any sense of superiority and with all gentleness, keeping an attentive eye on yourself, lest you should be tempted also.” Notice, those who are spiritual, those who are mature in the Lord, should seek to set the wayward right so they can then restore and reinstate them, and they should do so with utmost humility and gentleness.
- To the Church at Thessalonica, Paul wrote “we earnestly beseech you, brethren, admonish (warn and seriously advise) those who are out of line [the loafers, the disorderly, and the unruly] … be very patient with everybody [always keeping your temper]” (1 Thess. 5:14, Amp).
- In Second Thessalonians 3:14-15 (Amp), Paul tells the saints, “But if anyone [in the church] refuses to obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person and do not associate with him, so that he may be ashamed. Do not regard him as an enemy, but simply admonish and warn him as [being still] a brother.”
- To Timothy, Paul commanded, “As for those who are guilty and persist in sin, rebuke and admonish them in the presence of all, so that the rest may be warned and stand in wholesome awe and fear. I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the chosen angels that you guard and keep [these rules] without personal prejudice or favor, doing nothing from partiality” (1 Tim. 5:20-21, Amp).
- In Titus 1:9-14, Paul gave Titus specific instructions on how to hand those who are wayward, disorderly, unruly, idle, misleading, deceived, and deceivers.
- Paul told Titus to “…Urge (advise, encourage, warn) and rebuke with full authority. Let no one despise or disregard or think little of you [conduct yourself and your teaching so as to command respect]” (Titus 2:15, Amp).
Paul also told Titus, “[As for] a man who is factious [a heretical sectarian and cause of divisions], after admonishing him a first and second time, reject [him from your fellowship and have nothing more to do with him], well aware that such a person has utterly changed (is perverted and corrupted); he goes on sinning [though he] is convicted of guilt and self-condemned” (Titus 3:10-11, Amp).
This is true Biblical judgment. Unfortunately, it is rare and has been rejected by those who are unable to discern (judge) the difference between the baby (righteous judgment) and the bathwater (false judgment).