Judge Not

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Who do not live in a discriminating age. In fact, we have so little ability left in discrimination that we even think that it is an evil thing to do. But this is a very real problem — and some have sought support from this passage in defense of their error.

“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. Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces” (Matt. 7:1-6).

We must first consider what the text does not mean. In the non-Christian world, this passage is frequently cited, with the intention of keeping Christians from exercising any kind of biblical discernment at all. Unfortunately, this attitude has also crept into the church — it shows up, for example, when church discipline is called for. In this way of thinking, judge not becomes an isolated absolute. This must be rejected for several reasons.

1. It ignores the context. In verse 6, Jesus requires us to identify dogs and swine, and in verse 15, false prophets.

2. It is self-contradictory. It is impossible to quote judge not at someone without judging him.

But a second problem arises. Are Christians subject to judgment? Jesus says that the judgment we apply will be applied to us, and He is teaching His disciples. How does this relate to the doctrine of justification? If we are to be judged, then we must understand what the Bible teaches about Judgment.

1. Judgment of eternal life and death: This is the judgment that determines Heaven and Hell, and this is the judgment which, for believers, has already been made in Christ. Here we stand completely justified, completely safe in Christ.

2. Judgment concerning covenant blessings and curses: Paul teaches on this with regard to the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 11:27-32). And the blessings or curses are administered in this life.

3. Judgment of rewards: People sound very spiritual when they say that the Christian life should be lived for “its own sake,” but the Bible does not address us this way. But we Christians must remember God’s judgments as we judge (Rom. 14:1-10), the work of ministers will be judged (1 Cor. 3:11-15), the believer must appear before the judgment seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10). Paul remembers this in his prayer for Onesiphorus (2 Tim. 1:16-18. And so should we. “. . . Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on . . . they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them” (Rev. 14:13). Are Christians subject to the judgment of God? The answer is no and yes.

We then come to the point, which is what Jesus teaches us about double standards. Knowing what the passage does not require is not the same things as understanding and obeying it. What is Jesus telling us here? The doctrine is that we must not apply standards of judgment to others if we are unwilling to have that same standard applied to ourselves. We tend to have a very accurate, and very strict, handling of the law of God when it comes to the behavior of others. Christ teaches that this measure will be applied to those who applied it to others. Like Haman, they will be hung on a gallows they built themselves.

1. Consequently, refrain from all judgments of others which would condemn you. For the judgment you use will be applied to you (vv.1-2).

2. Take your standard, and apply it to yourself first. When you have a beam in your eye, you cannot see the speck in your brother’s eye, and you certainly cannot see the beam in your own.

3. When the standard you use has been fully applied to yourself, then help your brother.

4. According to the Lord’s imagery, dogs and pigs are not your brother in this sense. Discriminate with what is holy, and don’t waste your time. Save your breath for walking uphill. As a prophet, one of our own, once put it, “Never try to teach a pig to whistle. It is a waste of your time, and it annoys the pig.”

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Andy Matei
Andy Matei
3 years ago

This blog really helped me out. Thank you!