One of the most quoted verses amongst unbelievers and believers as well, invoked whenever someone seeks to show that someone is not acting in line with scripture, be it in respect to sin or false teaching is “Judge not lest ye be judged” – Matthew 7:1. But is normally paraphrased as “Who are you to judge?, The bible says you should not judge others” It is necessary to judge, the much quoted “Do not judge” is used out of context most of the time.
What is the context?
If we look at the full context by reading further down to verse 6 it states that you must first take the spec out of your own eye before you can judge! The verse is talking of not making specific HYPOCRITICAL judgements when you are guilty of the exact same sin or false teaching. e.g. If my friend is stealing and I tell him that stealing is bad and yet I am also stealing then I am making a hypocritical judgement.
Is all judging bad?
So if I am not guilty of that particular sin and hence ‘have no log in my eye’ I have the biblical authority to judge. Also notice that in the very context Jesus himself is judging people for their hypocrisy, showing he is not condemning all judging only hypocritical judging. So this verse is not saying to never judge in any situation. The judging that is condemned in the New Testament is not the righteous exposure of error or rebuking of a false teacher.
Christians are so judgmental
Another common one is “Christians are so judgmental”. The statement itself implies that the person making it is judging so everyone judges. The question would then be who’s judgement is correct? If a christian is basing his judgement on the word of God then its not him who is judging, but the word of God.
When can we Judge?
There are instances where we are supposed to judge
‘Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgement’ – John 7:24
We are faced with having to make judgements about situations and people every day. But our judgements must be based on fact and, not on preconceived ideas and ulterior motives.
‘Preach the word in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching’ – 2 Timothy:2
In order to reprove, rebuke, and exhort you have to make a judgement whether that person needs to be reproved or exhorted. The notion that we should not judge anyone at any time and we should leave all judgements to God is unknown to the Bible. Those who teach that Christians should not judge are those who are ignorant of what the bible teaches or disregard what the bible says or those that do not like to be told that they are in sin.
Calling out false prophets by name
In addition to this some may also feel as if calling people by name is not right but inspired writers certainly did as in the verses listed below.
1. II Timothy 1:15: This you know, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes.
2. II Timothy 2:15: Study to show yourself approved to God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 16: But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase to more ungodliness. 17: And their word will eat as does a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; 18: Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.
3. II Timothy 3:8: Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest to all men, as theirs also was.
4. II Timothy 4:10: For Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed to Thessalonica;
5. II Timothy 3:13: But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.
Judging is both condemned and commanded in the New testament, it is just employed in different senses. And a wise student would not make blanket statements such as “Do not judge”.