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Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged!

By: John Duncan

The most misquoted verse in the Bible is probably Matthew 7:1, "Judge not that ye be not judged." We hear this verse multiple times a day. At Troy State University in Alabama, a professor we met even said that it was one of the Ten Commandments. Too often we have heard sincere, misinformed Christians and unbelievers alike say, "I donít want to judge anybody, but..." Ironically, the one who screams "judge not" is often the one passing judgment on you!

Letís See What the Bible Really Says About Judging:

"The mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom, and his tongue talketh of judgment." (Psa 37:30)

"With my lips have I declared all the judgments of thy mouth." (Psa 119:13)

"Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy." (Prov 31:9)

Jesus commended Simon, "Thou hast rightly judged." (Luke 7:43)

"Now, thou son of man, wilt thou judge, wilt thou judge the bloody city? yea, thou shalt show her all her abominations." (Ezek 22:2)

"But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man." (1 Cor 2:15)

"Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?" (1 Cor 6:2)

"Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?" (1 Cor 6:3)


There are many other passages and verses in the Bible about judging. While God is our ultimate Judge, He has also commanded us to judge according to the Word of God.

According to the Websterís Dictionary, to judge means "to discern, to distinguish, to form an opinion, to compare facts or ideas, and perceive their agreement or disagreement, and thus to distinguish truth from falsehood." Therefore, when you say that your neighbor is a "good person," you are passing a judgment (forming an opinion) just as much as when you say that the thief is a "bad person."


If there were no judgment...

All the prisons would be empty and thieves, serial killers, drug dealers, rapists, and murderers would be loose in your neighborhood.

You could not discipline your children and teach them not to steal, lie, do drugs, or give in to peer pressure.

School could not be mandated (by parents or govt) but if children did attend, they could not be evaluated as to their progress. Everyone should graduate regardless of their advance. Students could not be graded or disciplined.

You could not judge any false doctrine and would have to allow it to be taught from your churchís pulpit ("discerning" is the same thing as "judging").

You should leave your children with anyone who said was qualified to be a baby-sitter. You should not bother to check his/her background. Later, you should not be upset if this baby-sitter turned out to be a child-molester, because "thou shalt not judge."

You should marry anyone that asked. You shouldnít worry about his/her character or beliefs. What if he beats you up? What if she runs around on you? You shouldnít get so mad because "thou shalt not judge."


Hopefully you can see the folly of such silly doctrine by now. The devil has been successful to push the church further and further into a corner, while everyone else comes out of the closet with their sins. Most often, those who tell you "not to judge" them do so because they are either hiding something or want to continue doing it without reaping negative effects for it. In the campuses where we have been, students say that we shouldnít judge (form an opinion of) fornicators, drunkards, liars, homosexuals, or the like. However, they fail to realize that sin harms them and their neighbors. A caring, loving Christian will judge all situations according to the Word of God and call sinners to repentance.

The church has become intimidated by the opinions of the world as they scream, "You religious bigots, hatemongers, and intolerant people (which are judgments in themselves), do not judge me!" However, God clearly commands us to judge so we wonít be deceived. Why would the command to judge be so vehemently attacked in society? Obviously, if the church stops judging and using our common sense, we will no longer be able to distinguish good from evil, we will buy into the politically correct idea of moral relativism (whatís good for you may not be good for me), and we will bow down to the devilís wishes to deceive us, our family, and our friends.

Even more disturbing is to see church leadership saying, "do not judge." Many pastors lead their sheep astray and keep them under their manipulative control by telling them that they have a "critical spirit," they are "prideful," or "judgemental," while all they are trying to do is to discern the truth. If you find yourself in such a church, FLEE for your (spiritual) life!

Now letís take a look at the famous verse that is so misquoted today and put it in its PROPER context. If we are intellectually honest when looking at this passage, we will find that it is actually teaching us to judge, not to refrain from judging! We have inserted a few comments in brackets.

Mat 7:1-5 "Judge not, that ye be not judged [do not judge others if you do not want to be judged by others; everyone will be judged by God]. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again [if you judge others, they will judge you by the same measures]. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye [how can you judge someone when you are guilty of the sin yourself]? Thou hypocrite [this is the audience in the context; a hypocrite is one who is not living what he is preaching], first cast out the beam out of thine own eye [FIRST judge yourself and get your own life cleaned up]; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye [THEN after you get your life straight, you will be able to discern clearly and you are commanded to help clean your brotherís eye!].

Other misquoted Scriptures:

Romans 14:3-10. This is about dietary preferences, things that are not essential to salvation.

Romans 2:1-3. We have the same scenario of Mat. 7. We should not judge others if we are guilty of the same things. We must first clean up our own lives through repentance and faith, then we are qualified to judge others.

James 4:11 says that we are not to speak evil of other "brethren" -- those who are obediently doing the will of God (Mat 12:50). This does not apply to those living in willful sin.


How Are We to Judge?

1. We are to judge righteously. Jesus commands in John 7:24, "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment."

Judge by the Word of God and Its principles, not by someoneís skin color, whether they are tall or short (inherited physical traits), etc.

2. We are to judge without hypocrisy. "And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?" (Rom 2:3)

Judge yourself first to see if you are guilty of that sin. Live what you preach. Only after you get your life cleaned up by turning from your sins and receiving pardon through repentance and faith in Jesus (i.e. you get saved) you can go and help others to be saved too.