Can Christians Judge? (Discerning RIGHTEOUS Judgments from HYPOCRITICAL Judgments)
Can Christians judge? YES friends, Christians ARE to judge. The Bible tells us in 1 Corinthians 2:15 that "He who is spiritual judges all things." We who have surrendered entirely to the Lord have His Spirit living in us, and we will judge as He judged. We must remember though that Jesus judged out of love and concern for other's spiritual well being, and not out of a desire to pour out harsh and demeaning criticisms, and that we must always remember to behave in a similar caring manner. We also must remember that Jesus warned strongly against certain types of judgment as we read in Matthew chapter 7:1-6. This judgment is the same as Paul warned about in Romans 2:1 and vs 3. These are HYPOCRITICAL judgments. God hates hypocritical judgments. Yet God LOVES RIGHTEOUS Judgments.
Let's examine in more detail concerning the differences between HYPOCRITICAL judgments, and RIGHTEOUS judgments.
I. HYPOCRITICAL JUDGMENTS:
Hypocritical judgments are the types of judgments that God hates and these types of judgments are spoken of by Jesus in Matthew 7:1-6, and by Paul in Romans 2 vs. 1 and 3.
When we look at the above Scriptures we see that the people who were judging were PRACTICING THE SAME THINGS; In other words, they were being HYPOCRITES! Paul says in Romans 2 (vs 1) "Therefore you are inexcusable O man, for in whatever you judge another you condemn YOURSELF; for you who judge practice the SAME THING." (vs 3) "And do you think O man, you who judge those practicing such things and doing the SAME, that you will escape the judgment of God?"
We see the same message in Matthew 7:1-6 where Jesus is warning HYPOCRITES (vs. 5), to not judge. He tells these hypocrites to judge not, for, with the SAME judgment they use, they will be judged in return! These were hypocrites, who were trying to judge a tiny 'speck' (minor issue) in another person, yet they could not see the huge 'plank' (major sin issue) in themselves! Jesus became furious with such hypocritical folks and let them know that they had better shape up and remove their huge 'plank'before they go around trying to judge some little 'speck' in someone else.
Let's look at a few examples of HYPOCRITICAL JUDGMENTS (usually caused by the desire to put others down and elevate oneself in pride as the Pharisees loved to do):
~judging those who do something associated with 'pagan' roots - There are many who love to judge others who celebrate various holidays such as Christmas or Easter and point a finger at them and say "such holidays have pagan roots." This may be true to some extent, but the people who are saying this are using hypocritical judgments, for if they own pets, or if they have sports equipment in their home (such as footballs, baseballs etc), then these things ALSO have pagan roots. It is fine if someone does not feel right in their conscience about celebrating such holidays, but they should not judge others who do so (Romans 14:4-14), because, with the same judgments that they use against someone, the same harsh judgments will be applied to them by God one day. (Matt. 7:2)
~judging Sabbath keeping practices - If a person wants to keep the Sabbath in some special way, this is probably a good thing if it feels right with their conscience. But if a person chooses to judge someone for 'not keeping the Sabbath', then they had better be examining themselves first so that they have no hypocrisy and that they are not preparing any meals, or picking up any wood to make a fire etc for if they do so then they are breaking the Sabbath themselves.
~judging various other things based upon appearances of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility etc. (Col. 2:23) - In Colossians 2:20-23 it tells us that we should not subject ourselves to all the regulations which are not the commandments of God, but are the commandments and doctrines of men. Men want to pile endless religious burdens on others when God does not desire us to be loaded down with such religious burdens. Some will pass on harsh judgments and say burdensome teachings such as "Unless you call Jesus by His Hebrew name "Yah", you are not going to heaven." This is an example of a burdensome doctrine of men.
~judging others if they own a TV, listen to the radio, judging ladies who wear a bit of makeup and things of this nature: It is not a sin to own a TV, but if we watch the vast majority of things on TV it would probably be a sin since most things on TV are very shameful overall. But yet we should not judge someone just because they own a TV because if that person who judges owns some electronic device he would be guilty of hypocrisy. It is not the device that is sinful, it is how we USE the device that can make it pure or sinful. Also, some people love to judge others as 'sinners' merely if they happen to listen to Christian music that has an upbeat tempo yet is very edifying and wholesome music. These same people will often times themselves say it is just fine to listen to country type folk music which has an upbeat sound too, yet see this as perfectly fine while all other types of music are 'sinful.' We had better be careful before judging musical tastes, for, with the same harsh judgment we use, we will be judged in the same measure.
II. RIGHTEOUS JUDGMENTS:
Righteous judgments are extremely important and the Lord was always making righteous judgments, and if we are truly spiritual, we will be making righteous judgments as well. (1 Cor. 2:15) The Lord does not want us to be stringent in judgment against our brethren and say evil things about them when they have really not done any true wrong for this only promotes strife, gossip, and others wrongs. (James 4:11) However, if there is some serious evil or sin going on then we need to rebuke this in the presence of all, so that the rest also may fear and not want to partake in such a sinful practice as well! 1 Timothy 5:20 tells us "Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear." God is very serious about sin, and will not tolerate it one bit among those who call themselves brethren, and He wants this sin exposed and rebuked immediately! If these people might turn from their grievous sin, then they might be able to be pulled out of the clutches of the devil and be able to return to the Lord if they truly repent in all sincerity with no intention to ever return to such sin again. However, the Lord is very clear that he does not want us to be making superficial judgments, but that He wants us to be making judgments that are truly just and fair as we read in John 7:24, so we must use good discernment in this area.
Let's look at a few examples of RIGHTEOUS JUDGMENTS (If we truly have a sincere love for God and a sincere love for the souls of men, we will be sharing righteous judgments with people in order to warn them out of love for their souls that they must depart from all forms of evil, and turn to follow Christ.)
~We will righteously judge against most modern day religion since most are not teaching the full Word of God, but only teaching to please men's ears instead of teaching people the full truth from God's Word: If we go to nearly any church in our deceptive day, we will almost never find a church that warns against sin, but only teaches to please men's ears. The vast majority are filled with deception and true Christians must righteously judge this and warn against it.
~We will righteously judge against all forms of sin that clearly show we are not living with all our heart to follow the Lord, but have chosen to follow after the father of lies/Satan: Some of these sins to righteously judge will include such sins as listed in places such as Romans 1:18-32, Galatians 5:19-21, 2 Cor. 6:9-10, Ephesians 5:3-7, Rev. 9:20-21, Rev. 21:8, and Revelation chapters 2 and 3 which all contain many warnings etc. Some of these obvious and blatant sins include homosexuality, lying, drunkenness, hate, sex outside of marriage, lewdness, etc.
~We will righteously judge against lukewarmness toward God. God does not want us to be lukewarm in seeking and obeying Him, or lukewarm in teaching and preaching the true Gospel/Great Commission. We are to have NO LOVE in life greater than loving Him or else this thing or person has become an idol in our lives and we will not be worthy of Him. (Matt. 10:37-39)
I hope we all remember that when we do make righteous judgments, that we don't speak to others in a rude, critical, and demeaning way, but rather that we share the truth in love and a spirit of gentleness, and then let the individual decide if they truly want to follow the Lord or if they want to continue living in unrepentant sin instead. We are to judge in a caring and concerned way so that we can help people understand their wrong course, and to lovingly help them get on the right course instead. We should care enough to tell someone, "Because I love and care for you, I want you to know you are walking down a wrong path." I'm not saying this in a spirit of condemnation, but out of a true love for you and Christ."
God does not force others to follow Him, but He does want all people to hear the gospel truth and then men can decide for themselves to either reject the Good News and continue on the wide road to destruction/hell, or they can choose to accept the Good News and begin to follow the Lord in true faith on the narrow road to eternal life in heaven. I'm sure there is much more to share about this subject of judgment, but this article is mostly concerned about covering the most crucial aspects of it. I hope this has been helpful in discerning about the differences between what the Bible teaches concerning hypocritical judgments and righteous judgments. God bless you all as we continue in His will.
Article was written by F. A. Butler
The following is a great example of the hypocrisy of the "do not judge" crowd...