Recently after watching a TV commentator speaking on the Phil Robertson “Duck Dynasty” controversy he used Matthew 7:1 as proof that no one can judge one’s poor behavior, ethics, morals and values: the “judge not lest ye be judged” verse. This verse is incomplete from the context which further explains this verse found in the following verses 2-5 which is not speaking to not judging at all….it is speaking to not judging unfairly or any other selfish way. Let us read the rest….
Matt 7:2-5 “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged [if we judge with an evil heart or dark intent, His judgment of us will reflect it; if we judge nobly with honesty and justice, His judgment of us will reflect that, too], and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you [if we use extremes or exaggerations or other ignoble means, His judgment of us will reflect it and judging with fairness and compassion will garner likewise in His judgment of us]. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye [point out his sins, “minor” in Jesus’ example here] and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye [our own sins, even and especially those we will not admit, magnified by our selective blindness]? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ [tell him of his “minor” sins] when all the time there is a plank in your own eye [that there are greater or the same sins in our own lives which we do nothing about or think we are above]? You hypocrite* [pointing out the sins of others while by pretense thinking of ourselves as above sin], first take the plank out of your own eye [sincerely ask the Lord for forgiveness and learn and live the Truth and Light by His Word], and then you will see clearly [be in a righteous position] to remove the speck from your brother’s eye [to judge and to help him out of his bondage to sin].” At Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan, Jesus was talking to the multitudes gathered there after hearing of His message and of His healings to beseech them to not become like the Pharisees and hypocrites who think they are above sin.
We also find in scriptures His desire for us to judge,
• 1Cor. 6:2-3 Do you not know that the saints [the saved; Christians] will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life!
• Prov. 3:21 My son, preserve sound judgment and discernment, do not let them out of your sight;
• John 7:24 Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.
• Jer. 22:3 Thus saith the LORD; Execute ye judgment and righteousness…
• Phil. 1:10 so that you may be able to discern [judge] what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ…
• Phil. 1:7 It is right for me to feel this way about all of you [judge you]…
Look at John 7:24. “Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly.”
There, Jesus tells us to judge, but to do so righteously. Righteously means to use the Truth of the Word to discern sins and not by appearances only.
In 1Cor. 6:2-3 Jesus authorizes us to judge or we could not discern good from bad, proper from improper, righteousness from evil. But judge behavior, not the individual; the deed not the doer; the choice not the chooser. The individual/doer/chooser is accountable for his/her deed/choice, but judge the deed/choice in your judgment. Jesus could see a king in a shepherd boy. And an Apostle in a murderer. So while we must judge one’s behavior we must try to nurture the goodness in an individual: to separate the deed from the doer.
So as believers we do have the right, authority and responsibility to judge behavior of others as we honor God and His Word. Jesus is the only one who can judge whether someone is or is not saved. We must also be careful that we do not fall into the mistake of thanking that “we are better” than someone else we are all saved by faith through grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and only in Jesus is our righteousness found.
Now real quick let me also state that in John 8:1, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone” .
This was possibly the worst potentially damaging temptation the scribes and Pharisees ever presented to Jesus. Much of Jesus’ widespread popularity with the people was because of His examples of and teachings about God’s mercy and forgiveness towards sinners. This was received with great enthusiasm by the people who, before this time had been presented with only a harsh, legalistic, judgmental picture of God.
The scribes and Pharisees had often tried to portray Jesus as condoning or practicing sin by His association with sinners (Mt. 11:19; Lk. 15:2; 19:7) and His ministry to them (Lk. 7:39-50). However, Jesus had successfully turned every attack into a victory for the side of grace and mercy.
This time, the Jews felt that they had Him “cornered.” If Jesus held to His teachings of forgiveness (Jn. 3:17) and refused to stone this woman, He would be in direct rebellion to the Law of Moses (Lev. 20:10). This would give these Jews legal grounds to kill Jesus. On the other hand, if He stoned the woman as the law declared, the people would forsake Him and would be in violation of the Roman authority. It looked like they had Him trapped either way He went.
He did not condone the sin, disregard the Law of Moses or violate the laws of Rome. He simply told the one who was without sin to cast the first stone. As the Holy Ghost began to convict them of their own sin, they all had to leave. They, could not fault Jesus for not stoning the woman.
All behavior and thought that is sinful before forgiveness is still sinful after forgiveness. Not only was Jesus not afraid to call a sin a sin, He was not afraid to call a sinner a sinner. He even reminded her of the sin of adultery/prostitution by telling her “go and sin no more.”
Some are saying we need to be more tolerant. “Tolerance” has become the most abused and misused word in the English language. We can not redefine or conditionally apply His Word to fit cultural tolerance, political correctness, modern ethics or morals. It doesn’t matter if I am a believer or unbeliever, God is intolerant of sin and this is why He sent His Son to deal with Sin. God embraces the sinner but not the sin, helping us out of our bondages and loves us so much He is willing to tell us the truth about sin. Jesus didn’t argue the judgment on the woman caught in adultery, but show mercy, grace, forgiveness and will give us deliverance to become the child of God He purpose “Go and Sin No More.”
As Christians we must take the same position as Christ in that we can love, show mercy, grace, and extend help but we can not condone sinful behavior.