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Do Not Judge

I read an article a short time ago that I agreed with, but it stopped short of the truth. On the website www.gotquestions.org/do-not-judge the question was asked “What does the Bible mean that we are not to judge others?” the short answer was “This is an issue that has confused many people. On one hand, we are commanded by the Lord Jesus, ‘Do not judge, or you too will be judged’ (Matthew 7:1). On the other hand, the Bible also exhorts us to beware of evildoers and false prophets and to avoid those who practice all kinds of evil. How are we to discern who these people are if we do not make some kind of judgment about them?”

I agree that we are to form judgments, not only about who, and who are not, Christians, but also about the lifestyles and choices of professing Christians themselves. As spirit filled Christians we are to discern good and evil and to differentiate ourselves from the world based on our kinship to the Lord Jesus, but is that all that is encompassed in Jesus’ command not to judge? As a matter of fact the verse quoted, from Matthew 7:1, I do not believe addresses the issue of personally judging another at all.

Because most Christians believe that their Christianity relates only to personal salvation and not to public and political questions, they are freed to only stop the condemning of sins that pertain to another’s salvation, but enthusiastically embrace public and political activity that would condemn another, as a corporate action, in league with the state. This problem occurs because of a misunderstanding of Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount and because of the false teaching of the Church for many hundreds of years. So, what did Jesus mean when He commanded us not to judge?

The whole answer lies in the clear and simple words of Jesus in Matthew 5:39, “Resist not an evil man.” With these words a definitive line is drawn in the sand, a line most Christians will not cross to come over to Jesus. Many Christians, maybe even most Christians, are in agreement that all that is meant with these words of Jesus is to practice Biblical discernment; but what if we are asked to serve on a jury or to serve in the armed forces and by so doing judge and condemn? Has Jesus excluded this meaning from those words “Resist not an evil person”? Or, is this meaning the very core of what Jesus was addressing? I believe it is the very core.

The problem is that Christian’s lives are interwoven with the world and the general life of the state, and it demands of me un-Christian activity, contrary to the law of Christ. Since the time of Augustine and Constantine, in the fourth century, these words of Christ have been turned upside down. With the advent of Christian patriotism and the universal obligation to serve on juries every man must take up the weapons of condemnation and murder or at least support those who do the condemning and killing. Every citizen must play his or her part and show up at the courthouse and participate in those things which Christ repudiated: to put on trial, to condemn, and to punish; that is to say, he must condemn Christ’s law about not resisting an evil person. In this regard, are we not actually condemning Christ all over again?

In Luke 6:37 the words of Christ in Matthew 7:1 are made crystal clear.

“Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:”

Christ here is saying that not only are we not to judge our neighbor in things personal, but we are not to be in league with the state in condemning and killing. Jesus makes this obvious in His dealings with the woman caught in adultery, John 8: 1-11

But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people were coming to Him; and He sat down and began to teach them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?” They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground. But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court. Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.”

Jesus obeyed His own teaching that we are not to resist an evil person or to use the law as a means to skirt around tough situations. The law of Christ stands, “Judge not, that you be not judged.” Christ gives us this command because we are not fit judges of other’s actions when we are just as guilty before a perfect God. It is God who is the Judge, as stated in James 4:11-12

“Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against (katalalew, i.e. indicts) a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you–who are you to judge your neighbor?”

The Greek work above “katalalew” rendered “speak against” can also be rendered “indict” as in the legal sense of accusing or charging with a crime. The sense of indicting a fellowman fits the meaning better than any other. Some will ask, how do I judge the law if I speak against my fellowman? I guess a good contortionist could twist a mean out of this some way, but it is very clear that if we indict our fellowman and bring him into the courts then we consequently judge the law of Christ as being insufficient. By doing this I am not obeying Christ’s law, but constitute myself as a judge of the law. The Holy Spirit, through James, declares that there is only One who can save, or destroy and condemn, and that One is Christ. By an individual Christian serving in the capacity of judge, juror, soldier, policeman, or the like, we are placing ourselves in a position that only Christ can occupy; by making ourselves instruments of government and the courts we reject Christ and His commands.

As Christians we are not sent in to the world to judge or condemn, but to follow the example of Jesus, who showed mercy, who forgave, who refused to condemn, and died exhibiting these “Christian” characteristics; can we do otherwise and still claim to follow His example?

6 replies on “Do Not Judge”

This comment is from a brother, Stephen Foltz, re-posted here with his permission.

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I agree with you, Steve, because you have scriptural proofs. Another area that I agree with you on, is warfare.

What do folks think Jesus meant when he said, “Love your enemies.”?

When Jesus said, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword.”
We know that not everyone who took up the sword, or gun, in battle perished by the same. So, it must mean something more, and I am inclined to think it means that those who have not repented for taking up arms will perish spiritually.

There are many things today’s Christians believe that are not at all scriptural. Many seem to be not worth debating, but it does make me wonder why folks are so blind to what God’s Word clearly states.

I have to admit I was ready to disagree on this, but after reading it, I believe you make a very valid point. In fact, one scripture
came to mind after reading this, and that is Jesus’ response to someone who wanted him to make a judgement on an earthly
matter:

Jesus replied, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” Luke 12:14

So, while we are to judge and discern spiritual matters, we are not to participate in judging another person by the law of this world.
Does this mean a Christian cannot be a police officer,correctional officer, or even a civil servant?

Have a blessed day, and remember the saying, “There are none so blind as those who refuse to see.”

Stephen Foltz

Steve,

I love the symbolism given to Jesus as the Lamb during His first advent. Why a lamb? What is the mental picture we get when we think of a lamb: docile, peaceful, simple, pure, meek, yielding, and non-resistant? Many like to see Jesus as the Lion, which is true; but that image only applies to His second advent and not the Christ born as a baby during His first advent, subjected to the forces of nature and the evil of men. Now, what is the mental image one gets when he thinks of a police officer or correctional officer? I will admit there was a time when the image of a police officer was one of a good civil servant truly concerned with the welfare of people, but not today. Today that image has changed to an image of intimidation and power against a backdrop of darkness and evil and a military arsenal; it is sad, but it is true. The picture of a lamb is in no way associated with a police force, corrections, or the military. As a state employee these people are under order to resist evil with evil and to do harm or to kill when necessary, or when ordered. I can see a Christian being a civil servant in the capacity of fireman or healthcare, but even then they must remember who their real “Employer” is.

Steve Blackwell

Steve,
It’s been too long since we’ve heard from you! As I read through your post, I found myself muttering, “But, but…”; and then Gal. 6:14 came to mind (“But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world”). How far-reaching the cross is, but how blessed is the one who has entered the Kingdom through the new birth!
David

David,

Those same “But, but…,” words have exploded from my own mouth as my flesh raises objections, but the King must have the last word; and His word is “Obey.” It is for our own good.

Steve

Does your article mean that Christins are not supposed to speak out against legalized abortion or same sex marriage? Are we supposed to allow evil in the world to go on? I know for myself I have been struggling with this. Jesus did socialize with people that were not doing the right thing and I know we are to love everyone because we are all sinners. But I believe we can love them but as a society we should not tolerate evil behavior that is not consistent with God’s law.We all are sinners and our goal as Christians should be to strive for the mind of Jesus in our own lives. I feel that I am not judging them or putting myself as better than them. But the obligation is to speak the truth wherever necessary. Our lives as Christians demand that we do the best we can to reflect what Jesus’ time on earth showed the world.

Mary,

This world has a leader who dictates how his servants are to conduct themselves. Unbelievers are a product of their environment. They can be forced to deviate from their normal path through persuasions of varying sorts but left to their own means they will gravitate toward the center of their world. Christians, on the other hand, by allowing the Spirit of Christ to persuade them to fulfill the commands of Jesus will gravitate to their new center where God resides. The secret of the success is to learn and obey those commands of Jesus. Jesus never came in to the world to change the world, but to save souls. As a matter of fact He said the world would grow worse and worse. Jesus never voted against or for any law to better society; He never organized a march on Rome to heighten awareness of some great sin, He never advocated Christians to take dominion of the world. Honestly He concerned Himself very little about the world; the world was simply the world to Him, and the world does what the world does, it can’t do otherwise. Should Christians speak out against evil, by all means, and at every opportunity. Our lives should be a living exhibition of who Jesus was and is, and our words should be His words. Christians, like Jesus, are not of this world, our citizenship is in another country, and our allegiance is to its King, and we need to obey the laws of that country, even while resident in this foreign land. We are told by our King to overcome evil with good and to resist not an evil person. He has told us that His ways are not our ways, and that we should trust Him. Being a Christian is costly if done correctly, and we are promised that if we live Godly lives we will be persecuted. We are also told that very few will make it to Heaven, and the reason will be that they just could not understand and make sense of His ways and constantly revert to the ways of world, i.e. over coming evil with evil. He has said that that way will not work. Yes, speak out, loudly, but when evil comes your way, do not resist and you will receive your reward.

Look at the life of Jesus, and the lives of the Apostles, and the lives of that first three hundred years of faithful Christians, and it will become clear.

Thanks Mary,

In His service,

Steve

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