Summary: The Bible commands us to test all things. Why does the Bible command us to judge while warning us not to judge? This study takes a deeper look at this topic.
Are We to Judge?
In recent years there has been a shift in the church concerning the idea of judging. If we
attempt to point out something that is scripturally wrong we will frequently hear
comments like ’judge not, lest you be judged’. Does the Bible tell us that we are not
allowed to judge between right and wrong, good and bad, truth and error? How do we
obey God’s commands to uphold the truth and stand against wickedness while keeping
judgmental attitudes in balance? This study will attempt to add clarification to this issue.
To judge or not to judge
The first thing we must do is to put Jesus’ warning into the context in which it was given.
In Matthew 7, Jesus said:
1 "Judge not, that you be not judged.
2 "For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure
you use, it will be measured back to you.
This is not a warning not to judge but that we will be judged according to the standard we
choose. In Romans we are warned not to judge others when we are doing the same things.
If we know something is wrong, we become a witness against ourselves if we are
committing the same acts. We also don’t have the right to judge someone’s heart, but
when warranted, we are to judge someone’s actions and words according to truth. If we
are not permitted to judge, it becomes impossible to distinguish between right and wrong.
Contrary to common opinion, the Bible commands us to judge. 1 Thessalonians 5
21 Test all things; hold fast what is good.
22 Abstain from every form of evil.
Testing is judging between right and wrong. The devil has successfully removed our
ability to measure truth by convincing God’s people that it is wrong to judge. It is not
judging that is wrong, it is the standard by which we judge and the motives behind our
judgment. Jesus gave the standard for judging. Look at these two passages:
24 "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment."
48 "He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges
him -- the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.
Judgment is not according to appearance or personal preference, but according to God’s
own righteous judgment which was revealed in His word. It is God’s word that judges
between right and wrong and we are to test all things by evaluating it against the word of
God. The Bible constantly reiterates a foundational truth - God does not change. His
word does not change. Anything that disagrees with God’s unchanging word is not true.
Jesus said, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My word will never pass away"
(Matthew 24). In Psalms, God tells us that His word is equal to His name:
NKJV Psalm 138:2 I will worship toward Your holy temple, And praise Your
name For Your lovingkindness and Your truth; For You have magnified Your
word above all Your name.
NIV Psalm 138:2 I will bow down toward your holy temple and will praise your
name for your love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things
your name and your word.
I have included two versions for the sake of clarity. The original Hebrew may be
accurately translated as ’Your word above Your name’ or ’Your word and name above all
things’. However, either way we translate it the intent is the same. God’s word is equal to
or greater than His name. If we think for a moment, we will realize the significance of
this principle. If a person keeps changing their position, what do we think of their
principles? If someone makes a promise and does not follow through, how valuable is
their name? The Bible calls God our Rock. He does not change and He does not move.
The stability of His word is essential so that can have confidence in our faith. Who can
put their trust in someone who changes based on circumstances, comfort or preference?
Because God’s word cannot change, we can confidently lay down His word as the
straight stick of truth and reveal what is crooked. Look at Matthew 5:
17 " Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come
to destroy but to fulfill.
18 "For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one
tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.
19 "Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and
teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does