Summary: “Judge not that you be not judged.” Does this verse mean that we are to never judge anything? What exactly is Christ talking about? When is judging right? Or is never right to judge anything?
JUDGE AND JURY
Introduction: “Judge not that you be not judged.” is a passage that has been misinterpreted, misquoted and misapplied more than almost any other verse in the entire Bible. It is often quoted by those who are seeking to justify their actions and answer any criticism of their behavior. After all, the Bible does say “judge not”. Does this verse mean that we are to never judge anything? What exactly is Christ talking about? When is judging right? Or is never right to judge anything?
I. What Does It Mean To Judge?
A. The verb that’s translated "judge" (krinete) is one that basically means "to separate", or "to make a distinction" between things, to discriminate. Our word critic is derived from this word. It means to sift out and analyze evidence.
B. Simply put to judge means to observe the evidence, evaluate it, and arrive at a certain conclusion based on the evidence.
II. When Is Judging Right?
A. Judging Doctrine
1. At a recent gathering of seminary professors, one teacher reported that at his school the most damaging charge one student can lodge against another is that the person is being "judgmental." He found this pattern very upsetting. "You can’t get a good argument going in class anymore," he said. "As soon as somebody takes a stand on any important issue, someone else says that the person is being judgmental. And that’s it. End of discussion. Everyone is intimidated!" Many of the other professors nodded knowingly. There seemed to be a consensus that the fear of being judgmental has taken on epidemic proportions. - Richard J. Mouw, Uncommon Decency, pp. 20-21.
2. The Berean Christians judged the authenticity and trueness of Paul’s preaching.
• Acts 17:10-11 (NASB) “Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched (examining) the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.”
3. Paul instructs the Thessalonians not to blindly accept every doctrine that they hear but to judge all things in light of Scriptural truth.
• 1 Thessalonians 5:21(NASB) “But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good”
4. The aim of maintaining sound doctrine and judging, exposing and refuting false teaching is to build the body of Christ upon a solid foundation of doctrinal truth by which its members may be equipped to carry out the work God has called them to do for His kingdom.
B. Judging False Teachers
1. Christ made it clear we are to be aware of false teachers
• Matthew 7:15-20 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.