Summary: Jesus said to “Judge with righteous judgment” (John 7:24). The Bible clearly gives every Born-Again Christian the authority and right to humbly discern and make the distinction between truth and error, right and wrong, good and evil.
In the pluralistic culture we currently live in the greatest 'sin' is intolerance and self-contradictory moral relativism runs rampant as judgments are suspended so that each person can define what is morally right or wrong for them. The Bible verse most often taken out of context to condemn those who quote the Bible to expose a false teacher, prophet, or corruption and sin in the ministry is “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matt 7:1 ESV, See also 7:5; John 8:7-8). The irony exposed here is that the person using this verse, and others like it, have taken them out of context and hypocritically pronounced judgment on those they accuse of judging.
The word "judge" is the Greek word “diakrino.” It is often translated as "judge, discern and weigh carefully.” However, the word actually means to separate, examine, investigate, question, select, choose, or determine like a Court Judge presiding over a case as they listen to all the facts presented before rendering a verdict (Lev 19:15).
Jesus said to “Judge with righteous judgment” (John 7:24). The Apostle Paul said, “I speak as to wise men; you judge what I say” (1 Cor 10:15). Every Born-Again Christian is implored to “test” (Gk: “dokimazo” which means to examine, analyze, prove) “everything” and “hold fast what is good” (1 Thess 5:21-22 ESV). It is impossible to go through life without judging, and there is no escaping it in this life or when entering into the next (1 Cor 6:9-10). Without judgment forgiveness is impossible.
The Bible clearly gives every Born-Again Christian the authority and right to humbly discern and make the distinction between truth and error, right and wrong, good and evil and the teaching or behavior of others, as long as they honor and obey God’s Word by making sure their observations are following the rule of law in order to separate truth from error. It is by “their fruits” that a Born-Again Christian is recognized (Matt 7:16).
The Golden Rule says that people should treat others the way they want to be treated (Matt 7:12). They should not make rash, hypocritical and overly harsh judgments about anything. If they do, God will treat them the way they have treated others (Mt. 5:14-15; 7:12). Only Jesus can truly know and judge a person’s heart (Ps 44:21; 1 Sam 16:7) and determine if someone is a Born-Again Christian because He alone is the author of salvation (Prov 16:2; Rom 2:16).
Jesus doesn’t warn against the judging of another’s actions or behavior but warns against self-deception, pride, and hypocrisy (Matt 7:1; 1 Cor 4:5). In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus warns of the human tendency to judge based on one’s own faults and flaws and condemns hypocrisy rather than judgment, rebuking those who judge others for doing what they themselves do. Righteous judgment begins with personal reflection and prayer just as King David did.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Ps 139:23-24 ESV)
No one is above being wrong or falling into error or sin. In order to avoid being a hypocrite, Christians are implored to thoroughly, fairly, and unselfishly, investigate and judge (not by superficial appearance) through detailed examination and discernment of the works, words, and behavior of those claiming to be a Christian (Prov 3:21; Jer 22:3; Jn 7:24). The doctrine and teaching of the church is built on the foundation of Christ and the authority of His Word (Eph 2:20). The Born-Again Christian must use the Bible to fulfill the command to patiently “reprove, rebuke” and restore those who are in doctrinal error or have morally fallen (2 Tim 4:2-5; see also 1 Cor 6:23, 11:27–34; 2 Cor 13:5; Gal 6:1; Phil 1:7,10; 1 Thess 5:14; James 5:20).
Jesus forgives sin but does not excuse it away. Every person who harms another emotionally, physically or spiritually is accountable to the person wronged, as well as to God, and must accept the consequences of their actions. Asking for forgiveness from those who were harmed, or forgiving the person who has harmed them, does not mean accepting the unacceptable or excusing what was done without any consequences or punishment for the wrongdoer. Nor does forgiveness mean condoning the behavior of others, or forgetting what happened. People must be held accountable for their actions lest they are repeated. It is not the acts or behavior of others that must be forgiven, but the people themselves who committed the acts.
Evil is not overcome with hatred and intolerance. Evil is overcome with the goodness of forgiveness and the light of God's love. Jesus is the light that shines in the darkness. Forgiveness offers the way out from the slavery that unforgiveness imposes upon all humankind.