Do not Judge
1 “Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged. 2 For you will be judged by the same standard with which you judge others, and you will be measured by the same measure you use. 3 Why do you look at the splinter in your brother’s eye but don’t notice the beam of wood in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the splinter out of your eye,’ and look, there’s a beam of wood in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First take the beam of wood out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take the splinter out of your brother’s eye. 6 Don’t give what is holy to dogs or toss your pearls before pigs, or they will trample them under their feet, turn, and tear you to pieces.
First things First, Judging someone can have different meanings. One way is judging as discipline. God judges us when we sin.
27 So, then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sin against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a person examine himself; in this way let him eat the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For whoever eats and drinks without recognizing the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 This is why many are sick and ill among you, and many have fallen asleep. 31 If we were properly judging ourselves, we would not be judged, 32 but when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined, so that we may not be condemned with the world. 33 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, when you come together to eat, welcome one another. 34 If anyone is hungry, he should eat at home, so that when you gather together you will not come under judgment. I will give instructions about the other matters whenever I come.
Here we see God use sickness as a form of judgment in order to turn us from sin.
31 If we were properly judging ourselves, we would not be judged,
Implicit in verse 31 is the idea that we are in fact supposed to be judging ourselves, and that if we judged ourselves, then God would not have to judge us, so there is two different meanings of judge in the same sentence.
This helps shed light on a much more controversial passage earlier in this same letter
1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and the kind of sexual immorality that is not even tolerated among the Gentiles—a man is sleeping with his father’s wife. 2 And you are arrogant! Shouldn’t you be filled with grief and remove from your congregation the one who did this? 3 Even though I am absent in the body, I am present in spirit. As one who is present with you in this way, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who has been doing such a thing. 4 When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus, and I am with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 hand that one over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.
Here again, we see God using physical illness to bring about repentance from someone within the church, who has made a commitment to turn from sin and follow Christ, not against someone outside the church who has not made that life commitment.
Hebrews 12 tells us that God disciplines those who are saved and have committed to turning from sin, not those who are lost, who have not made that commitment.
But the question boils down to which of these definitions of judge was Jesus referring to when He said “do not judge?”
1 “Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged. 2 For you will be judged by the same standard with which you judge others, and you will be measured by the same measure you use.
I lean more towards the idea of making a judgment about someone, rather than towards the idea of disciplining someone, but the answer is not that clean cut, let’s keep looking at what it means to not judge someone. So Jesus just said “do not judge.” So does that mean that you should never judge anyone, in any way, under any circumstance? Some people would say yes...
But elsewhere, Jesus tells us to judge
24 Stop judging according to outward appearances; rather judge according to righteous judgment.”
So here we have the idea that there is an unrighteous way to judge others, and there is a righteous way to judge others, and that we are not supposed to do the former, but we are supposed to do the latter.
Paul gives us more detail when he says to judge those within the church, not outside the church
9 I wrote to you in a letter not to associate with sexually immoral people. 10 I did not mean the immoral people of this world or the greedy and swindlers or idolaters; otherwise you would have to leave the world. 11 But actually, I wrote you not to associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister and is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or verbally abusive, a drunkard or a swindler. Do not even eat with such a person. 12 For what business is it of mine to judge outsiders? Don’t you judge those who are inside? 13 God judges outsiders. Remove the evil person from among you.
Paul rebukes the church for not judging matters within the church but taking their matters to those outside the church to judge, and that it is not only ok, but is the responsibility of the church to make judgments inside the church
1 If any of you has a dispute against another, how dare you take it to court before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? 2 Or don’t you know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the trivial cases? 3 Don’t you know that we will judge angels—how much more matters of this life? 4 So if you have such matters, do you appoint as your judges those who have no standing in the church? 5 I say this to your shame! Can it be that there is not one wise person among you who is able to arbitrate between fellow believers? 6 Instead, brother goes to court against brother, and that before unbelievers! 7 As it is, to have legal disputes against one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? 8 Instead, you yourselves do wrong and cheat—and you do this to brothers and sisters!
Paul then tells us that God judges those outside the church —
SIMPLE DOCTRINE TEST — If what you believe would cause you to never say what God says in the scriptures, then your doctrine is erroneous and needs to be changed.
EXAMPLE: If you believe “do not judge” means “I can’t tell someone God doesn’t approve of their lifestyle and/or that He will judge them for that lifestyle.” then you would NEVER EVER have written the next two verses that Paul wrote 1Cor6.9-10. After Paul finishes explaining to the church that you should judge those inside the church, and not those outside the church, he then says this:
9 Don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be deceived: No sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, or males who have sex with males, 10 no thieves, greedy people, drunkards, verbally abusive people, or swindlers will inherit God’s kingdom.
So, if you believe, “do not judge” means that you can’t declare that a person’s lifestyle is immoral, or that you can’t warn them that God will not allow them into His kingdom, then you would have had no problem with anything Paul has said up to this point, but at this point, you would have drawn the line and said, I wouldn’t have said that. Why? Because what Paul just said would contradict your doctrinal belief about what Jesus taught when He said, “do not judge,” but you have to keep in mind that this is New Testament church teaching in the Scripture, which means, that What Paul just said IS what Jesus said, since these are the words of God.
So then, what did Jesus mean when He said, “do not judge.” And therefore, how was Paul able to not contradict himself by telling us not to judge those outside the church, and then list nine lifestyles by which you could definitively look at someone and be assured that they are not saved?
Before we answer that, let’s at least look at the last verse of this section, verse 11, talking about these 9 groups of people...
11 And some of you used to be like this. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
You see, he says that we all have been guilty of living in sin, and many in the church that he was writing to had been guilty of those exact sins, but those in the church have repented of their sin, were baptized, and forgiven and made right with God and were growing in holiness through sanctification by the Holy Spirit of God. Why did we leave those lifestyles behind when we repented? Because God told us they were sinful, and our Christian brothers and sisters informed us that they were sinful and that we must turn from them. But if they are prevented from making judgments about our lifestyles, then they would not have been allowed to tell us that we must turn from committing those sins, because that would be judging us. And if they were not allowed to tell us that we must repent, then we would still be lost in our sins. How then could I have been saved? Without repentance of sins, how can anyone be saved?
46 He also said to them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead the third day, 47 and repentance for forgiveness of sins will be proclaimed in his name to all the nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
19 Therefore repent and turn back, so that your sins may be wiped out,
9 The Lord does not delay his promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance.
There is no salvation apart from repentance. Jesus said unless you repent you will perish.
3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as well.
So to say that “do not judge” means you can’t tell someone that they are sinning and must stop, means you can’t share the gospel with them.
Here is how the Apostle Paul describes his understanding of Jesus’ command for him to go and share the gospel with everyone for their salvation
15 “I asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ “And the Lord replied, ‘I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting. 16 But get up and stand on your feet. For I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. 17 I will rescue you from your people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them 18 to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a share among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’ 19 “So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision. 20 Instead, I preached to those in Damascus first, and to those in Jerusalem and in all the region of Judea, and to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works worthy of repentance.
So Jesus told Paul to be his servant and witness and go open everyone’s eyes so that they may be saved, and Paul said, so I did, I preached to everyone that they should repent and turn to God, and do works worthy of repentance. This is the same Apostle Paul who told us that we are saved by grace through faith, and not by works. So Paul did not see a contradiction between faith and repentance. You can’t have one without the other. Paul and James make this very clear. So let’s look at how James understands the command to not judge others. The first thing he tells us in his letter is to...
12 Speak and act as those who are to be judged by the law of freedom.
So here he is telling us how to “speak” and “act.” This is very important to understanding what it means to judge someone. He goes on to say later...
6 But he gives greater grace. Therefore he says: God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. 7 Therefore, submit to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be miserable and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. 11 Don’t criticize one another, brothers and sisters. Anyone who defames or judges a fellow believer defames and judges the law. If you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. 12 There is one lawgiver and judge who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?
So here he starts off telling us that God gives grace to the humble but resists the proud. He tells us to humble ourselves and don’t criticize our brothers and sisters in Christ, and tells us not to judge our neighbors. But then in the very next words that come out of his mouth he goes on to judge rich people who lived luxuriously and withheld pay from their workers.
1 Come now, you rich people, weep and wail over the miseries that are coming on you. 2 Your wealth has rotted and your clothes are moth-eaten. 3 Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have stored up treasure in the last days. 4 Look! The pay that you withheld from the workers who mowed your fields cries out, and the outcry of the harvesters has reached the ears of the Lord of Armies. 5 You have lived luxuriously on the earth and have indulged yourselves. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned, you have murdered the righteous, who does not resist you.
So how is it that James says not to judge, but then judges people for how they live? If you believe that “do not judge” means, “don’t make judgments about how people live,” then you are going to have a very hard time with the Scriptures, because you will love and affirm all of the verses that say don’t judge, and show mercy, but then you are going to struggle with all of the verse that actually make judgements about how people live and you are going to disobey all of the verses that tell you to make judgments about how people live. “Do not judge” is not about whether you believe someone is sinning, it’s about whether you treat them as “a sinner.” Are you treating them “worse” than you? Are you humbling yourself and recognizing your own sinfulness first? Have you genuinely repented of sin, and are you walking with the Spirit? Or are you living hypocritically? Are you full of grace and mercy towards others? Or are you hard hearted and unforgiving to others? Because you can tell someone that they need to turn from their sins from a heart of stone, or from a heart of flesh. James continues, after judging the selfish rich people who gained their wealth by withholding it from their workers, by telling us to remember that if we complain about each other then we will be judged by the real Judge Himself. But He wants us to be compassionate and merciful to others, because he is compassionate and merciful to us.
7 Therefore, brothers and sisters, be patient until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth and is patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. 8 You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, because the Lord’s coming is near. 9 Brothers and sisters, do not complain about one another, so that you will not be judged. Look, the judge stands at the door! 10 Brothers and sisters, take the prophets who spoke in the Lord’s name as an example of suffering and patience. 11 See, we count as blessed those who have endured. You have heard of Job’s endurance and have seen the outcome that the Lord brought about—the Lord is compassionate and merciful.
So you see, when Jesus said not to judge others, He was telling us to treat them the same way we want to be treated. That we should be gracious and merciful to others, not harsh and judgmental. Jesus told others that they must turn from their sinful lifestyles, but he did it in a loving and merciful way, and many responded positively and did turn from their sins. Let’s read the parallel passage in Luke.
37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you; a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over—will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” 39 He also told them a parable: “Can the blind guide the blind? Won’t they both fall into a pit? 40 A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher. 41 “Why do you look at the splinter in your brother’s eye, but don’t notice the beam of wood in your own eye? 42 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the splinter that is in your eye,’ when you yourself don’t see the beam of wood in your eye? Hypocrite! First take the beam of wood out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the splinter in your brother’s eye.
The idea is to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Don’t be hypocritical. Don’t be cold hearted. Show grace and mercy. But you must also call them to repentance, otherwise they will have no hope of salvation. Remember when you call others to turn from sin, that you look in the mirror first. Always recognize that you were a sinner first, and then a recipient of God’s grace and mercy.