Who's to Judge

This is one of the pet-peeves that the world and phony Christians like to throw out front when they’ve been caught and are rightly accused.  Right off the bat, we must establish who has the right to judge.  Does anybody actually have that right? What we have to understand is that there has to be an authority to which all beings must give their allegiance in order to have a basis for judgment. (See the article on “The Eight Major Judgments of God.”)

If we say that no one has the right to judge, then we say that there is no authority in existence.  This of course is absurd, as we know that authorities do exist.  This is why we have police departments, courts, jails, policy makers, and unfortunately policy breakers.  Not all of humanity is disposed to do the right thing in any given situation.  In traffic, for instance, if there were no authority governing traffic, we would all turn, speed, go backwards, and use any and all so-called “vehicles” on any road, interstate, freeway, highway, city street, alley, etc.  I believe it safe to say that most would agree that a bicycle is not the right vehicle to merge with traffic on a freeway, and a multitude of 18-wheelers, aren’t suited to be regularly driven down alleyways.   So, we have laws and regulations against this sort of thing.  These regulations are what someone who didn’t obey them is judged against by the proper people who hold the proper credentials of a particular office.

By the way, this judging that calls for authority must, by common sense, also call for the establishing and enforcing of laws to govern whatever particular aspect of human life is in need of regulating, in any particular people group.  It has to do with order and organization, without which the proper function of even the slightest aspect of civilization is not possible. Men must be governed!

You all get the point.  Laws are needed to point out wrong doing, turning, thinking, writing, and every other thing that exists.  If laws are needed, who gets to dictate them?  The answer, of course, is some authority.  To cut this short, I’ll cut to the chase in saying that the only true authority is God Almighty.  That being the case, God has given to men His Word, the Bible.  In there we have everything we need to correctly guide humanity in every aspect of human behavior and all of life.  God also gave men, in principle, leaders, who are supposed to deal out justice and the like in His behalf.  The court systems of the world are in existence only because of the Word of God and the rights and wrongs He has already spelled out.

One of the things God has spelled out is who is to be judged, why, when, where, and how.  The cry, “don’t judge, lest you be judged” is completely misunderstood and misused.  The question “Does God tell us not to judge?” is quickly dealt with by His Word, the Bible: No, He does not.   When a child is corrected, he or she is judged. To judge means to “make a difference.” It refers to differentiating between two opposing views or facts. It does not mean making a determination, especially, of a brother or sister in the Lord, as to where they end up eternally.  Only God knows for sure whether someone actually comes to Him, and remains true to Him, or not.  

Should we not judge those who claim to be doing right when it’s clear from the Scriptures and that they are not?  Indeed, God expects us to judge them, only we must do so by the Word.  (I Cor 5:12; 6:1-11) Most of us want to jump right in with accusations and half-truths, going only by what we see on the outside or by what we’ve heard about someone or something, or worse yet, going by what we feel is the truth.  People’s emotions should be “checked at the door” when judging anybody, especially concerning matters of biblical import such as un-holy behavior, outright sinning, heresies, fornication, idolatry, etc.  This list is of course greatly extended past the sins against God just mentioned, and continues into sins against mankind and by mankind as well.  

Leviticus 19:15 spells out God’s will on the matter: “You shall do no injustice in judgment.  You shall not be partial to the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty.  In righteousness you shall judge your neighbor.”

There we have it as plain as it could possibly be.  We are to judge, but we have to do it righteously.  In this life and the life to come, judging is a vital, even necessary part of the living. 

We’re never told or commanded NOT to judge, only to do so righteously.

Notice too that we’re not to have pity on the poor just because they are poor.  This alone goes against the grain with most people who think they are pleasing God when they root for the poor.  The poor are guilty of things, too, and the fact that they are poor has zip to do with it.  Being poor doesn’t mean they don’t sin.  Conversely, being rich doesn’t either.  Look how much easier it is for us to let a perceived “gentleman” or “lady” get away with murder.  The perceived poor ‘man’ or ‘woman’ doesn’t even get the title of gentleman or lady. These are judged by most of us as being worthy to receive only after riches and success is recognized in them, even if it’s fake.

Add to all this the fact that just exactly where is the line of demarcation for being poor or wealthy for that matter?  To some, having a $1,000 is wealthy, to another $1,000 won’t even pay their light bill.  A standard of living must be the difference.  The government says that the minimum wage that employers can pay a low-level employee was about $7.25 per hour [2002 standards.]  In this economy that doesn’t buy much.  In the 1950’s one could live fairly well with an income of $7.25 per hour. When this example is adjusted for inflation, however, we’re back to the nationally recognized poverty level. 

Wealth can then be thought of as “spiritual” some would say, for we ought to “lay up treasure in heaven.” (Matt 6:20).  Well said, but we still need to live here on earth and we still need money to buy the things needed for sustenance.  So, our judging someone in terms of finances is pretty stupid.   

The last thing about the above Leviticus Scripture is that judging concerns our “neighbor”.  Here is where we have to understand the difference between our neighbor as opposed to our neighbor as in the Good Samaritan account in Luke 10:30-37, where the point, in context, is after loving God, we are to “love our neighbor” by helping in the forms of supporting encouraging, practically, like the Samaritan did especially in a time of our “neighbor’s crisis.”  This particular “neighbor” was a stranger to the Samaritan who proved his love for his neighbor (a complete stranger to him) by giving even his money to see this beat-up individual brought back to health and wholeness.  It didn’t matter to the Samaritan who this man was; it only mattered that he needed help, and since he was able to do just that, he did.

The Israelites were also commanded to love the stranger within their camp as they love themselves. (Leviticus 19:34)  So, our neighbor is our fellow human being. In Galatians 6:10 we get the picture that we are to help anyone who needs it, but especially our fellow brothers in the Lord.  In 1 Corinthians 5:12 Paul is telling us that we have to deal with drunkards, fornicators, liars, idolaters, etc. who are in the world because the world is made up of such.  It is the ones who profess to be a brother or sister in the Lord who we’re not to hang out with if they are known to engage in the above-mentioned behavior.  It is those who say that they are inside the Church whom we must judge most especially if they behave in ways that reflect those evil attitudes already addressed.  Paul says, “For what have I to do with judging those who are on the outside? Do you not judge those who are on the inside?  But those who are outside God judges.  Therefore, ‘put away from yourselves the evil person.’”  

Anyone that says they are saved, born-again, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, etc.  are to be judged by real Christians if they clearly behave in ways that are not permitted by Scripture, such as those who are liars, covetous, sexually immoral, revilers, idolaters, extortioners, and the like.  On the other hand, for those who are real brothers Paul sternly exhorts us all in the following:

1 Corinthians 6:1-4, “Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world?  And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Do you not know that we will judge angels?  How much more, things that pertain to this life? If then you have judgments concerning to things pertaining to this life, do you appoint those who are least esteemed by the church to judge?”

James informs us that speaking evil of a brother is judging him.  James 4:11-12 councils, “Do not speak evil of one another, brethren.  He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law.  But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.  There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy.  Who are you to judge another.”

Some would read this and say, “see, we’re not supposed to judge another,” forgetting that the Scriptures are to be taken as a whole; otherwise, the Scripture that tells us to judge righteously and to judge those inside the Church would contradict each other.  When James said, “who are you to judge another?” This has to mean, who are you to judge another “un-righteously?”  Jesus’ words, “judge not, lest you be judged,” in Matthew 7:1; Luke 6:37 is identical in meaning.

First we are commanded to clean-up our own act.  Since we all have continuous cleaning to do, the Word of God is the only viable criteria we have by which to judge someone’s actions. 

The phrases, “Your just judgmental” or “who made you judge?” are judgmental in themselves.  It is like those who are intolerant of someone else’s intolerance.  There are only two kinds of judgments; One is divine and the other is human.  About the divine nothing needs to be said.  About the human we can give at least five reasons why purely human judgment is not the way to judge anything.

Following is a good list from Scripture which give us a true insight concerning our Judgments:

Our judgment is often circumstantial, as in Joshua 22:10-34, where the children of Israel were ready to go to war against the children of Reuben, the children of Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh for building an alter to the Lord on the children of Israel’s side of the Jordan, and the children of Israel thought that by doing that they were rebelling against the Lord and were afraid that God would punish them like He did Achan and his whole family including his belongings. (Josh 7:24-26) But after they talked, the situation was resolved peacefully.

Our judgment is sometimes wrong, as in Genesis 39:10-20, which of course is the story of Joseph fleeing from the advances of Potiphar’s wife and then was falsely accused and jailed by Potiphar who either  believed his wife’s lie against Joseph or did it to save face.  In either case wrong judgment was levied against Joseph.

Our judgment is many times hasty and revengeful, as in Samuel 25:20-25.  King David sent 10 of his servants to ask for food of a prosperous man because it was a feast day and because David proved himself honorable for not just taking what he wanted.  The rich man refused, and upon hearing this, David hastily became furious and sought revenge by wanting to kill all of the males that the rich man had in his possession.  Through a servant of the rich man, the rich man’s wife, Abigail, saved the day by supplying David and his men all they needed and more without the knowledge of her husband, who acted foolishly in denying God’s hand-picked King.

Our judgment can be full of conceit, as in Esther 5:11-14.  In this scenario, Haman was full of conceit in that he was blessed and thought that made him better than the rest, especially Mordecai the Jew.  On the bad advice of his wife, he let a Gallows be built at fifty cubits high thinking the king would grant him the pleasure of hanging Mordecai on it.  His mistake was that he judged Mordecai less of a man than himself, but especially because Mordecai was a Jew and obviously beneath him.

And lastly, our judgment can be prejudicial, as in Luke 7:38-50.  This is the account of the woman who washed Jesus’ feet at the house of a Pharisee who, upon witnessing this, said to himself, if this man [Jesus] were a prophet he would know what manner of woman was touching him.  He apparently looked at her with disgust and much prejudice for she was said to be of ill repute in that she was thought of as a prostitute or lower if possible.  To the ultra- orthodox Jewish male mind-set, a woman is lower than a Gentile, or even a dog.

Yes, judging is serious business but we also know that in this life, we are forced to make judgment calls every day concerning work, school, home, church, or play, for we constantly are interacting with other people.

The reason we must judge is to keep doctrine pure in the Church.  There here are many false teachers - are we not to judge the fact that they are spreading lies?  The truth of the Scriptures must be upheld, not slighted because we don’t want to make waves.  Jesus Himself and Paul would by today’s sad standards be called unloving, unkind, no respect for authority, etc.  John the Baptist judged Herod correctly regarding sexual immorality.  He charged the Pharisees correctly with being a brood of vipers. 

The Church is to recognize error and false doctrine and speak out against them, which involves speaking out in judgment against those who teach these heresies and blasphemies.  The love  inherent in correct judging is first an intelligent love, a discerning love, a discriminating love, a love that cares enough for God, for to love God is to obey Him.  (John 14:15, 21-24) God is His Word! (John 1:1) Our fellow believers ought to be loved, which means to do for them as is proper, and to aid them is this fight of faith with the world, the devil, and the flesh, that they may not stumble and possibly fall.  The pseudo-love of today’s average evangelical is nothing more than emotionalism posing as love.  Paul talks about some whose faith was shipwrecked.  Can this shipwrecked faith save from everlasting separation from God? (1 Tim 1:19) If we see a brother beginning to not take care of his own household we must judge that situation and then bring it to the attention of that brother or he may end up worse than an unbeliever. (1 Tim 5:8) An unbeliever is on his way to the Lake of Fire.  Surely nothing could be worse than that.  

If a “pastor” does not protect his sheep by pointing out false teachers and behavior, he is out of the will of God.  In Hebrews 5:12-14 mature Christians are people who by “reason of use”- by  the application of the Word they learned - have their senses sharpened to be able to discern good and evil. The Bible tells us to “test” all things in 1 Thessalonians 5:21, 22

Those who say, “Don’t judge,” are saying, “Don’t test all things.”  (Let Us Reason Ministries, The Cult of Do Not Judge; 10/6/2003)

In 1 John 4: 1-3 the apostle tells us, “Do not believe every spirit,” but tells us to test the spirits, whether they are of God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

Those who say, “Don’t judge” are saying, “Do believe every spirit and don’t test them.” (ibid)

 Personally, I believe the Bible and I will continue to judge all that does not line up with the Word of Truth.

What Not to Judge

Clearly, what we are not to judge is whether or not someone will make it to heaven.  Only God knows for sure, since only He knows the heart as well as what happens in the last moments of someone’s life. 

There are some other things about which we should not judge.  Colossians 2:16 says, “So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or Sabbaths.”

The reason for the above is not to put a stumbling block in front of your brother.  We can actually hurt the faith of a brother, especially a weak or new-in-the-faith person, by eating or drinking or keeping feast days, with which they are not familiar and about which they have weird ideas.  In such cases, we who are mature should be careful to not do something, even if it’s perfectly alright, and we know we can, to make our brother uneasy which could lead to his stumbling and risk his falling into sin.  In such a case, it is better for them and for us to just forget the freedom we do have in eating/drinking/celebrating feast days or anything else for which we’ve given thanks to God and which we know that He has accepted. (Rom 14:2; I John 2:10)

The other “NOT to judge” teaching is found in Roman 2:1-3, where Paul admonishes those who judge others for a specific thing but do the very same thing they are judging others for.  This, of course, is hypocritical and not a valid judgment.  How can a thief judge another thief concerning stealing?  John 7:34 tells us that Jesus clearly says to judge righteously and not by appearance.  Obviously, something can appear one way and be another in actuality.

In conclusion, the early Church was apologetic and polemic or warlike in their disputation and arguments against error.  We must be no less emphatic about the same in these last days.  Any judging that goes on in the Church must be about combating error/wrong teachings, which, if left uncorrected, can only lead to false teachings, which then have no recourse but to proceed towards pure heresy. The true Christian finds him/herself in spiritual warfare 24/7.  For more on fighting in the spirit go to the sermon section and click on ‘Spiritual Warfare’.