An Often Abused Scripture

A. Ralph Johnson


People often try to hide behind Jesus’ statement, “Judge not” when doing wrong.  They take the statement out of context and force it into conflict with other things Jesus said with no understanding of how it was being used.


Matthew 7:1-5 Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. 3 And why do you behold  the mote that is in your brother's eye, but do not consider the beam that is in your own eye? 4 Or how will you say to your brother, Let me pull the mote out of your eye; and, behold, a beam is in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of your own eye; and then you will see clearly to cast out the mote out of your brother's eye.


The statement is dealing with hypocritical, harsh and unjust judgment.  It does not prohibit all judgment.  The rest of the chapter clearly calls for us to judge.


Matthew 7:6 6 Give not that which is holy unto the  dogs, neither cast your pearls before  swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.


This requires judging who has the nature of a dog or a hog.


Matthew 7:13-14 13 Enter  in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads unto life, and few there are that find it.  


This requires judging which way leads where -- a judgment of the many and the few.


 Matthew 7:15-19 15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 16 You shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17 Even so every good tree brings forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19 Every tree that brings not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.


This requires judging who is a false prophet.  It requires judging whether they are wolves.  We are to judge them by their fruits.


Matthew 7:21-23 21 Not every one that says unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out demons? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.


Here we are to judge the claims of those who profess to prophesy, casting out devils and doing many mighty works. It goes on to indicate that those who hear and do the works of Christ are building on solid rock and those who do not are building on sand.  That requires judgment.  


Actually, we are commanded to judge.


 1 Corinthians 10:15 15 I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say.  


John 7:24 24 Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.


1 Corinthians 2:15   15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, and he himself is judged of no man.


1 Corinthians 10:15   15 I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say.


1 Corinthians 11:13   13 Judge ye in yourselves: is it seemly that a woman pray unto God unveiled?


1 Corinthians 14:24   24 But if all prophesy, and there come in one unbelieving or unlearned, he is reproved by all, he is judged by all;


The apostles were to judge.


Luke 22:30   30 That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.


Paul judged


1 Corinthians 5:1-3  It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife.  2 And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.  3 For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed,


Paul goes on to tell them that the fornicator should be removed from among them.  That requires judgment.


1 Corinthians 5:4-7   4 in the name of our Lord Jesus, ye being gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus,  5 to deliver such a one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.  6 Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?  7 Purge out the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, even as ye are unleavened. For our passover also hath been sacrificed, even Christ:


He continues:

1 Corinthians 5:11-13   11 ... I wrote unto you not to keep company, if any man that is named a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such a one no, not to eat.  12 For what have I to do with judging them that are without? Do not ye judge them that are within?  13 But them that are without God judgeth. Put away the wicked man from among yourselves.


In the next chapter he tells them they should judge matters among them rather than going to law before unbelievers.


1 Corinthians 6:1-5  Dare any of you, having a matter against his neighbor, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints?  2 Or know ye not that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world is judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?  3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more, things that pertain to this life?  4 If then ye have to judge things pertaining to this life, do ye set them to judge who are of no account in the church?  5 I say this to move you to shame. What, cannot there be found among you one wise man who shall be able to decide between his brethren,


Jesus’ warning concerning judgment is that it must not be unfair—judging others harshly while harboring even greater sins.  Judgment is not prohibited.  It is to be “righteous judgment.”