"Judge Not Lest You Be Judged"

Posted On February 21, 2007

This following article has two pieces to it. Piece #1 has some comments by a friend of mine named Morgan, although it was not written entirely by her. It is a compilation and her added insight and comments to an already established framework which was sent to her by a friend. Piece #2 was written by me. Here they are....


Has this ever happened to you? You give a warning to someone about a false teacher that denies one or more foundational doctrines of the Christian faith. Rather than listen the person gets angry. He begins to quote the Bible as he gives you a rebuke. You are told that it is wrong to judge because the Bible says ... judge not lest you be judged. The person then snubs his nose and goes on with their life and continues to listen to the false teacher.

Over the years I have heard one verse in the Bible misquoted more than any other verse. That verse can be found in Matthew chapter 7 verse 1: Judge not, that ye be not judged. People use that verse to excuse and defend all kinds of evil. People are literally attacked and called all kinds of nasty names because they dared to warn about something that is wrong and sinful before God.

Does Matt 7:1 really mean that a Christian should never judge anything? Are people rightly quoting the Bible when they forbid people to judge? Should Christians accept all kinds of sin and evil because it is wrong to make any judgments about right and wrong? Should false teaching be allowed to go unchallenged because it is wrong to judge? Should Christians support wolves and false teachers and attend liberal doctrine denying churches because they are not supposed to be judgmental. Is judging evil and false teaching also being unloving, narrow-minded, legalistic, or a Pharisee?

In its proper context:
Matt 7
1 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 beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? 5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.

The above verses are addressed to a hypocrite who went around judging people of doing evil when he was doing the same things. Just look at verse 3 and 4. Do not judge another person before judging yourself. A good example would be a bank robber. A person who robs banks for a living should not go around judging other people who robs banks. How about this real-time example. Remember the TV evangelist who judged another TV evangelist for sleeping with another women then paying her hush money. The first evangelist was seeing prostitutes while he was judging the other TV evangelist! Only a hypocrite would judge another person while he is guilty of doing the same thing! This is why the above verses first tell a person to judge themselves. Once that is done, one can judge and help others. In its proper context Matt 7:1 does not say it is wrong to judge. Instead it is saying to first judge yourself!

People use Matt 7:1 out of context to justify evil and things that God hates. By ripping verse 1 out of context professing Christians justify the heresies. Wrongly using Matt 7:1 to justify evil is one of the great deceptions of these last days. Don't be tricked by those who misquote that verse!


To support what was written above, I want to point out that Jesus said "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment" (John 7:24). Obviously, we can not judge with righteous judgment if we do not judge at all. And only God can give us righteous judgment. Any judgment that is not from Him is self-righteous judgment.

Although they don't seem to realize it, those who use Matthew 7:1 to condemn those who expose error are also judging: they are judging people as being wrong, simply because they are trying to expose error.

So, although they claim to believe that it is wrong for us to judge at all, they are in fact judging what they consider to be error as well. The only difference is that they seem to feel that it is wrong for anyone who corrects them or their favorite teacher to point out error, but it is ok for them to point out what they consider to be error. Indeed, the attitude of many in the professing church today seems to be, "it's ok for me to judge you, but you better not judge me or my favorite Christian leader!" So I would say that is one example of self-righteous judgment. In their attempt to use Matthew 7:1 to justify evil or false doctrine, they are guilty of the very unrighteous judgment that they hypocritically accuse others of.

The entire chapter of 2 Peter 2 is all about false teachers. With that passage in mind, it should be evident that false teachers need to be exposed. However, there are some who raise objection to exposing false teachers publicly, suggesting that it would be more loving to go to the teacher in private about their error. But the Apostle Paul clearly rebuked Peter publicly when he saw that he was not straight-forward about the truth of the gospel (See Galatians 2:11-14). Yet today, those who take this same approach that Paul took are often regarded as being unloving.

First of all, one can not always go to every single teacher in private. Second, the reason that error needs to be exposed publicly (as Galatians 2:11-14 clearly shows) is because the people who have heard the error are also being lead astray, not just the teacher who is teaching it. So the public who has heard the error also needs to know that they have been lead astray, even if they have been lead astray by a well meaning teacher. May God guide us to judge rightly rather than making pre-judgments, or using the words "judge not lest you be judged" in order to avoid correction.

"Christianity...walks with strong step and erect frame...kindly, but firm...gentle, but honest...decided, but not churlish. It does not fear to speak the stern word of condemnation against error, nor to raise its voice against surrounding evils...[and] does not shrink from giving honest reproof...It calls sin sin, on whomsoever it is found....Both Old and New Testaments are marked by fervent outspoken testimonies against evil. To speak smooth things in such a case...is not Christianity. It is a betrayal of the cause of truth and righteousness....Charity covereth a multitude of sins; but it does not call evil good because a good man has done it; it does not excuse inconsistencies because the inconsistent brother has a high name and a fervent spirit...."

Horatius Bonar (1808-1889)

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