The following is from the book THINGS HARD TO BE UNDERSTOOD, available from Way of Life Literature: (www.wayoflife.org)

MATTHEW 7:1-5 -- Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 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? 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."

First, Jesus is not condemning all judging; He is condemning hypocritical judging (Mat. 7:5).

That Christ is not condemning all judging is evident from the context. In the same sermon He warned about false teachers (Mat. 7:15-17) and false brethren (Mat. 7:21-23). It is impossible to beware of false prophets and false brethren without judging doctrine and practice by comparing it to God's Word.

That Christ is not condemning all judging is also evident by comparing Scripture with Scripture. In other passages we are commanded to judge. We are to judge righteous judgment (Jn. 7:24). We are to judge all things (1 Cor. 2:15-16). We are to judge sin in the church (1 Cor. 5:3, 12), matters between the brethren (1 Cor. 6:5), preaching (1 Cor. 14:29), those who preach false gospels, false christs, and false spirits (2 Cor. 11:1-4), the works of darkness (Eph. 5:11), and prophets (1 John 4:1).

ROMANS 14:4 -- "Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand."

This passage is frequently abused by those who participate in the ecumenical movement. It is said that this verse forbids us to expose sin and error and compromise. It is said, further, that the verse teaches that many of the Bible's truths are non-essential or non-fundamental in the sense of how we deal with them. One pastor wrote to me and said: "Romans 14 is probably the most violated passage by those of us who call ourselves 'fundamentalists' (note that I include myself). We have either skipped over that chapter or given it a sinfully surface interpretation and danced around it's powerful mandates for dealing with differences over 'secondary' doctrine within the church. By 'secondary' I do not mean 'unimportant.' I must be 'fully persuaded' about all Scriptural issues, though I must welcome and neither judge nor look down on those who differ on some of them."

To this I gave the following reply: "Romans 14 is an important passage, but it has nothing to do with the idea that there things in Scripture of secondary value in the sense of how we are to deal with them. The two examples plainly given by the Apostle are eating meats and keeping holy days. There are absolutely no divine requirements upon the New Testament Christian in these matters. Thus, Romans 14 is discussing how we are to deal with matters NOT CLEARLY TAUGHT IN SCRIPTURE. In matters in which God has not plainly spoken, I am to give liberty. In matters in which God has plainly spoken, the only liberty is obedience. You are missing the mark in your understanding of this passage."

JAMES 4:11-12 -- "Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge. There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?"

Like Matthew 7:1, Romans 14:4, and 1 Corinthians 4:5, James 4:11 is frequently misused by the ecumenical crowd to support their false doctrine that Christians are forbidden to judge doctrine and practice. To make these verses teach that Christians can never judge throws the Bible into confusion. There is a right judgment and a wrong judgment. Many verses command us to judge righteous judgment (Luke 12:57; John 7:24; 1 Cor. 2:15). We are to judge preaching (1 Cor. 14:29), sin in the churches (1 Cor. 5:3), issues in the churches (1 Cor. 6:5), sin in our own lives (1 Cor. 11:31), false teachers (Mat. 7:15; Rom. 16:17); spirits (1 John 4:1), etc.

When, then, is James forbidding? The context clarifies the matter.

First, James is referring to speaking evil (Jam. 4:11). Proper judging is to speak the truth in love. The truth is not evil and speaking the truth in love is not evil. The type of judging condemned by James is judging in the sense of tearing down, tale bearing, and slander. It is judging with an evil intent. When one judges sin and error scripturally, it is never with a desire to hurt people. The Pharisees judged Jesus in this evil manner (Jn. 7:52). The false teachers at Galatia and Corinth judged Paul in this manner, trying to tear him down in the eyes of the churches (2 Cor. 10:10).

Second, James is referring to judging in a way that is contrary to the law of God (Jam. 4:12). This refers to judging others by human standards rather than divine, thus setting oneself up as the lawgiver. The Pharisees did this when they judged Jesus by their traditions (Mat. 15:1-3). On the other hand, when a believer judges things by God's Word in a godly and compassionate manner, he is not exercising his own judgment; he is judging God's judgment. When, for example, I say that it is wrong for a woman to be a pastor, this is not my judgment; it is God's (1 Tim. 2:12).

For more on verses misused by the ecumenical movement see the commentaries in THINGS HARD TO BE UNDERSTOOD on 1 Sam. 24:4-10; Matt. 7:1-1; 18:15-17; Mk. 9:38-40; John 13:35; 17:21; Acts 5:38-39; James 4:11-12. ( Updated December 6, 2005 (first published June 10, 1997 - David Cloud, www.wayoflife.org )

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