“You shouldn’t judge, it is wrong to judge.” I have heard this self-refuting statement enough times now that I need to address this in a blog post.
One of the favorite verses in the Bible for the unbelieving world is Matthew 7:1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged” (NIV). We should not be shocked when unbelievers quote the Bible out of context but the thing that concerns me most is when professing Christians quote this verse out of context. Let us examine this verse in it’s context and also with the rest of the Bible. This statement was made by our Lord in the famous Sermon on the Mount, often the individual waving this verse in the face of the Christian is inconsistent because they would reject much of the remaining teachings of Jesus in this sermon. Out of context this verse would seem to fit their world view so they find this verse to be a convenient way to suppress the conviction of God. The very next verse, Matthew 7:2, starts putting this statement into perspective. “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (NIV) Jesus is stating here that the standard by which we judge others will be the standard by which God will judge us. The first question we should ask ourselves when reading this verse is what is the proper standard? Is the standard our own arbitrarily assumed standard of right and wrong or should it be grounded on the Word of God? The question is really rhetorical, of course the standard should be the Word of God. We as Christian should be living our lives in line with the Word of God so that we can judge with that proper standard without hypocrisy.
Jesus says in John 7:24 “Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.” We can only make right judgments if we ground our sense of right and wrong on the Word of God. Our judgments should not be made by mere appearances but grounded in both the truth of what is really the situation and with the truth of the Word of God.
Jesus continues on in Matthew 7:3-4 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?” (NIV) In these verses Jesus is painting a vivid picture of what hypocritical judgement looks like. It’s like a man with a 2×4 sticking out of his own eye pointing out to a brother that he has a speck of sawdust in his eye. In the next verse Jesus states how the man with the plank can make a proper and right judgement about the speck in his bother’s eye. He says “5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (NIV) Jesus’ word picture here is demonstrating that the person who is using this text to pass a judgement on righteous judgement is the person with the 2×4 sticking out of their own eye. They are doing themselves what they are condemning. This text also does not teach that the man with the plank in his eye is forbidden from ever making a judgement again, no, he must repent (remove the plank) of his hypocritical sin and then he can see clearly to make a righteous (based on Scripture) judgement of his brother. Jesus is not saying that if we have ever in the past committed a particular sin that we can never address that sin in the life of another person. Jesus is exhorting us to have repented (removed the plank) of those sins and to have them placed under the blood of His sacrifice so that we can make proper judgments in righteousness.
Just a little further down the passage in Matthew 7 Jesus warns about false prophets and how we are to make a judgment about them. Matthew 7:15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” (NIV) It also says in Malachi 3:17-18 “They will be mine,” says the LORD Almighty, “in the day when I make up my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him. 18 And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.” (NIV) Jesus and the Prophet Malachi both state that we can clearly make a judgment between those who are serving God and those who are not. We will be able to identify them by their fruit.
Despite the fact that the statement “You should not judge” or “judging is wrong” is not even Scriptural it is self-refuting in nature as mentioned before. The person who makes the statement is himself making a judgment. I usually handle the statement in the following way when I am confronted with it. I will ask the person “Well if judging is wrong, are you saying that what I am doing is wrong.” Most of the time the person falls right into the trap of his own deception. (Proverbs 26:5 “Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes.” (NIV)) He will say “Yes what you are doing is wrong”. I then respond with “You should stop judging me”. The Bible is self consistent and does not contradict itself nor does in engage in teaching Christians self-refuting truths (oxymoron).
The “you should not judge” judgement is grounded and founded on the equally self-refuting worldly philosophy of tolerance. The same crowd that preaches and screams tolerance is most intolerant of those they deem intolerant thereby refuting and violating their own professed world view of tolerance. They are just as closed-minded and intolerant as those that they say are closed-minded and intolerant. They will just not tolerate our intolerance.
The problem is that this worldly self-refuting philosophy of tolerance has crept into our churches. I have heard many professing Christians say “Well you shouldn’t judge, you don’t know their hearts”. The problem with this statement is that those who make it will often vocalize their belief that someone is a Christian. They need to be challenged on their inconsistency. If we cannot make a judgement that someone is not a Christian because we don’t know their heart would it not logically follow that we could also not judge that someone is a Christian because we don’t know their heart. Did not Christ say in Luke 6:45b “the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.“(NIV)? According to Christ a man’s words and actions reveal the state of his heart. The problem is that the person who says this usually has no problem at all dishing out affirmations of salvation to almost anyone but cries judgement on anyone that questions any professing Christian’s salvation based on the fruit by which Christ said we will know them.
This self-refuting philosophy renders Matthew 18:15-17 and James 5:19-20 meaningless. These passages tell us how to go to a brother and confront him about his sin and to help him to come to repentance. The self-refuting philosophies of the world have rendered the church impotent when it comes to Church discipline and confrontation about sin. If passing judgement on a brother in sin is wrong then the Prophet Nathan and the Apostle Paul (among many others) were sinning when they confronted David and Peter respectively. We as Christians need to return to the Word of God as the foundation of all our thinking and cast away the foolish contradictory philosophies of the world. 2 Corinthians 10:4 “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (NIV)