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Judging Is Believing.

Yes, and why, even of yourselves, do you not judge what is right? (Luke 12:57)

What is right?

The statutes of the Lord are right (Psalm 19:8).

False Christians (and others) often tell us it is not right to judge. Some fools hypocritically condemn us for judging (Luke 6:37), and they all hypocritically judge that we judge.1 When we identify preachers as false teachers leading both themselves and those who follow them to hell, when we declare others as on their way to hell, and especially when we warn them they are lost, we often hear these words (or the equivalent), "Judge not" (Matthew 7:1). Yet, these words are exactly why we judge.

Jesus said,

Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. (Matthew 7:1-2)

Jesus also said,

Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. (Luke 6:37a-b)

We take these words very seriously. They literally scare us. In fact, we are terrified of them (Psalm 119:120; Isaiah 66:2). We do not want to be judged by our "measure" as Christ warns in Matthew 7:1-2, because we know we fall short (Romans 3:23); and our measure is guaranteed to be faulty (Psalm 16:2).

Moreover, we desire not to be judged as the Lord says in Luke 6:37a. We also desire not to be condemned as Jesus promises in Luke 6:37b. Therefore, we strive, in the fear of God, to be certain to never judge and never condemn anyone.

This is why we have chosen to write and speak solely in accordance with God's judgments2 and Yehvah's condemnations, as it is written,

With my lips I have declared all the judgments of Your mouth. (Psalm 119:13)

Everyone judges. No matter who you are, you make judgments every day. The most complacent judge there is nothing to be concerned about (Zephaniah 1:12). The most paranoid judge there is trouble everywhere (Proverbs 28:1). Everyone judges and makes judgments concerning their surroundings and those around them. Those with the mind of Christ judge according to Christ (1 Corinthians 2:15-16).3 Those with a mind of their own (Isaiah 65:2) judge according to their own and are among those described in Isaiah 5:20-21.

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!

Those who judge according to their own understanding (Proverbs 3:5) are those who are "prudent in their own sight" and they "call evil good and good evil," because the human heart is desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9) and does not rightly judge.

For example, false Christians typically think if a person claims to be a believer, they assume they are. In a perverted twist of Romans 10:9-10 they think if a person simply proclaims "Lord Jesus" and claims to believe God raised Him from the dead, they think such a one is saved. Such thinking is simplemindedness.

The simple believes every word, but the prudent considers well his steps. (Proverbs 14:15)

Without submission to the Word of God (Scripture, John 1:1, Hebrews 4:13-14), confessing "the Lord Jesus" and claiming to "believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead" (Romans 10:9) is a meaningless and idle proclamation. Jesus said,

Not everyone who says to Me, "Lord, Lord," shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, "Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?" And then I will declare to them, "I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!"

If a person is not one "who does the will of My Father" they are not saved. If they are those "who practice lawlessness," they are those who practice sin, for "sin is lawlessness" (1 John 3:4); and therefore, they are lost (1 John 3:4-10). But, those who judge against the Word judge such people to be Christians, when they are not. Thus, they "call evil good," and bring upon themselves the "Woe" of Isaiah 5:20.

God's judgments are what matter, and if we declare only His judgments (1 Corinthians 2:2), and not our own, we will escape the condemnation of Matthew 7:1-2 & Luke 6:37 and avoid the woe of Isaiah 5:20-21. For then, it is not us who judge, but Him, and His judgments are right (Psalm 119:7, 39, 62, 75).

Evidenced from the many who assail us as judging wrongly (because they themselves are judging wrongly), many think Matthew 7:1-2 & Luke 6:37 dictates a silence on the matters we judge (false teachers, people's lost condition, etc.), but such a perspective is only rebellion (Proverbs 17:11) and unbelief (Jude 5).

I. Rebellion

The Lord commands over and again to judge in accordance to His Word. He told the Jews,

Do not judge according to appearance, but judge4 with righteous judgment. (John 7:24)

Judging according to appearance is judging according to your own measure and perspective (Matthew 7:1-2). Judging with righteous judgment is judging according to God's judgments, as it is written,

The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. (Psalm 19:9)

God's judgments are righteous (Psalm 119:137), and those who do not judge according to His judgments as Christ commands in John 7:24 rebel against Him; and they will receive their condemnation (Romans 2:8).

In Matthew 7:3-5 the Lord gives a command in how to judge.

And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, "Let me remove the speck from your eye"; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.

The command here is to first remove the plank from your own eye, "then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."

Immediately after this Jesus commands,

Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces. (Matthew 7:6)

It is impossible to obey this command unless a judgment is made on who is a dog and who is not, and on who is a pig and who is not (see also Philippians 3:2).

Christ commands to "Beware of false prophets" (Matthew 7:15). The only way that can be obeyed is by discerning (judging) whether someone is a false prophet or not. Otherwise, there would be no one to beware of, since it would be unknown as to who was a false prophet and who was not. But, such is not the case with those who believe, as Jesus said to those who heed His warning, "by their fruits you will know them" (Matthew 7:20). Knowing them equals judging them to be false prophets.

Jesus also commands,

Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, "I am the Christ," and will deceive many. (Matthew 24:4-5)

The only way that can be obeyed is by judging (discerning) the many making this claim as liars, not the Christ.

Similarly, Christ commands,

Then if anyone says to you, "Look, here is the Christ!" or "There!" do not believe it. (Matthew 24:23)

If you obey this verse, what are you judging? You are judging the one who is saying such a thing to be lying.

Jesus continues,

For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. Therefore if they say to you, "Look, He is in the desert!" do not go out; or "Look, He is in the inner rooms!" do not believe it. (Matthew 24:24-26)

If you obey Christ and "do not believe it" you will be judging the people telling you these things to be lying, and you will be judging those claiming to be Christ and prophets to be liars and false. Obedience demands judgment, and as these false christs and false prophets will be rightly judged as false in the future by believers, so are false prophets and false teachers today rightly judged by all who believe God's Word (1 Corinthians 2:15).

In 1 Corinthians 5 Paul rebukes the Corinthians for not judging (in accordance with Scripture) an immoral man as evil and kicking him out of the church, and he ends the chapter with,

For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? But those who are outside God judges. Therefore put away from yourselves the evil person. (1 Corinthians 5:11-12)5

These words of Paul are simply in obedience to Christ's command to not tolerate an evil person. In Matthew 18:15-17 Christ commands believers to remove from their midst any brother who refuses to admit and repent from simply one sin committed against another brother. Such a judgment is commanded by Christ (and Paul). Refusal to judge and note such people as evil is direct disobedience against the Lord.

In Romans 16:17 Paul commands,

Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.

It is impossible to obey this command to "note" and "avoid" these people unless a judgment is made on the people and their behavior.

In Ephesians 5:11 Paul commands,

And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.

The only way this command can be obeyed is by judging (identifying) "the unfruitful works of darkness" and then exposing (declaring to others) what these works are and how they are Satanic (works of darkness). This necessitates the identification of those involved (see our report on Identifying False Teachers) and the obvious judgment that they are ministers of the devil (as in 2 Corinthians 11:13-15).

In 1 Timothy 6:3-5 Paul commands to "withdraw" from anyone who "teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words." This is impossible to obey without judging the teaching of others, judging their actions ("does not consent"), and judging they are among those who are "proud, knowing nothing" and "destitute of the truth" as Paul declares in 1 Timothy 6:4-5. Without such a judgment, no belief and obedience to Paul's words can be implemented, and those who hear or read 1 Timothy 6:3-5, but judge not and withdraw not, are not "doers of the word," but "hearers only, deceiving" themselves (James 1:22). The same applies to 2 Timothy 3:1-5 where Paul likewise commands, "from such people turn away!"

Likewise, Paul commanded Timothy,

Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. (2 Timothy 2:22)

The only way this command can be kept is by discerning (judging) who calls "on the Lord out of a pure heart" and who does not. This command demands judging the hearts of individuals, that is, whether they have a pure heart or not. Without such a judgment, there can be no obedience to 2 Timothy 2:22, because the command is to pursue these things, not with just anyone or everyone, but with particular individuals - "those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart."

But how could a judgment ever be made? Jeremiah 17:9 says,

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?

The answer to that is, God can know it. He knows all things (John 16:30; 21:17), and He has revealed much in His word about the heart of man. He has actually revealed in Scripture all we need to know (2 Timothy 3:16-17). For example, Proverbs 14:2 says,

He who walks in his uprightness fears the Lord, but he who is perverse in his ways despises Him.

As this verse reveals, a believer can know (judge) whether someone calls upon the Lord out of a pure heart or not by whether they walk in uprightness or whether they are perverse. Uprightness dictates the fear of God and a pure heart. Perversity reveals a wicked heart, one who "despises Him" (see also Proverbs 3:32; 6:12; 11:20; 12:8; 21:8).

Finally (but not exhaustively), the Bible calls people fools (e.g. Psalm 14:1; Romans 1:22), describes them (e.g. Proverbs 1:7; 10:18; Ecclesiastes 5:3; etc.), and gives instruction on how to deal with them (e.g. Proverbs 23:9; 26:4-5). It is impossible to obey these commands if a judgment is not made on whether a person is a fool or not.

II. Unbelief

The bottom line on this issue is unbelief. Those who hail, "Judge not," are those who believe not. For if they did believe, they would not be proclaiming this "Judge not" folly. For example, Galatians 5:19-21 clearly states,

Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Similar lists can be found in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Ephesians 5:5; Revelation 21:8; 22:15; etc.. Anyone who believes the Bible knows (because he believes) that all those listed in these lists are people headed for hell, as Revelation 21:8 explicitly declares,

But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.

Therefore, whenever a true believer comes across anyone who is a coward, or a murderer, or sexually immoral, etc., they know (indeed they judge because they believe) that such a one is headed for eternal torment. Any true believer would not only know this (judge this), but would warn (given the opportunity) the coward, idolater, liar, drunkard, homosexual, effeminate,6 etc., that they are headed for impending eternal doom. Not only does faith in God's word dictate this, but sheer love demands it! Those who would have us not judge, would have us not believe God's word and not love God's people (Psalm 24:1).

Now, some may argue such a judgment cannot be made because we do not know a person's final state. They may argue, "Perhaps, they will repent." That is immaterial, because the judgment being made is not concerning their final state, but their present state of unbelief and danger of hell fire (as in Matthew 5:22).

Although, a final state can presently be known in some cases. For example, in the time of Christ, those who committed blasphemy of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:22-30) were eternally doomed at that very time as Christ spoke. Jesus very clearly declared such a sin will never be forgiven (Matthew 12:31-32).

Likewise, anyone who falls away from the faith as described in Hebrews 6:4-8 and 10:26-31 is likewise sealed in their fate to hell. Hebrews 6 declares they cannot be renewed to repentance (Hebrews 6:4-6), and Hebrews 10 says "there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins". Anyone who believes God's word and sees anyone who fits Hebrews 6 or Hebrews 10 well knows, yes they indeed judge, these people are eternally lost without hope of any salvation.

Likewise, Scripture declares false teachers as also eternally doomed without hope of salvation. 2 Peter 2:12 declares that they are "like natural brute beasts made to be caught and destroyed". Therefore, believers in 2 Peter 2:12 judge false teachers as doomed to hell without hope, because they know, they believe, they judge, false teachers were made, as the Scripture says, "to be caught and destroyed". This means, as it is written, that "the blackness of darkness" is "reserved" for them "forever" (2 Peter 2:17). Jude pronounces them as having already "perished" (Jude 11), "twice dead" (Jude 12) and "who long ago were marked out for this condemnation" (Jude 4). Believers in the Bible, when they see a false teacher, judge and believe this is their fate.

Speaking of false teachers, the Bible warns there will be false teachers among you (2 Peter 2:1), and we can heed this warning via believing 2 John 9.

Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. (2 John 9)

This verse has absolutely no meaning, significance, or application if no judgment is made. But, a judgment has been made, because the verse in itself is God's judgment and we need to believe it. It declares who has God and who does not, all solely on who "abides in the doctrine of Christ" and who does not. Since Christ is the Word of God (John 1:1, 14; Revelation 19:13), His doctrine is the whole Bible. 2 John 9 is simply telling us that those who abide in Scripture have God, and those who teach falsely (abide not in the doctrine of Christ) do not have God.

Simple faith in this verse mandates judging (discerning) who has God and who does not. When it is discovered (Ephesians 5:11) that someone's teaching characteristically transgresses and does not abide in the teaching (doctrine) of Christ, then faith in 2 John 9 demands the judgment that such teaching, and the one who teaches it, does not have God. In other words, they are false and lost, as Galatians 5:20 notes; those who practice heresies will not inherit the kingdom of God.

III. Judge Nothing

Now, some may be confused when they are confronted with what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 4:5.

Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one's praise will come from God. (1 Corinthians 4:5)

With these words, Paul was not telling the Corinthians to ignore what the Bible says. Nor was he telling them to discard the words he wrote earlier in 1 Corinthians 2:15 where he said,

he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one.

"Judges all things" (1 Corinthians 2:15) and "judge nothing" (1 Corinthians 4:5)? Is Paul confused? No, the reader might be (2 Peter 3:16), but Paul isn't. 1 Corinthians 2:15 is talking about a spiritual man, in contrast to a natural man (1 Corinthians 2:14), who receives the things of the Spirit of God and therefore judges all things in light of "the mind of Christ" (1 Corinthians 2:16), that is, in accordance to the Word (John 1:1, 14).7 In other words, he does not "think beyond what is written" (1 Corinthians 4:6), because he limits himself to only what Scripture reveals (Proverbs 4:20-27).

Consistent with this, in 1 Corinthians 4:5 Paul says "judge nothing before the time." The judgment Paul is speaking of here is a premature judgment that will not be revealed, as Paul says, "until the Lord comes." For it is then He will "bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts." "Hidden things" are not to be judged. In other words, matters in which the Lord has not given revelation (there is no Scripture given) are therefore not to be judged, because they cannot be known. In such a judgment, Matthew 7:1-2 & Luke 6:37 would be breached, as would the judgment in James 4.

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? (James 4:11-12)

What is speaking evil? It is either speaking lies about another (i.e. slander), judging according to one's own standard (as Matthew 7:1-2 forbids), or judging another prematurely as forbidden in 1 Corinthians 4:5. Even if someone happened to be correct in their judgment (as a later date may reveal, or the day of judgment will reveal), if it is premature (1 Corinthians 4:5) it is speaking evil; for that kind of judgment is forbidden and cannot be known. If they judge something before the time as in 1 Corinthians 4:5, they are disobeying the Word and thus speaking evil.

Moreover, such a one also, as James says, "speaks evil of the law and judges the law." For when a person judges another, since it is not God's judgment, but man's, he judges God's law (God's word) as insufficient, faulty, and in need of man's standard (man's law). This one is "not a doer of the law," and this judger foolishly sets himself up as "a judge." And, of course, that is all amiss, because there is only one "Lawgiver;" and that Man is not fallen.

Finally, in Romans 14 Paul writes,

Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him. Who are you to judge another's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand. (Romans 14:3-4)

But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. (Romans 14:10)

Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother's way. (Romans 14:13)

The judging Paul is talking about here has to do with matters of personal conscience before God (Romans 14:1-6, 22-23). He is not talking about Biblical doctrine. For on these same matters, eating and day observance (Romans 14:2-3, 5-6), when dealing with Biblical doctrine (teaching), Paul judges these things as very serious (see 1 Timothy 4:1-3; Galatians 4:10-11).

But, as a matter of personal conscience in what a person feels right about doing or not doing, these things are to be left to the individual and we are not to judge one another on that. As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 4:5 and here in Romans 14:10-12, Christ will judge these matters at a later time.

IV. God's Judgment

No one will escape God's judgment (Romans 2:7-10; 14:10-12; 2 Corinthians 5:10). All will be judged according to the Word of God (Hebrews 4:12-13). We know this, and this is why we judge as we do. Our judgment is simply a declaration of God's judgments that He has already made known (e.g. John 3:18 "condemned already"). We declare them. We are required to declare them (Psalm 105:1-6), and so we bear His reproach for doing so (2 Timothy 4:10; Hebrews 13:13). False christians (and others) hate the light (John 3:19-20), and so they foolishly proclaim, "Judge not." We refuse to heed this "Judge not" counsel of the ungodly (Psalm 1:1), for we do not want to be condemned with them (Luke 6:37). For in hypocrisy they judge, and in hypocrisy they condemn, and so they will receive their condemnation (John 5:29). We know this and proclaim it, because we believe what God says.

And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, "I believed and therefore I spoke," we also believe and therefore speak (2 Corinthians 4:13).

Endnotes:

1. Those who judge that we judge and tell us we shouldn't be judging, are hypocrites, and the words of Romans 2 apply to them.

Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. (Romans 2:1)

When they judge us as judging and tell us not to judge, they practice the very same thing they condemn us for, and so Paul continues,

But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. (Romans 2:2)

So, just as Jesus warns in Matthew 7:1-2 & Luke 6:37, Paul declares,

And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? (Romans 2:3)

2. Jeremiah 8:7-9 parallels our days.

Even the stork in the heavens knows her appointed times; and the turtledove, the swift, and the swallow observe the time of their coming. But My people do not know the judgment of the Lord. How can you say, "We are wise, and the law of the Lord is with us"? Look, the false pen of the scribe certainly works falsehood. The wise men are ashamed, they are dismayed and taken. Behold, they have rejected the word of the Lord; so what wisdom do they have?

3. In Ezekiel 18:8 a righteous man is described in this way.

If he has not exacted usury nor taken any increase, but has withdrawn his hand from iniquity and executed true judgment between man and man; . . . .

4. This command by Christ to judge in John 7:24b is in the Greek, κρινετε (krinete, Critical Text, present active imperative; Majority and Received Text have aorist active imperative, κρινατε [krinate]), which is the same Greek word for the command not to "judge" in Matthew 7:1 (likewise, κρινετε - Luke 6:37; 12:57; John 8:15; Acts 13:46; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 5:12; κρινατε - John 18:31; Acts 4:19; Romans 14:13; 1 Corinthians 10:15; 11:13).

5. See also Deuteronomy 13:5 at the end of the verse for a similar statement. Obviously, in Deuteronomy 13:5 the putting away there was unto death. In 1 Corinthians 5 the person is put out of the church.

6. The Greek word translated "effeminate" in the KJV & NAS ("homosexual" NKJV) in 1 Corinthians 6:9 is μαλακοι (malakoi) and it literally means "soft." It is translated "soft" in the NKJV, KJV, and NAS in both remaining passages in the N. T., Matthew 11:8 and Luke 7:25.

7. An example of a spiritual man judging according to the Word can be found in Romans 2:25-29. Here, speaking of the inward Jew (verse 29) who fulfills the law (verse 27), Paul asks the rhetorical question,

And will not the physically uncircumcised, if he fulfills the law, judge you who, even with your written code and circumcision, are a transgressor of the law?

It's a given. Indeed he will. This is how godly people act. They judge with righteous judgment (John 7:24).

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