Should Christians Judge?
Occasionally, we receive correspondence
from individuals (liberal, progressive, postmodern, moral relativist, monist, etc.)
which are judgmental and seek to censor our liberty in
Christ and our obligation to exercise judgment/discernment (1 Cor. 2:15).
Curiously, these individuals fail to see the blatant contradiction and hypocrisy of their own position--that of
engaging in the very behavior which they CLAIM is religiously, philosophically or politically unacceptable. Typically,
they quote Matthew 7:1 out of context "Do not judge, or you too will be judged."
as a 'proof text'
to the exclusion of what the remainder of Scripture has to say on this important subject.
Of course, their motive is often that of intimidating anyone who would seek to discern
error/falsehood from truth, or immorality from virtue. Consider the following thoughts written by Miles J. Stanford.
terms "judge," or "judgment," are used in different ways in the Word of God;
their meanings and usage are mainly governed by the context in which they are
When they mean to condemn, to sentence, or to punish, man
[individually] is to leave that prerogative with God.
mine; I will repay, saith the Lord" (Romans 12:19). [During
"the times of the Gentiles," God has
established government--civil authority--as His earthly delegated
representative/agent to administer justice upon evildoers. See
At other times the
words mean to distinguish, to decide, to determine, to conclude, to try, to
think, and to call into question. This is what God would have believers do
in love, especially as to whether or not preaching and teaching is true or false
to His Word. Paul wrote, "And this I pray, that your love may abound yet
more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; that ye may approve things that
are excellent" (Philippians 1:9,10).
The Lord Jesus both warns
and commands to "Beware of false prophets" (Matthew 7:15).
We could not "beware," or know a false prophet unless we exercised
true judgment. For that we are given the correct standard:
"To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to
this word, it is because there is no light in them" (Isaiah 8:20).
There are realms in which the believer is generally not to judge. In
most instances he is not to judge whether or not a person is saved, if he
professes to be scripturally* born again.
"The Lord knoweth them that are his" (2 Timothy 2:19).
Nor are we to judge another's motives. Only God can see into the heart
and know the motives that underlie actions. (1 Corinthians 4:1-5) [However, Scripture does allow for some exceptions--e.g. Philippians
And we are not to judge believers concerning the
eating of certain kinds of foods or drink, or keeping certain days, etc.
(Romans 14; 1 Corinthians 10:23-33; and Colossians 2:16,17)
All too many believers remain immature or are actually drawn into error
because they seek to exercise love apart from Scripture-guided discernment and
judgment. Christians who are mature, of "full age," are
"those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good
and evil" (Hebrews 5:14).
One of the reasons for the Church being
in such a sickly condition today is that believers have not obeyed the commands
of God's Word to judge error. "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark
them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye
have learned, and avoid them" (Romans 16:17).
The false teachers make the "divisions," and not those who protest
against their errors.
An often misapplied Scripture is
"Judge not" (Matthew 7:1). This is a command against
hypocritical judgment, and is not directed to those who in love and
sincerity discern whether a teacher or teaching is true or false to the Word.
"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 considereth 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" (Matthew 7:1-5).
Actually, the last statement
of this Scripture commands sincere judgment: "then shalt thou see clearly
to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye." We are not to
forget nor seek to avoid the fact that our Lord Jesus commanded us to
"judge righteous judgment." He commended one,
"Thou hast rightly judged." He asked others,
"Why even of yourselves judge ye not what is right?" (John 7:24;
Luke 7:43; 12:57). Paul wrote, "I speak as to wise men;
judge ye what I say." Again, "He that is spiritual judgeth
all things" (1 Corinthians 10:15; 2:15).
It is all too common and easy for Christians
to assume a critical and censorious attitude toward those who do not share their
opinions about matters other than those which have to do with Bible doctrine
and moral practice. But it is our privilege and duty to do all we
can to encourage their spiritual growth. We are to love and pray for one
another, and to consider ourselves lest we be tempted. The safest and most
profitable thing to do is to judge ourselves.
"For if we would judge ourselves, we should not
be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened (child trained) of the Lord,
that we should not be condemned with the world" (1 Corinthians 11:31,32).
It will make all the difference if we judge our own faults as uncharitably
as we do the faults of others; and judge the failings of others as charitably as
we do our own!
* Mr. Stanford's statement was
written several decades ago, when the profession to be "scripturally born again"
was largely if not exclusively used in fundamental/evangelical circles.
Accordingly, the exercise of discernment was conditioned upon a "scriptural"
profession. It was never his intention to convey the idea that it was impossible
who are true Christians and who are imposters, e.g. 2 Corinthians 11:13-15. Today, the term "born again" has been
prostituted and carries numerous meanings. Believers have both the right
and the obligation to discern (judge) when the term is abused or the context is not
scriptural. Dan R. Smedra
Further comments by Dan R. Smedra
-- An understanding (judgment), supernaturally given to
Christians by God the Holy Spirit, concerning a specific proposition,
statement, or point-of-view; the truth or falsehood of which is adequately
supported by the Word of God--the Bible. In theological terms, the
process by which such certain knowledge is obtained is referred to as
"illumination" and is the sole privilege of new-creation Christians.
Despite human fallibility, illumination produces genuine
(qualitative, not exhaustive) knowledge—knowledge with "epistemological
We do, however, speak a message of
wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of
this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we speak of God's secret
wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory
before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for
if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. However,
as it is written: "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived
what God has prepared for those who love Him", but God has
revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even
the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man
except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no-one knows the
thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the
spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand
what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words
taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing
spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does
not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are
foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are
spiritually discerned. The man without the Spirit does not accept the
things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him,
and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.
The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not
subject to any man’s judgment: "For who has known the mind of the Lord that
he may instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:6-16.
Opinion is a point of view regarding any proposition, statement, theory or
event, the truth or falsehood of which is supported by evidence. This evidence renders the viewpoint
does not produce the degree of knowledge or certainty mentioned above.
Opinions often contain some degree of bias and can be
speculative in nature. Because men and women originally were created in the
image of God, they possess a God-given right to form opinions, but only
in those areas in which the Bible is silent or unclear. To assert a differing
opinion where God has provided clarity is arrogance and an act of
independence/rebellion; it is sin.
and BIGOTRY --
Prejudice is a premature, emotionally-adverse perspective, which is formed
without awareness or regard for evidence or facts. Bigotry is
prejudice push to an extreme. It finds expression in an
unreasonable, and obstinate attitude and often seeks to masquerade as opinion.
Because God is reasonable, just, and fair, both prejudice and bigotry are
ungodly; they are sin.
-- First, an apology for use of this 'expletive' term.
However, given its ubiquitous presence in today's society, it's important to
provide a clear definition so that you can accurately identify it when
it's encountered. The rise of 'bullshitting' and 'bullshitters' is
directly related to the rise in forms of philosophic relativism,
which reject categories of truth and error. Without
these philosophical categories, or the
ability to discern the difference, all dialogue is reduced to the level of
propaganda and/or the exercise of power. Since no viewpoint can be more
"true" than another, superiority of argument is measured according to the wit, skill, stealth,
or force by which the viewpoint is presented.
Bullshit is commonly
used to describe statements made by people more concerned with the response of
the audience than in truth and accuracy, such as goal-oriented statements made
in the field of politics or advertising.
"Bullshit" does not
necessarily have to be a complete fabrication; with only basic knowledge about a
topic, bullshit is often used to make the audience believe that one knows far
more about the topic by feigning total certainty or making probable predictions.
It may also merely be 'filler' or nonsense that, by virtue of its style or
wording, gives the impression that it actually means something.
In his essay 'On
Bullshit' (originally written in 1986, and published as a
monograph in 2005), philosopher Harry Frankfurt of Princeton University
characterizes bullshit as a form of falsehood distinct from lying. The liar,
Frankfurt holds, knows and cares about the truth, but deliberately sets out to
mislead instead of telling the truth. The "bullshitter", on the other hand, does
not care about the truth and is only seeking to impress. It is impossible for
someone to lie unless he thinks he knows the truth. Producing bullshit requires
no such conviction. A person who lies is thereby responding to the truth, and he
is to that extent respectful of it. When an honest man speaks, he says only what
he believes to be true; and for the liar, it is correspondingly indispensable
that he considers his statements to be false. For the bullshitter, however, all
these bets are off: he is neither on the side of the true nor on the side of the
false. His eye is not on the facts at all, as the eyes of the honest man and of
the liar are, except insofar as they may be pertinent to his interest in getting
away with what he says. He does not care whether the things he says describe
reality correctly. He just picks them out, or makes them up, to suit his
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