Many times when Christians point out the error believed and practiced by denominationalists, they will reply by saying, "You are judging. The Bible says, 'Judge not, that ye be not judged.'" Instead of trying to show that their belief or practice is right, this reply is used in an effort to condemn the person that has pointed out the error. Generally, those who make this reply are either ignorant of what the New Testament really teaches on this subject, or they have no respect for New Testament teaching. All should be willing to honestly investigate the Word of God in order to understand the truth relative to this subject of "judging" as well as all other subjects.
TWO WAYS WE MAY JUDGE:
There are two ways we may judge. There is a right way and a wrong way. Many people are not willing to accept the fact that there is a right way to judge, although the same Book that says "Judge not", also says "But judge." Many people are not willing to accept the fact, although they may recognize there are two kinds of works mentioned in the New Testament; works of men that originate with man (Eph. 2:8,9; Titus 3:5), and works of faith that man performs which are commanded of God. (Acts 10:34,35; Gal. 5:6; Jas. 2:14-26). We are NOT saved by works which are devised by man, but we ARE saved by obeying the works that God commands.
There are two ways we may strive. The apostle Paul teaches in 2 Tim. 2:24 that a "servant of the Lord must not strive." Yet we learn from his statement in 2 Tim. 2:5 that though "a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully." We learn from these verses that we must not strive UNLAWFULLY, but we must strive LAWFULLY if we are to be saved eternally. Let us now consider the two ways we may judge.
THE WRONG WAY:
In Matt. 7:1,2 our Lord said, "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." The word "JUDGE", as used in this passage means to JUDGE HARSHLY or UNJUSTLY. It means "to condemn" or JUDGE CENSORIOUS JUDGMENT. We should not censure others hastily or uncharitably. This type of judgment is surely sinful. Remember that Jesus also said, "Judge not according to appearance..." (Jno. 7:24). Things are not always as they appear to be. We should not jump to unwarranted conclusions. Hasty, uncharitable judgment on appearance, should be avoided because it is indeed sinful!
There are some, when their errors are exposed, who will "judge" or "condemn" the person exposing them, and thus they become guilty of the very sin of which they accuse the other person. Are you guilty of passing harsh, unjust judgment on others?
THE RIGHT WAY:
Let us now consider the right way to judge. Christ said, "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment." ( Jno. 7;24). The context shows that the Jews judged by "appearance" when they condemned Christ for healing the man on the Sabbath and overlooked the principles of righteousness. Jesus Christ admonished them not to judge by appearance, but judge righteous judgment. Obviously, it is right and proper to judge according to the facts. This constitutes righteous judgment. When a person teaches false doctrine, he is a false teacher. When a person practices false doctrine, he is in error. When a person lives immorally, he is in sin! This is righteous judgment! Jesus said, "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits..." (Matt. 7:15,16). John said, "Beloved, believe not every Spirit, but try the Spirits whether they be of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world." (1 Jno. 4:1). When I "judge" the Spirits by their fruits, am I guilty of sin? Of course not! I am merely doing what the Lord commanded.
Each of us will give an account in the day of judgment for the way in which we have judged others. It is just as wront to leave off judging righteously as it is to judge according to appearance. We must follow the Word of Christ as our standard in judging.
By Carrol R. Sutton in The Instructor, Vol. 2, No. 2, Feb. 1965.
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