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Thou Shall Not Judge or Should You?

Thou Shall Not Judge or Should You?

I wrote a post about why I don’t allow my boys to play World of Warcraft and it received over 400 comments (many more I had to delete due to profanity).  I must have gotten at least 100 “Thou shalt not judge” comments.

I shouldn’t judge if a computer game is good or bad for my children? What about x rated movies? How about pedophiles? Can I judge whether or not my children should go camping with a known pedophile?

What about about preachers. Does a theology degree mean I should sit under someone’s teaching without judging if he is teaching truth? Isn’t that how cults form?

How about Ken Ham judging a man selling a Bible curriculum while promoting evolution. Is he not allow to judge him? (See Homeschool controversy).

I have seen the “judge not” phrase thrown around ironically in judgment of Ken Ham.

What the Bible says About Judging in Context

Read the passage in context:

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. Matthew 7:1-5

“Judge not” in the Greek μη κρινετε (mē krinete) is the  habit of sharp, unjust criticism.

God alone can judge;but  it is our duty to speak out against sin (Matthew 7:15–20) and to exercise wisdom in dealing with those who reject the truth (Matthew 7:6).

Jesus is condemning mean spirited judgment and unjust criticism of others’ motives. We are not only allowed, we have an obligation to test others by their fruits (Matthew. 15–20).

The etymology of the word “critic” is from the Greek word judge in this verse. Another form of this same root in verse 5 is translated “hypocrite” implying a critical, judgmental, self-righteous spirit which judges others more severely than it does itself. (The attitude you find in legalistic churches),

When someone emphasizes one set of sins over another set of sins then excuses one’s own faults (the beam in your eye) but will not excuse the faults of others they are guilty of criticizing others unrighteously.

Christ is not telling us to avoid evaluating people or not to use our God-given wisdom (1 John 4:1–6). The world is full of false teachers (2 Corinthians 11:13–15). We must be alert and must “try the spirits” (1 John 4:1) and teach our children to do the same!

Yes, Christians Can Be Mean

I will admit Christians have a tendency to be critical of one another. I have a ton of legalism in my background (still healing).

But you cannot quote “thou shall not judge” to prove that Christians should not judge each other at all when Matthew 5, 6, 15, I Corinthians 5:1–12, and I John 4:1–6 show that Jesus was assuming that believers evaluate one another spiritually. One’s attitude and motives are the keys (Galatians 6:1; Romans 2:1–11; 14:1–23; James 4:11–12). Neither should you judge my use of the word but at the beginning of the sentence above, there are exceptions to the grammar rules 🙂

A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments explains Matthew 7:1:

To “judge” here  does not  mean to pronounce condemnatory judgment, nor does it refer to simple judging at all, whether favorable or the reverse.

The context makes it clear that the thing here condemned is that disposition to look unfavorably on the character and actions of others, which leads invariably to the pronouncing of rash, unjust, and unlovely judgments upon them. No doubt it is the judgments so pronounced which are here spoken of; but what our Lord aims at is the spirit out of which they spring.

Provided we eschew this unlovely spirit, we are not only warranted to sit in judgment upon a brother’s character and actions, but in the exercise of a necessary discrimination are often constrained to do so for our own guidance.

It is the violation of the law of love involved in the exercise of a censorious disposition which alone is here condemned. And the argument against it—“that ye be not judged”—confirms this: “that your own character and actions be not pronounced upon with the like severity”; that is, at the great day.

Jesus commands in John 7:24, “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.”

Abstain from thinking about other people’s faults, unless your duties as a teacher or parent make it necessary to think about them. Whenever the thoughts come unnecessarily into one’s mind, why not simply shove them away? And think of one’s own faults instead? For there, with God’s help, one can do something. Of all the awkward people in your house or your job there is only one whom you can improve very much… The job has to be tackled some day: and every day we put it off will make it harder to begin. — C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock, pp. 154.

We have the right and responsibility to evaluate others’ behavior in and out of the body of Christ.

My girlfriend Dolores said it well, “Judge the behavior and love the person.”

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22 comments

  1. Deciding what is best for your kids is not being judgmental. It is called being discerning – a quality every Christian should have. You were placed in their lives for the sole purpose of raising them in the ways of God and to protect them until they are big enough to do so themselves. By allowing them to do the things that people think are okay, you are not doing your Christian and loving parenting duties.

  2. PS: Discernment = common sense!!!

  3. Wow! I’m so sorry that you got such heated resonse to your gaming post. It IS important that we make good judgments. Thanks for this encouragement to do so in a way that glorifies God.

  4. Alisha

    Good word. It is a strange world we live in now where you can make rash judgment about each other but not point out that a man is not teaching the trueth. It is a world where bad is good and good is bad. Come SOON Lord Jesus!

  5. Excellent post Robin. People are so quick to throw around the “Do not judge” line but in that they are judging too. We are called to discern the fruit. I have been following the Ken Ham issue and although I do not know all the details right now he seems to be quite above board calling out his issues of theology with Peter Enns. That is healthy.

  6. Luann Habecker

    the word ‘judge’ has become so misused. it is not ‘judging’ to uphold His standards. He is the judge, i am upholding His judgements!!! just scares me so much when i hear people starting down this path and throwing around the word ‘judging’ so incorrectly. if you disagree you are ‘judging’. so much more, yet can’t word it well.

  7. If everyone were not so quick to become angry 90% of arguments would disappear. People reject listening and reason and leap to anger before bothering to hear a spoken word. It is an epidemic! God help us be slow to speak, quick to lisen and slow to become angry! Help us not make heroes of those who simply write a book pr perform! May we know you so well that we can truly see right from wrong! Give us wisdom so we can see to judge rightly and fairly when matters rise up! God save us from our easily offended selves!!

  8. Rose Hayes

    Jennifer Dages used the right word above. It’s about discernment. There is a big difference between judging and discerment.

  9. Carol Dyck Foster

    Great book…Who are YOU to Judge by Erwin W Lutzer….http://www.christianbook.com/judge-learning-distinguish-between-truths-lies/erwin-lutzer/9780802409065/pd/409067?item_code=WW&netp_id=306956&event=ESRCN&view=details#curr Click on ‘Google preview’ under the photo of the book and scroll down to see the Table of Contents; but I especially refer you to the following section entitled “Before you Begin”.

  10. Thanks for this, Robin. I’ve also noticed something else in all of this. A lot of people are declaring that this controversey is just Satan trying to divide Christians and they are calling for unity. But do we want unity at the expense of God’s truth? I don’t think Satan is the one doing the dividing. I think God is separating the wheat from the chaff. Unity should never trump truth.

  11. Kathleen Dillie

    I thought of something else. Some (a lot?) of folks are fretting over what non-Christians are thinking and saying about all this. They think it makes us Christians look ridiculous. But shouldn’t we be more concerned with what God thinks? I wouldn’t expect unbelievers to understand the concept of standing for the truth of God’s word. Should we shy away from speaking out against heresy because we are afraid of what the world thinks? Let’s care more about what God thinks.

  12. Robin, I was JUST thinking how ill this is making me right now, as I’m sitting here reading a comment posted under one of the posts on Dr.Wile’s blog (now cached- since he apparently has taken it down for the time being http://webcache.goog…leusercontent.com/search?q=cache%3APqSKusRzOsMJ%3Ablog.drwile.com%2F+jay+wile&cd=2&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&source=www.google.com), of someone’s quoting the views of Enns in his own words. I’ll post it here for all interested, followed by a few more of my own thoughts afterwards. I do believe that Dr. Wile has been quite taken with Enns’s scholarliness and “seminal work”, and I’m just sad to see him giving this false teacher such accolades… Uggh, this is so sad… such subtle deception(s)…

    From (Telling God’s Story,A Parents’ Guide to Teaching the Bible, Peter Enns, Olive Branch Books Charles City, Virginia. This book is to be used in conjunction with the Telling God’s Story series: Year One. Peter Enns states: I have been working on a Bible curriculum for Olive Branch Books, the religious instruction imprint of Peace Hill Press founded by well-known author, historian, and homeschooling guru Susan Wise Bauer)

    “Jesus is described in full color in the Gospels. He weeps, laughs, becomes angry, has compassion, loves, has determination, prefers times of isolation, grows tired. In the early grades, we should focus on bringing out this full portrait of Jesus. What should not be emphasized is the child’s miserable state of sin and the need for a savior.”

    “Please do not misunderstand me. I believe Jesus rescues us from our sin. But we cannot and should not expect adult comprehension of the depth of sin and the grace of God from our children. As parents, we can be so concerned that… our very young children make a “profession of faith” that, without wanting in any way to harm the child, we wind up manipulating the child rather than teaching. The child knows that we want him to be baptized, or confirmed, or dedicated; and if the child loves you, he will do his best to comply. But we must remember that our children’s salvation is not our work, it is the work of the Spirit. Fuller lessons concerning sin and grace will come in time, and certainly parents and churches have the responsibility to teach the fullness of what the Bible has to offer. But most young children simply do not have the emotional or intellectual maturity to grasp the adult concepts in the Bible.” (page 31)

    “I believe in God’s displeasure with sin. But to introduce children to the God of wrath right at the beginning of their lives, without the requisite biblical foundation and before the years of emotional maturity, can actually distort their view of God. What children do understand is warmth, comfort, acceptance: “Little children, come to me!”

    Having said all this, let me add that you can’t talk about Jesus for too long without seeing him get upset with people—mostly the self-confident religious elite. He becomes angry, speaks some harsh words, and is even sarcastic at times. We will certainly take this head on, but the fully realized Jesus of the Gospels is intended for adult consumption.” (page 33/34)

    “The Flood was an attempt by God to set it right, but it didn’t work.” (Page 70)See More

    “It is entirely accurate to understand Israel’s kings as messiahs: they were anointed by God to do his work. We need to resist the temptation to think that “messiah” in the Old Testament means the supernatural, second person of t…he Trinity, who will die for our sins. Yes, Jesus is the ultimate and final messiah, who far exceeds anything any messiah before him did. But that is just the point. To appreciate Jesus’ messianic role, how impressive and amazing it is, we need to be familiar with what the concept meant in the Old Testament. There, the “messianic hope” was not in a heavenly being coming down, but in Yahweh raising up a mighty warrior-king who would keep the Law and would rule and guide his people. Israel’s kings were God’s representatives on earth, there to rule for him as intermediaries.” (page 83)

    “For many parents, the Bible looks a little bit like my child’s room. It’s a mess. Names, places, events are all over the place, and you hardly know where to start cleaning up. It’s such a mess, in fact, that if someone ripped twenty pages out of Leviticus or 1 Chronicles, you might not even notice it was missing. And if your aim is to teach the Bible to your children, the mess isn’t just confusing. It’s stressful.” (page 10)

    “Our first struggle in reading the Bible is to move from the “What about me?” perspective to the “What does this tell us about God in that context?” question.

    Knowing something about what the Bible is designed to do, what its purpose is, will help us adjust our expectations about what it is we hope to find in the Bible. If our expectations are modern instead of ancient, we will get ourselves into a bind. Before we can ask the hard questions—for example, “Is Genesis 1 in harmony with scientific thought? Or does Genesis 1 trump scientific thought?”—we must ask a more foundational question: What do we have the right to expect from God’s word as a book written in an ancient world?” (pages 18/19)See More

    “What is not addressed in the Bible are specifically modern situations. There is no Bible verse that will, either directly or indirectly, answer many of the questions that confront Christian families today: When do you begin dati…ng? Is it OK to watch an R-rated movie? What kinds of books should your children read? What sort of education should they receive? In this light, I want to introduce what I think is the single most important biblical concept for living a Christian life, not only today, but during any era: wisdom.” (Page 24)

    “There is nothing wrong with knowing good and evil. In fact, you might think that God would actually want Adam and Eve to eat of this tree. But what is at issue here is how the first humans decide to gain this knowledge. Rather than doing it God’s way, by eating of the fruit of the tree of good and evil, the first humans took matters into their own hands and tried to be like God in their own way. In other words, they tried to break down the boundary God had erected, part of the order he made out of chaos. In eating the fruit, humans became agents of chaos in disrespecting the boundary God had established. They were not simply being naughty: they were acting contrary to the creation order. Taking the fruit was like pulling at the loose end of a knitted sweater and watching the whole thing unravel. This is at the root of human woes: forgetting the place that God has made for us. We are the height of his creation. He even wants us to be like him, knowing good from evil. But it has to be done his way, through obedience to him. We are not the Creator.” (page 63/64)

    “The issue is that I read him a very complex and intricate biblical narrative—the story of Adam, Eve, and the serpent—as if it were a child’s story. This biblical story was meant to convey something profound, mature, and foundational to ancient Israelites. Sitting down and reading this story with my son set him up to receive it as one tall tale among others. The Garden narrative is deeply theological and symbolic. Despite the neat talking snake, it is not the type of story that we should toss casually to our young children. When, at a more mature age, children are asked to revisit this story and begin dealing with it in earnest, many can hardly refrain from snickering. (“I outgrew talking animals years ago!”) Or consider another Bible story commonly taught to children: the story of the Flood. The boat, the animals, the rain, the drama— all lend themselves to videos, snappy tunes, macaroni art, flannel graphs, and furry friends. What is obscured is the simply horrific notion that God would bring down such drastic destruction on the earth, rather than finding some other solution to humanity’s rebellion. And that is a question young adults should ask.” (page 44/45)

  13. I’m sick to my stomach about this entire situation. I still don’t know exactly where I stand, but here are some things to note . . .

    1. This *truly* is not just a young earth/old earth debate. From what I’ve gathered, Peter Enns is connected to BioLogos and undermines some key components of the Christian faith. You can watch this video of Enns’ teaching: http://www.arnizachariassen.com/ithinkibelieve/?p=1863

    You can also learn more about BioLogos here: http://www.albertmohler.com/2010/11/09/no-pass-from-theological-responsibility-the-biologos-conundrum/

    Here’s my short list of what I’ve gathered that Enns believes:
    ~The Adam & Eve story is a metaphor (they were NOT the first man/woman)
    ~A global flood never happened
    ~Paul was confused/wrong in his references to Adam in the NT . . . scripture is not without error
    ~Children can’t understand the concepts of grace or sin, so don’t teach them about those things: http://anneelliott.com/blog/2011/03/bible-curriculum-that-is-anti-bible/

    Dr. Enns is Senior Fellow of Biblical Studies for The BioLogos Foundation, which views Christ and scripture as follows: “If Jesus as a finite human being erred from time to time, there is no reason at all to suppose that Moses, Paul, John wrote Scripture without error. Rather, we are wise to assume that the biblical authors expressed themselves as human beings writing from the perspectives of their own finite, broken horizons.”

    2. The convention organizers KNEW Ham would call Enns out on these things http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=186618808050260

    Mark Looy, had a very frank but cordial discussion with Mr. Dean about this BioLogos/Dr. Enns matter in November. Mark took notes during the phone conversation; here are excerpts from his summary:
    Since I know Brennan a little, I called him a few weeks ago and told him our deep concerns about BioLogos [being at the convention]—but informed him we will not be pulling out. He told me that many h.s. conventions are becoming “less Christian”—that they will have vendors there to cater to the secular and even Jewish families that are becoming good-size segments within the h.s. movement . . . . Brennan made it sound as if he might avoid BioLogos in 2012 and beyond, but he did not promise that. I told him that Ken would still mention compromise in the church, and might bring up BioLogos by name in his keynotes, and Brennan replied: “I would expect nothing else from AiG.”

  14. I was did not see the other post or comments but this post was very good. I get very tired of people throwing that ‘you can’t judge’ stuff out there… the Bible says believers will judge the world and even the angels.
    Very good stuff here. It reminded me that we all need to be studying scripture and be ready to give an answer.
    Thanks for sharing.

  15. “They [US Department of Education] don’t educate our kids, they indoctrinate our kids,” he said. “It’s a propaganda machine.”
    http://rt.com/usa/news/ron-paul-usa-education/

  16. jeff elohim

    the video games hurt children of all ages and countries. just like the bad music that churches from tulsa took to russia decades ago during a socalled revival. the russian martyrs, group of pastors, wrote a powerful true letter to the churches in the u.s.a. asking them NOT COME BACK – the bad music used in and during the revivals(the same played at the churches in tulsa) had and did and continued to destroy CHRISTIAN FAMILIES, mainly the teenagers, because of the bad nature of the music(bad origin). so also, the video games – bad origin, bad results. exactly like taking an oral physical posin breaks down the body,thus taking an invisible posin spiritually or mentally or socially or emotionally breaks down the soul.

  17. I don’t know why people get so offended when I don’t let our children play those video games. I don’t and I don’t think its no one’s business. I don’t judge those who do either. Its not of my business. Besides the bible says judge buy the fruit. If I see that it produces bad fruit then I will judge and not let my kids pay the video game.Its like homeschooling for us. I was tired of the bad attitude my middle school girl was coming home with. I was also tire of my 2nd grade daughter coming home almost in tears because someone called her slow. So for me and my family pubic school was not producing the fruit I wanted in my kids.

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