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Bible verses about Judging
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Judgment is the noun form of the verb "to judge." According to Webster's New World Dictionary, it means "a legal decision, order, decree, or sentence given by a judge or law court." This has a number of biblical applications and practical ramifications regarding our conduct. Another facet of judgment is "the ability to come to opinions about things; power of comparing and deciding." In this meaning, synonyms include "discernment," "sagacity," and "good sense."

In a circumstance for which no specific law exists, judgments are usually made on the basis of previously existing laws and/or principles. A clear example of this involved Zelophehad's daughters in Numbers 27:1-11. When Zelophehad died, he left five daughters but no sons. Israel had no specific inheritance laws covering such a circumstance, and Moses did not know what to do. He took it to God and received a judgment. From that point on, that judgment became the law of the land.

God used existing principles involving the closeness of blood relationships, establishing a progressive sequence to cover inheritance. His judgment became the law of the land. He also employed all of the above definitions. He understood the circumstance, compared the various existing principles with the new situation, and wisely made a decree covering this specific instance. Undoubtedly, it became a precedent for subsequent cases.

Judging is the act—the process—of seeing, hearing, reading, sifting, calculating, reckoning, comparing, and evaluating evidence for reaching or determining an opinion or decision. It is one of the most commonly occurring acts in life. In a wide variety of situations, we perform such a process many times a day. We do it so frequently and automatically that we rarely stop to consciously think of the numerous evaluations we make in comparing quality, cost, value, safety, danger, ethics, or morality.

From the time we arise in the morning to begin the day, our minds are processing information to determine what we should do, in what order we do it, how well we do it, and if we will complete it. The process of judging leads to personal judgments, which, in reality, are and become the beliefs, opinions, preferences, and convictions underlying our choices.

How could we possibly not perform such a vital function of life? Taken to an extreme, not to do so would be to drop out of life itself! The very quality of life here and now largely depends upon the quality of our judgments. The better prepared we are to make quality judgments, the greater the probability of success. Is this not the underlying purpose of education?

Of course, learning to make quality judgments ties directly to God's purpose. He shows clearly in such places as Matthew 13:10-17 and I Corinthians 2:6-9 that mankind is blinded to vital elements of His purpose and plan. Thus, salvation is impossible until God reveals these things to us (I Corinthians 2:10-16). At the proper time in each person's life, God reveals the missing elements and then commands him to choose. To make right choices, a person must judge.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Judgment, Tolerance, and Correction


 

Could our judgment of people in whom Christ lives also be somewhat distorted because of carnality still active within us? This is part of the equation. We may be ill-equipped to make a sound judgment because we are unable to recognize godly qualities or to understand the factors involved in another's conduct.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Judgment, Tolerance, and Correction


 

The New Testament instructs us in a number of places not to judge our brother. This does not mean we should not judge at all; a broader view of this subject shows we should be cautious and not condemn. We must judge, because making choices and acting upon them requires judgment. When we must judge a brother, we must remember that we really know very little about his situation. This plays a large role in skewing our judgment.

This is where mercy enters. We must judge people from the inside out, as it were. There are reasons why they—and we—act as we do. If we knew their reason(s), we could much more easily understand, sympathize, forgive, be patient and tolerant toward them—or for that matter, be harder on them if need be. When we take this approach, both justice and mercy are tempered by clearer understanding of another's words, attitudes, and conduct.

A French proverb states, "To know all is to forgive all." This saying is somewhat similar to the more commonly known, "There but for the grace of God go I." They touch upon the general truth that, if we really look inside another person deeply and clearly enough, we begin to see ourselves reflected in them. The circumstances, chronology, and specific situations may be somewhat different, but the human nature expressed in them will be the same. Once we recognize this, it greatly tempers our judgment of the other and almost automatically activates the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Forgiveness or mercy follows.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beatitudes, Part 5: Blessed Are the Merciful


 

Deuteronomy 30:19

This scripture clearly defines an area in which we have a responsibility to judge: To choose life we must judge between alternatives. Most of the judging we are permitted—indeed required—to do involves judging for ourselves which way we should go. But our area of responsibility for judging immediately narrows once we move beyond judging ourselves.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Judging Our Brothers


 

2 Chronicles 19:5-9

Jehoshaphat made a series of reforms in Judah regarding judging that touch on New Testament applications. He charged the judges to fear God and to realize that their judgments were not for man but for the Lord. He furthermore charged the Levites that they were also to judge in the fear of the Lord and to do so faithfully with a perfect heart.

This is important considering our calling. Revelation 5:10 tells us we will become kings and priests. I Corinthians 6:2 clearly states, "Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters?" The context involves settling disputes between church members. Christians, other than the ministry, must judge!

John W. Ritenbaugh
Judgment, Tolerance, and Correction


 

Isaiah 11:1-5

Jesus will not judge according to appearances. He will not pay attention to anecdotal evidence or rumors. Jesus, filled with the Spirit of God, can judge on the basis of true knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.

Staff
Basic Doctrines: Eternal Judgment


 

Isaiah 55:8-9

When we do not think like God, we are not in His image. We cannot say as Jesus did, "He who has seen Me has seen the Father" (John 14:9). God, in His wisdom, has willed that we grow in His image through exercising faith in what He says, buttressed by what He reveals of Himself in His creation.

The fundamental difference between the person of faith and the unbeliever is revealed by the way they judge things. The unbeliever, of the world, judges things by worldly standards, by his senses, and by time. The person learning to think like God brings God into everything, viewing things from His perspective, by His values. He ascertains how the activity, event, or thing looks in terms of eternity. He seriously meditates on God's sovereignty over all things. At times, doing this puts the screws to his trust because the Bible says that God's judgments are "unsearchable . . . and his ways past finding out" (Romans 11:33). Faith holds a person steady.

Because we often do not think like Him, and because we do not have His perfect perspective, we often do not exactly know what God is doing. Only in hindsight do we understand what is occurring in our personal life, to the church, or in the world in the outworking of prophecy. So we must trust Him, and in the meantime weigh what is happening and its possible outcome.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Sovereignty of God: Introduction


 

Hosea 4:11-12

Undoubtedly, the Israelites of Hosea's day were literally getting drunk and involved in harlotry, but for us today the application is spiritual. At the end time, God predicts, His people will be deceived by a force near demoniacal in its deceptive power. Because of their closeness to the world, they will share the great harlot's attitude, "drunk with the wine of her fornication" (Revelation 17:2).

Hosea's word-picture illustrates the effect a drug like alcohol has on a person's mind. Under the influence of alcohol, one's reactions slow, even though the person thinks he has better control. Most fatal accidents in the United States involve automobiles and roughly half of them occur with at least one driver under the influence. In driving while intoxicated, one's ability to make right decisions is severely hampered. Alcohol obscures judgment. When one cannot think clearly, a sound judgment is nearly impossible.

Linked to this inability to make sound judgments is the destruction of inhibitions, modesty and restraint. In addition, alcohol produces a false sense of security and confidence, so people do silly and senseless things while drunk and regret them along with their hangovers.

The same process occurs to a person drunk with the wine of the wrath of this spiritual prostitute. The attitude of this world deprives people of their spiritual judgment and removes their spiritual inhibitions. Their resistance to evil weakens, and they will begin to do things that they vowed they would never do. Like a drunken man's fidelity to his wife is destroyed by wine, so is a Christian's loyalty to God when he imbibes of this world's attitudes. His judgment is shattered.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The World, the Church, and Laodiceanism


 

Amos 5:4-7

The word "justice" used in verse 7 is associated with end-time circumstances in nearly every prophecy where social conditions are described in a nation on the verge of collapse. The Hebrew word is mishpat, translated justice, judgment, or ordinance. Because he is spiritually blind, the Laodicean, too, has lost his ability to judge between right and wrong. He can no longer discern, as the Bible phrases it, "between the clean and the unclean."

God speaks of this lack of judgment in terms of their courtship, their relationship, with Him. Similar to the situation today in the church, Christians need discernment, the ability to distinguish right from wrong, to make true judgments. The Laodicean lacks this ability and it shows in the decisions he makes.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The World, the Church, and Laodiceanism


 

Matthew 7:1

The subject of judging often seems very difficult to grasp. Some use the term "judge" in a generalized way, making assertions such as, "We shouldn't judge one another." Is this true? If we took this to an extreme, we could make no evaluation of whether a person's conduct is acceptable to God, society, or ourselves. Such a totally non-judgmental atmosphere would generate such tolerance that it would be hazardous to life and limb. Nothing would be called into question. Nothing would be wrong.

God never intended any such thing when Jesus said, "Judge not that you be not judged." Again, if taken to an extreme, a person's example, whether good or bad, would have no power to influence behavior in others. Before determining whether we want to imitate or reject how another person acts, we must evaluate—judge—his conduct.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Judgment, Tolerance, and Correction


 

Matthew 7:1-5

We cannot avoid judging. As the stock in trade of the mind, appraisals are inevitable. If we were witnesses to a flagrant violation of law in which innocent people were harmed, could we keep quiet because we are not to judge?

Does not Jesus command us to judge in verse 6? "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." Do we not have to judge who are "dogs" or "swine"? Considering verse 15 ("Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves"), do we not have to judge whether a man is a false minister? Do we not have to reject his teaching based on an appraisal of his fruits?

We must therefore take care to understand clearly what Jesus meant. He obviously did not mean we should not judge at all. Within the context of Luke 6:35-38, Jesus uses "Judge not, and you shall not be judged" to urge us to love our enemies, be merciful, forgiving, and generous. This very greatly modifies Matthew's account, showing that "Judge not . . ." is a warning against self-righteous severity, sharp-tongued criticism, and condemnation. Thus, it is not a command to be absolutely neutral and tolerant regarding moral issues, but a warning to be careful and loving when we judge. We can apply this admonishment to Romans 14:10-13 and James 4:11-12 as well.

There are practical reasons why Jesus would advise us about this. Of prime importance is that even though it is important that we judge rightly, it is even more important that we do not usurp the place of God! "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 14:4).

Paul begins this letter to the Romans calling himself a servant of Jesus Christ. He reminds us that we are all His servants (verses 7-8). A servant does not have the same rights and responsibilities as a master. Though we are permitted the right of making an appraisal of conduct, we are not permitted the right of passing judgment upon a fellow servant. A fellow servant does not stand or fall at the bar of our judgment. The only judgment that matters is the judgment of our mutual Master. If He is satisfied or displeased, He will act in His good time and in His way. To usurp His responsibility is an act of sheer presumption.

This in no way means we cannot approach a brother to inquire about and understand his conduct so that we might know whether our appraisal is correct. Assuming that our intent in questioning him is for his good, why would we even approach him? Would it not be because our evaluation of his conduct had led us to conclude—yes, to judge—that he was in serious moral or spiritual trouble?

John W. Ritenbaugh
Judgment, Tolerance, and Correction


 

Matthew 7:1

Some cite Matthew 7:1 as proof that we should do no judging whatsoever: "Judge not, that you be not judged." Here, the Greek word for "judge" is krino, meaning to condemn, avenge, sentence, or levy a punishment. Christ plainly says that if we condemn others, we will be condemned ourselves. Dangerous territory indeed!

Though it is certainly hazardous to evaluate the problems or sins of others, the context answers the question of whether we are to do so. We are to judge and in every aspect of life, as other scriptures show. Christ continues His thought, in context, by showing that we are to evaluate the deeds of others, but to be very careful with our judgments. We should consider our weaknesses and sins very carefully, to the point of overcoming them, before we make harsh judgments on others. How can we condemn someone else when we may have even bigger problems? He instructs us to remove the hypocrisy and then we can help our brother with his difficulties.

Focusing on the Greek to show that "condemning" defines judgment better than "justice" really makes no difference. The sense of the context is proper evaluation of our own and others' conduct so that proper justice is done. If we wish to use a harsher definition, such as condemnation or damnation, then Christ is saying He will also evaluate us in that light. Major or minor infraction, light or harsh judgment, the outcome is the same: "As you do unto others, so shall it be done unto you!"

Christ's initial statement about judgment cannot be ripped out of context to stand on its own. We must understand it considering His whole explanation, which includes recognition of others' sins and their disposition, but only after overcoming our own faults.

Otherwise, Matthew 7:1 directly contradicts John 7:24 where He uses the same Greek words: "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge [krino] with righteous judgment." Here He says we are to judge, but He mitigates it with instruction on how to judge, just as in Matthew 7. Certainly, we are to analyze—judge—what is right or wrong, based on the mind of God as expressed in His Word. How we apply that judgment to others is critical, for Christ will take the same attitude with us that we take with others.

Like it or not, life forces us to make judgments or decisions about people every day. These may deal with mundane physical things or with friendships or marriages that affect a lifetime. Many have gone through life wishing they had been equipped early in life to render and exercise sounder judgments, for the process of making good calls can be very confusing. It is so easy to dwell on the wrong factors or see only what is on the surface.

Staff
The Weightier Matters (Part 2): Judgment


 

Matthew 7:2

"Be careful," He says. "You are stepping into a minefield when you begin to judge your brother!" Because the dangers are hidden, minefields are especially deadly, and judging beyond our area of authority is just as dangerous. If we ignore the warning and continue pressing forward, judging beyond our authority will blow up in our faces, ripping us to shreds!

Why are we warned so strongly against judging others? In The Complete Word Study Dictionary, p. 892, Spiros Zodhiates writes, explaining the difference between the words krites and dikastes (both meaning "judge"):

Krites, as used of God (Hebrews 10:30; 12:23; James 4:12) involves the inherent power to discern the character of a person. Similarly it is an attribute of Christ in the same manner as it is an attribute of God (Acts 10:42; II Timothy 4:8; James 5:9). On the human level, a krites is one who makes a judgment as to the character and actions of others without receiving such appointment from someone [i.e. God did not give us the authority] whereas dikastes implies a responsibility attributed by society and others. Therefore dikastes is more of a forensic term, a judicial judge, while krites is one who uses his subjective criteria to evaluate others.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Judging Our Brothers


 

Matthew 7:2

Jesus warns us that we will receive the same kind of judgment that we make of others. Do we really want that? That warning ought to sober any thinking person! Do we really believe God when He gives us such a stern warning?

Jesus adds another warning: Our judgment may be distorted because we may have a flaw of far greater magnitude in us than the flaw we observe so critically in our brother. The unspoken intimation is that because the flaw is ours, and we love ourselves, we are willing to be lenient in our self-judgment. By focusing our criticism on another, it enables us to avoid scrutinizing ourselves carefully and critically. Some enjoy correcting others because it makes them feel virtuous, compensating for failures in themselves that they have no desire to face. But the judgment we make about others is in reality the judgment we will receive from God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Judgment, Tolerance, and Correction


 

Matthew 7:3-5

Why might our judgment be out of proportion? One reason is that we can never know all of the facts or the whole person. Humanly, our experience, oversight, and understanding are limited. We must learn to avoid making the kinds of judgments spectators make at sporting events. A fan may be a hundred yards from the playing field, but he will make a judgment as if he were in a perfect position to see every detail of a given play. He feels perfectly justified to criticize the umpire, referee, or player who was right on the spot and involved in the heat of the action.

We never see the whole picture as God does. It is very difficult to know a person's intentions or his strengths and weaknesses. We may have a very unfavorable impression of a person because we saw him perform in his weakest area. Yet, this same person may have unseen strengths in other areas. Each of us is a "mixed bag," and only God has the oversight, insight, experience, wisdom, and love to make a completely fair judgment.

A second and overlapping reason is that it is almost impossible for us to make an impartial judgment. As a result of our experiences, we have built-in biases that color our judgment. John 8:12-16 shows that the Pharisees misjudged Jesus because they had many of the same limitations we do. They judged "according to the flesh," that is, as others have translated this phrase, "by material standards" (Goodspeed), "by the outside" (Moffatt), "after your earthly fashion" (Knox). But even Jesus, though He was qualified to do so (verse 16), says that He was not judging anyone (verse 15). He imposed the same limitation on Himself that He imposes on His followers in Matthew 7:1!

John W. Ritenbaugh
Judgment, Tolerance, and Correction


 

Matthew 7:3-5

Jesus gives us practical instruction on this matter of judging. In a word, we are unqualified. We are not qualified to make these judgments. Setting ourselves up to judge another—even to "help" him in whatever problem he may have—is self-exalting, proud, presumptuous, vain (in terms both of vanity and futility), and as Jesus says, hypocritical because we are guilty of the same problems. In fact, He implies that our problems are worse! They are planks versus specks in the other person's eye.

The great overriding problem here is that it arrogates to ourselves a prerogative of God. He is the Judge. What are we doing taking one of His jobs from Him? In James 4:12, the apostle asks, "Who are you to judge another?" It sounds rather harsh to hear it put that way. "Who are you to take upon yourself the authority to judge this other person?" He says in verse 11, "He who speaks evil of his brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law." That is what happens when we take it upon ourselves to judge another person.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
What's So Bad About Busybodies?


 

Luke 6:6-10

An honest evaluation of what Jesus teaches will show that He gives very few rules, if any, for keeping the Sabbath (or for that matter, for anything). There is a reason for that. For one thing, the rules were already laid down in the Old Testament. Also what He came to do was to magnify the spiritual application of that law, that is, teach and expound the spirit of the law, the intention for the law.

There is hardly a law that He paid more attention to than the Sabbath, magnifying its use. There are at least seven different occasions in the four Gospels in which the Sabbath is the issue, when Jesus magnified its use for us. Every one of them has a theme of redemption in it.

What He teaches us are principles for applying the rules that have already been given in the Old Testament. For some of us, that is kind of disconcerting. We would like to have something like a bus or an airline timetable to take us through life in which every possible avenue is detailed as to exactly how we should go, where we should do something, when we should do it in every possible situation that might arise.

God allowed the Jews to try that. They eventually came up with 1,521 rules concerning the Sabbath, which they felt would cover every situation that one might possibly get into. What God is showing us through Jesus Christ is that this is unnecessary. In short, it does not work, or God would have done it. A person is not free when he is bound to those kinds of regulations.

Living in the twentieth century is not quite the same as living in the first or second centuries. Besides, that approach does negative things to a person's character; it produces an extremely narrow, intolerant, and critical casuist. What Christ did in giving us principles is that He gave us things that will last unalterable to the end of time and allow us to be free. They allow a person not always to do exactly the same thing each time. Every situation has to be judged on its own merit.

What does God want to do with our lives? What is He trying to form? He is creating in us an ability—an expertise—to judge. We are going to be kings and priests (Revelation 5:10). What does a king do? A king judges in civil matters, things that pertain to the community. What does a priest do? A priest also judges, but he judges in things spiritual. God is teaching us how to judge.

How we use the Sabbath is an integral part of His training program, and so He has purposely left out all kinds of details. But what He did through Jesus is magnify things so that we can see the intent. What we are seeing is that the intent for the Sabbath is to free. It is to liberate. It is not to bind people with rules.

There is a risk involved in what God is doing. In one sense, it puts a person at very grave risk. Blundering, foolish, and self-centered as we are, there is a grave danger of taking our liberty and turning it into license to do virtually anything we want. Or, on the other hand, to take our liberty and do as the Jews did, becoming so restrictive that we turn the Sabbath into bondage.

But God has to do that! If we are going to become judges, trained in the purpose that He wants, He has to allow us this liberty to make the judgments. So it is a risk that must be taken if a person is going to grow in judgment and character, so one will be prepared to be a king and a priest, knowing when to act and when not to act. God offers to us His Holy Spirit to give us counsel and to guide. But we must apply the principles in the circumstances of our lives.

In no case did Jesus give any indication of doing away with the Sabbath. Always the examples show Him magnifying the Sabbath's intent by doing an act of freeing someone.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fourth Commandment (Part 3)


 

Luke 12:13-14

Even our Lord and Master Jesus Christ would not go beyond the area of His authority that God had specifically given Him. He was supposed to live His life a certain way, as a man like us, to preach the gospel and found the church, and then to give his life in sacrifice as our Redeemer. But within all these responsibilities, within his sphere of influence, he had not been given at that time the responsibility or the authority to be a judge or an arbitrator in matters such as these.

Therefore, He refused to go beyond the powers and the authority that He had been given.

Had He done this, He would have taken someone else's job. He would have been meddling in the affairs of, say, a justice of the peace, an elder at the gate, or some other person who had been legally entrusted with the job to arbitrate or judge matters such as inheritances. Jesus had no purpose, no right, to put his finger in that pie because God had not given Him that as part of His sphere of influence.

We are told in other places that He has been given the responsibility and authority to be Judge of all. We must all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. But when did that appointment take place? It occurred once He was received up into heaven. It began at that point, legally, because He had qualified to be our Judge. That, however, was after the scene in Luke 12, and it will come into its fullness in the judgment. He is judging us right now; judgment is now on the house of God (I Peter 4:17). But in Luke 12, He had not been given the responsibility to judge. So if He had stepped outside of His given responsibility and authority, He would have been guilty of sin, taking another's responsibility, meddling.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
What's So Bad About Busybodies?


 

Luke 13:1-5

In Luke 13:1-5, Jesus took advantage of two local tragedies to make the point that, in a major way, all sins and all sinners are equal. The incident of the collapsed tower was in all likelihood a time-and-chance accident. However, Jesus alluded to those who died as being sinners, and He implied that those in His audience were also sinners who deserved to die—and would, unless they repented.

What is interesting is a possible reason why Jesus responded as He did to their report of Pilate's action. He seems to have detected in their attitude that they thought that those killed by Pilate deserved to die! The victims were sinners who "got what was coming to them," implying that they themselves were righteous. Jesus' replies that they were just as guilty as those who died! Someone's sudden and violent death is not proof that he is particularly more wicked than others.

Jesus' point is that, while it is not our responsibility to judge the degree of sinfulness of those who die suddenly and violently, it presents us with a golden opportunity to meditate on the state of our character and standing before God. We may be in just as much danger as those we regard as being very wicked!

We live in a world that is given to extremes of judgment. One extreme is to call victims of a random tragedy "innocent," when the Bible shows no such human being exists. They are only innocent of causing the calamity that brought about the sudden end of their life. The other extreme is that human nature has a propensity to judge that those killed in such a circumstance were in reality great and wicked sinners who got what they deserved. This suggests that those making this determination are in good standing with God.

Ours is a topsy-turvy world. We desire with all our being for things to go "right." We want good to be rewarded and evil to be punished. But we find in places like Psalms 37 and 73 that evil men often prosper, live in peace in lovely homes, wear fine clothing, are surrounded by their families, receive acclaim and honors within the community, and die at a good old age. Conversely, the righteous suffer afflictions, are unappreciated, persecuted, demeaned, dishonored, reviled, scattered, and perhaps even cut off in the prime of life!

Some things involving life, judgment, and the out-working of God's purpose are simply beyond our knowing. We also have a very difficult time correctly judging the intent of another person's heart. Thus, God cautions us to be careful.

But He expects us to be able to judge the intent of our own heart correctly. We should know what is going on inside. So often, though, even in this we allow ourselves to deny the evil of our own motivations. We proudly justify ourselves by thinking, "God won't mind. It's just a 'little' sin that won't hurt anybody. And, besides, I need to do this." Is there really innocence in this kind of thinking?

John W. Ritenbaugh
Innocent Victims?


 

John 7:24

Jesus commands us to "judge with righteous judgment." Just a few verses earlier, the Jews who were watching and listening to Him had judged that Jesus had a demon! This is surely one of the most misguided judgments ever made. Why could they not make a better judgment than that? Because they were judging by wrong standards. They could not recognize and thus could not correctly relate to true godliness, even though in the person of Jesus it was lived in their presence and taught them truth.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Judgment, Tolerance, and Correction


 

Romans 2:1-3

The apostle Paul comments on the hypocrisy that often occurs when judging others. This is a clear explanation of Jesus' illustration of a man with a plank in his eye critically pointing out the speck in someone else's (Matthew 7:3-5)!

In the original Greek, "inexcusable" in Romans 2:1 is literally "defenseless." In the spiritual court of law, there is no defense for the actions of a person who commits the same sin of which he accuses another. An interesting aspect of this appears when we understand a more thorough meaning of the word "practice" (prassoo) that occurs later in the verse. It means to perform repeatedly or habitually, to do exactly. We can infer from this that Paul means these accusers have not only committed the particular sin before but are also continuing to commit it!

We cannot properly assess what a righteous standard is if we use others or ourselves—fallible human beings—as the standard. True judgment is according to the truth of God. Paul makes this very point in the next verse: "But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things" (Romans 2:2).

God's righteous judgment is based on truth. This means that His decisions are reached based on reality, on the facts of the case, not on appearances or intentions. It also means He judges without partiality to rank, wealth, station, or position. Finally, it means that He judges against an authoritative and unchanging standard: His own character as revealed in His Word.

Judging our lives according to how others live is a sure way to neglect and ignore serious problems in our own lives. Continuing in verse 3, Paul writes, "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?" God pronounces judgment on those who make a practice of indulging in sin. The apostle makes it quite certain that all sin will be judged. No one will "get away with it."

Some, indulging in self-praise, write their own testimonials to promote themselves because they are full of impatient pride, unable to wait for the acknowledgment and praise of others for their accomplishments. In their own foolishness, these people try to establish their own conduct as the norm and then find great satisfaction in always measuring up to the standard that they have set.

Martin G. Collins
Comparing Ourselves Among Ourselves


 

Romans 6:23

Not a single person would be alive if God responded to sin as carnal man wants to respond to sins that directly affect him. Consider that, in the scenario of killing in self-defense, the one killing is judging that his life is more important than the life he is willing to snuff out. One sinner accounts his life to be of more worth than the life of another sinner. Would God make the same determination?

David C. Grabbe
Does Scripture Allow for Killing in Self-Defense?


 

Romans 14:4

Yes, God has given us a promise of becoming judges, kings, and priests in the World Tomorrow, but He has not given us the authority to be judges now. We are to be making evaluations and learning how to judge. But, right now, unless we have been appointed to a certain position in which such judgments must be made, if we take it upon ourselves to make them, we are stepping into the muck. We have gone beyond our sphere.

He is telling us that, if we decide to take it into our own hands to judge another man's servant (think of it in terms of every other person being God's servant), then we have begun to be presumptuous. We are meddling in another's matters.

Jesus would have been meddling in somebody else's affairs had He decided to arbitrate the dispute in Luke 12:13-14. He would have been what the Bible calls a busybody—someone who is doing something that he has not been called to do or been given the authority to do.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
What's So Bad About Busybodies?


 

Romans 14:7-13

These verses give the proper perspective of our relationship and responsibilities to Christ and our brothers and sisters in the church. Paul wrote this to confront a problem, judging and scorn, that was dividing the church. The counsel he gives fits our circumstances, and if used, it can go a long way toward solving many of our problems. He reminds us first to remember to whom we belong, why we belong to Him, and what responsibility this gives us. We belong to Christ because He died for us, rose from the grave, and now sits at the right hand of God, judging those the Father has called into His church.

We should be acutely aware of this, knowing we are being judged according to what we do. We are to strive with all our being to please Him by living as He lived, not to serve ourselves, but to serve Him and the church. Judging each other does not fall into our area of responsibility. Living according to the Sermon on the Mount does. If we do this, we will not cause any brother to fall. We appear not to be striving hard enough to please Christ, which is why we continue to split.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beatitudes, Part One: The Sermon on the Mount


 

Romans 14:10

The very fact that we are sinning human beings under judgment disqualifies us from judging. Our manner of life in the past has so perverted our judgment that we are incapable of judging with the fairness of God. Our judgment is too subjective to be fair, too influenced by our own experiences to consider all the nuances of another's life to judge without prejudice. Not until after we have lived a life of overcoming and are rid of this body and mind of flesh will we be in a position to judge the lives of others.

Since we are obviously empowered to judge between right and wrong and commanded to choose the right even when evaluating the conduct of others, the judging that God forbids is the passing of judgment against another. In other words, God forbids the handing down of a sentence. It is one thing to call a spade a spade and decide that such an act is evil, but to condemn the person as evil, implying incorrigibility, is stepping into the minefield.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Judging Our Brothers


 

1 Corinthians 2:9-16

The verb Paul uses in verse 10, translated "revealed" (Greek apokalupto), is a strong term, usually used in the New Testament to indicate divine revelation of certain supernatural secrets or with the resurrection and judgment of certain people and events. These verses in I Corinthians 2 stress the work of the Holy Spirit in revealing the wisdom of God.

In verse 14, the verb anakrino, translated "discerned," is the same verb translated "judges" and "judged" in verse 15. The idea in each case is to make intelligent, spiritual decisions. Anakrino, though meaning "examine," includes the decision following the examination.

Members of God's church are to examine all things ,including our own lives, with the help of God's Spirit, and then we are to make an evaluation as to what our strengths and weaknesses are. Then we decide what we are going to do about them. No one in the world has a right to examine and evaluate us on spiritual matters because, without the Holy Spirit, they canno rightly and justly understand or evaluate. There is no need to feel slighted or put down by anyone in the world who disagrees with God's truth or with your obedience to God's truth. The same holds true in all judgments and criticisms from the world - that is, those without God's Holy Spirit - who try to tell us our doctrines are wrong.

This is a major reason the Worldwide Church of God went into apostasy, because the leaders believed and accepted the criticisms of the worldly churches. They accepted judgment from people without God's Holy Spirit and from organizations without a spiritual foundation of truth.

The mainstream Christian churches are worldly, are not led by people with the Holy Spirit, and they do not base their doctrines on truth. Two cases in point: neither the Sunday Sabbath nor the being that is called the Holy Spirit of the Trinity can be proven honestly and truthfully with God's written Word. Do not be fooled by mainstream Christianity's false piety! They are not God's people. They are not baptized members of God's church. They do not have God's Holy Spirit. This is not to say that there are not wonderful people in some of these churches in the world. In addition, when they do follow some of God's laws, blessings will automatically accrue to them.

Martin G. Collins
The Law's Purpose and Intent


 

1 Corinthians 4:1-5

Paul, embroiled in a situation where he was being judged for the way he conducted his affairs as God's apostle, gives some excellent advice. Passing judgment on someone based on our narrow perspective and subjectivity is an exercise in futility and vain, with nothing of spiritual value to be gained from it. That is why God does not want us doing it. Its prime motivator is to elevate (cf. verse 6) or justify the self.

Paul did not even pass judgment on himself! He certainly examined himself because he wrote to this same church, "Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Prove yourselves" (II Corinthians 13:5). Then why did he say he did not judge himself? Because we all are saved by grace through faith. We certainly are not saved by our own favorable judgment of our conduct. Though he could find nothing wrong with his conduct in this situation, he still would not step into Christ's area of authority as Judge. Even his blamelessness did not justify him.

Many things we judge in others are trivial and sometimes extremely "picky." Many situations do not involve sin at all but simply different ways of doing things. We tend to pounce on situations or characteristics that will hardly mean a thing a year from now—and certainly will matter nothing in a thousand years. There may be nothing wrong with pointing them out to someone concerned, but why focus on them to the point we pass judgment on the person?

John W. Ritenbaugh
Judging Our Brothers


 

1 Corinthians 4:5

It is apparent that there are things to be judged and things not to be judged. We must judge, but we are permitted to carry that judgment only so far. If the judgment is carried farther than God permits, we have gone beyond the bounds of our authority and intruded into someone else's—likely God's.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Judging Our Brothers


 

1 Corinthians 5:3-5

Judging is a necessary part of life in the church. These verses show the apostle Paul's judgment of the man who was openly sinning while fellowshipping with the Corinthian congregation. Paul not only judged, he judged on the basis of the testimony and judgment of others he trusted! He then disfellowshipped the man without hearing the man's own testimony! This is the same man who wrote in Romans 14, "Who are you to judge another's servant?" (verse 4) and "But why do you judge your brother?" (verse 10). He obviously strongly believed that when the spiritual and moral integrity of a congregation was threatened by blatant sin, judgment was necessary.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Judgment, Tolerance, and Correction


 

1 Corinthians 5:12-13

The apostle John writes, "He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked" (I John 2:6). Just as Jesus Christ refrained from judging the world until the proper time, so also the brethren of God's church must not render judgments on men until God's appointed time.

When is this appointed time? The same as Christ's time to judge! Daniel writes, "[The false church persecutes the saints] till that the Ancient of Days hath come, and judgment is given to the saints of the Most High, and the time hath come. . ." (Daniel 7:22, Young's Literal Translation). This squares perfectly with Revelation 5:10: "And [You] have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth." When our Savior returns and grants us jurisdiction over the world, we will judge it!

In obedience to Christ, the saints must restrain themselves from passing judgment on the world until the time set by God. The saints have no authority or power at this time to sit in judgment over others' lives. But when the time is right, they will judge.

Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life? (I Corinthians 6:2-3)

Paul castigates the Corinthians for taking each other to court for matters they should be learning how to judge and resolve among themselves. Yes, he says, we should be learning to judge now because we will one day make far greater judgments, but we have no power to do so now: "For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside [the church]? Do you not judge those who are inside? But those who are outside God judges" (I Corinthians 5:12-13).

The future kings and priests of God must learn judgment in their own lives and inside the body of the church. Paul writes, "For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged [by God]" (I Corinthians 11:31). God is judging those in His church today: "For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God" (I Peter 4:17). He is also teaching us how to judge: "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment" (John 7:24; see Matthew 7:1-5). But He has given us no permission or commission to judge the world—those who are outside the church—at this time. That time will come soon enough if we learn to judge ourselves now.

Therefore, we should leave the matter of judging people for their crimes in the hands of the world's governments. God has allowed men to set up various governing bodies, and they have jurisdiction for now (Romans 13:1-4). Though we live in the world, we are not of it (John 17:11, 16), so we should not become involved in its judgments.

God commands His church to stay separate from the world: "Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord" (II Corinthians 6:17). Like dedicated soldiers during wartime, we have no time and it is not our place to become entangled in the affairs of civilian life (II Timothy 2:4). Like representatives of a heavenly government (II Corinthians 5:20), we have no business involving ourselves in matters of a foreign state, though we live here and enjoy its benefits.

Our commission is to pursue perfection in the sight of God during the short span of years allotted to us (Matthew 5:48; II Corinthians 7:1). We should be busy striving toward becoming "a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:13). Christ, when He walked this earth, leaving us an example, did not judge the world. Neither should we.

Staff
Why Should Christians Refuse Jury Duty?


 

1 Corinthians 6:2

He is saying that, if we are going to have this great responsibility of judging the world, we should be practicing it in our own lives—judging our small, personal matters right now.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
What's So Bad About Busybodies?


 

1 Corinthians 11:1

How can one imitate both Christ and Paul unless he can discern they are both living by the same code of behavior? How can one study God's Word for instruction in righteousness without self-evaluation? The Bible instructs us, "Test all things; hold fast what is good" (I Thessalonians 5:21). Doing this requires judgment, discerning what is good from evil.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Judging Our Brothers


 

Philippians 3:17

Paul also writes in I Corinthians 11:1, "Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ." These verses clearly invite the brethren to observe the apostle's conduct, judge if it conforms to the life Christ lived and taught, and choose to live that way as well.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Judgment, Tolerance, and Correction


 

2 Thessalonians 1:7-10

The day is coming soon when God will punish those who break His laws and reject His Word. When Christ returns to stand upon the Mount of Olives, He will begin settling accounts (Matthew 25:19), bringing with Him both punishment and reward (Isaiah 61:2-3; Matthew 25:31-46).

Christ did not come to judge the world when He was born, lived, and died as a human 2,000 years ago. "He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead" (Acts 10:42) "will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom" (II Timothy 4:1). When confronted by the scribes and Pharisees with the woman caught in adultery, Jesus does not condemn her, but instead tells her to "sin no more" (John 8:1-11). His time as Judge of all had not yet come.

Later, He plainly tells the Pharisees, "I judge no one" (verse 15). Though they were guilty of hypocrisy and many other sins—which He severely castigated them for—He does not judge the Pharisees either. He made no move to stop them from continuing in their evil ways.

The Pharisees completely misunderstood His mission. They did not interpret the prophecies in Isaiah 61:1-3 and Malachi 3:1 to mean that Messiah must make two appearances on earth—at two different times, for two different reasons. When Jesus came the first time 2,000 years ago, He made it very clear that He would come again (Matthew 16:27; Luke 21:27; John 14:3).

In His first appearance, He came to deliver a message from His Father, the good news of the coming Kingdom of God on this earth (Mark 1:14-15). He also came as a Lamb to be sacrificed for our sins and make eternal life possible for us (I Peter 2:21-24). During this appearance, He refrained from judging the world before its time. At His second coming in power and glory as King of kings, one of His major responsibilities will be to judge the world and take vengeance.

Staff
Why Should Christians Refuse Jury Duty?


 

James 3:2-10

For years, I read these scriptures, and I always thought, "I'm not starting forest fires with my words. I'm not viciously devouring people like a roaring beast. I can take this in stride and not worry so much about examining this. After all, these examples are for the extremes: the Adolf Hitlers, the serial criminal minds, the hardened and bitter sinners who retreat from humanity. This isn't me!"

God sometimes focuses our minds on the things we are guilty of by allowing us to experience the same behaviors from others. David did not see himself as he was behaving and affecting others until Nathan described to him another man's behavior (II Samuel 12:1-4). David was so outraged by the man's gross actions and attitude that he, as king, declared the death penalty on him (verses 5-6). Had this been an actual individual, chances are David would have pursued the matter to see the man brought to justice! However, the man he judged as worthy of death was none other than himself (verse 7).

We experience similar lessons. We are at times brought into the company of people who are offensive to us, whose behavior hurts us, and whose words can cut us and wound us, because something in the experience will teach us what we need to learn. God is allowing us to experience ourselves.

We chuckle at times, observing how someone known for gossiping will howl in dismay when he is gossiped about, or how a person often critical of others is intolerant of criticism directed toward himself. We say about teasing, "Don't give it unless you can take it!" Similarly, we enjoy people who are warm and friendly, and we feel warm and friendly when we are around them. Happy people tend to attract other happy people, while bitter or angry people often find another unhappy person with whom they can share their complaints.

A deeper principle can be employed here: If we look at others' behaviors, we can learn to see ourselves. Job's friends had this opportunity. They saw Job going through his calamities, how miserable he was, and in their care for him, they did their best to find his fault and help him solve his dilemma. In the end, God simply dismissed these three friends and all their long-winded speeches because they failed to recognize the very thing God gave them opportunity to see: They failed to see themselves in Job.

Job was not singled out for this experience because he was Job. He represents mankind, blinded by himself and unable to see the reality of God. Even today, many centuries later, we examine the life and thoughts of Job in an effort to see ourselves in his shoes; we try to learn from his experience by exposing the same faults within us. This aids us by allowing us both to see what we might miss and to change what is incompatible with our Creator.

How often do these opportunities emerge for us to see ourselves in the actions of others? In the past decade, we have had many opportunities to witness the effects of deceitful men upon trusting and unsuspecting people. We have seen people shift allegiances and loyalties but deny doing so by their words. We have seen couples speak words of lifelong devotion only to cast them aside for a new attraction. We have seen friends and family who expressed the deepest of commitments to one another both deny those relationships and turn against one another. We have seen hearts broken by sarcasm and neglect. We have seen the crushing effects of criticism upon those needing reassurance and encouragement.

Most of us do not escape life without being deeply touched by such actions from others. But how incredibly sobering it is to see ourselves in these actions of others, to realize that we are guilty of the very things that may have hurt us deeply! We, too, are responsible for spreading the flames of a fire that devours and destroys all in its path. The evil of our tongues is as limitless as the evil James describes.

A sharp tongue is a weapon, no less as effective as a pointed spear or a sword honed to a razor's edge. A sharp tongue has no place among the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). It does not express love, spread joy or promote peace. It shows no patience, kindness or goodness in its words. It betrays faithfulness and gentleness, and most of all, it shows no measure of self-control.

My sharp tongue has been a contradiction to the convictions I have expressed nearly all my life. I never saw it until I had to come face to face with the jabs, slices, and pricks of other sharp tongues, and to feel the fires they started within me. I would beg the Father for understanding, of why such communication should exist and why I should receive it with such bitterness—until I finally saw, as David did, that I am the guilty one.

Staff
Are You Sharp-Tongued? (Part One)


 

James 4:11-12

Does not the law say to "love your neighbor as yourself" (Matthew 22:39)? If we speak evil of a brother, we are indirectly impugning the law that commands us to love our brother. By doing so, we are actually passing judgment on the God who inspired the Bible to read, "Love your neighbor as yourself." God Himself is quite capable of passing judgment on those responsible for keeping His law!

John W. Ritenbaugh
Judging Our Brothers


 

Revelation 3:14

Jesus Christ calls Himself "the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness. . . ." We say, "Amen," at the end of a prayer. What is "amen"? It affirms that the prayer is true and one agrees with it. Here Jesus is the Amen. Descriptive terms follow it to help us understand—He is a "Faithful and True Witness." Christ is the faithful and true witness of God—His example is an exact representation of what God would be like if He were a man. Already, He is contrasting Himself with the Laodicean and what He finds so distasteful. They are faithless in carrying out their responsibilities to Christ. They are lukewarm—good for nothing but vomiting.

We have been called to be witnesses. Through the prophet Isaiah, God says, "[Y]ou are My witnesses . . . that I am God" (Isaiah 43:12). He has made witnessing our responsibility. We witness with our lives, but the Laodicean fails miserably as a witness because he is so worldly. The only witness Christ gets out of him is that he is worldly, which is spiritually useless.

The illustration described here is as if the Laodiceans were on trial and Christ, the Faithful and True Witness, is testifying against them. As the Source of all creation, He is not fooled by their diplomacy and compromise: He sees their witness is unfaithful and untrue. In fact, the word Laodicea means "judgment of the people," and the entire letter is a study in contrasting judgments, the Laodicean's and God's. The physical man looks at his material and social circumstances and evaluates himself as spiritually sound. On the other hand, the spiritual God looks at the same person and sees spiritual poverty.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The World, the Church, and Laodiceanism


 

Revelation 3:17

The Laodicean may not necessarily say these things consciously, but he broadcasts it for all to see by his works and way of life! He thinks he lives in his "golden years." Being blind to his own spiritual poverty, however, is the real tragedy of his situation. He thinks he is in good standing with God. Christ judges differently, very concerned that the Laodicean cannot see his spiritual condition. He is spiritually bereft.

Christ describes the Laodicean as "poor." Biblically, "poor" does not mean the same as our normal English usage of the word. It indicates someone who is weak, with no consideration of how wealthy he may be. To God, the Laodicean is spiritually weak, when he thinks he is strong.

Next, he is "blind." Of course, this is not physical blindness but a lack of spiritual comprehension or judgment. Just as a blind person cannot use his eyes to judge a circumstance, the Laodicean is unaware, unknowing, unobservant, uncomprehending, and heedless.

Christ also judges him as "naked." Clothing—or its lack—illustrates a person's state of righteousness, and here it shows converted people who are still carnal, as Paul called the Corinthians (I Corinthians 3:3). The Laodicean is dominated by his fleshly attitudes. Physically oriented, he is governed by human nature, rather than by God.

"Wretched and miserable" together provide further descriptions of "poor, blind, and naked." Because they are poor, blind, and naked, they are wretched and miserable, even though they have not realized it. Miserable has been translated elsewhere as "pitiful" or "pitiable." Wretched is especially interesting. In other places in the New Testament, it indicates destitution because of war. God means that while they may be wealthy, they are losing the spiritual war against Satan and their carnal nature.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The World, the Church, and Laodiceanism


 

Revelation 11:1

Measuring is "judging against a standard." When we measure a thing, we take something with a fixed proportion - like a length or a weight that is known or standardized - and we compare it to whatever we are trying to quantify or measure. We see how it measures up: how long it is, how wide it is, how tall it is, how heavy it is, etc. We can also see if it fits a pattern or a template that is necessary for the item to do its part. In our case, one can see if he is fit for the Kingdom of God.

"For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God" (I Peter 4:17). We are being measured, judged, against a standard. "The house of God" is another way of saying "the temple of God," the phrase used here. Judgment begins at the house of God, and the Two Witnesses are given the responsibility of measuring the Temple of God. The two verses are saying basically the same thing. Note, the Two Witnesses are not actually doing the judging - Christ is, for that is His job. The Two Witnesses' responsibility is to explain the basis for the measurements. In other words, it is their job to show what the standard is, to let people know what they should be measuring up to.

Their job is similar to Amos' vision of the plumb line (Amos 7:7). The plumb line can be said to be slightly different because it is used to measure verticality - to see whether something is standing up straight, or to use a more "religious" term, to see if it is "upright." A plumb line is a weight suspended on a string. When it stops swaying like a pendulum, the string is perfectly vertical. When a workman puts it next to something like a wall or post that needs to be vertical, he can tell whether his wall or post is out of plumb or not.

That idea is present here in Revelation 11:1. How close do we meet the standard? How upright are we? How fit are we for the Kingdom of God? Finding the answers to these questions is part of the Two Witnesses' job. Remember that the work of the church is essentially done by this time. This preaching of the standard is a work that the ministry of the church has been given to do in every time, but maybe not to this extent. In any event, the Two Witnesses, at this time of the end, are the only ones able to do this job in a major way.

It is possible that this part of their ministry begins, however, before the Seven Thunders cease. In fact, it is a pretty good bet that they will already be involved in ministry before the Tribulation begins. Then God will say, "Okay, now it's time for you to do your real job." They will then begin their prophesied ministry, which will be quite intense.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The Two Witnesses (Part 2)


 

Find more Bible verses about Judging:
Judging {Nave's}
 




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