Truth Before Dishonor

I would rather be right than popular

The Bible Says Don’t Judge, Right?

Posted by John Hitchcock on 2011/05/15


Wrong. The Bible definitely does not say “don’t judge.”

I have heard that argument countless times, as far back as my school days in the 1970s, nearly always as a defense for something worthy of judging. And most of the time, the argument has come from non-Christians, who know just enough about the Bible to be dangerous, in an attack against Christians. There have been times where I have heard that argument repeated by Christians themselves, who do not know enough about Providence’s Word to know better.

I can accept this ignorance from a new Christian (do look up the term “ignorance” before flaming me) and use it as a teachable moment, but I have little patience for such ignorance from an old Christian. And no patience at all for such a dishonest attack from a non-Christian (or anti-Christian). The Bible says “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. ” (2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV))* And this is why I can accept the ignorance of a new Christian and not an old Christian. A new Christian hasn’t had the opportunity to study but the old Christian, indeed, has. And the non-Christian, and more accurately the anti-Christian depends on the Christian having not studied. If the Christian studies the Bible, he will more readily withstand the withering attacks of the anti-Christian. And he will more readily be able to aid in the understanding of the truly interested non-Christian.

“Study to show yourself approved to Providence, a workman that does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of Truth.” As your effort to understand Providence’s Word moves forward, you will automatically start judging matters, as is proper. Already, in this single verse, the Bible says to judge. You are to judge what is true and what is false, so you will not have shame heaped on you. And you cannot do that judging without studying first.

As you went through school, you had to study all sorts of material. When in literature classes, you were taught to examine material based on context. You could not take a single line from a poem or novel out of its environment to make a statement that did not comport with the rest of the poem or novel. That single line had to be understood based on everything around it. History is the same way. The actions of a historical person cannot be understood in a vacuum. The time during which the person lived is critical, as are the events surrounding the person. Likewise, it is impossible to properly understand a verse in the Bible without understanding the context. And the “don’t judge” crowd depends on your not understanding context, as they take a single verse out of context and dement it for their purposes. Satan himself used scripture to tempt Jesus and Jesus responded with more scripture (Matthew 4:5-7). So if Satan can dishonorably use scripture for his desires, non-Christians and anti-Christians can likewise do so. “Study to show yourself approved.”

But the Bible says ‘Do not judge, lest you be judged,’ doesn’t it?

That, indeed, is the verse that non-Christians and anti-Christians use most frequently to attack Christians in my experience. Remember that context thing? This is why you need to “study to show yourself approved.” It is because that verse is lifted completely out of context, ignoring the very next verse and ignoring the rest of the Bible. Anti-Christians absolutely depend on your not knowing the Bible. If you actually know the Bible, you can defeat their dishonest arguments. So, what is that portion of scripture?

Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” (Matthew 7:1 (NIV))*

Let’s look at this verse by itself. “Don’t judge or you’ll be judged.” The corollary to that would be “You won’t be judged if you don’t judge.” Now, how many of you believe that corollary? You can murder your neighbors, rape people, steal from businesses, abuse your spouse, neglect your children and as long as you never pass judgment on anyone else, you won’t stand before Providence and be judged for your actions. Right? Or is that a ridiculous statement? Of course, that’s a ridiculous statement. “And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:12, 15 (NIV))* Obviously, everyone is judged. So there must be a different meaning. And it can be found in the context.

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Matthew 7:1,2) The same way you judge others, you’ll be judged. Compassion plays a role here: If you judge without compassion, you will be judged without compassion. If you convict someone of the sin of eating a triple whopper with bacon on a Friday during Lent in your heart, and you do the same thing, you will be convicted of that sin. (Understand, I am not a Catholic so I do not know all the Catholic rules during Lent.) If you believe something is a sin and you do it anyway, you have sinned. Even if your belief is wrong, because you sinned in your heart. But that’s a tangent.

But I’ve stepped ahead of myself to some extent. I have given partial context to that verse and introduced an idea based on further context.

Continuing on: “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:3-5) This is another section of scripture non-Christians and anti-Christians use to attack Christians. Unfortunately, while their motives are often impure, their accusations are often accurate. But they rarely understand this is tied to verse 1 (and verse 2, which they ignore completely). If you accuse someone of gluttony for eating a double quarter pounder with cheese while you’re eating a 42 ounce porterhouse, you’re ignoring the beam in your eye while picking at a splinter in the other person’s eye. “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (verse 2)

Based on the context I’ve given you, you should be able to clearly see the Bible does not, after all, demand that you not judge. The Bible actually demands you to not be hypocritical in your judging and warns you will be judged on your judging.

Okay, so the Bible doesn’t say not to judge anyone. But it does warn people who are judging others. Obviously, the Bible doesn’t promote judging others, right?

Wrong. The Bible actually tells Christians to actively judge. The Old Testament is full of judging and commands to judge. Even the passage I have already discussed tells Christians to judge. The passage that has the two sections non-Christians and anti-Christians know best and use against Christians. That passage tells us to judge.

“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.” (Matthew 7:6) Is there any way to follow this command without judging others? Absolutely not. You have to know who would be the “dogs” and who would be the “pigs.” And you cannot do so without judging them first.

“It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his father’s wife. And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this? Even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. And I have already passed judgment on the one who did this, just as if I were present. When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.

Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.

I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.

What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. ‘Expel the wicked man from among you.'” (1 Corinthians 5)

There is a very large amount of judging of someone who claims to be a Christian and a very large amount of demanding the judging of someone who claims to be a Christian. It is very clear we are actually required to judge others, contrary to what anti-Christians argue in bad faith.

For more information, you might want to examine this, where, near the bottom, I touched on another passage requiring the judgment of others who claim to be Christian.

*I prefer the New International Version (NIV) (1980s) translation because it is more readable for me, but the King James Version (KJV) is the more accurate translation from the original languages.

(Originally published 03132010 but brought to the top due to search engine interest.)

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5 Responses to “The Bible Says Don’t Judge, Right?”

  1. JudgeRight said

    Awesome presentation, better than the one I’ve been arguing for years. Keep up the great work and allow me to help you get known. At one time I had nearly one thousand hits in a day. That isn’t the case these days, however people who can help spread your post are in my neighbors list. With your permission, I would like to cross-post this article to my blog.

  2. JudgeRight, if you give me credit and linkage, you may do so.

  3. [...] published 03132010 but brought to the top due to search engine interest.) _______ Cross-Post Share and Enjoy: Sphere: Related ContentRelated postsExamples of Really Bad ApologeticsG.K. [...]

  4. Dana Pico said

    I’d suggest something that you omitted, from the Pater Noster, or the Lord’s Prayer as our separated brethren :) call it: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us.” We are, Jesus said, to be judged in the same vein as we have judged others, to be treated in the same manner as we have treated others.

    Many Christians somehow seem to think that the New Testament throws the Old in the garbage can. For example, our friends on the Wilde side think that, because Leviticus 18:22 is not specifically repeated in the New Testament, it somehow means nothing, yet they manage to miss 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. Oh, but wait, those were Paul’s words, not Jesus’, so they don’t really county, do they . . . until they read Matthew 5:17-18.

    But they don’t even do that, do they?

    You say that you can understand how a recent convert might not know all that much about Christianity or the Bible, but you can’t understand how an “old” Christian couldn’t. The answer is simple: most people, most Christians even, have a caricature of Jesus in their minds, a vision of him as they want him to be or think he must be, rather than actually reading and learning about him. To actually know what Jesus taught us is to realize just how wrong we were.

    To me, the most blatant example is that of V Gene Robinson, the Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire. An open homosexual, he divorced his wife and started shacking up with a man. Even if you somehow persuade yourself that our Lord would consider a homosexual relationship to somehow count as a marriage, the Bible clearly gives us the requirements to be a bishop, one of which is to have been married only once. (1 Timothy 3:2) The Episcopal Church flouted every rule in the book, the book, because they put their social agenda and their caricature of Jesus above what they were certainly educated enough to know.

  5. Yes, I’ve heard the argument “I live in the New Testament and not the Old Testament” before. I’ve also heard the argument “Paul was not a Disciple so his words mean nothing” before. It is interesting, isn’t it, that the Old Testament lays down the law and the definition of sin so a person can know what is sinful and what isn’t. To reject the Old Testament is to eliminate a plethora of sins from consideration and to reject the foundation of righteous living.

    I like the word-picture “The Old Testament is a mirror and the New Testament is a comb.” You cannot tell if you need a comb unless you use the mirror to see yourself. And you cannot properly comb your wild hair unless you see your reflection. Oh, you could do a “once over” without a mirror but you will not be doing a proper job of it.

    Or you could consider the Old Testament to be the foundation and the New Testament to be the superstructure. Neither can properly protect you from the storm outside without depending on the other.

    With the rejection of Paul’s writings, it is my own personal belief there are two groups. You have one group of people who want to wallow in their own sin and excuse their behavior by rejecting Paul’s words (as they already rejected the whole of the Old Testament (most of the Bible)) and you have a second group of people naive enough and un-studied enough to follow the first group’s false teachings. It goes back to “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. ” (2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV)) Oops, Paul wrote that.

    Those who actually study the Bible as they should will reject the teachings of people who reject 80 percent (or more) of the Bible. (Note: the Jehovah’s Witnesses have a version of the “Bible” that does not at all match up with the translation from the original language, thus they are automatically handicapped in their attempts to study.)

    Please excuse the simplicity of this next bit and use it as a framework for discussion.

    The Jews are the only nationality I am aware of that is simultaneously a nationality and a “religion.” The Church was originally Jewish. The Gentile branch of the Church was grafted onto the Jewish tree and eventually became larger than the Jewish tree itself. The Apostles of Christ were originally the 11 Disciples of Christ (and not the denomination that carries that name) who did not act traitoriously. The Apostle Paul was grafted onto the Apostle tree. And the Apostle Paul was the greatest key in grafting the Gentiles onto the Jew tree. Rejecting the Old Testament, which is Jewish, and rejecting Paul, who is the major key in the graft, means rejecting all Christian roots and foundations. That means not being Christian.

    When the Second Coming occurs, before the Tribulation, there will be many (little “c”) churches which will remain intact with their pastors while the (big “C”) Church is called away. It is because they didn’t study to show themselves approved and rejected Biblical teaching to follow the ways of the world and the god of this world. (2 Corinthians 4:4) (Isn’t it interesting how the Mohammedans call Allah the god of this world?) Adherents of Black Liberation Theology, which is anti-Christian and Socialist, and of many mainstream denominations will find out too late that they should have studied to show themselves approved instead of having their ears tickled.

    For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. — 2 Timothy 4: 3,4

    I need to challenge you on a point, though. You spoke of qualifications to be a Bishop.

    [T]he Bible clearly gives us the requirements to be a bishop, one of which is to have been married only once. (1 Timothy 3:2)

    Ooh! Here is why I gave a very specific declaration of which NIV translation I prefer! The New NIV translation has more than one fatal flaw and my research into your statement showed this fatal flaw. The New NIV translation of 1 Timothy 3:1-13:

    1 Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. 2 Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. 5 (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. 7 He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.

    8 In the same way, deacons are to be worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. 9 They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons.

    11 In the same way, the women are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything.

    12 A deacon must be faithful to his wife and must manage his children and his household well. 13 Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus. (From Bible Gateway)

    From my own 1985 Zondervan NIV Bible:

    1 Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. 2 Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. 5 (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) 6 He must not be a recent cnvert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. 7 He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.

    8 Deacons, likewise are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. 9 They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons.

    11 In the same way, their wives are to be women worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything.

    12 A deacon must be the husband of but one wife and must manage his children and his household well. 13 Those who have served well gain an ecellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.

    Do note the majorly bastardized version in the New NIV compared to the 1985 NIV. I thought this was the text you were referring to, but the new NIV gave me major doubts. Good thing I already knew about the bastardization process with NIV!

    The KJV (from BibleGateway) of the same scripture:

    1This is a true saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.

    2A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;

    3Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;

    4One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;

    5(For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)

    6Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.

    7Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

    8Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;

    9Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.

    10And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless.

    11Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.

    12Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.

    13For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.

    Again, the KJV is the more accurate translation and the 1985 NIV is the more readable, while the new NIV is bastardized. But that’s a major tangent (while one to be very mindful of). The point is what I presume to be the Catholic reading of that scripture compared to what is likely a Protestant reading. “Of but one wife” does not mean to me “only married once” because there are permissible reasons to be divorced. (Your spouse committed adultery or your unbelieving spouse divorced you.) Those reasons to be divorced allow you to remarry. And if you remarry, you have but one wife — your former wife no longer being your wife.

    But the scripture clearly states that a deacon or overseer (Bishop in various denominations) is a man and has one wife (unless a bachelor). There is no room for a female Deacon or Bishop (Deaconess would be the wife of a Deacon in certain denominations, and fully acceptable as she is the wife of a Deacon and not a Deacon herself). Likewise there is no room for a male Deacon or Bishop to have a husband or to have dalliances. Especially since the Bible very clearly says homosexuality is an abomination and very clearly declares such acts the rejection of the natural for the unnatural.

    Those who “study to show [themselves] approved” cannot, under any circumstances, accept practicing homosexuals as members of the (big “C”) Church, much less leaders.

    The fact there are more and more denominations and factions which reject the teachings of Providence for their own ticklish ears and the fact there are more and more translations of the Bible which have been bastardized means a couple things (more, really): It is imperative you study to show yourself approved and you learn what is real and what is bastardized, and the End Times are nigh.

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