Sunday, November 17, 2013


If you were to ask me which Bible verse I considered to be the most widely misquoted, I would unhesitatingly answer, Matthew 7:1. What does it say? “Judge not lest you be judged!”

Too many folk quote this verse off by heart without understanding anything of its original meaning. Why did Jesus say this? Does being a disciple of the Lord really mean that you are not allowed to think for yourself and judge spiritual judgment? It would help a lot if we read the context of the verse in question, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with whatever judgment you judge, you shall be judged; and with whatever measure you measure, it shall be measured to you again. And why do you behold the mote that is in your brother’s eye but don’t consider the beam that is in your own eye? Or how will you say to your brother, “Let me pull out the mote from your eye”; and behold, a beam is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the beam of your own eye, and then you shall see clearly to cast the mote out of your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:1-5).

Once we read the passage in its entirety, then the expression, “Judge not lest you be judged” doesn't seem too difficult to understand. What Jesus was hitting out against was a spirit that condemns others for faults and sins in which the accuser himself (or herself) was guilty of. If you live a secret life of sin and iniquity, who are you to dare to speak out against anyone else’s sin in public? That is the height of hypocrisy! Once you've got rid of the beams from your eye, then you can judge righteous judgment (as John 7:24 commands) and discern by the Spirit of the Lord.

The great problem with misquoting this verse is that we are very subtly doing away with any form of judgment in the Christian faith; a very anti-biblical idea. Jesus spoke these words, but remember that He Himself is the Almighty Judge (1 Peter 4:5) who will send His angels to cast apostates into everlasting hell-fire. His ferocious words directed against the Pharisees and religious elite of first-century Palestine were undeniably judgmental (just like the words of all the Old Testament prophets). He said if you don’t repent of your sins, then you will perish. Now that’s not a very ‘loving’ message according to our new brand of user-friendly faith; but it doesn't matter what a smooth-as-butter religious organization says, it’s the Word of God that counts. Your eternal destiny depends upon the Lord; not tongue-twisting and manipulative man-made ministry. I've watched so-called evangelical preachers giving television interviews afraid of affirming dogmatically that Jesus Christ is the only Way of salvation. They've wrought more evil than good thanks to their lack of biblical judgment.

If judgment is forbidden to saints, then who was Paul to judge the case of incest at Corinth (1 Corinthians 5)? Who gave Peter the right to accuse Ananias and Sapphira of lying (Acts 5)?  The man of God Chrysostom wrote that we are to correct one another, but not as an enemy seeking revenge, rather as a doctor looking to heal. The right spirit must possess our judgment.  We judge according to the Scriptural standard and, by doing this, we are spared from deception and obey the mandate of God. We judge to obey God; not to defame rebels.

Let’s translate all this into a practical example: a man in your church pulpit is preaching heretical doctrine. Suppose he says (like many reprobates do today), “God is not a Triune God; there is no personal distinction in the Godhead. Forget all about the Father, Son and Holy Ghost,” or maybe, “Jesus Christ is not God manifest in the flesh,” how do you respond? Do you just sit back and say, “Oh well, I’ll not do anything, after all, I’m not called to judge!”? Who would be so foolish as to allow the glory of God to be thus blasphemed? Would you let a girl be raped in front of your eyes and then say, “I didn't intervene because I didn't want to judge the situation. I’m too loving a person!”

God calls us to “prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). If you don’t test and judge according to the Word of God, then you are going to be deceived. In the latter day apostasy, many men are going to be handed over to strong delusions that they should believe a lie. Why? Paul answers, “That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thessalonians 2:12). That’s fierce language, but it only goes to show the pressing and urgent need for Biblical judging of all teachings and actions. Therefore, judging biblically, far from being a mere archaic concept that was only valid for previous generations, is the only assurance of our spiritual survival in these coming years ahead.

So let us correct those around us that constantly misquote Matthew 7:1. Jesus has not called you to take your brains out; He calls you to judge righteous judgment and to make sure that you are not caught up in the same falsehood and sin that you rebuke in others. That way we will avoid the danger of being judged for judging others.

Will Graham