TO JUDGE, OR NOT TO JUDGE…AN IMPORTANT QUESTION

BY:  BRENDA IMUS

 

A THE WORD IN CONTEXT

MERCY OVER JUDGMENT

PURGING THE LEAVEN

BRINGING THE WORLD’S JUDGMENT INTO THE CHURCH IS A SIN

TO WHOM SHALL WE TRUST JUDGMENT?

JUDGE NOT A MAN’S CONSCIENCE TOWARD GOD

BE CAREFUL HOW YOU JUDGE

COMMON SCENERIO

We are often admonished not to ‘judge’ our brethren, as it will cause us to be judged by God. It’s been my strong impression that this doctrine has been the source of much that is wrong in the church today. So I endeavored to go to the Scripture, and rightly divide the Word of truth, according to the Spirit of God.  First, let’s look at what the word ‘judgment’ is in the Greek:

Strong’s 2919 krino {kree’-no}  perhaps a primitive word; TDNT – 3:921,469; v  AV – judge 88, determine 7, condemn 5, go to law 2, call in question 2, esteem 2, misc 8; 114

1) to separate, put asunder, to pick out, select, choose

2) to approve, esteem, to prefer

3) to be of opinion, deem, think, to be of opinion

4) to determine, resolve, decree

5) to judge

5a) to pronounce an opinion concerning right and wrong

5a1) to be judged, i.e. summoned to trial that one’s case may be examined and judgment passed upon it

5b) to pronounce judgment, to subject to censure

5b1) of those who act the part of judges or arbiters in matters of common life, or pass judgment on the deeds and words of others

6) to rule, govern

6a) to preside over with the power of giving judicial decisions, because it was the prerogative of kings and rulers to pass judgment

7) to contend together, of warriors and combatants

7a) to dispute

7b) in a forensic sense

7b1) to go to law, have suit at law

THE WORD IN CONTEXT

We can see from the above that it is possible to come away with many different understandings of what it means to ‘judge.’ Therefore it is of utmost importance to try to understand the context in which the word is used in Scripture. This practice alone will go a long way toward helping us to ‘judge right judgment.’ Let’s examine the word as it appears in various contexts in the Scriptures.

Matt. 7:1-5: 1] Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2] For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. 3] And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 4] 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? 5] 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.

Here the Lord isn’t actually saying that we shouldn’t judge a matter (not a brother… but a situation) under any circumstances. Rather, He is reminding us that we are all prone to error, and that before we attempt to deal with the error of another, we must be absolutely certain that our own ‘vision’ of the situation is clear. It must not be hindered by our own shortcomings and carnal inclination to ‘cast stones’ at others.

As incentive for us to obey this word, He further reminds us that we will be judged by the same measure that we use to judge others. In other words, if we use righteous and fair standards, we can expect to be judged righteously and fairly. If, however, we are harsh and unloving, then we will be subject toward harsh and unloving judgment.

This latter judgment need not come directly from God. Those who are prone to casting accusation and harsh judgment at others are very likely to be looked at by other Christians in an uncharitable, more harshly judgmental way. In other words, we will reap whatsoever  we sow.

Galatians 6:7-8: Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

John 7:22-24: 22] Moses therefore gave unto you circumcision; (not because it is of Moses, but of the fathers;) and ye on the Sabbath day circumcise a man. 23] If a man on the Sabbath day receive circumcision, that the law of Moses should not be broken; are ye angry at me, because I have made a man every whit whole on the Sabbath day? 24] Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.

Here again we’re not being told never to judge a matter (reminder: not the person, but the situation is judged). Rather, the Lord Jesus is demonstrating how important it is to judge things according to the values of God… love, and mercy, and obedience toward God… rather than according to the outward forms and traditions of men. In actual fact, the Lord’s own actions and words stood in judgment upon the behavior of the religious authorities who were trying to bring condemnation upon Him for doing good on the Sabbath.

This is the way it often is in the Kingdom of God. That which is evil spoken of is actually the true work of God, while those things which are generally looked upon favorably are actually works of the flesh. How we love to defend our own works!

MERCY OVER JUDGMENT

Luke 6:35-37: 35] But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. 36] Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. 37] Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:

The above verses are the ones most often referred to by those who say that we ought never to judge another. However, in this passage the Lord is calling us to exercise mercy over judgment. In other words, we need to understand the need for having mercy on another, since we ourselves are continually in need of the Lord’s mercy.

James 2:13 For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment

As I’ve stated before, we must at all costs avoid judging the person (for that is solely God’s responsibility), and bring only the sin, the word of prophecy, the teaching, or the situation, into matters of judgment. It is entirely possible to deal with a person who is ruled by demonic forces… to hate what that person is doing and saying… and still to hold love for that person in our hearts. If we are ruled by God’s Holy Spirit we will desire and pray for God’s best to come into their lives. This type of judgment calls for a great measure of maturity in the Lord, and in the power of His Word. For only by walking in the Word, by the power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit, can we so keenly divide between persons, and the spirit(s) that rule them and know how to appropriately respond to each.

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

PURGING THE LEAVEN

1 Cor 5:1-13: 1] It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. 2] And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. 3] For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, 4] In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5] To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 6] Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?

Leaven=Sin: the primary reason why Christian gatherings need to allow those with mature, God-given, spiritual understanding and authority to deal, patiently and firmly, with those who are operating in serious error. Sin is highly contagious, and must be judged and rooted out of the true body of our Lord Jesus Christ before it affects another, and another. . .and another, until the entire Body is ill and weak and ineffective. (Sound familiar yet?)

7] Purge out therefore the old leaven that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: 8] Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. 9] I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: 10] Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. 11] But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. 12] For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? 13] But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.

Wow. Tough word, is it not? And yet, it is the Word, and we ignore it to the entire church’s very great peril. Remember when Saul had ‘mercy’ upon some of the Amalekites hoping to be able to ‘convert’ them to a useful service to the Lord? Yet the Lord had specifically told him to completely annihilate them. He was not pleased that Saul had ‘reasoned out’ a better ‘more merciful’ way to handle the situation (which was invariably Saul’s downfall, and ours!).

We can more clearly understand the spiritual significance of this event when we realize that the Amalekites were descendants of Esau. The spiritual picture presented is that of the Lord sending Saul his anointed one to totally ‘wipe out’ from the Promised Land those who had sold out to the world, and had no spiritual birthright to the things of the Kingdom of God. Yet they were inhabiting the land promised to the spiritual sons, and had previously afflicted those sons. It was therefore the Lord’s will that those who were legal heirs to the land go in and ‘purge’ it of all manner of ‘leaven,’ that they might possess it themselves, in purity and in peace. (There’s more to this, but this is sufficient background for our purposes. The rest of the story is found in I Samuel 15.)

Likewise we are commanded to purge from our midst those who practice sin, or lawlessness. To our way of reasoning, this is unkind even evil. But to the Lord’s way of thinking, it is a kindness both to the sinner, and to the body of Christ as a whole. Once outside the protective confines of His spiritual body, the sinner will be at the mercy of Satan who has no mercy. Great affliction and suffering is the ‘fire’ whereby God purges the ‘dross’ from us. We are doing our sinning brethren no favors by overlooking or tolerating their sinfulness in our midst.

BRINGING THE WORLD’S JUDGMENT INTO THE CHURCH IS SIN

I Cor. 6:1-7    1] Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? 2] Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 3] Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? 4] If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. 5] I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren? 6] But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers. 7] Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?

Herein the church as a whole ought to be much ashamed before the Lord, utterly ashamed. In essence, when we go to the world’s system of law against any professing Christian, we are in effect saying that the wisdom of this world is greater than the wisdom of God, in us as a people, through the leading of His Holy Spirit. We are relying upon the strength of the ‘arm of the flesh,’ which brings us under the severest judgment of God regardless of how ‘right’ we may feel our cause to be. It would be better to be mistreated at the hands of a brother, and remit our cause to God’s court, than to take our cause to the court of man, and there be vindicated.

Jeremiah 17:5 Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD

Romans 12:17-21: 17] Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. 18] If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. 19] Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. 20] Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21] Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

TO WHOM SHALL WE TRUST JUDGMENT?

Gal 6:1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

This verse in Galatians points out how easy it is to fall prey to our own sinful impulses when we are dealing with an erring brother or sister. The immature are likely to become harsh, judgmental… they have not yet learned the power of gentle, redemptive love. This is why it’s important to send only those who are truly mature, spiritual Christians to deal directly with those operating in error. This also allows them to be an example for the younger believers.

Having said that, it is also important to have the mind of the Lord regarding the appropriate person to send to deal with a problem. In some cases, one with a gift of mercy might be appropriate… but in others, that one would be far to likely to grant a pardon, where the Lord would bring discipline and correction. Most often, I believe, it falls to those with mature prophetic gifts to speak to an erring brother or sister. Praise God that there are now a few of these operating in the church! (Though the true prophet is often not recognized…)

JUDGE NOT A MAN’S CONSCIENCE TOWARD GOD

Col 2:16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a holyday, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days:

Jam 4:11 Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge.

When we consider ‘judging’ a brother, the issue is about discerning dangerous error/sin that places both the one practicing the sin, and those associating with that Christian, into serious spiritual jeopardy. For example, one who constantly gossips or speaks evil of others might be considered in need of correction/teaching and discipline, if it doesn’t stop. Likewise for one who is practicing open sin, such as drunkeness or fornication.

But when it comes to doctrinal points, we must leave the matter between the Lord, and the other Christian. It is not our business to teach another how to worship God, or how to relate to Him ‘correctly.’ Nor are we to make any negative inward judgments about that one, deeming ourselves somehow ‘better’ because we practice better doctrines. If we therefore judge a brother’s religious practices or beliefs (aside from the foundational issues of Christian faith), then we are judging the law… that God has placed in that one’s mind and heart. This is always dangerous and inappropriate.

BE CAREFUL HOW YOU JUDGE

James 1:19-20: 19] Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: 20] For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.

When we feel called to judge a matter of serious error within the body, we need to be certain that we are doing so by the Spirit, and not out of a fleshly need for control or authority. This is a trap that many true ‘watchmen’ tend to fall into and those with such a gift must first of all watch themselves for this one!

Moses, when he struck the rock in anger, is our old testament type of the above. That one action prevented him from entering into the Promised Land–and it will do the same for us, if we are not careful.

James 3:13-18: 13] Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. 14] But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. 15] This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. 16] For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. 17] But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. 18] And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.

It’s entirely likely that if a seriously erring brother or sister is brought appropriately to account by mature, caring Christians… there will be envyings and strife to follow. So the above verse can be misleading. What often happens, I perceive, is that those who are truly being led of the Holy Spirit, and who want only what He wants, are prone to question themselves… to wonder if they are the source of the problem… if they are acting inappropriately after all… while those who need the correction have already become hardened in their conscience. This causes them to be self-assured and stiff-necked, and prone to continually ‘stir the pot’ of contentions, and bringing the accusation of ‘division’ against the one who is actually trying to bring correction, in peace and love. While the watch person’s actions may seem unloving to those who lack true Godly discernment, it is never the loving thing to overlook or excuse sin in the congregation. Never!

This is dealt with in the following verse:

1 Cor 11:18-19: 18] For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. 19] For there must be also heresies among you, that they, which are approved, may be made manifest among you.

‘Those who are approved’, I believe, would be those who are sincerely grieved by heresies and sin within the body, and who seek to deal with it appropriately. Unfortunately I say this with the greatest sorrow, born of experience what so often happens is that the powerful, influential and/or popular Christians fall into sin, and begin to lead others in the body astray because of their influence/popularity. Then the Lord raises up one or two Godly watchmen, whose jobs are to bring right judgment and restore order and truth to the body.

Now it’s true that these ‘watchmen’ may be young, immature prophets. And it’s also true that prophets tend to be a bit more prickly and hard to deal with than, for example, one with a gift of mercy.

Nevertheless, it is always to our advantage to listen to the prophet and not just the ones with ‘easy, sweet, comforting’ words. We’ve far too many of them practicing in the church (but I digress).  When a prophet speaks, the congregation ought to listen, and judge. And if it should be judged that he/she is speaking the truth with genuine concern, then that congregation needs to go to prayer, and the Scriptures, to determine the best way to handle the problem. The erring one, in one way or another, must be dealt with for the good of the entire body. If he or she repents and stops practicing the sin, then there will most likely be a period, and process, of restoration. If not… then it may be necessary to disassociate from that person.  As in all things, the Holy Spirit will lead the congregation in appropriate action.

A COMMON SCENARIO. . .

What so often happens when sin is being revealed within a gathering is that the watchman/prophet sent to bring the message upsets the status quo, and finds him/herself on the losing end of a popularity contest. As a rule, (in case you hadn’t noticed!) true prophets aren’t all that popular. In fact, they’re the ones who tend to get ‘stoned!’ They’re not as nice as the other guy, not as easy to listen to… and so they are essentially ‘run out of town,’ while the erring one is given more and more freedom to operate in ‘lawlessness.’ What a travesty for the church in general, and grief to the Holy Ghost.

Matt 18:15-17: 15] Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. 16] But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. 17] And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

Rom 16:17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences >>>>contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; <<<<<and avoid them.

We’re not simply to note who causes division, but those who cause division and offences contrary to the doctrine of Christ.  Is the one bringing a matter of serious error the one who actually ’causes’ such division? Or is it rather more likely to be the one who is in error, and who refuses to repent and confess their sin and brings accusation and reviling against the one speaking out who causes the division and offences in the body? There is a tremendous amount of misunderstanding regarding these things, because so much leaven has been allowed to remain and grow within the organized church. True judgment has been stood on its head.

2Th 3:6 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.

Will you look at that? We are strictly commanded to withdraw from erring, disorderly Christian brethren. Is this command still in effect, or has it somehow been annulled? Also take note that it is not tradition, per se, which is to be held in esteem (as is so often the case). Rather, it is the tradition received from the apostles those with genuine Kingdom understanding and authority that is to be protected and adhered to.

1Ti 6:3-5: 3] If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, [even] the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; 4] He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, 5] Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.

I Jn 4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world…

1 Jn 4:4-6: 4] Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. 5] They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. 6] We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.

2 Tim 4:1-4: 1] I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; 2] Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 3] For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4] And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

Isa 30:8-10: 8] Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book, that it may be for the time to come forever and ever: 9] That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the LORD: 10] Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits:

Jer 2:29-30:29 29] Wherefore will ye plead with me? ye all have transgressed against me, saith the LORD. 30] In vain have I smitten your children; they received no correction: your own sword hath devoured your prophets, like a destroying lion.

Jer 5:31 The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?

Jer 7:25-26: 25] Since the day that your fathers came forth out of the land of Egypt unto this day I have even sent unto you all my servants the prophets, daily rising up early and sending them: 26] Yet they hearkened not unto me, nor inclined their ear, but hardened their neck: they did worse than their fathers.

Jer 28:7-9: 7] Nevertheless hear thou now this word that I speak in thine ears, and in the ears of all the people; 8] The prophets that have been before me and before thee of old prophesied both against many countries, and against great kingdoms, of war, and of evil, and of pestilence. 9] The prophet which prophesieth of peace, when the word of the prophet shall come to pass, then shall the prophet be known, that the LORD hath truly sent him.

I know that this is a lengthy article. But we’re dealing with some precepts that have been long and much misunderstood in the church to her great loss. It’s imperative that we learn to ‘rightly divide the word of truth’ so that the wisdom of our Lord Jesus Christ through the saints may be evident to all… and the gates of hell will not prevail against His precious church.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JUDGE, TO JUDGE NOT – AN IMPORTANT QUESTION [Brenda Imus]          1

 

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