To Judge or Not to Judge: That is the Question for Tonight

(preached at College Wesleyan Church, Sunday evening, 7/24/05)

1. Some well known verses
Matthew 7:1-2:
“Do not judge, so that you are not judged judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

John 8:7:
“Let the one of you who is without sin throw a stone at her first.”

1 Corinthians 4:3-5:
“To me it is the least concern that I be judged by you or by a human day [of judgment]. I do not even judge myself. In myself I am conscious of no wrong, but I do not stand acquitted on this basis: the one who judges me is the Lord. Therefore, do not judge something before the right time, when the Lord comes. He will bring to light the hidden things of darkness and will make visible the motives of [people’s] hearts.”

What is the popular Christian conclusion:

You cannot make judgments about sin in the lives of others.

Assumption: Because all Christians have sinned and continue to sin, you cannot be critical of sin in the life of others without being a hypocrite.

2. Yet at the same time, consider these passages:
1 Corinthians 5:3-5:
“Although I am not present in body, I am present in spirit. I have already judged the one who has done this thing, as if I were present. In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you and my spirit are gathered, … deliver such a person to Satan…”

John 8:15-17:
“You judge according to the flesh; I do not judge anyone [now]. And when I judge, my judgment is true, because I am not alone. I judge with the Father who sent me.”

Look at how close these verses are to the very ones we saw above! How do we fit these statements together?

3. Making some important distinctions

o The Bible teaches that all have sinned.
o It does not teach that we should expect Christians to sin.

Anyone who has read much of my writing knows the kinds of things I will share here.

Notice that while
o Truth exists and
o Some things are right; some things are wrong,

Truth is different from
o Our attitudes toward the truth and others

o There is also a difference between motives, which are not seen.
o And actions, which are seen.

4. What we must do
o Submit to God’s understanding of right and wrong
o Through the power of the Spirit, live above intentional, conscious sin
o Love others, which includes a desire for them to do what is right and avoid what is wrong

5. What we must not do
o Think that we are beyond sin or take for granted God’s forgiveness
o Talk about the sins or faults of others behind their back for kicks or self-promotion
o Talk about the sins or faults of others to their face for kicks or self-promotion

Some lessons in projection:

“Why do you look at the splinter in your brother’s eye and not recognize the beam in your own eye? How will you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the splinter out of your eye,’ when the beam is in your eye? Hypocrite! First take the beam out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly enough to take the splinter out of your brother’s eye” Matthew 7:3-5

“Therefore, you are without excuse, you who judge. For by the same standard you judge someone else, you condemn yourself, for you who are judging practice the same things.” Romans 2:1

God does not have a tolerant attitude toward intentional, willful sin. He is incredibly forgiving toward the repentant, but this fact does not negate his attitude toward sin.

2. God has already pronounced judgment on any number of sins (e.g., adultery). When the church disciplines such individuals (and it should be the church rather than individuals), it is not really making the judgment, but enacting God's judgment. It is standing with God. Such judgment is always done with the hope of redemption, not out of vindictiveness.

3. Christians and the church are not in a position to judge or discipline motives that cannot be seen in the light of clear action.

4. Any judgment passed by the church or Christian individuals that is not concordant with love is not Christian and is a problem in itself.