Judge not, that ye be not judged. (Mat 7:1)
To many, one of the worst things that can be done is to criticize something cherished and embraced such as a doctrinal belief or a popular favorite teacher, even if such is Scripturally false. Such people also seem unaware of their own (wrong) judgment of people, who they criticize for doing so! If they think it is wrong to judge then why are they judging? Hence, they have a double standard.
As we examine related Scriptures on this subject of judging, you may be surprised to learn that:
Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment. (John 7:24)
Hence, we are commanded to judge, but not by mere appearances. We learn more about the right and wrong way to judge from other Scriptures. Gal. 2:6 says:
As for those who seemed to be important—whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not judge by external appearance— those men added nothing to my message.
In other words, God doesn't look at the outer shell of a person, his popularity or reputation when he evaluates someone. Instead he judges on the basis of heart purity and truth. Rom. 2:2 says:
Now we know that God's judgment against those who do such things is based on truth.
To say God judges on the basis of truth is another way of saying he judges on the basis of Scripture, because God's word is truth:
Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. (John 17:17)
This in turn brings us back to the Bible as final authority and not Sacred Tradition too or even the so-called Ante-Nicene fathers, etc. The Bible alone is what God gave man for all spiritual authority -- teachings, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness:
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Tim 3:16,17)
The Bible also says:
The spiritual man makes judgments about all things .... (1 Cor. 2:15)
Rather than just condemning a judgment, we need to examine it to see if it is based on truth, that is God's word, and not just popular opinion, convenience, the typical way it has been or anything else. If it lines up with Scripture, that judgment shouldn't be condemned.
Similar to 1 Cor. 2:15 is 1 Cor. 5:12,13 passage which says:
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.”
In other words, Paul rebuked the Corinthians for not judging the sexually immoral man meeting with them as wicked and expelling him from their group. Because this type of judging is not readily practiced today, wickedness (sin) has spread throughout the professing Christian congregations, like yeast spreads through a batch of dough. Paul also wrote this about judging:
If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! (1 Cor 6:1-3)
Afterwards, Paul also wrote this:
I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? (1 Cor 6:5)
From that alone it is clear that Christians are to judge. So what kind of judgment is wrong?
When the Lord gave the world Mt. 7:1-5 he was speaking of hypocritical judgment only:
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. 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.
Paul wrote of the same wrong hypocritical judgment in Rom. 2:1-3:
You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God's judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God's judgment?
Paul's teaching was almost identical to the Lord's teaching in Mt. 7:1-5. Paul added that hypocritical judgment will bring God's judgment on that hypocrite.
We are also not to pass judgment on disputable matters with one whose faith is weak:
Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. (Rom 14:1)
We are also not to judge the motive behind a deed. In 1 Cor. 4:5 we read:
Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.
Again, we are not to judge the motives behind Christian service. God will reveal the secrets of the heart. Rom. 2:16 says:
This will take place on the day when God will judge men's secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.
Paul made various judgments and clearly labeled them such:
Now about virgins: I have no command from the Lord, but I give a judgment as one who by the Lord's mercy is trustworthy. (1 Cor 7:25)
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. (1 Cor 5:3)
In my judgment, she is happier if she stays as she is—and I think that I too have the Spirit of God. (1 Cor 7:40)
I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. (1 Cor 10:15)
Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long , it is a disgrace to him, but that if a woman has long , it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering. If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice—nor do the churches of God. (1 Cor 11:14-16)
Listen carefully to what Jesus taught. He said:
Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. (Luke 6:37)
We know that Luke 6:37 can't be referring to eternal condemnation because if an atheist doesn't condemn anyone, he will still be condemned to hell for not having a trusting and submitting faith in Jesus for his salvation. A clear example of a judgment that Jesus approved is found in Luke 7:40-43:
Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said. “Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.” “You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
Simon's answer to the question, Now which of them will love him more was a judgment, according to Jesus. This judgment was clearly not condemned by the Lord and is the same Greek word found in Mt. 7:1.
QUESTION: Is it right to obey man rather than God? Your answer to that simple question is a judgment, according to Acts 4:19, which says:
But Peter and John replied, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you rather than God.”