Are you a member of the “Judge not” clan?

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We live in a day of amazing business and marketing strategies. Anything can be sold by most anyone, from almost anywhere, with some success, if a niche market is found and the appropriate strategy is applied and then carefully managed. For example, when a “Christian” book starts to sell like hotcakes to both church-goers and avowed unbelievers, to what can its success be attributed – to an excellent marketing-plan, great content, or both? Typically, when I begin to search out such seeming successes, I soon begin to be very concerned.

And then, when the book’s “professing” evangelical author begins to go on the religious and secular talk-show circuit, because it’s now on the New York Times best-seller list, I then begin to wonder whether this popular title can pass the test of Scripture (Acts 17:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:21; 1 John 4:1). At this point, I usually secure a copy of the book, hoping this newly famous author is following the Bible. However, so often, what I quickly receive from the book is nothing but fuzzy, subjective, therapeutic, drivel - the kind which causes God to be dishonored, and the world to see Christianity in the wrong light.

One such author was on “The Larry King Show” a few years back and was asked some very straight-forward questions like: “What if you’re a Jew or Muslim and you do not accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior… will you go to hell when you die?” He answered: “Well, you know, I have to be very careful about saying who will go to heaven or hell. I don’t know people’s hearts, so I can’t know where they will go when they die.” Then, Larry pressed further: “If you have to believe in Jesus Christ to get to heaven, then aren’t their religious beliefs wrong?” He answered: “Well, I just don’t know; only God can judge a person’s heart.”

Of course, his last statement is true, but he seems to be implying that the Bible is nebulous about this whole matter. Well, that is simply false (James 4:5)! The following two verses clearly demonstrate that salvation can only be found in Jesus Christ alone (Acts 4:12; John 14:6)! In addition, when we closely examine his second answer (“Well, I just don’t know; only God can judge a person’s heart.”), is there any doubt to you whether he is a member of the “Judge not” clan? 

In fact, this clan’s motto is taken from their misinterpretation and regular unbiblical appeal to Matthew 7:1-2, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.” However, this passage does not mean that we are never to make the necessary and natural judgments that Christians and churches must make (1 Corinthians 5:12), but rather that we are never to judge another with: a harsh, critical, fault-finding spirit that passes “ultimate” judgment upon another’s soul! (1 Corinthians 4:3-5).

This understanding is consistent with what our Lord uttered elsewhere in Scripture, “Do not judge according to ‘appearances,’ but judge with righteous judgment” (John 7:24). That is, judge others always and only by the standard of Scripture. However, this clan of “Judge nots” would always prefer to never judge with “righteous judgment” for fear of ever being wrong or for ever being perceived as unloving – and thereby keep their “outward” house in order (for ‘appearance’ sake), while inwardly they regularly make unrighteous judgments, as they secretly slander and gossip about others. But Christians and Christ’s churches are required to make “righteous” judgments in order to obey God’s Word, no matter what others might think.

Consider just a few examples of many that I could cite to support this point. I will do so by asking two questions: 

First, should we bring men into the leadership of our local church whose salvation testimony, personal life, marriage, children, and present ministry have never been examined in the light of 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9? Of course not! And second, should we dare place anyone over any ministry in our church whose salvation testimony, personal life, marriage, professed spiritual gift(s) and present ministry have never been examined in the light of Galatians 5:19-24 and 1 Corinthians 4:1-2? Of course not! For if we do not make Biblical judgments in our church, we will create an atmosphere there which will never make the often tough yet necessary judgments that will glorify our Lord.

Finally, dear reader, we must be very careful to always follow God’s Word and not the imaginations of nice men. Then remember the mature words of the apostle Paul: “What do you wish? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love in a spirit of gentleness (1 Corinthians 4:21)?” Only by God’s grace can we maintain Paul’s example above in perfect tension. My prayer is that you will now be through forever with the “Judge not clan”– by determining from this time onward to always judge with “righteous judgment.” In doing so, God’s Word will be lifted above the opinions of carnal men and Christ’s church will be courageous for His cause in this gospel-needy world!

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