Jesus said in Matthew 7: 1-5 “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the same measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck out of your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother’s eye”
Does this mean we are never to judge? Of course not, for Jesus also said: “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment” (John 7:24), but what exactly is righteous judgement?
Righteous judgment is: RIGHTEOUS- characterized by or proceeding from accepted standards of morality or justice-JUDGEMENT-. The act or process of judging; the formation of an opinion, TO JUDGE- To form an opinion or estimation of after careful consideration.
Righteous judgement must not be based upon mere appearance, personal opinions or unsubstantiated hearsay but Righteous judgement must be based on conclusive and substantial evidence, not on outward appearance or insufficient or weak information. Outward appearance can often be misleading and the bible says that some things are clearly evident while others will not be fully disclosed until eternity.
“Some men’s sins are clearly evident, preceding them to judgment, but those of some men follow later. Likewise, the good works of some are clearly evident, and those that are otherwise cannot be hidden” (1 Timothy 5:24, 25).
The bible makes it clear that we are to examine both ourselves and others who claim to belong to Jesus Christ. We are to prove them and test the spirits. 1 John 4:1 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.”
PROVE all things; hold fast that which is good” I Thessalonians 5:21
The Greek word for “prove” is domimazo and it means, “To test, prove, with the expectation of approving”
PROVE- To establish the truth or validity of by presentation of argument or evidence.
Christians are not to compromise, overlook evil, or fellowship with darkness. Rather we are called by God to EXPOSE THEM. (to reveal; to uncover; to disclose, make known)
Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. Ephesians 5:10,11
So how do we examine and prove things?
EVIDENCE: is the means by which facts in issue are proved or disproved. This includes all the means of proving or disproving any matter, i.e., oral testimony, written records, demonstration. Credible witness, credible sources,(which can vary, medical, scientific, historical record, credible unbiased news reporting, pictures, documents, expert witness, many witnesses unknown to each other confirming the same thing, )
Then after evidence is accumulated we WEIGHT THE EVIDENCE: assess the reliability and probative value of evidence that has already been determined to be relevant. The probative value of evidence is its value in assisting in determining the matters in issue. The determination of the weight to be assigned to evidence involves the application of common sense. EVIDENCE SHOULD BE WEIGHED IN LIGHT OF ALL OF THE EVIDENCE IN THE CASE AND THE ISSUES TO BE DECIDED.
Then we come to a CONCLUSION (a position or opinion or judgment reached after consideration) based on evidence presented.
However, the bible says that we are not to judge another for something that we are doing ourselves, (get right with God first in that area) or we bring condemnation (God’s judgement) upon ourselves.
“Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God?” (Romans 2:1-3).
We are also not to judge in some matters of cultural, religious, social habits or personal preferences. (ex. Women wearing makeup, foods we eat, style of cloths, style of music, dancing in church, raising hands, organ or no organ, speaking in tongues, hair covering or not, ect.) These things are not important enough to cause a rift between brethren BUT in matters of morality and doctrine IT IS IMPORTANT TO JUDGE.
“Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things. For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him. Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand” (Romans 14:1-4).
“But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written: ‘As I live, says the Lord, Every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God.’ So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way” (Romans 14:10-13).
We also should not judge with insufficient knowledge. (Unless you are sure that God has revealed by his Holy Spirit something to you) THIS DOES HAPPEN.
For example, I went to a meeting at a visiting church. Sitting in the pew the Spirit of God spoke loud in my spirit and said to me. “The pastor is in sin as he is having an affair with a woman in the worship team” Needless to say, I was stunned and had no idea why the Lord should chose to reveal this to me. After the worship, I felt led to prophecy. It was generalized and not condemning but still I could tell that it did not go over very well. The prophetic word was that “God was going to cast down the high places in the lives of his people”
I kept this word to myself and just began to pray about it. A couple of weeks later my friend told me that the pastor confessed his sin, that he was having an affair with a women in his worship team. He left the ministry and his wife and family to be with the girl. I continued to pray. Several weeks later I happened to meet the pastor at a dry cleaners. I really barely knew the guy but I said hi and asked how he was doing. The pastor confessed to me what had happened and I was still more dumbfounded as I did not know him very well. All I could say out of my mouth was, “are you right with God? “ In which he replied that he was working on it. My heart went out to him. I kept praying for the guy and to this day have not heard any news about him, but I feel he is humbled and dealing with his issues.
Point is that sometimes we get revealed knowledge from God and in humility considering ourselves lest we be tempted we should pray about what God wants us to do with the information. It is my experience that prayer is the main thing to do in situations like these BUT sometimes as in the case of Paul and Simon the sorcerer, we must rebuke the person, and yes, I have had to do that as well. But we do it to bring repentance even though it may seem harsh at times, I don’t like disciplining my kids but I have had 5 of them and sometimes it is needful and sometimes it is needful to rebuke your brother/sister in the Lord, for their good.
We are also not to take God’s place in judgment, which is to pronounce sentence. When we speak evil of people in slander we are condemning them. When we judge without sufficient evidence we are being a slanderer.
“Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?” (James 4:11,12).
We are also not to condemn the guiltless by neglecting mercy: “But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless” (Matthew 12:7).
When Christians persist in sin, they are to be judged by their fellow Christians, as Paul explained to the Corinthians: “I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet I certainly did not mean the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner ,not even to eat with such a person.
For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? But those who are outside (unbelievers) God judges. Therefore ‘put away from yourselves that wicked person'” (1 Corinthians 5:9-13).
“Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life? If then you have judgments concerning things pertaining to this life, do you appoint those who are least esteemed by the church to judge? I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brethren?” (1 Corinthians 6:1-5).
When Christians are faced with clear evidence of evil we are called to expose and warn about it. Jesus reprimanded the church at Thyatira: “Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and beguile My servants to commit sexual immorality and to eat things sacrificed to idols” (Revelation 2:20).
“But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us” (2 Thessalonians 3:6).
“And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother” (2 Thessalonians 3:14,15).
“Teach and exhort these things. If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wrangling of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself” (2 Timothy 6:2b-5).
“Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple” (Romans 16:17,18).
Christians who are tolerant of evil and overlook evil conduct will be held accountable to God.
“I will perform against Eli all the things which I have spoken concerning his house because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not.” (1Samuel 3:12-13)
If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works? Proverbs 24:11,12
“Blessed is the man whom Thou dost chasten, O Lord, and dost teach out of Thy law; that Thou mayest grant him relief from the days of adversity, until a pit is dug for the wicked Ps 94:12-13
“Who will rise up for me against the evildoers? or who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity?” Psalm 94:16