Who Am I to Judge?

There is a sentiment in America today on which many of our problems rest. It is judgmentalism, or, rather the lack of it. And very and many people, especially Christians, both active and inactive, use the following verse to justify it:

Mat 7:1-2, 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.

Later, we will return to this and several other verses and exegete them. But let me give some background to our reason for this study.

In America today, we are on the verge of a police state. We have the local city police, the county police, the state police, the state bureau of law enforcement, the highway patrol, the FBI, the BATF, the policing agencies of the IRS, the INS, the FDA, the CDFC, the US Postal Service, and a myriad of other policing and enforcing agencies. Every one of the agencies have their version of ninjas: jack-booted men dressed in black clothing and hoods and masks armed with automatic weapons and the license to burst into private buildings and disrupt the lives or ordinary citizens. We have more and more police on the streets but crime is still soaring.

Crime goes up and gets more violent and repugnant. Children kill children. Gunmen go into public schools and open fire. Innocent people eating lunch at McDonald’s are gunned down. Post offices are a dangerous place to be. A man sends letter bombs to innocent people he disagrees with, maiming and killing them. Bombs go off in crowded parks full of people. And all of this escalation continues even though we are pouring more and more police men and women into our society.

Except for a tiny percentage, police men and women are upstanding citizens who are honest, hardworking and dedicated. They are trying their best to curb crime while respecting the rights of the innocent. They use the latest technology and innovation. They are trained and educated to be the best police people ever and yet, they are losing the war. Why?

Let us take, for an example, the case of the man known as the Unabomber. This guy is just a plain old criminal and murderer. He killed and maimed people, changing their lives forever. He orphaned several children just because he didn’t agree with their fathers. The press refused to indict him for what he was, a murderer. Instead, they called him a “Mad Genius.” That name makes him acceptable. It is almost endearing. Let me quote what one of his surviving victims says about this:

“I can only guess that the attraction in calling a criminal “mad” is that it gets you off the hook and you don’t have to be judgmental. But a society too squeamish to call evil by its right name has destroyed its first, best defense against cutthroats.”

—David Gerlenter, from “Drawing Life” © 1997 by David Gerlenter, Simon & Schuster, Inc., New York

Dr. Gerlenter was Kaczynski’s 23rd victim. He lost most of the use of his right hand and his right eye for the rest of his life. He is not bitter. He is, however, practical in his approach to crime.

Dr. Gerlenter has it right. In America today it seems like we are not able to judge evil. We refuse to call crime what it really is, evil. Even when a criminal is found guilty, we don’t really believe it is so. We blame it on the criminal’s childhood, or his upbringing, or his place in society; we tend to blame everything except the criminal himself. We call criminals everything except guilty. After all, we are not supposed to judge others, right?

This same lack of good judgment carries over into the safety and security of our country. We refuse to call terrorism what it is. Instead we use euphemisms like extremists, freedom fighters, militants, etc.—instead of just calling them what they are, terrorists.

That is the crux of it. We do not want to judge others. Why not? Because there is a widespread belief in this country that we should not judge others. After all, the Bible says not judge others doesn’t it?

The answer to that is no, the Bible does not tell we should not judge people. Let’s look at those verses again and see just what the Bible does say.

Mat 7:1-2, 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.

The word rendered judge is krino (Strongs 2919), which means to distinguish or decide. Here it is used in the judicial sense, which means to try, condemn and punish. But it says not to judge, doesn’t it? Yes, but the thought goes on. Jesus basically says not to judge others by a different standard that we judge ourselves because the same standard will be used to judge us. We cannot judge what is in a man’s heart. We can only judge his actions. We do not judge a person’s salvation. Only God can do that.

We will be judged by the same standard that we use to judge others. What standard, then, may we use?

John 7:2, Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.

We are to use righteous judgment. Righteous here means equitable or fair, right, just, and/or holy. What is righteous judgment? It is judging another by what is right, equitable, just, and holy. Since we by our nature are not righteous, just, fair, or holy, what do we have that is right, just, fair, and holy? Since only God is righteous, just, fair, and holy, we should judge others by God’s standard. Before you go and ask me who am I that I should know God’s standards, stop and think. Where do we find God’s standards? They are found in His Word, the Bible. The law is just, fair, right and holy.

But, you ask, didn’t Jesus do away with the law? Well, frankly, no. That is just a tradition of men.

Mat 5:17-1, Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.{18} For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

A jot and a tittle are the smallest marks in the Greek and Hebrew. The jot is actually iota, the smallest letter in the Greek alphabet, and the tittle is an apex of a Hebrew letter, one of the smallest parts of the Hebrew alphabet.

Jesus says that not the smallest marks on the scroll containing the law (Genesis – Deuteronomy) have been done away with. In other words, the entire law is still in force. Jesus fulfilled the law. In fulfilling it he did away with the blood ordinances and those ordinances concerning atonement and cleansing. Jesus is our atonement and through him we no longer need cleansing. His blood is all we need and not the blood of animal sacrifices. The Festivals and Sabbath, which were shadows of things to come, are included in those ordinances fulfilled by Jesus. (See Col. 2:17, Heb. 8:5, and Heb. 10:1).

The law is still in force. But the law can only condemn; it cannot save. Our civil law is based on God’s law. Civil law forbids murder, rape, theft, assault, etc., just like biblical law.

It is OK to judge others as long as you use God’s standard to do so. Here are some cases where people of the Bible judged others:

Acts 5:1-4, But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, {2} And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it, at the apostles’ feet. {3} But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? {4} Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.

Peter judged Ananias and Sapphira. He called the liars.

Acts 5:5, And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things.

Since Ananias fell dead, it would seem that God was in agreement with Peter.

Acts 13:7b-10, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God. {8} But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith. {9} Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him, {10} And said, O full of all subtlety and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?

Paul and Barnabas were summoned to the deputy to teach him God’s Word. Elymas tried to stop them. Paul wasted no time in judging the sorcerer.

Acts 13:11, And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand.

After judging Elymas, Paul pronounced sentence: Elymas would be blind. God must have agreed with Paul’s judgment for he struck the sorcerer blind.

(Acts 17:18-21, Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection. {19} And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is? {20} For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean. {21} (For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.)

This is the setup. These philosophers wanted to hear a new thing from Paul. Their reason was nothing but vanity. They would hear, but would not accept Paul’s teachings.

Acts 17:22, Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.

Paul judged them immediately as too superstitious (the word for superstitious more correctly means religious).

1 Ki 3:5-9, In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee. {6} And Solomon said, Thou hast showed unto thy servant David my father great mercy, according as he walked before thee in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with thee; and thou hast kept for him this great kindness, that thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. {7} And now, O LORD my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in. {8} And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude. {9} Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?

Solomon asked God for wisdom so that he could better judge the people. God agreed:

1 Ki 3:10-12, And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing. {11} And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment; {12} Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee.

God gave Solomon wisdom and the ability to judge. Solomon was the greatest judge known to man. His wisdom was widely known and appreciated. Many came from the ends of the earth to witness Solomon’s discernment first hand.

Americans, understand this: it is OK to judge others by a right, fair, just, and holy judgment. If you see a crime committed, it is OK to judge the criminal for his act. One who murders another is a murderer. A person who steals is a thief. One who embezzles is an embezzler. One who rapes is a rapist. One who commits a crime is a criminal. Theodore Kaczinsky is a murderer, not a Mad Genius.

It is all right to judge evil as evil. We are not able to see into another’s heart, but we can surely see an evil act when one is committed. We are allowed to judge that act for what it is, evil. I cannot judge a person’s salvation. That is for God. But I can judge evil when I see it and I can judge the one who did evil by his act.

If we Americans could get back to calling evil what it really is, then our need for more laws and more police would cease.

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