By Dennis C. Abernathy
“Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” This passage of scripture has been, and is, misused by not a few in our religious world. When one dares to speak out on sin, or to examine some false doctrine, the old worn out cry comes forth: “Judge not that ye be not judged.”
Many are not willing, are not able, or do not have the conviction, to try and defend what they claim to believe in religion, so this is the easy way out. But I ask; is this honorable? Can we not face God’s Word, the truth, without manufacturing a way out by misapplication of His Word? God forbid!
“Judge not according to appearance, but judge righteous judgment” (Jn. 7:24). Does the Bible contradict itself when it says in one passage to “judge not” and in another passage to “judge?” Certainly not! “Let God be true, but every man a liar. . .” (Rom. 3:4). One passage simply speaks of righteous judgment, and the other of unrighteous judgment. One is right and permitted, the other is wrong and forbidden.
Many have the idea that if you do not agree with them on a certain Bible question, that you should not say anything, lest you judge them. Think about it for just a moment. That would make everyone right (in their own eyes) and there would be no such thing as a false teacher (and if there was, you could not expose their false teaching).
For example, let us look at this question in the following way. Some feel it is right to teach “salvation by faith only”; but if I teach that baptism is essential to the remission of sins (and give book, chapter, and verse-Acts 2:38) and that salvation is not by faith only (and give book, chapter, and verse — Jas. 2:24) I am guilty of judging! To some, it is fine to teach the use of instruments of music in the worship of the New Testament church; but if I teach that such is forbidden by God’s Word (giving book, chapter, and verse — Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16; 2 Jn. 9; Rev. 22:18-19) I am guilty of judging! Who can believe it? How inconsistent can one be!
The Lord forbids “fault-finding” and “self-righteous” judgment such as the hypocrite, with the beam in his eye, wanting to remove the mote from his brother’s eye (Matt. 7:3-5). The beam (log or pole) should first be removed, then he can be in a position to try and help remove the mote (speck) from his brother’s eye, and that “in the spirit of meekness” (Gal. 6:1).
Neither are we to judge the heart or impugn the motives of another. We are to have the proper attitude and the facts, or evidence, in hand in order to judge righteously. “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him?” (1 Cor. 2:11). “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the heart. . .” (1 Cor. 4:5).
The word of God is the standard that will judge you and me. “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (Jn. 12:48).
Many feel that we are judging them when we speak out against their beliefs and practices. They would have us manifest the attitude of “You let us alone and we’ll let you alone.” The day I, or any other gospel preacher does that, is the day that I cease to be worthy of being called a gospel preacher! “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears. And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Tim. 4:3-4). Now if you should fit that description (God forbid!) I for one, do not intend to scratch your itching ears! If I know my own heart, I am concerned about saving my own soul and the souls of others, and that can only be done by teaching the truth! “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (Jn. 17:17). “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Tim. 4:2). “Take heed unto thyself, and unto thy doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee” (1 Tim. 4:16). My dear reader, when this is done, and that is judging in the wrong (according to you) then SO BE IT!
Truth Magazine XXI: 32, p. 509
August 18, 1977