Copyright 1994 - 2018 Bill's Bible Basics
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Published On :
July 26, 1997
Last Updated :
February 15, 2018
Righteous And Unrighteous Judgment, God's Will Is That We Believe In His Son, We Are Condemned If We Reject The Light, False Accusations Made Against Jesus, Satan: The Accuser Of The Saints, False Accusations Made Against Us, Abraham's Faith And Obedience, God's Righteous Judgments, God Has Given His Children Authority To Judge Others, Forgive Each Other's Sins In Private, Satan Condemns Us So We Will Shut Up And Not Be A Witness Of Our Faith, Ministry Of Salvation And Judgment, Moses Chooses Seventy Elders To Manage The Children Of Israel, We Must Choose Daily To Serve The Lord, God Raises Up Judges And Prophets To Keep Israel Obedient
From looking at a few other verses which likewise concern the subject of judgment, I am wondering if perhaps "do not unfairly or unjustly criticize" might not have been a better phrase to use in translating this word "judge" in the Sermon on the Mount. Using this phrase adds a whole new dimension to the word "judge", as it is used in the verses in Matthew. One thing we need to understand is that the issue of judging people and matters goes a lot deeper than what is apparent in these verses from the Gospel of Matthew. Most folks do not make any attempt to further research this topic, so they end up shortchanged in their understanding. They simply see "Judge not" and they leave it at that. That is certainly what our enemies do.
If we really want to get technical and base our lives on those two words alone, then we should not even have our judiciary system. After all, Jesus admonished us to "judge not", right? Obviously, embracing such a legalistic, narrow interpretation of the Lord's words is ridiculous; but you see my point, right?
So what I am now going to demonstrate is that some forms of judgment are necessary; particularly when it involves those people who have dedicated themselves to the Lord and His Work. As will be seen, there are really two different kinds of judgment. First, there is unrighteous judgment, which would be similar to unfair and unjustified criticism as seems to be implied in the Sermon on the Mount. And second, there is also what Jesus referred to as righteous or just judgment, as we can determine by the following verse:
"Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment."
John 7:24, KJV
Notice that in Matthew we have Jesus saying "judge not", and now we have Him saying "judge righteous judgment". Is this a contradiction of the Scriptures? The enemies of Christ are real "pros" when it comes to pointing out these kinds of things. Some of them would swear up and down that this is a clear contradiction in the Bible. Tragically, without the Spirit of God, they don't have a clue as to what the Truth is, or what the Scriptures really mean. I am reminded of the following verse that is found in Paul's first Epistle to the Church at Corinth:
"But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."
1 Corinthians 2:14, KJV
So is there really a contradiction in these two statements which were uttered by Jesus? Most certainly not. This verse clearly demonstrates the point I am making. Jesus made this second statement in the Temple at Jerusalem right after the Jews had accused Him of having a devil. As I just mentioned, Jesus is saying there are two kinds of judgment: unrighteous judgment -- that is, judgment which is not right, unfair criticism -- and righteous judgment -- that is, judgment which is right and just. In this example, the "judge not" idea fits perfectly because those Jews were unfairly or unjustly criticizing Him. They didn't have a leg, or the Word, to stand on. They knew exactly what Jesus meant by "judge righteous judgment". They were no fools. They knew what they were doing.
Another clear example can be found in the writings of Paul. He also made a distinction between righteous and unrighteous judgment. For example, when he was discussing the problem in the Roman church between those people who were meat eaters and those who were vegetarians, he wrote the following:
"But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ."
Romans 14:10, KJV
In this case, the spirit of his words is implying negative criticism, just as the Jewish Elders used with Jesus. When you cannot back up what you are saying with the Word of God, then it is negative criticism, or unrighteous judgment. It seems that meat-eating brethren in Rome were self-righteously judging those Disciples who decided not to eat meat, even though the Lord and the Mosaic Law never once prohibited the eating of all meats. Aside from pork and a few other unclean animals, as well as the drinking of blood, the Mosaic Law gave the green light for eating meat. As I point out in a few other articles, from the time following the Flood in Noah's day, the Lord set the standard whereby eating meat is permissible.
So then, while the Apostle Paul is equating the word "judge" with negative, baseless criticism in regards to the situation which was occurring in Rome, he exercises righteous judgment when he deals with the problem of fornication in the Church at Corinth, as we can determine by this verse:
"For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed,"
1 Corinthians 5:3, KJV
This was righteous judgment because it was based upon Paul's knowledge of the Word of the Lord. Regardless of whether he was basing his decision on the Mosaic Law, or on a direct revelation from the Lord, Paul's overall intention here was to establish God's Will within the Church at Corinth; so it was just, righteous judgment. So you see, if you understand the true rendering of the word "judge" in the various places where it is used throughout the Bible, it is possible to say "judge not" -- meaning don't unjustifiably criticize -- while at the same time still being able to pass righteous judgment when you may be called to do so.
So how do we distinguish between the two? How do we know when we are judging a situation or a person unfairly, and when we are passing righteous judgment? Actually, with the Apostle Paul's example, I have already hinted at the answer. In studying the Scriptures, the answer becomes even clearer. Jesus Himself provided a direct answer for us when He stated the following in the Gospel of John:
"I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me."
John 5:30, KJV
"And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me."
John 8:16, KJV
You see, Jesus is saying that just or righteous judgment is that which serves to help bring about and fulfill God's Will and Purpose. Everything that Jesus did and said was to help bring about God's Will; even though it exposed the lies and hypocrisy of the Jewish Elders in the process. If you think back on things I have stated in other articles, this concept becomes even more clear. For example, in the Lord's Prayer, Jesus says the following:
"Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven."
Matthew 6:10, KJV
Okay. Let me ask you. Exactly what is God's will for all of the people of Earth? Again, Jesus provides a direct answer for us when He says the following in the Gospel of John. The Apostle Peter likewise confirms this point:
"And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day."
John 6:40, KJV
"The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."
2 Peter 3:9, KJV
Do you see how all of these verses join together to give us the full understanding of what righteous judgment is, as opposed to unrighteous judgment? God's Will is that all men everywhere believe in and accept His Son, so that they might be saved, and be resurrected to Everlasting Life. Everything Jesus said and did worked towards this goal. That is why He said His judgment was just, or righteous. In order for God's Kingdom to be established on Earth as it is in Heaven, those people who choose to practice the works of darkness must first be exposed, and then given a chance to accept the Light, so that they too can do their part to fulfill God's Will. When we do the exact opposite, and reject God's Will for our lives by rejecting His Son, we are not righteous. We are in fact quite unrighteous, and what we say and do will be unrighteous. Furthermore, by rejecting the Light of Christ, we condemn ourselves. I am reminded of the following verses:
"And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved."
John 3:19-20, KJV
That was certainly the case with those unbelieving Jewish Elders. As a result, everything that they said and did was unrighteous, because they opposed and criticized Jesus every step of the way. In so doing, they were not only opposing Him, but they were also opposing God's Will on Earth. The Jewish Elders hated Jesus from the very beginning, because in the process of fulfilling His Father's Will, He exposed their hypocrisy. By His example of obedience to His Father's Will, He showed exactly how wrong they really were. But you see, as I have stated before, Satan accuses us of the very same things of which he himself is guilty. They had to show how wrong Jesus was in order to prove how right, or how self-righteous they were. They thought they were fulfilling God's Will with their keeping of the oral and the written Law, performing animal sacrifices, observing feast days, etc. Thus, in their self-righteous way, they tried to trap Jesus in His words at every instant to show Him the "error" of His ways. They accused Him of being a blasphemer, a lawbreaker, a gluttonous man and a winebibber -- a drunk -- a friend of publicans and sinners, a deceiver, and a son of the devil, as we see by the following set of verses:
"And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth."
Matthew 9:3, KJV
"The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners!"
Luke 7:34, KJV
"And there was much murmuring among the people concerning him: for some said, He is a good man: others said, Nay; but he deceiveth the people."
John 7:12, KJV
"And many of them said, He hath a devil, and is mad; why hear ye him? Others said, These are not the words of him that hath a devil. Can a devil open the eyes of the blind?"
John 10:20-21, KJV
"But the Pharisees said, He casteth out devils through the prince of the devils."
Matthew 9:34, KJV
As we have already seen, Satan is a liar and a deceiver. Not only that, but through his human mouthpieces, he will shout, and he will yell, and he will point the finger accusingly at the very people who are exposing his own sins of fighting against God's Will on Earth. After all, he is the accuser of the saints. This point is made clear by the following verses:
"And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he, answered nothing."
Matthew 27:12, KJV
"And the chief priests accused him of many things: but he answered nothing."
Mark 15:3, KJV
"And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused him."
Luke 23:10, KJV
"And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night."
Revelation 12:10, KJV
So one of the points I would like for you to understand from all of the previous paragraphs, is that as Bible-believing Christians, anything we say or do which helps to promote or fulfill God's Will on Earth, is counted for righteousness in God's eyes. When it is backed by the Word, it is justifiable action; even if those people who oppose God's Will accuse us of being self-righteous and judgmental. One case in point which is always coming up on the social networks, concerns our stance regarding homosexuality and related sins. As some of you will know, the minute we make our Scriptural position known, boy do the wolves come out and scream and yell. They accuse us of being homophobes. They claim that we have no right to judge anyone, and insist that we are self-righteous; even though our position is fully backed by the Scriptures.
Let me reiterate that point. Anything which works against God's Will of bringing the Kingdom into the hearts of men, is unrighteousness. When the Lord destroys His enemies who oppose His Will, His judgments are righteous. They had a chance to submit to God's Will, but they refused to do so. When the Lord destroyed the world and imprisoned the evil spirits during the days of Noah, His judgment was righteous, because by destroying all of those evil people who opposed Him, His Will could then begin to flourish through Noah and His family. When Abraham obeyed and believed God, it was counted to him for righteousness because He also helped to fulfill God's Will and Purpose on Earth. Consider this verse:
"For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness."
Romans 4:3, KJV
Abraham was willing to leave behind his parents and family in Ur and Haran, and take his immediate family and live as a nomad, believing that God would multiply his seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand of the sea. As we all know, he eventually became the father of the Hebrew nation, who were the forerunners of the nation of Israel. You can read more about this in my article "The Children of God and Politics". So again, Abraham was promoting God's Will on the Earth. He believed God and stepped out by faith, and it was counted for righteousness unto him.
When the Lord later smote Pharaoh of Egypt and sent all of the plagues upon that land by the hand of Moses, it was also righteous judgment, because the Egyptians were opposing God's Will. Following their miraculous liberation from Egypt, and after wandering through the desert for forty years, when the Lord began to smite their enemies round about them by giving the children of Israel victories in battle, it was righteous judgment because the pagan nations opposed His Will. And what was God's Will? It was that they would eventually establish the nation of Israel, from which the Saviour would eventually arise.
What nonbelievers fail to understand, and what even certain Christians need to understand, is that contrary to the "judge not" mentality which is so popular with folks who oppose God and reject His Word, the practice of judgment is not reserved to God alone. He has also given this authority to the Saints who have dedicated their lives to His service, and to helping to promote and establish His Will and Kingdom on Earth in the hearts of men. As we saw earlier, the Apostle Paul did not hesitate to judge certain problems and situation which arose within the First Century Church. Consider some of the things which Jesus had to say regarding this matter:
"Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
Matthew 18:18, KJV
"Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained."
John 20:23, KJV
Let me first call your attention to the fact that Jesus said these things to the Disciples, and not to the multitudes on the hills. If we go back further in each of those chapters, we discover who Jesus was addressing in both instances, as can be seen by these three verses:
"At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"
Matthew 18:1, KJV
"Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord."
John 20:19-20, KJV
At any rate, as you can see, the Lord gave this authority to His Apostles and Disciples during the First Century. Now, if you stop and think about this, you come to realize that the act of forgiving one's sins involves making a decision. It involves making a judgment regarding the person in question. You are passing judgment on that person. Do you forgive them, or don't you? So you see, whether nonbelievers accept it or not, Christians do have Scriptural authority to judge people and situations.
Of course, as I explain in the article "To Pray or Not to Pray? That is the Question", organized religion has totally twisted the meaning of Jesus' words. The sad result is that today, we have confession boxes where Believers go to confess their sins to a priest, minister or pastor. That is not what Jesus was saying. He was encouraging Christians to privately forgive each other their sins; that is, seeking forgiveness from the person they have actually offended. Why tell your sins to a priest who knows next to nothing about you?
As we have already seen, using the "judge not" attitude is one tactic which Satan loves to employ in his endeavors to condemn a great many Christians. He does it with me, and I am sure that he does it with you as well. He says, "Who are you to judge others? What right do you have to tell other people how to live, and how to believe, when you are such a big mess and a clod yourself? You're just a self-righteous, judgmental Christian! Why don't you just shut up until you get your own act together?"
Sadly, sometimes we listen to his lies, condemnation sets in, and we soon shut up. We stop being a witness for the Truth. We foolishly put down our Shield of Faith, we take our eyes off of Jesus, and we start looking at ourselves instead. Oh what a mistake! That is EXACTLY what he wants us to do; because once we do that, we stop preaching the Gospel because we fall under Satan's condemnation when we see how bad we are. We have all done it. I know I have. However, when we shut up and stop preaching the Gospel, we are not helping anyone. We are not fulfilling God's Will by helping to spread His Kingdom. So instead of allowing Satan to judge and condemn us, we need to turn around and do as Michael the Archangel did when he said the following while fighting with Satan regarding the body of Moses:
". . . The Lord rebuke thee."
Jude 1:9, KJV
Just admit you're a failure and a clod, and say, "Yeah Satan, I am guilty of everything you say I am. I am a dirty, rotten sinner and a scoundrel! But guess what? Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so! Now get lost! The Lord rebuke thee!"
In the Bible we find plenty of Scriptures which show us how the Lord's servants are called to a ministry of Salvation, as well as to one of judgment. For example, after their escape from Egypt, the task of leading the children of Israel became so burdensome on Moses, that he had no choice but to appoint seventy tribal elders to help him judge different matters, as we see by the following group of verses. It appears that this in fact was the beginning of the Sanhedrin, or Council of Seventy:
"And Moses said unto the LORD, Wherefore hast thou afflicted thy servant? and wherefore have I not found favour in thy sight, that thou layest the burden of all this people upon me? Have I conceived all this people? have I begotten them, that thou shouldest say unto me, Carry them in thy bosom, as a nursing father beareth the sucking child, unto the land which thou swarest unto their fathers? . . . I am not able to bear all this people alone, because it is too heavy for me . . . And the LORD said unto Moses, Gather unto me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom thou knowest to be the elders of the people, and officers over them; and bring them unto the tabernacle of the congregation, that they may stand there with thee. And I will come down and talk with thee there: and I will take of the spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee, that thou bear it not thyself alone."
Numbers 11:11-12, 14, 16-17, KJV
The purpose of choosing these Seventy Elders was to share the responsibility of resolving disputes, keeping the people in line, and making certain that they were obedient to God's Will. This was no easy task. As the last four books of the Pentateuch -- or Torah -- demonstrate, Moses was plagued with problem after problem, which is why he needed the extra assistance to begin with. He was getting kind of old by this time, and his patience was wearing thin.
While Moses continued to be the Lord's main mouthpiece to the children of Israel, he would pass on what the Lord gave him to those Seventy Elders, who would then make God's Will known to the rest of the people. With the Spirit of Wisdom the Lord had given them, the Elders would then judge matters accordingly. They were in effect ministers of Salvation, and ministers of judgment. Those people who obeyed the Word of God which was given through Moses, and then to the Elders, were spared the wrath of God. But as the following verses reveal, those people who disobeyed and got out of line were consumed by fire:
"And when the people complained, it displeased the LORD: and the LORD heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the LORD burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp."
Numbers 11:1, KJV
As I point out in other articles such as "Beholding the Evil and the Good", "Free Will and Personal Choice", and "Do You Want Love and Light, or Rod and Wrath?", every day of our lives we must choose anew to live for and serve the Lord. It is a constant battle between the old man of the flesh, and the new man of the Spirit. As we learned in part one of this series, this battle occurs in our mind. Throughout history, God has always forced the people who are called by His name to make a choice. Consider some of the following verses:
"I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:"
Deuteronomy 30:19, KJV
"And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."
Joshua 24:15, KJV
"And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word."
1 Kings 18:21, KJV
During the period of the Judges which lasted about four hundred years, the Lord also raised up certain individuals to shepherd the children of Israel, and keep them in line to the Divine Will. These included such notable persons as Samson, Baruch, Deborah, Gideon and the like. I discuss this subject in some of my other articles such as "The Children of God and Politics".
Following the period of the Judges, the Lord raised up the Old Testament Prophets. You are no doubt familiar with some of them, beginning with Samuel. In reading their accounts, we discover that a large part of their ministries was to constantly warn, judge and sometimes chastise the kings and spiritual hierarchy of Israel due to their rebellious ways. Similar to some of the people today who shout "Judge not!", some of those religious elders and hardhearted kings said the very same things to the Prophets who were sent to warn them of God's impending judgments: "What gives you the right to judge us? We are your leaders! How dare you say this is the Word of the Lord! Blasphemer! Traitor! Away with you!"
Please go to part three for the conclusion of this series.
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