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Subtitle: "Judge Not That Ye Be Not Judged" Is Actually Misapplied More Often Than Not!

Due to the very nature of the Cutting Edge web site and the many emails we receive, I suppose we are quoted Matthew 7:1 more than any other single verse! When we dare to point out Scriptural error in religious institutions or individual ministries, we can usually count on receiving several from concerned readers accusing us of "judging." Since this is the case, are we guilty of violating the Lord's admonition when we criticize other professed believers?

We must respond by saying that far too many of God's people misinterpret this verse and as a consequence wind up adopting an extreme position of tolerance not taught in the Word of God! First and foremost, we must be a people of spiritual discernment and exercise great caution in accepting as genuine those who claim kinship because the Bible clearly teaches that "...narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." (Matthew 7:14, KJV). It also teaches us that Satan is busy "planting tares among the wheat"--filling Churches with unbelievers. Therefore it is of the utmost importance that we not be among the group to whom the legendary circus owner P.T. Barnum once referred by saying, "A sucker is born every minute!" The devil could not be more satisfied than when well intentioned believers let their guard down and welcome any and all into their fellowship. He is also gratified when these same people are incensed at pastors calling attention to "apple trees" bearing lemons. Let's look at Matthew 7:15-20 for the basis of this analogy:

"Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. [16] Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? [17] Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. [18] A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. [19] Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. [20] Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them." (KJV, emphasis mine)

This basic principle is why we keep pounding the theme of "pay more attention to what they do than what they say--because talk is cheap."

The Holy Spirit of God resides within genuine believers, therefore His presence will result in "the fruit of the Spirit" being displayed in their lives (Gal.5:22-23). And this fruit-bearing is the only visible evidence by which we can discern if someone is truly saved or not. So when a person's walk does not match up with their mouth, we must be very wary of them.

To exercise spiritual discernment is to exercise judgment. One of the dictionary definitions of judge is "To form an opinion about." A parallel definition of judgment is "The ability to make a decision or form an opinion by discerning and evaluating." And it is this sense of judging or judgment that we must be careful to maintain, because the devil is doing everything in his considerable power to deceive us through false "brethren."

The Lord's admonition to "judge not" in Matthew 7:1 uses the Greek word krino, the meaning of which--according to W.E. Vine's "Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words"--is this: "primarily denotes to separate, select, choose; hence, to determine, and so to judge, pronounce judgment." (emphasis mine). In other words the admonition is for us not to sit as a judge and pronounce sentence upon a person--to harshly condemn them--particularly if we are using ourselves as the standard. It does not mean, however, that we must refrain from observing others and forming opinions about the validity of their profession of faith. It does not mean that pastors should refrain from warning their flocks about doctrinal error in other men's ministries. One of the biggest lies of the devil is that unity must be preserved through the abolishment of all criticism.

In 1 Corinthians chapter 5, we find what the Apostle Paul taught the believers at Corinth about judging individuals within their Church. The background of this particular passage involves a man who was a member of their Church and living in open immorality with "his father's wife" (vs.1). Apparently the woman was the man's step-mother and because of his esteemed position in the community, this blatant sin was being ignored. When it was brought to Paul's attention, he minced no words in condemning the immorality and demanding that the leadership of the Church turn the man "over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh"! (vs.5). In other words, excommunication--removing the privileges of membership and expulsion from the assembly--was strongly urged by Paul. This meant punishing the man by putting him outside the spiritual protection of the local Church and, in effect, relegating him back to Satan's domain--where his flesh (carnal nature) would come under demonic attack. All of this was done with the hope that the man would seek repentance, God's forgiveness, and restoration to fellowship with the other believers. The story had a "happy ending," because that is exactly what the man did after being disciplined. But the main point we must not miss is found in Paul's solemn words of verses 11 through 13, where he literally exhorts the brethren to exercise spiritual judgment in the matter:

"But now I write to you not to associate with any one who bears the name of [Christian] brother, if he is known to be guilty of immorality or greed, or is an idolater--that is, whose soul is devoted to any object that usurps the place of God--or [is] a person with a foul tongue (railing, abusing, reviling, slandering), or is a drunkard, or a swindler, or a robber. [No] you must not so much as eat with such a person. (12) What [business] of mine is it and what right have I to judge outsiders? (Unbelievers, non-members) Is it not those inside [the church] upon whom you are to pass disciplinary judgment--passing censuring sentence on them [as the facts require]? (13) God alone sits in judgment on those who are outside. Drive out that wicked one from among you--expel him from your church" (Parallel Bible, KJV-Amplified Bible commentary, emphasis and (Insert) mine).

Another interesting passage is found in 2 Thessalonians, chapter 3 where it appears that  false teachers had convinced some of the believers in Thessalonica that the Lord was going to come back on a certain date. So they quit their jobs, sold their possessions, and were anxiously awaiting His return. But while they waited, they had to live off of the generosity of other brethren and, among other things, were guilty of idleness and "sticking their noses" into the affairs of others. To correct the problem, Paul's words of verses 6, 14, and 15 once again encourage proper judgment:

"(6) Now we charge you, brethren, in the name and on the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiah, that you withdraw and keep away from every brother (fellow believer) who is slack in the performance of duty and is disorderly, living as a shirker and not walking in accord with the traditions and instructions that you have received from us......(14) But if any one [in the church] refuses to obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and do not associate with him, that he may be ashamed. (15) Do not regard him as an enemy, but simply admonish and warn him as [being still] a brother" (Parallel Bible, KJV-Amplified Bible commentary, emphasis mine).

Are these warnings being taught and followed by the majority of pastors and churches today? No, because they are not "politically correct" and might offend someone! Unity at all costs is being promoted heavily and every effort made to attract all who will make a profession of faith and help to fill a pew--regardless of their actual standing with God.

Instead, we should follow Paul's exhortation of 1 Thessalonians 5:21, where he says:

"But test and prove all things [until you can recognize] what is good; [to that] hold fast" (Parallel Bible, KJV-Amplified Bible commentary).

Spiritual discernment must serve as our "radar antenna" and be exercised in all things of daily life in order to avoid being deceived by the devil. We keep on pounding the theme of deception because the Word of God stresses it! Please understand that just because someone uses the terminology of Christianity and goes to Church every time the doors open--or is standing behind the pulpit when you enter--does not necessarily mean they are born again believers in Jesus Christ. Listen to the witness of the Holy Spirit within concerning those who claim the title of "Christian" and if your spiritual antenna begins to vibrate--pay attention to it. God knows their hearts and whether or not they belong to Him (John 10:27). Watch them and if their actions do not match their profession of faith--avoid them.

Preachers are exhorted in 2 Timothy 4:2 to "....reprove, rebuke, and exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine." The Greek word translated "reprove" is often used in the sense of "expose" and we find that reflected in Ephesians 5:11 and 13.

"(11) Take no part in and have no fellowship with the fruitless deeds and enterprises of darkness, but instead [let your lives be so in contrast as to] expose and reprove and convict them.....(13) But when anything is exposed and reproved by the light, it is made visible and clear; and where everything is visible and clear there is light" (Parallel Bible, KJV-Amplified Bible commentary).

To point out doctrinal error is an essential part of any genuine preacher's ministry and must be done for the benefit of God's people. So when we find it necessary to criticize the tactics and teachings of others, it must be done using the Word of God as the standard and not our own ideas. Then when someone is shown to be in error, their perceived piety and popularity must not color or overrule the facts. Wrong is wrong regardless of the size of the reputation.

Judging is not wrong, when it is the exercise of spiritual discernment. May God grant that we see much more of it!

If you have been born again and received Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, but have been very lukewarm in your spiritual walk with Him, you need to immediately ask Him for forgiveness and for renewal. He will instantly forgive you, and fill your heart with the joy of the Holy Spirit. Then, you need to begin a daily walk of prayer and personal Bible Study.

If you have never placed your trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior, but have come to sense His reality and the approaching End of the Age, and want to receive His FREE Gift of Eternal Life, you can do so now, in the privacy of your home. Once you truly believe in Him as Lord and Savior, you are spiritually Born Again, and are as assured of Heaven as if you were already there. Then, you can rest assured that the Kingdom of Antichrist will not touch you spiritually. If you would like to become Born Again, turn to our Salvation Page now.

We hope you have been blessed by this ministry, which seeks to educate and warn people, so that they can see the coming New World Order—Kingdom of Antichrist—in their daily news.

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Gordo, AL 35466

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God bless you.