Did Jesus Really Say Not To Judge?
At Rock of Offence we shed light on subjects that offend some religious beliefs. Inevitably, someone will use Jesus' statement of "judge not" as a defense. This phrase is taken out of context more than any other in the Bible. Yet, a closer study of Christ's words proves that he wasn't saying, "not to judge". He was saying not to judge improperly. In other Scriptures Jesus commands his followers to judge righteous judgement (John 7:24). In I Thessalonians 5:21-22 the apostle Paul instructs us...
"Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearances of evil."There's no way you can obey Paul's instruction unless some kind of "judgement" is used. Jesus and all of the early church leaders exercised "righteous" judgement when confronting Biblical error and distortions of the truth. Without "righteous" judgement and spiritual discernment by its defenders, Satan's counterfeits would have destroyed Christianity hundreds of years ago. Below, I have included an excerpt from another Christian ministry that addresses this common misconception.
You can read the entire article from SpiritWatch Discernment Ministry on Christian Apologetics by clicking on the link below:
Apologetics And Christian Discernment--FAQ's
Jesus Said "Judge Not", Didn't He?[Reprint From SpiritWatch Discernment Ministry]
Again, we would have to point out that this is a misinterpretation of what Jesus meant regarding judgment. The verse this is often cited from is found in Luke 6:37: "Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned." What did Jesus mean here? Was he outright forbidding anyone to practice the Biblically based kind of discernment as we have just described it?
Look at John 7:24 for the answer: "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment." Here, Jesus commands His followers to not make snap judgments based solely upon a shallow acceptance of what one sees "on the surface" or the image being projected by the subject being considered! This is the very mistake that virtually all those who criticize discernment as "heresy hunting" commit when demanding that we "not judge". Indeed, this is a direct command by Jesus Christ Himself phrased as a nonnegotiable imperative that would be an actual sin to disobey! What Jesus is demanding here is that we don't do the sloppy and superficial "checking out" of questionable things that we have for too many years done; rather, he goes on to command that godly judgment be actually done in a holy and sober manner. Christian apologists strive to base their ministry on that principle and that one alone, although admittedly, that has not been the case in many instances.
In Revelation 2:2, we actually find Jesus commending the Ephesian church for trying impostors who posed as apostles and were found to be "liars." Such an examination coudn't take place without a) a Scriptural mandate to "test all things", b) moral courage, and c) just plain obedience for the sake of the truth. Righteous judgment was done, and the Ephesian church was preserved from one deadly aspect of error, if not all. In this case, Jesus showed how "questioning authority" was a right thing to do. This was a church that "judged" but "judged" correctly, to the glory of God. So it is superficial judgment based upon shallow decision making that is actually forbidden by Christ, not the process of sound judgment itself!