October 10, 2010
Sermon on the Mount, #26

Call to Righteous Judgment

Matthew 7:1-5

Now we come to one of the most misused verse in Scripture.

Though judge not was preached to all present, it was addressed to the disciples.

The Lord's sermon dealt primarily with our inward and outward duty to our fellow man; and He sums up our duty in v. 12, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Then v. 13 to the end of the chapter, He warns of false prophets who would subvert the Word of God in any way.

The Lord has been applying Moses' law throughout his message here, and now he applies his law concerning proper judgment:

Leviticus 19:15 Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty: [but] in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour.

Though this law is found in Moses' books, it is restated in many different ways throughout the Word of God. James also develops the law of proper judgment.

These 5 verses must be viewed and understood as a whole thought. If one verse, such as v. 1, is used without the other 4, a false view of judgment will develop.

Proper judgment refers to a disciplined judgment by which we evaluate the conduct of others, particularly fellow Christians. That disciplined judgment is simply evaluating conduct according to God's law-word. Christ is applying what is already given in the law: Leviticus 19:15, in righteousness shalt though judge...

John 8:15 Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man. 16 And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me.

Not even Christ judged according to his personal standard, for he said, I judge no man. And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me.

His judgment was according to the Father's standard.

Paul rebuked the people at Corinth for not passing righteous judgment and dealing with sin within the church, 1 Cor 5:12. The people were to judge those within, and if anyone within was found hardened in any of the sins mentioned, they were to be removed from the assembly.

We see from Paul's words that we must judge others, but that judgment cannot be by what appears to our natural eyes. And then proper action must be taken as required by Scripture.

MISUSE

There are at least three reasons people misuse v. 1:

First, this verse is misused by the enemy to prevent people from looking past the surface of what is going on around them. The result is that they are deceived into accepting things for face value, and they get a false understanding of the truth.

Second, it is misused by those who do not want to stand against evil: "I am commanded not to judge; therefore, I will not judge whether or not he is doing something I should stand against. Besides, I might make an enemy of my friend".

Thus they corrupt this verse to justify non-involvement. It prevents receiving persecution for any stand against sin.

When we call others into account to the law of God, we will be condemned soundly by the world.

Third, probably the main reason for corrupting Judge not that ye be not judged is the desire to continue in sin. When the sinner is challenged by what God says about their evil ways, they respond with Judge not that ye be not judged. What they really mean is Leave me alone. I want to continue in my ways without rebuke, and you have no right to rebuke me.

Is the Lord telling us to avoid any kind of judgment?
What does it mean to judge someone?

From our Lord's words in 7:15-19, we know that judge not... cannot be understood in the manner that the ungodly want it to be understood.

We realize that only the Lord knows the thoughts and intents of the heart, but he tells us here that we are to judge according to what we can see in others.

Regardless of what one says about his motives, if the fruit is corrupt, the tree is corrupt.

The Child of God is required to view every word and action in terms of God's word. God's word then passes judgment on any event whether it is right or wrong. Therefore, this section must be viewed in the light of God's righteous standard of judgment as revealed in his law.

We live in a day when all standards have been attacked and destroyed by wicked men. The modern standard is what is right in ones own eyes and what is right according to some ungodly authority.

Now, let us look at several points about judging from this section.

This section develops sinful judging, as well as proper judging.

First, righteous judgment is required.

John 7:24 Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.

Lev 19:15 Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty: [but] in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour.

A few points about righteous judgment:

Righteous judgment means that we discipline ourselves to viewing others through the word of God, and censuring them as the facts require.

We must avoid first appearance judgments, or rash judgment. Every man seems right until we hear or see the other side.

Proverbs 18:17 [He that is] first in his own cause [seemeth] just; but his neighbour cometh and searcheth him.

We must avoid judgment according to the outward letter of the law, and ignore the spirit of the Law. Christ made a point of healing on the Sabbath, violating the letter of the law, but keeping its spirit.

We must judge according to truth. The Word of God holds us to a firm standard, that is, the truth of God, John 17:17, thy word is truth. Without God's truth, we have no righteous standard of judgment. Therefore, we must know God's word.

We must not judge according to personal prejudices, standards, feelings, opinions, relationships nor social standing.

De 27:19 Cursed [be] he that perverteth the judgment of the stranger, fatherless, and widow. And all the people shall say, Amen.

De 1:17 Ye shall not respect persons in judgment; [but] ye shall hear the small as well as the great; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man; for the judgment [is] God's: and the cause that is too hard for you, bring [it] unto me, and I will hear it. Righteous judgment requires equal judgment in all cases.

Deacons? Someone must "judge" between right and wrong within the congregation of the Lord.

De 16:19 Thou shalt not wrest judgment; thou shalt not respect persons, neither take a gift: for a gift doth blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous.

It seems as though if someone has money or worldly success, we do not judge them by the same standard as we might one that is down and out.

We must not judge according to the standard of the day.

Ex 23:2 Thou shalt not follow a multitude to [do] evil; neither shalt thou speak in a cause to decline after many to wrest [judgment]:

We are forbidden to judge according to our standard, so we must know the word of God.

We must not judge others severely or unfairly. Proper judgement is not a fault-finding mission against one another.

The Lord condemns judging others because their actions to not pass our personal standards or traditions we hold dear. The actions of others which we might find disagreeable, no matter who the person is, do not give Scriptural right to speak evil against that person.

Most of our "judging" is done according to our personal standard. And we can become so confirmed in our personal ideas that we come to believe they are Scriptural. That is, by a standard that is not clearly defined by God's word.

God's word establishes general guidelines, and allows great leeway within those guidelines. Many men have fought and even died over where those guidelines are drawn.

The Lord condemns unjust judgment against people because their actions do not pass our personal standards. The actions of others which we might find disagreeable, no matter who the person is, do not give Scriptural right to speak evil against that person.

In fact, the Lord requires righteous judgment against our own children, even to capital punishment.

Second, we are told that we will reap what we sow.

For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

Luke 6:36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. 37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: 38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

The passage in Luke emphasizes sowing and reaping.

The Lord tells us that if we are hard and unkind toward others, we will receive hardness and unkindness in return. On the other hand, if we are kind and generous toward others, we will have kindness and generosity shown toward us.

We will be judged according to the way we judge others.

Third, we are warned against holding others to a standard we cannot or will not meet.

Romans 2:1-3: Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things. And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?

Over the years, I have found that we are inclined to be the harshest against others in areas that we are unable to control, or that we had to fight extra hard to bring under control.

Fourth, there are times when wrong judgments are right.

In 2 Samuel 1, David put to death a man who made a false claim of killing King Saul, whom he was certain was David's enemy. David told him that he condemned himself, v. 16. David wrongly judged the man and put him to death, but the man's own words brought the unjust judgement upon himself. David was released from any guilt.

The man was judged by his own words. Therefore, the one judging was released from responsibility for the judgment being right or wrong; the individual judged himself, rightly or wrongly.

Fifth, we are forbidden to judge others without first judging ourselves, and dealing with what is revealed in our own lives.

V. 3, And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

We tend to overlook those things in others that we cannot overcome in our lives. Our weakness in that particular area does lead others to question our "just judgment" of their actions.

However, our failure in a particular area cannot permit our overlooking those sins in others. We must admit our failure, and say, "I am not judging in this matter. Rather, this is what God says about the situation".

As I have told people, "Let God be the bad guy". His word is the one who condemns certain actions, not me. If I had my way..."

The result of realizing our own weaknesses should be humbleness and meekness of mind:

Galatians 6:1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. 2 Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

Spiritual, that is, mature in the faith, as well as able to deal with the situation in a meek manner.

Sixth, vv. 5 & 17 requires Christians to judge outward actions according to the standard of God's word.

Christians are commanded not to go beyond the word of God, which was what the Pharisees did. They judged severely or unfairly by adding their traditions to the law of God.

Seventh, the Lord is not speaking to unjust civil authority, surrounding pagans nor to the religious leaders. He is speaking his strongest words of this message to his disciples, thou hypocrite. 5:1, 2, 7:5.

The hypocrite is here defined as one who holds others to a higher standard than he holds himself to. The hypocrite is an expert at identifying problems in others, but not in himself. He will condemn others for the same problem in others that he has in himself.

He ignores in his life what he is condemning others for.

His hypocrisy compromises his light and salt in the evil generation in which he lives.

Sadly, we are all experts at identifying the problems of others, but very few of us are willing to face our own problems. Matthew 7:16, every one feels qualified to be a fruit inspector as long as no one inspects his own fruit.

Eighth, while condemning others, the hypocrite will not admit his own sin, nor accept correction.

He dedicates his efforts to correcting others, but he considers himself above reproach.

Pr 16:2 All the ways of a man [are] clean in his own eyes; but the LORD weigheth the spirits.
Pr 21:2 Every way of a man [is] right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts.
Pr 30:12 [There is] a generation [that are] pure in their own eyes, and [yet] is not washed from their filthiness.
Isa 5:21 Woe unto [them that are] wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!

Many times the hypocrite's problem is that though the sin he sees in others is in his life, it is a different form, so he cannot nor will not recognize it in himself.

I have mentioned this before. The fat preacher who preaches against drunkenness is a hypocrite. The drunk and the fat man have the same problem:

Rom 13:14, But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

Over the years, I have noticed that those who are the most hostile against the evils in civil government are generally hostile against authority as a rule.

The Lord Jesus Christ in this passage is soundly rebuking those who are very quick and anxious to correct the faults and errors in the lives of those around them, but they cannot see, or will not admit to or refuse to deal with areas of sin their own lives.

I suppose one of my biggest problems is inconsistency in folks. I know that I am inconsistent in areas, but I try to deal with those inconsistencies when they are brought to my attention.

Illustration:

I knew a man some years ago who justified stealing from his employer by saying that he was not being paid what he was worth. Yet the same man was extremely hostile over the civil government stealing from him. The Lord calls such a one a hypocrite. He considers himself an expert at pointing out the sins of others, but when some one mentions anything at all to him about his sins, he will not speak to them again for a week.

The hypocrite is inclined to condemn others for what he sees as a great weakness or even sin on their part, yet he is unwilling or unable to bring a weakness or sin into control in his own life.

Ninth, God judges the hypocrite by allowing him to reap what he sows.

The Lord has a way of seeing that we get what we give. In other words, the hypocrite will be judged by God by having a bigger hypocrite over him.

If all of society is given to hypocrisy, what can we expect from the Lord?

Tenth, as a general rule, those under us reflect our attitudes and actions. Scriptures teach that part of the God's law of sowing and reaping is that we reap the blessings or curses for our relationship to Him through those under us, especially in our children.

In other words, our sin may well show up in those under us, only it may show up in a different way. But it is very difficult for us to see our sin as it reflects back to us because it takes on a different shape in those under us.

Illustration: From the time I entered the ministry, I have tried to be loyal to the ones in authority over me whether I agreed with them or not. The result has been that even though folks left the church in Indiana who did not agree with me as the one in authority, they did not undermined me while they were here.

On the other hand, I know men who just could not bring themselves to be loyal to those over them because they did not agree with those in authority. The result has been very serious disloyalty by those under them every since.

The word of God is clear: if we will judge and treat others as we desire to be judged and treated (according to the Truth), God will bless us for it.

Eleventh, be nice and patient to everyone, and give them the benefit of the doubt whenever possible.

1 Co 4:5 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 hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.

But Paul clearly is not saying to avoid judgment altogether:

1 Cor 5:13, But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.

Paul tells us that our major concern is to keep our own lives pure and above reproach, and to keep the church pure.

Where do we see the problems in Society? How do we judge others? lovingly and with compassion as we would like to be treated?

The Lord's sermon on the mount covered every area of thought and action. That means that although the actions might be right, if our thoughts and attitudes are not, we have violated the whole law. On the other hand, if our attitudes are right, and our actions are wrong, we have violated the whole law.

Jas 2:9 But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. 10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one [point], he is guilty of all. 11 For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. 11 Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of [his] brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge.

1 Jo 3:4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.

I am afraid that we just do not realize the importance God places upon our relationships and attitudes one toward another. The Lord speaks very clear in His law: unjust and unholy attitudes toward another are wicked sins.

Let us not be deceived: the devil knows and believes the Word of God. But the devil and his crowd use the Word of God for their own advantages. That is, they ignore the Word of God, and say, there is no God; but if someone insists God's word is true, they claim the Word of God is without effect, or of none effect (Ro 4:14); the enemies of God use Scripture to pervert the right ways of the Lord (Acts 13:10); they use Scripture to pervert the gospel of Christ (Ga 1:7).]

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