Exercising in Righteous Judgment

Originally posted on June 6, 2018 at KindlingTruth.com

Should a Christian be judgmental? We hear it all the time, “judge not that you be not judged.” As Christians, we are commanded to judge, but we are to be careful in the judgments we make with an understanding that “with what judgment you judge, you will be judged.”

It is in the nature and design of mankind to judge things all of the time. Not only is it impossible for us to refrain from making judgments, attempting to refrain from judging things can be all out negligent and unrighteous depending on the circumstance.

The real problem is not that we judge, it is the nature of our judgments.

Many times our judgments are according to the flesh and outward appearances, self-righteous, hypocritical, and otherwise oppressive. Let’s look at some scriptures to help us understand the kinds of judgments we are to avoid, then we will get into the basis of righteous judgment.

Judge Not According to Appearances

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

Jesus teaches that we are not to judge according to outward appearance, but rather, we are to judge righteous judgment. What does this mean? Do we judge people according to how successful they are in this world? Do we look at how well-dressed someone is, what kind of car they drive or house they live in? What do we look to when choosing friends or looking for counsel? What about Christians? Do we fellowship with those who are best at putting on a show of righteousness, or do we look for those who are honest, humble, merciful — and sometimes mess up?

Of-course, we can’t judge the hearts and intents of others, however, the general principle is that we should be cautious in what things we value in others, because this affects our judgment. Judging someone as a loser because they are poor, but yet they are rich in the things of God, is not righteous judgment. Judging someone as a good Christian because they know how to play church and look the part, yet they are self-righteous or dishonest about their own sin is not righteous judgment.

Avoid Oppressive or Self-Righteous Judgment

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.

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

Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?

Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye (Matthew 7:1-5)

During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus went to great lengths talking about judgment with a focus on hypocritical and self-righteous judgment. You can read about this is Matthew 7 and again in Romans 2. Do we judge others for sins we commit or act harshly towards those who sin differently than us? Are we unforgiving or hateful towards those who continue in sin we have stopped doing? The ways in which we can judge self-righteously and hypocritically are vast.

Legalism and self-righteous judgments are oppressive. We cannot forget the gracious liberty we have in Jesus Christ. Of course, we should never accept sin or call evil good for the sake of being more pleasing to those who would like to say “don’t judge me” as an excuse for wickedness. However, we better make sure that we are living by the judgments we make, and we should always strive to offer gentle correction that is for the good of others, not hateful and overly harsh. We should also avoid making prejudicial judgments.

Basically, if we are judging according to our own righteousness, we are not judging the righteous judgments of God. We are better off looking to our own sin, then gently leading others away from their sins by living as an example first and foremost. From there, it’s a matter of seeking the Lord for wisdom so we know when to speak up against sin, when to stay silent and wait on the Lord, and how to approach each situation righteously in general. This is not something we can do according to our judgments. We need the Spirit of the Lord to show us the way.

Do Judge Teachers, Pastors, and Prophets

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.

A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit (Matthew 7:15-18).

We should never accept what we are being told or taught just because some man or woman in authority says so, especially when it comes to the faith. Are we being taught the truth, or are we hearing sermons based on cherry-picked verses that are taken out of context? Are we hearing the gospel, or are we being encouraged to continue in sin? If sin is rebuked, then in what manner? Are we being corrected in love and mercy or self-righteousness?

We are told to judge teachers and prophets by evaluating their fruit. If we do not know how to judge righteous judgment, but instead judge according to the flesh, can we do this? Probably not. We will fall for their fake or rotten fruit and think it is good. Will we esteem the preacher with the most money and fame to be the one sent from God, for example? On another note, if we do not know how to evaluate our own sin and avoid self-righteous judgment and we walk-around with giant beams of sin obstructing our view, how will we judge anything righteously?

Mercy is the Backbone of Righteous Judgment

For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment (James 2:13).

As Christians, the foundation on which all of our judgments should rest is the mercy of Jesus Christ. If he were not merciful with us, we would not be forgiven or have opportunity to learn of the Lord and his righteousness in the first place. Without the patience of Jesus working in our hearts, none of us would repent, and we would all be on the fast track towards destruction. If we want to fall within the mercy of the Lord instead of his wrath, we must be merciful.

How do we apply mercy towards our judgments? That is something we can all consider and work out for ourselves, and we should strive to grow in this regard. If someone does wrong, do we understand that all good in us came from God and not ourselves, so we should be thankful and patient with others? Do we understand that God made everyone, not just Christians, so we should love all and treat all as if they are brothers and sisters? Do we seek to serve others or to be served?

Merciful judgment is such a vast topic, that as with all righteousness, the best way to learn is by going to the source and seeking Jesus. He will teach us how to walk in mercy and how to judge righteously.

What Does This Have to do With Preparing for End-Times?

Lack of Judgment Leaves us Desolate

Lack of sound judgment leaves us void of the Holy Spirit because we grieve him, deny him, and cast his wisdom aside for the pleasures and wisdom of this world. Without the Holy Spirit working in us, we are as the desolate houses Isaiah wrote of who are lacking in judgment, but instead are oppressive and joining house to house and field to field. “Woe unto them that join house to house and lay field to field till there be no place that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth. Of a truth, many houses shall be desolate. Even great and fair without inhabitant.” (Isaiah 5)

Are we joining our spiritual houses with the houses of this world, so that we are no longer a separate and holy people reserved to the Lord? It does not matter how much our outer appearance seems to be good, God is not mocked. We have to judge what is sin and avoid it, we cannot join in with this world and call that righteous living.

Lack of Judgment Leaves us Vulnerable

Lack of judgment leads us into the land of spiritual captivity and readiness to fall into the rule of the Antichrist. If we can no longer judge good from evil and no longer care to be a set-apart people, then what is standing in they way to protected us from the trial that is to come? Will we look to the judgment of this world as we have done, or will we suddenly look to the Lord?

How will we even know the Antichrist is someone we should reject if we are already duped by terrible pastors, teachers, and prophets today? Who will we look to? Doubtful that we will look to the Lord. No, we will continue making our bed with death, and death will be our reward when the Day of the Lord comes to sever the wicked from the just.

Lack of Judgment Leads to Destruction

God is merciful, and so are His judgments. All things the Lord deems are true and good. However, the judgment of God would not be mercy if he allowed the oppressors to continue—those to whom the Lord said, “I looked for judgment but beheld oppression.” (Isaiah 5). The oppressors will be destroyed, whether God is honored with their lips or not. Those Christians-so-called who abuse you without repentance. Those atheists who ridicule your faith. Those elites of the world who control us and manipulate the masses—all who oppress will be destroyed as an act of mercy towards God’s people. He will deliver us from our enemies.

Therefore, we want to be among those who exercise righteous judgment, not judgment of self-righteousness, or judgment of oppression and legalism. We also don’t want to just say “judge not” and passively allow those who oppress and deceive to go unchecked.

In Conclusion

In order to judge righteous judgment, we need to go to the source. We need to seek the Lord, who is the creator and judge of all! Is not the Holy Spirit also the Spirit of Judgment? If we have the Holy Spirit working in us, we will first learn to judge our own sin. We will repent and we will be healed. We will learn to forgive others, and we will also learn something fundamentally important which is the relationship between righteous judgment and mercy—and in His mercy, the Lord will one day rid the earth of all oppression and unrighteousness. To stand during that day, we need to judge good from evil, stand in mercy and patience, and take comfort in the judgment of the Lord rather than be fearful of it.

Things We Should Judge:

  • Judging what is sin so that we can approach the Lord for freedom from temptation.
  • judging how to handle individual situations uprightly, like when to speak against evil and when to hold your peace.
  • Judging teachers and prophets, holding them accountable by comparing what they say and do against the word of God.
  • Judging things in general not after the outer appearance or the wisdom of this world but according to the spirit and the righteousness of God.
  • Making sound judgments concerning the interpretation and application of the Word of God.

Things We Cannot Judge:

  • The innermost feelings, thoughts, and intents of others.
  • The salvation of others or their relationship with God. (though we can learn and apply mistakes we see in the Christian world to ourselves so that we are not cast out).
  • Harshly rebuke others for sin that we ourselves have been in – either in the past or present.
  • Label others with harsh words or accusations. You are, or this person is a …
  • Any judgment that is vengeful or otherwise malicious.

When You’re Stuck:

If faced with a situation and you’re not sure what the right response is, seek Jesus. You might also consider taking the approach that is the most:

  • Meek
  • Humble
  • Patient
  • Peaceful
  • Forgiving
  • Faithful
  • Compassionate
  • Selfless
  • Glorifying to God

Each moment of each day, we are making some kind of judgment, and if we seek the Lord we will be exercised in this. Our ability to judge is part of what makes us in God’s image, therefore, learning to judge righteously is fundamental for us as Christians. As we are being transformed inwardly by the working of Jesus and the Spirit within, we will continue to learn what it means to judge righteous judgment. In so doing, we will stand against all evil and we will not be separated as the wicked from the just when the Lord’s Day is upon us.

This article was written as part of a series considering how Christians should prepare for “end-times.” You can find more articles within this series and others from KindlingTruth in the “KindlingTruth Reposts” category. I am going over the content of my former website, reposting acceptable content, correcting errors, and repenting of works done in the wrong spirit. Why do I say “I did not know what spirit I was of?”

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