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"Judge Not that You Be Not Judged"
Rightly Dividing the Truth
Don’t Judge!
Matthew 7:1-6
 
This week has been a little bit challenging.  First of all, it was short and I started off behind.  That’s one of the reasons I dislike days off and vacations.  I always come back farther behind than I was before. We also had a couple of funerals, one I attended and one I preached.  We were also dealing with some things at home such as purchasing another vehicle and dealing with some school issues.  Also Jimmy started his time off, so all in all it was very busy and hectic. 
 
But on e of the most frustrating things was deciding what to preach on Sunday evening.  As you know, I like series preaching, and it was my expectation that we would begin some book series or topical study tonight that would last over the next several weeks.  But I haven’t yet figured out what that series will be, in spite of the many excellent suggestions I’ve received from many of you.
 
So while we are waiting to get that direction from God, I want to do a short series, three or four messages, that deal with some of the most misunderstood verses and passages in the Bible.  I have some in mind already and I would be glad for you to share with me some of the ones with which you struggle to understand their meaning.
 
And please know, I didn’t try to rank them.  There are many on the old interweb who will list them in order of least to most misunderstood. 
I don’t know how they arrive at those lists or evaluate how misunderstood a verse or passage is. So I’m not going to try to list them in any kind of order, but rather, just deal with them one-by-one.Having said that, I will say the one before us tonight is probably one of the most misunderstood and misused verses in the Bible. It is found in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7. 
 
Matthew 7:1-6
 
This is a fascinating portion of Scripture that is frequently referred to and often quoted.  But I’m afraid that sometimes and maybe many times, it is not kept together in its context and appled as the Lord intended it to be. 
 
Let me give you a little background as we approach it. In the Sermon on the Mount, our Lord has touched on every area of a believer's life and how we are to live as a part of God’s family and kingdom. 
 
He began with our perspective on self in the Beatitudes, with our perspective on the world in the statements on salt and light, with our perspectives on the Word of God as He talked about the law and the fact that it was immutable and unchanging, our perspective on the moral law or holiness as He discussed the fact that we are to have an inward commitment as well as an external one.
 
He discussed our religious activity -- giving, praying, fasting. He discussed our regarding money and possessions and material goods. And now he comes to a text that deals with our relations with other people.
And even though He has covered this myriad of subjects, there is one common backdrop for all of them and that is how their life as a Christian contrasts with the lives of the scribes and Pharisees. 
 
Even though they claimed to represent God and teach God’s law, their view of life was to be proud.  IN contrast to that, the Beatitudes instruct us to be humble. They were a part of the system. Christ said that we are to be salt and light to the system.
 
They had denied the Word of God and established their own. Christ reestablished and affirmed God’s Word and His Word alone. They believed only in an external morality. Christ brought about an internal morality. They acted out their religious activities of giving, praying and fasting in a hypocritical, superficial way, and the Lord said it has to be from the heart. They were preoccupied with money and possessions, and the Lord says you are not so to be, but instead, seek first the kingdom.
 
And they were very involved in wrongful human relationships, and the Lord sets it right here. And in every one of the contrasts, He is reminding His hearers of the inadequacy of religion and their need for a relationship with God. 
 
So this final comparison is human relations. And then from there He will sum it all up and bring to a conclusion the Sermon on the Mount. 
 
Now, what Jesus has to say about human relations goes all the way through verse twelve, and I want you to think about that. 
 
Think about all the volumes upon volumes that have been written about human relationships and we still don’t know how to get along with one another.  There are books on behavioral psychology ad infinitum, ad nauseum, trying to figure out how to manage relationship and coordinate human behavior and all get along, and yet here, in only twelve verses, you have the sum of the teaching of Jesus regarding human relations.
 
You might not think you could sum up all there is on human relations in 12 verses, and I suppose a man couldn't, but Jesus can. I mean, Jesus says more in 12 verses than all of them put together. And He has an amazing way of summing up the whole world of human relationships in very simple terms. 
 
In the first six verses, He tells us what we are not to do, and in verses 7-12, He tells us what we are to do.  And if we would follow what He says in these 12 verses, it would take care of every human relationship problem in any setting. 
 
If you want to know how to act in your family or on your job or in your neighborhood or in your recreation, or you want to know how to deal with people in business, this is the sum of it all.
 
This evening, we're going to look at the negative side of it, what not to do from verses 1 to 6, and the principle appears in verse 1 in the first two verses.  
 
1.  The Principle
 
"Judge not."
 
Let’s stop right there and think about that principle.  “Do not judge”.  The initial response is to say, “You can't reduce all of human relations down to that." Oh, yes, you can, and as we move along, you’ll see what I mean. 
 
It sounds so simplistic. Don't judge. And you hear people throw that around. "Judge not, lest ye be judged." I've heard that. "Who are you to judge?"
 
Now, there are many people who've misunderstood this. Tolstoy, for example, the Russian novelist, said, "Christ here totally forbids the human institution of any law courts." Now, that is a gross misunderstanding of this.
 
There are other people who say, "We should never criticize. We should never condemn anybody for anything. We should never evaluate anything at all. We don't want to judge, lest we should be judged."
 
And that phrase sort of fits our time, I think.  Without any understanding of the verse or of Christ or God, there are lots of people who are ready to say we are not to judge anything or anybody. 
 
That fits our age because our time hates anything that is absolute.  We love relativism.  We hate theology and dogma. Our time resists doctrine. Our time doesn't like convictions. People speak about love, and they speak about compromise and tolerance and unity, anything to get everybody together. And ironically anyone who talks about doctrine or dogma or convictions or absolutes is nto tolerated or loved. 
 
 
How unlike the past when men were praised for being men of conviction. They were praised for being men of principle, men of standards, men of dogma. But today the most reviled men and women ont he face of the earth are people of conviction.  They are deemed difficult and intolerant and unloving while those who compromise or take no solid stands are praised. 
 
And as a result of that type of culture, the slogan or "judge not" just fits into the mentality of the time.
 
Obviously, Jesus is not condemning courts of law.  God designed and instituted that system.  Romans 13 affirms the right for a nation to rule its people. Neither is He condemning any kind of judging or discriminating. The Bible tells us, as believers, that we must discern.  We must do that to operate as God’s children and ambassadors. 
 
We're not to be undiscriminating. We're not to be blind. We're not to be soft sentimentalists. As a matter of fact, notice what Jesus said in
 
verse 6
 
It’s interesting, isn’t it, that in verse 1 Jesus says, “Don’t judge”, then in verse 6, He says, “You need to make a judgment about where to share the gospel.” 
If you’re going to do it like Jesus said to do it you’re going to have to determine who the dogs and hogs are.  There must be discrimination, or if you will a judgment, that is made.
 
Look at verse 15. "Beware of false prophets who come in sheep's clothing." If you only perceive things superficially, you'll see the sheep's clothing and never know the wolf that's under there. There must be discernment. There must be judging, or we won't know the false prophets. We don't know the dogs. We don't know the swine that we're to avoid.
 
So if it’s not judging in general and if it’s not courts of law, then what is He talking about?
 
He's talking about is the critical, judgmental, condemning, self-righteous finger pointing of the Pharisees.  They had a critical spirit.  
 
It had nothing to do with sin.  We know we have to deal with sin and help our brothers and sisters who are erring.  But what Jesus is talking about is the critical spirit that judges motives.  So if you want an easy translation of what it says in verse 1, it says, "Stop criticizing." Who are you to criticize other people? That's the issue.
 
We must judge. We must evaluate. But we are not to have the negative, critical spirit that passes judgment on others. 
 
By the way, the word translated in the English as "judge" is used about 20 different ways in the Greek.  And as with any other passage, context determines meaning. Here Jesus uses it in contrast to the Pharisees.  He’s not forbidding all judgment, because He talks in so many other places of the necessity of that kind of judgment.
 
 
But we're not to judge people's motives. We're not to condemn them because they don't look like we think they ought to look or they don't act or talk like we think they ought to talk or act. They don't come up to our supposed self-righteous standard. We have no business doing that.
 
So why not?  It all has to do with
 
2.  The Perception
 
The way in which we view things is what we think gives us the right to sit in judgment. So Jesus points out three reasons why we shouldn’t do that. 
 
First of all, to judge others means we got
 
  • A Wrong View of Godverse 1
 
The reason we sit in judgment is because we think we’re God and He simply reminds them that they are not the final court. To judge other people, their motives and so forth, is to play God.
 
Gut John 5 tells us that judgment belongs to God, and He's committed that judgment to the Son and we are not, at least for now, to sit in judgment. There will be a time during the millennium when we share that responsibility with Christ, but at this time and for now, we have no right to judge.
 
That means every time you sit in judgment on someone, every time you criticize their motives, or every time you think you have a right to make an evaluation, you're playing God.
Every time you carry out vengeance or a vendetta or you get even on your own, you are playing God. Every time you pass sentence on someone arbitrarily, you're playing God.
 
Every time you criticize somebody because they don't do something the way you think it ought be done, or because you think you've figured out their motive, you pass judgment and set yourself up as God. The short of it is, don't play God.
 
Secondly, don't judge, because it's
 
  • A Wrong View of Others
 
verse 2
 
Most people think that they can judge because they impose a different set of standards on others than they do themselves.  The Pharisees thought they were exempt. They lived on some strata beyond the purview of any judgment. They were up here where everything was fine, and only people down here got it.
 
But Jesus says, “You're going to get just what you give.”
 
Now, some people think this is talking about human relationships. You judge somebody, they'll judge you the same way. You measure out something to them, they'll measure it out to you the same way. And there is a sense in which that is true. 
 
But to say that about this verse is to miss the point. That's not the heart of this verse at all because, you see, how men treat us is not what motivates us.
A man or a woman who walks with God is not so concerned about what men think as about what God thinks. And the great restriction on our life, the great confining element of our life, is what God thinks and what God feels about us.
 
So I believe it's talking about God's judgment. And what He's saying is, God is going to evaluate you on the basis of your knowledge.  If you are arrogant enough to say, “I know enough to judge everybody else”, then you know enough to be judged on it yourself.
 
But the problem was they had a wrong view of others. And God will judge us all by the same standard.
 
If you're negative, gossipy, tale bearing, critical, judgmental, just know you're criticism will become a boomerang. You throw it out and it will come right back and hit you in the head. 
 
To judge wrongly is to play God. And it is a serious thing because you can't judge rightly because you don't have all the facts.
 
Finally, we are not to judge because we have
 
  • A Wrong View of Ourselves
 
Verses 3-4
 
Are you so good that you can sit around checking out everybody else? You've got nothing to work on? You've got it all under control?
 
Some of us would do well to take the time we spend criticizing other people and put it to action in prayer and confession of our own sin somewhere in a closet. Because until we get our own life straightened out, we have little usefulness in trying to assist someone else.
 
That is essentially what the Lord says in these verses.  And it’s almost comical.  He talks about this speck in the eye.  Some versions say splinter or twig.  The idea is it’s not a giant limb, but it’s also not a tiny little speck.  It's something substantial and if you’ve got it in your eye, it would be a terrible experience. 
 
So here is this guy with a twig in his eye and he's miserable. But along comes this guy with an an 8-foot 2x4 in his eye and he says, “You sure must be stupid to get a twig in your eye like that!  I would never do such a thing!  You need somebody like me to help you with that!”
 
It’s ridiculous!  And you’re going to play God? We are unfit as judges, not only because we can't play the part of God, and because we are tend to use a different standard for ourselves than we do everybody else, but because we are hopelessly and utterly blind when it comes to perception.
 
As soon as you criticize someone else for their shortcoming, you reveal the fact that you are spiritually blind or else, you'd be working on your own plank instead of their splinter.
 
Now, people have argued back and forth about what the splinter is and what the plank is. And some have said the splinter is sort of a little sin. Well, I don't see it as a little sin. I think it's pretty severe sin, a twig in your eye. And then they say, "But the plank is a vulgar, heinous, vile, wretched, evil, horrible sin." I don't see that, either. I mean, people with a vile, wretched, evil, heinous, horrible sin in their eye aren't going around trying to straighten out other people. They're usually trying to justify themselves. And so someone with a smaller sin they would easily justify, right? That wouldn't be a problem for them.
 
Usually the people who see everything wrong in somebody else's life see absolutely nothing wrong in their own life. And the only gross, vile, wretched sin that never sees anything wrong in its own life is what? Self-righteousness. And that's what the plank is. As long as you're self-righteous, as long as you're spiritually proud, as long as you set yourself up as a judge, you can't help anybody out with any sin.
 
It is interesting, though, that in the Lord's caricature, that is a far worse sin than any other, because it plays God. It is the vilest of all sins. Do you realize that every situation in the New Testament, Jesus condemns sin, not the sinner, except one, self-righteousness. And there He blasted the sinner with the sin, because it is the worst sin of all. It plays God. It denies the gospel. It denies the need for redemption. It says, "I'm holy like I am." And so the plank is self-righteousness.
 
And as long as you're self-righteous, and you think you're all right, and you never bother dealing with your own sin, there's no way you're going to help anybody else. You're blind. It is the sin of subtle, self-righteous criticism. And it's a plank in your own eye. And you cannot help anybody else.
 
That’s why Jesus says what He does in
 
Verse 5
 
This is where everything comes into very sharp focus. We can't judge, because it's a wrong view of God, others and self. Who are you to do that?
 
Now, as we close, I want to say something about
 
3.  The Perils
 
As we think about the Lord’s instruction to not judge, there are at least two dangers that come to mind. 
 
Danger #1 - We will not be willing to confront sin
 
We might be tempted to say, "If it’s that dangerous of a thing, then I’m not even going to get near it.  I don’t want to go too far and wind up under judgment myself.”
 
But the problem is if we don't confront sin, then leaven is never put out of the lump and the church is going to get corrupted.
And if we don't discriminate the true from the false, then we’re going to wind up departing from the truth and teaching false doctrine. 
 
And neither of those options are acceptable. So notice how the Lord closes. 
 
First of all, deal with your own issues. 
 
Verse 5 – “remove the plank from your own eye”
 
Not only does He point out the board is in the eye, but goes on to say, “It must be removed.”
How do you do that? Through simple confession. 
 
Take a good look at yourself. Acknowledge you've got a spiritual problem yourself that makes you judgmental and critical of other people. 
 
Then having considered it and identified it, remove it. And how do you do that? By confessing it to the Lord. In fact, that is exactly what we read in
 
1 Corinthians 11:21
 
God's not going to have to deal with the sin of self-righteousness if we deal with it first. And so I bring my life fully to the judgment of God, and I ask Him to cleanse, to purify, to remove it.
 
Then, once I've done that, I can move on to the rest of verse 5. 
 
“Then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye”
 
If we really love one another, we won’t let our brothers and sister run around injured and hurting.  We don’t let them go on in sin. We've got to get it out, but we’ve got we've got to deal with ourselves first. 
 
Remember what David prayed in Psalm 51: "Create in me a clean heart, then will I teach transgressors your ways and sinners will be converted to You."
 
Why that order?  It is because a transgressor does not have the capacity to learn the right way until they are converted and there’s no way I can help a sinner be converted to God unless I have a clean heart.
 
The second danger is
 
Danger #2 - We will not discern or discriminate at all.
 
Instead, we'll say, "Anything goes and we’ll all just believe what we want to and be one big happy family and doctrine doesn’t matter and just be sincere and God will understand. 
 
We don't want to upset anybody or run anyone away. We just want to love everybody. We'll all get together and you believe what you want and I’ll believe what I want and we’ll all go to heaven together. 
 
Notice verse 6
 
This is a fascinating verse, and I want to pull it together for you, because it really deserves to be understood.  Dogs in those days were not the little nice smelling, painted nails, rhinestone collars, funny little sweater things that sit in your lap and rule the roost. 
 
Dogs in those days, apart from the dogs that worked with the flocks, were mongrels that scavenged around the city and ate the garbage.  Jews believed them to be filthy. The Psalms say they threaten, they howl, they snarl, they are a greedy, shameless group.  They are called contemptible in I Samuel. Dogs were an ugly kind of a being.
It was the dogs that came and ate the body of Jezebel when she was thrown out into the streets. 
They weren't anything like we have today and obviously, you would never consider throwing the holy things of God to a pack of dogs like that.
 
So what are the holy things? Well, when you came to the temple to make a sacrifice, the sacrifice would be presented to the Lord and a part would go on the altar part and a part would go to the priest for his meal. And. The part that went on the altar was for God and it would be consumed on the altar as an offering to the Lord.
 
Now, no priest would ever consider taking his part from the altar and you certainly wouldn’t consider taking it off the altar and giving it to the filthy, mangy dogs out in the street. That would be a horrible desecration by an unclean, filthy, vile animal. Nobody would do and Jesus knows that. 
 
And He uses that picture to speak of how we must use discernment when it comes to ministry.  Don't waste the precious truths of the Word of God on those who have nothing but disdain and contempt for it.  And just to drive the point home even more, He uses a second illustration of not throwing pearls to the swine because they'll trample them under their feet and then turn on you.
 
Now, like the dogs, the pigs in those days weren't quite as domesticated as today either.  And if you get a bunch of hogs mad at you, you could be in real trouble. You come out pretending to feed them and throw them pearls. You say, "Who'd do that? Nobody would do that."
That's the point. I mean, a man would have to liquidate his entire fortune to get just one pearl from the Persian Sea or the Indian Ocean. They were priceless things, incredible things.  Who's going to throw a pearl to a hog? Nobody!  Why not?  Outside of Miss Piggy, hogs don't appreciate pearls. Don't waste things on those who don't appreciate them. Therefore, you're going to have to discern, discriminate that.
 
This is a tremendous truth, people. We have to learn in our ministry to be discriminating. You don't say everything to everybody. So who is Jesus talking about when he mentions the dogs and hogs?  Look at 2 Peter 2, and I'll show you.
 
2 Peter 2:1-2
 
He’s talking about false teachers and what He’s saying is that there are many who will follow the destructive heresies of those who deny the Lord. 
Then he provides several examples of those who’ve followed false prophets and teachers, beginning with the angels who followed Satan and were kicked out of heaven.
 
He mentions those destroyed in the flood and those destroyed at Sodom and Gomorrah and Lot, those who walk in the lust of uncleanness, who are self-willed, who mock angels, who are scabs. He calls them scabs in verse 13, cursed children, in the way of Balaam, wells without water, liars and so forth.
 
In verse 20 He says, “they have escaped the pollutions of the world through a head knowledge of the Lord Jesus, but have turned away from it." And then notice
verse 22
 
You could take one of those street dogs and bring him in and try to change his diet, but he'll go right back to his vomit. You can take a hog in the house, clean it up, leave the door open, it'll be right back in the slop. Hogs and dogs are those who, having known the truth, have followed the way of false teachers and false prophets and liars and deceivers.
 
So what is Jesus talking about when he mentions the holy things and the pearl?  I believe without a doubt it's the Word of God. It's the truth of the Word of God, including the gospel.  And Jesus is saying, “We must make judgments, but they must be proper, righteous judgments. We must discriminate, and we must deal with sin in the life of another brother or sister.
 
But we must never be judgmental and critical, because we set ourselves up as some self-righteous judge. And it all comes down to an attitude.
 
 
Are you criticizing, are you evaluating, are you discerning, are you discriminating in order to know the truth and honor God? Or are you doing it to exalt yourself and hurt somebody else. Ultimately, it comes to that decision.
 
Let's pray.
 
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