PASTOR T. O. BANSO
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. ‘Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces’” (Matthew 7:1-6 NKJV).
You must have heard this quote many times:“Judge not, that you be not judged.” It is a popular scripture often used to silence critics! But this scripture does not forbid a Christian to correct others who have done wrong or sinned, if the motive is to help them. After all, Galatians 6:1says, “Dear brothers and sisters, if another Christian is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself” (NLT).
In Matthew 7:1-6, what the Lord Jesus is against is a hypocritical, self-righteous attitude, a judgmental disposition or an unfair criticism. He is against a holier-than-thou stance. If we are not to judge at all, Jesus would not have said, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment” (John 7:24 NKJV).
In judging others, do not assume an air of superiority over them.“If you think you are standing strong, be careful, for you, too, may fall into the same sin” (1 Corinthians 10:12 NLT). James 3:1 warns, “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment” (NKJV).
In judging others, avoid hasty and harsh condemnation. Jesus forbids this. According to him, “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37NKJV). Jesus says, “Don’t speak evil against each other, my dear brothers and sisters. If you criticize each other and condemn each other, then you are criticizing and condemning God’s law” (James 4:11 NLT). You must forgive others, just as God forgives you your sins. (Matthew 6:12, 14, 18:21-22, 35; Mark 11:25-26; Luke 11:4, 17:3-4; 2 Corinthians 2:7, 10; 1 John 1:9).
Your priority should be people’s salvation, not their condemnation. Jesus said God did not send His Son (Jesus) into the world to condemn the world, but to save it (John 3:17). No wonder, Jesus asked that woman caught in adultery, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” (John 8:10 NKJV). She replied, “No one, Lord.” No one could condemn her because Jesus had told her hypocritical accusers, who were very eager to judge her, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first” (John 8:7 NKJV). They were all guilty of the same sin, so they dispersed in shame.
There are Christians whose preoccupation is to evaluate fellow Christians without love; they are busy finding faults in others, criticizing them, not because they want to help them overcome their struggles. What a bad ministry they have!
Romans 14:4 says, “Who are you to condemn God’s servants? They are responsible to the Lord, so let him tell them whether they are right or wrong. The Lord’s power will help them do as they should” (NLT).Verse 10 says, “So why do you condemn another Christian? Why do you look down on another Christian? Remember, each of us will stand personally before the judgment seat of God” (NLT).
In Matthew 7:1-6, Jesus does not say you should not remove what is in the eye of a brother or sister, but warns that you should first remove the bigger thing in your own eye! In other words, what you are criticizing or judging others for may be in your own life also, so don’t be quick to judge. The standard you use to judge others will be used for you, too.
Jesus’ statement in Matthew 7:1 not to judge is not a blanket one. There is no way to know those He called dogs and swine in Mathew 7:6 without engaging in some judgment. The Bible does not say do not judge, but do not be a hypocrite; and be forgiving.
God wants you to judge yourself before you judge others. Judging yourself before you judge others will make you humble, objective and compassionate – not arrogant and judgmental. James 2:13 says, “For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment” (NKJV). According to Matthew 5:7, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (NKJV).
The Bible is telling you that before you condemn others, remember that what you sow is what you will reap; the standard you use to judge others will be used to judge you. If you realize this, you will be mindful how you criticize another person. Even if you are saying the truth, you will be careful about your choice of words, method and manner of presentation. You will speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). This does not mean you should ignore or tolerate others’ sinful conduct. But do not correct to destroy; correct to save. Remember, Jesus came not to condemn the world but to save it.
Many people invest too much time in judging others, but they fail to judge themselves. They are correcting what is wrong in others while pretending all is well with them. They are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but are filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity; they outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside they are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness (Matthew 23:27-28).
1 John 1:8-10 says, “If we say we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and refusing to accept the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong. If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts” (NLT). You are a hypocrite if you are judging others for the same sin (or even worse sins) that you have persisted in committing.
All Christians are “work-in-progress.” No Christian has attained sinless perfection. Therefore, your number one priority should be the log in your eyes, and not the speck in another person’s eyes. Do not be too quick or excited to condemn another, because you may not have all the facts and, thus, your judgment may be wrong
“Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world” (1 Corinthians 11:27-32 NKJV).As you have seen in this scripture, a man (woman) should examine himself (verse 28); we should judge ourselves, so that we will not be judged by God (verse 3). The judgment by God is to prevent believers from being condemned with the world (verse 32).
In that scripture, 1 Corinthians 11:27-32, I could see three types of judgment:
Self-examination or self-judgment. Self-examination or self-judgment. . Verse 31a of 1 Corinthians 11 says, “For if we would judge ourselves.” This is something that should, ordinarily, be easy to do. However, many hardly do it. It is more attractive to judge others than judge oneself. The scripture says if you will judge yourself. Self-judgment is self-examination. 2 Corinthians 13:5 says, “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? — unless indeed you are disqualified” (NKJV).
Although, 1 Corinthians 11:23-34 essentially deals with self-examination in the eating of the Lord’s Supper (Holy Communion), self-examination should not be limited to this. The instruction is to do self-examination before eating the Holy Communion, so as not to eat it carelessly and unworthily. In that passage, the consequences of eating the Holy Communion unworthily are weakness, sickness and death (verse 30). That is serious!
The Amplified Bible brings out the meaning more clearly thus: “For if we searchingly examined ourselves [detecting our shortcomings and recognizing our own condition] we should not be judged and penalty decreed [by divine judgment]” (1 Corinthians 11:31).
That means, if a Christian will examine (test) himself and repent of his sins before eating the communion, he will not be condemned or punished. But if he approaches the communion table carelessly, calls common what is sacred, and eats the communion without holy reverence, he will suffer the consequences.
The Holy Communion is not an ordinary meal. Therefore, the communion table must be approached with revelation knowledge and the right attitude. “So, dear brothers and sisters, when you gather for the Lord’s Supper, wait for each other. If you are really hungry, eat at home so you won’t bring judgment upon yourselves when you meet together…” (1 Corinthians 11:33-34 NLT).
The Christian and daily self-examination
Though many don’t consider this scripture before they eat the Holy Communion, we should not limit self-examination to the Holy Communion. We must not eat the Holy Communion carelessly or thoughtlessly, but self-examination or self-judgment in 1Corinthians 11:27-32 should go beyond the eating of the Holy Communion. It should be a daily affair for every child of God. Every Christian should daily examine himself to detect shortcomings and recognize his spiritual condition, using the Word of God as the standard. Are there areas of disobedience in your life? Are there sins you are committing – secretly or openly? Judge yourself. Do not tolerate or rationalize sin. If you do not judge yourself, one day, your sin will find you out (Numbers 32:23). You will be exposed one day. Repent and forsake that sin.
Self-judgment is the first thing God expects from every Christian. Self-judgment is not the same as self-condemnation. The Word of God has given us the standard God expects us to meet; He has also given us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, among other things, reminds believers of the Word of God (John 14:26). When we have done something wrong, the Holy Spirit reminds us of what the Word of God says on the issue. Our consciences convict us. The conscience will continue to convict us until we silence its voice. Then it becomes dead or seared (1Timothy 4:2).
On the other hand, the Holy Spirit convicts the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8). In addition, non-believers are convicted by their consciences. Romans 2:14-15 says, “Even when Gentiles, who do not have God’s written law, instinctively follow what the law says, they show that in their hearts they know right from wrong. They demonstrate that God’s law is written within them, for their own consciences either accuse them or tell them they are doing what is right” (NLT).
2. God’s judgment of Christians. Where the Christian fails to judge himself and repent of his sins, God will step in to judge him. “For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world” (1 Corinthians 11:31-32 NKJV). This judgment is not the judgment after death, but judgment of believers while they are still alive. This is what the Bible calls chastening or discipline. God judges His children who do not judge themselves by chastening them.
Hebrews 12:5-11 says, “And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the LORD loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives’” (NKJV).
The writer of the book of Hebrews continues his message on the LORD’s chastening: “If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (NKJV).
The Greek word translated chastening is paideuo. It means “to train up a child, i.e. educate, or (by implication) discipline (by punishment).” God does not really punish His children; He chastens them. In other words, as their Father, He trains them up as His children; He educates them. When they have done what is wrong, He corrects them. Children may see their fathers’ correction or discipline as punishment, but later they’ll realize the benefits. God chastens us for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness (Hebrews 12:10).
The objective of God judging the Christian is not to condemn him. “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1 NLT). The chastening of a child of God is not destructive but corrective. The objective is to save him from being eventually condemned to the lake of fire with the non-believers. God’s chastening is not joyful, but it is far better than the third kind of judgment I will discuss.
Just as parents discipline erring children, so God disciplines His disobedient children. “So you should realize that just as a parent disciplines a child, the LORD your God disciplines you to help you” (Deuteronomy 8:5 NLT). Like every good father, God’s correction is borne out of love, not out of hatred. “My child, don’t ignore it when the LORD disciplines you, and don’t be discouraged when he corrects you. For the LORD corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights” (Proverbs 3:11-12 NLT).
If God disciplines you, do not reject it; do not despise it. Hebrew 12:8 says if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate, not a son. Humble yourself, repent and ask for God’s forgiveness. “Behold, happy is the man whom God corrects; therefore do not despise the chastening of the Almighty” (Job 5:17 NKJV). Though God’s discipline is painful, be happy that God loves you enough to correct you. Quickly repent and forsake your sins. The psalmist says something similar to what is written in Job 5:17. Psalm 94:12 says, “Happy are those whom you discipline, LORD, and those whom you teach from your law” (NLT).
3. God’s judgment of the world. This is the third kind of judgment that I saw in 1 Corinthians 11:27-32.This is eternal punishment, condemnation to everlasting fire awaiting non-believers finally. God disciplines or corrects His children now so that they will not partake of eternal punishment. Today’s discipline of a Christian is to save him from eternal punishment tomorrow. “All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children. But cowards who turn away from me, and unbelievers, and the corrupt, and murderers, and the immoral, and those who practice witchcraft, and idol worshipers, and all liars — their doom is in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur. This is the second death” (Revelation 21:7-8 NLT).
Those who turn away from Him here on earth, living in disobedience to Him, cannot be with Him in eternity. “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie” (Revelation 22:14-15 NKJV). God uses chastening to call the attention of His children to what is wrong in their lives, so that they will correct themselves.
If Christians will not judge themselves, but continue in sin without repentance, those God has given authority to exercise discipline must do so when their sins are exposed. The church must judge and discipline them, and thereafter, forgive them and receive them back to fellowship after repenting. This is to save such persons from being condemned with the world and protect the church.
For example, in 1Corinthians 5, Paul gave the church authority to discipline a brother (a Christian) who was committing sexual immorality with his stepmother. “In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (1Corinthians 5:4-5 NKJV).
What is the meaning of “deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh”? It means to excommunicate him from fellowship to punish his flesh and save his spirit. The church obeyed Paul. But Paul later wrote again to the church to forgive this sinful Christian, and receive him back (2 Corinthians 2:5-11). The excommunication was not supposed to be permanent; otherwise, it would have been victory for the devil.
We find another example in 1Timothy 1:19-20 where Paul said, “Cling tightly to your faith in Christ, and always keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked. Hymenaeus and Alexander are two examples of this. I turned them over to Satan so they would learn not to blaspheme God” (NLT)
The only place Hymenaeus is mentioned again in the Bible is in 2 Timothy 2:17-18. He is mentioned alongside Philetus. Both of them were teaching heresy, saying that the resurrection was already past, thereby, overthrowing the faith of some people.
What of Alexander? There is one Alexander mentioned in Acts 19:33, but some Bible scholars have suggested that the Alexander that Paul handed over to Satan (1 Timothy 1:20) is the same Alexander the coppersmith he said did him much evil, and declared that the LORD would render to him according to his works (2 Timothy 4:14).
If I may go back to 1 Timothy 1:19-20, Paul said he handed over Hymenaeus and Alexander to Satan so that they would learn not to blaspheme God. This phrase “turned them over to Satan” is similar to the phrase “deliver such a one to Satan” that I pointed out previously (1 Corinthians 5:5). Both mean the same thing. Paul said he excommunicated Hymenaeus and Alexander from fellowship to make them repent of their sin and be restored to Christ.
The Bible approves of excommunication of a Christian for heresy or gross immorality. Excommunicating a Christian excludes him from the protection of the church and all the blessings God releases to the church. It exposes him to the assault and activities of the devil. But the essence of excommunication is to make those so punished learn their lessons, repent and be restored.
Those who have authority in the church to judge and discipline Christians who commit sins deserving excommunication must exercise this power with the goal of ensuring their repentance and eventual restoration so that Satan does not take them over completely.
Paul says, “It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your job to judge those inside the church who are sinning in these ways. God will judge those on the outside; but as the Scriptures say, ‘You must remove the evil person from among you” (1 Corinthians 5:12-13 NLT). Verse 11 actually says the church must not associate with or even eat with anyone who claims to be a Christian, yet indulges in sexual sin, is greedy, worships idols, is abusive, is a drunkard or is a swindler.
Conclusion: Examine yourself; judge yourself. Repent and forsake your sins. Do not be the one broadcasting others’ sins while you are on your way to hell fire! Do not be a busy body or gossip. You have enough to face in your life. Mind your own business. “This should be your ambition: to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we commanded you before” (1 Thessalonians 4:11 NLT). Judge yourself.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible believing and Bible teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The LORD be with you.
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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