Is it Wrong to Judge Sin?
There is a prevalent idea in American culture that it is wrong for people to judge other people [which is a hypocritical idea in and of itself because such people are judging that you should not judge]. Usually, the verse that is used to support this false idea is Matthew 7:1, which is usually twisted totally out of its context (2 Peter 3:16).
It is not a sin to judge and expose other people's immoral behavior, except when it is the case that you are committing the same sinful behavior that you are exposing, which is hypocritical. That is what Matthew 7:1-5 is condemning - hypocritical judgment. Please also see Romans 2:1-29 when the Jews were guilty of the same sins that the Gentiles were committing. There are plenty of times in the Scriptures where people exposed and judged other people's behavior as immoral and it was the right thing to do. By the way, it is the law of Christ to judge one another righteously (John 7:24; Galatians 6:1-2).
Consider the following:
- John the Immerser judged and exposed Herod Antipas and Herodias as a married couple who were living in adultery (Mark 6:14-29).
- Paul judged Felix as a person who needed self-control and righteousness (Acts 24:24,25) [Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 20.7.2 records the adultery of Felix].
- Jesus judged and exposed the Pharisees and scribes as hypocrites in Matthew 23:1-36.
- Paul the Apostle judged and exposed a Christian brother who was living in fornication with his stepmother (1 Corinthians 5:1-13).
- Paul gave some clear instructions in Ephesians 5:11-14: "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. Therefore He says: ‘Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.'" [Question: How are we to judge between the "light" and the "darkness" if we cannot judge?]
- 2 John 1:9-11: "Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds."
- Jesus goes on to state in Matthew 7:6: "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." [Question: How can this commandment be obeyed unless you could differentiate who are dogs and pigs?]
- Jesus states in Matthew 7:15-20: "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them." [Question: How can you tell apart who are the true prophets and the false prophets unless you judge?]
It must be shown that there is a wrong type of judging and there is a right type of judging as found in John 7:24: "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment."
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