I. To “judge” primarily denotes to separate, select, choose; hence to determine and so to pass judgment. The uses of the term in the New Testament may be analyzed as follows.
A. To assume the office of a judge –
Matt. 7:1-5; Lk. 6:37, 41-42 What are these Jews (Matt. 4:25 – 5:1, to whom Jesus was explaining what a citizen in His Messianic kingdom – Matt. 4:17, 23; 5:19 – was to be like) commanded not to do?
What are they not to judge?
[What is condemned here is judging that is hypocritical (Matt. 7:5; 6:2, 5, 16).].
Do you ever judge hypocritically by looking at the “speck” (shortcomings) in another person without noticing the “log” (bigger faults) in your own eye (life)?
If so, why?
What does Jesus call such people who do this (Matt. 7:5)?
What should we do before we judge and confront another person about their errors (Matt. 7:5)?
Do you first deal with/correct the faults or sins in your own life by confessing them to God (1 Jn. 1:9) and asking God to fill/control you with His Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:18; 1 Jn. 5:14-15) before you judge and confront someone else about their faults or sins?
In light of Matt. 7:6 where Jesus Himself implies that we must regard (judge) certain individuals as being dogs and hogs, and from 1 Cor. 5:12; 6:1-5; Gal. 1:8-9; Phil. 3:2; 1 Thes. 2:14-15; 1 Tim. 1:6-7; Titus 3:2, 10; 1 Jn. 4:1; 2 Jn. 1:10; 3 Jn. 1:9, it is clear that no total condemnation of forming an opinion about (judging) a person and expressing it can have been intended.
Jesus Himself had arrived at certain conclusions regarding scribes and Pharisees, and He did not hesitate to express them (Matt. 5:20; 6:2, 5, 16; 15:1ff; 23:1ff.). There is nothing in the teaching either of Christ or the apostles that relieves us of the obligation to form views about (judging) people and to act upon the basis of these views, which also implies that at times it will be our duty to express our judgments. Matthew 7:1 has been used at times as an excuse for laxity in exercising church discipline, but in the light of its context, and also of Matt. 18:15-18 and John 7:24, such use of this passage is without any justification. However, if your judgment is an opinion, state it as an opinion rather than as fact.
What Jesus did condemn, however, was for anyone to concentrate his attention on the speck in his brother’s eye and, while thus occupied, to ignore the log in his own eye. The Lord is condemning the spirit of hypocritical fault-finding, judging self-righteously without love. To be discriminating and constructively critical is necessary; to be hypocritical is wrong – Dr. William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary – The Gospel of Matthew.
Jn. 3:17 What was not and what was the purpose for Jesus’ first coming into the world?
What might this imply about your purpose for being left here on earth after you’ve become a Christian, especially in light of Matt. 28:19-20?
Are you fulfilling this command to evangelize, or are you wrapped up in criticizing those who are trying to be obedient to Christ’s command to spread the gospel to the world?
Rom. 2:1 The indictment brought against the Jew here is not that he judged others (pagans) for sins committed, but rather that he judged others for, what?
[The hypocrisy of the Jew is what is condemned here because he judged others for the same sins of which he himself was guilty. “Therefore” – because those who practice willful sin are worthy of death, Rom. 1:32. “you are without excuse” – for condemning others, when you’re presently continuing to do the same things/sins. “you who judge practice the same things” – meaning that these Jews did the same kinds of things but which could vary in frequency, extent, and/or degree. For example, the Jew here might have judged a pagan neighbor for stealing a loaf of bread from another neighbor on one occasion, while the Jew who judged had stolen lots of money from various friends on numerous occasions.].
Do you ever do this kind of thing (judging others for something that you yourself do, but in a different area or way)?
If so, when, and why?
Rom. 14:1-13 In verse one, “judgment” means “a sentence of condemnation”. And the word “accept” means “accept into fellowship”. The “weak in faith” Christian, Rom. 14:1, is the Christian who is less biblically and/or circumstantially informed/knowledgeable. What question is asked in Rom. 14:4, that obviously tells Christians that judging other Christians (meddling or finding fault with other people’s servants, here referring to the Lord’s servants or Christians, and condemning them as wrong) is not what they should be involved in “when” dealing with amoral/neutral issues?
Do you ever go around judging (condemning as wrong and fault-finding) other Christian’s liberty in Christ in areas that are amoral/neutral when they are Christ’s servants under His Lordship or Mastership?
In Rom. 14:10, the rebuke is derived both from what precedes, namely, that Christ is Lord, and from what follows, namely, that it is before God’s judgment-seat we all must appear (2 Cor. 5:10). The sin, therefore, resides in the assumption that we have the prerogatives that belong only to Christ and to God in judging. And our contempt or despising of a Christian brother is here also condemned.
Do you ever despise other Christians because they do not do things the way you do in the areas the Bible is not clear or specific?
Or, because they don’t refrain from doing certain things that you think are wrong, even though the Bible doesn’t specifically say they are wrong (e.g., drinking caffeine, eating sweets or other “junk” food, watching the news on TV, going to G-Rated movies or amusement parks, girls wearing make-up or jewelry, eating meat or pork, having shoulder length hair for guys, playing cards, square-dancing, girls wearing pants, getting a tattoo, drinking a glass of wine with a meal, smoking a cigarette once in a great while, not going to a traditional church on Sunday, etc.)?
[In Rom. 14:13, the strong Christian (i.e., the one who is more biblically knowledgeable), likewise, is told not to judge (find fault with and condemn as wrong) the weaker Christian (the one who is less biblically knowledgeable) in areas that are dealing with personal preferences or convictions, but that are not sins per se.].
Jas. 4:11-12 What are we commanded not to do?
[To “speak against” is to destructively criticize, character assassinate, and set oneself up as a judge because the outlook of others is different from the prideful (the context is Jas. 4:6) critic’s. This is different from constructive criticism, restorative confrontation, or protecting the body of Christ (i.e., Christians in a fellowship/church group) from unrepentant, sinning Christians, as seen in 1 Tim. 1:18-20; 2 Tim. 2:16-18; 4:9-11; 3 Jn. 1:5-11; Acts 15:38; 1 Cor. 5:3, 12.].
[The reason we are commanded not to destructively speak against fellow Christians is because we are told to “love one another”. By judging (fault-finding with condemnation) fellow Christians through speaking evil against them, we are judging (finding fault with and condemning) the law (saying, in effect, that our authority is greater than that of God’s law).].
Do you ever deliberately disobey the law (the Bible) by judging/condemning someone for something the Bible doesn’t even say is wrong?
Or, by slandering (making false statements about) another brother/Christian?
Or, by making negative, unproven assumptions?
[To do so implies that you believe that you are above God’s law. James is not saying that we should eliminate constructive criticism, but rather to omit criticism of others whose outlook or activities are different from our own, but which are not sinful or unbiblical.].
Do you try to mold people into adopting your own personal convictions in areas the Bible doesn’t either comment on or have principles that could be applied to these areas?
B. To undergo process of trial –
Jn. 3:18 What doesn’t happen to the believer in Christ?
[The believer in Jesus Christ does not undergo process of trial or condemnation regarding his eternal destiny, as Jesus already took the sentence of death for him in his behalf (1 Pet. 3:18; 2 Cor. 5:21).].
And what has already happened to those who don’t believe in Christ as their personal Savior?
Which of these is true of you?
Are you sure?
Jn. 16:8, 11 Of what is the Holy Spirit convicting the world?
Why is the Holy Spirit convicting the world concerning judgment?
What difference does it make to you that Satan has been judged by God?
How does it affect your life?
Jas. 2:8, 12-13 By the law of liberty (Jas. 2:8 – the law of love and/or truth, Jn. 8:32), what is to happen to the Christian (Jas. 2:12)?
Aren’t you glad that it is by this law of liberty (love and/or truth) that you are to be judged by God?
What should knowing this effect in us (1 Jn. 4:19)?
To whom will judgment be merciless?
How merciful are you in your attitude toward others?
Can you give a recent example? If so, what?
C. To give or pass sentence on or make a decision –
Acts 15:19-20; 21:25 About what did James and other Hebrew Christians make a judgment (decision)?
Are you ever afraid of making judgments/decisions?
About what was something that you had to make a judgment recently?
1 Cor. 5:1-5 What had Paul already judged (passed sentence on), 1 Cor. 5:3?
Do you judge (pass sentence on) Christians in your fellowship group who willfully and unrepentantly sin, especially in areas that affect others?
If not, why?
1 Cor. 5:9-13 Are we to be involved in judging non-Christians, 1 Cor. 5:12?
Who’s going to judge outsiders/non-Christians, 1 Cor. 5:13?
Who are we to judge (pass sentence on), 1 Cor. 5:12-13?
Does this contradict Matt. 7:1, and why?
If after judging (passing sentence on) the unrepentant, sinning Christian, he still refuses to change, what should the Christian fellowship group (church) do, 1 Cor. 5:13?
D. To condemn –
Jn. 12:47-49 What will Jesus’ word do at the last day to the person who rejects Him?
Are you rejecting Christ and not receiving His sayings?
Rom. 2:25-29 Who will judge those having the letter of the Law (human attempts to keep the law) and circumcision (i.e., the Jews) if they are a transgressor of the Law?
E. To execute judgment upon –
2 Thes. 2:8-12 Who will be judged?
When you read or hear God’s truth as found in the Bible (specifically, the gospel, Eph. 1:13), do/did you believe/receive it?
F. To be involved in a lawsuit (by making a decision) –
1 Cor. 6:1-5 What should a Christian who has a legal case against another Christian do?
What quality does the Christian you take a case to need to have?
Who in your church/fellowship group has this quality of wisdom?
G. To administer affairs, to govern –
Matt. 19:28 Who will Jesus’ disciples judge in the regeneration (Millennium) when Christ will sit on His glorious throne?
As mentioned earlier in 1 Cor. 6:2-3, we Christians will judge the world and angels. How does knowing this affect your thoughts about God, your conduct, and your outlook on life in general?
H. To form an opinion/view –
Lk. 7:41-43 What was Jesus’ reply to the question which Simon had answered correctly?
How adept do you think you are in judgments when given a set of facts to evaluate?
How did you determine your answer?
Jn. 7:22-24 How should we not judge?
And how should we judge?
Are your opinions/views (judgments) of others based on external appearances and guesses at their inward motivations for doing things, or are your opinions/views based on right, fair, and just evaluations of observable facts and reliable, unobservable information that’s factual?
If it’s the first, then what do you plan on doing to change?
[Notice that judging with righteous judgment is a command of Jesus’, so all judging isn’t wrong, as those who take Matt. 7:1 out of context would like you to think.].
Acts 4:1, 18-20 To what did Peter and John tell the religious leaders to do in regard to whom they should give heed?
When dealing with people who have wrong thoughts about you or what you’re doing, do you ever cause them to rethink their opinion by confronting them with the facts involved?
Why is this good to do?
II. To examine, investigate, question, or estimate.
1 Cor. 2:14-15 Why can’t the natural man (non-Christian) understand the things of the Spirit of God?
What can the person who is spiritual do?
Why is the spiritual man appraised (judged) by no man (the non-Christian)?
From whose viewpoint are you appraising or “judging” things: God and the Bible’s, His Word, or the non-Christian world’s?
1 Cor. 4:1-5 Because Paul views himself as a steward of God whose responsibility is to his divine Lord alone, what does Paul think is a very small matter?
Does it matter to you what other people say or think about your stewardship to (ministry/service for) God, if you know that you’ve been faithful in your responsibilities to Him?
How do you know that it didn’t matter to Paul if he came to an assessment of his own achievements (1 Cor. 4:3)?
Do you ever get too introspective about the effect of your service for God?
How do you know that attempting to anticipate the judgment of the Lord on someone else’s ministry is what is being condemned here (1 Cor. 4:5)?
Why can’t we properly pass judgment on other Christian’s service (1 Cor. 4:5)?
Do you ever pass judgment on what other Christian’s service for God has effected?
Gal. 6:3-4 In our self-analysis, why should we compare our present work and ourselves at this time with what we were previously rather than to boast that we are better than other Christians to whom we compare ourselves?
Do you ever play the “comparison game” so that you can boast about how much better you are than someone else?
III. To separate throughout, distinguish, discriminate, discern, and hence to decide.
1 Cor. 11:23-31 What are we told to do in preparation for participating in the Lord’s supper (communion service), 1 Cor. 11:28?
Do you judge yourself (distinguish between what you presently are and what you ought to be) before you partake in communion?
1 Cor. 14:29 In giving instructions for order in the church, Paul says that the others of the congregation (those who had the gift of “the discerning of spirits” as found in 1 Cor. 12:10) were to pass judgment on whom?
When you hear a religious speaker talk about spiritual things, do you think that it is wrong to judge them (examine and discern the truth of their message), especially if you relate Acts 17:11 to this question?
Are you examining the Scriptures daily to see whether those who are teaching you spiritual matters are biblically right?If not, what do you plan to do?