Because we are taught not to judge others, most believers refrain from speaking out about the actions or behavior of others even when sin or wrongdoing are clearly involved. Let us now look at the Scriptures which are the basis for this.
Matthew 7:1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
Verse 5 offers us insight which is often ignored. What displeases the Lord is not judging others, but rather hypocrisy. When we are not living an obedient and holy life as the commands but dare to speak out against the sins of others, that is hypocrisy.
Jesus hates hypocrisy
In Matthew 23 Jesus rebuked the religious leaders of his day with a scathing “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!” not just once, but several times.
Jesus commands us to be on our guard against this sin.
Luke 12:1 Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.
We are not to be hypocrites, but rather live in holiness as the Lord commands. Then we will be qualified to judge the world, even judge angels.
1 Corinthians 6:2 Or do you not know that the Lord’s people will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? 3 Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life!
But still we hesitate to judge
Yet the teaching “do not judge” among believers remains unjudged. Why? Perhaps it is because in this “age of (extreme) grace” we do not teach holiness and obedience as is stressed in the New Testament. We are taught that since we are imperfect in this life and will remain that way until we enter glory, we will sin everyday while on earth. Therefore we are not qualified to speak out against others who sin.
But Jesus clearly teaches us to “first take the plank out of our own eye” so that we can see clearly in order to judge properly. He commands to overcome sin by the power of the Holy Spirit in us so that we can walk in holiness. Then we will be qualified to “remove the speck from our brother’s eye.
The true grace of God enables us to live upright and godly lives
Believers can indeed live in holiness as the Lord commands. But this is not taught as it should be in this current dispensation of “grace.” But the true grace of God “has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age…” (Titus 2:12).
Of course as believers we are to be gracious and charitable. We do not judge fellow believers or servants of God in gray or disputable areas. Who are we to judge someone else’s servant? (Romans 14:4). But where there is clear violation of Scripture, we can and should speak out.
Titus 1:13 This saying is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith…
Titus 2:15 These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you.
The eventual result of “Do not judge”
In western culture today we see extreme tolerance and acceptance towards behaviors which are abominations to God. In recent news, an openly gay football player was drafted by a National Football League team with much positive fanfare from the mainstream media. Gay marriage is being recognized. Laws are being considered to protect the rights (and feelings) of transgender individuals to enter any public restroom they choose, whether designated for males or females. On the other hand, people who declare their faith publicly are being marginalized and face discrimination in terms of work opportunities and rejection by the popular culture.
This can be seen as the eventual result of the misunderstanding of what Jesus taught. As we have seen above, He did not mean for believers to close our eyes to the sin we see rampant around us today. We are in fact to abstain from sin and to judge it. But when for the sake of “love” and “tolerance” (and of course “grace”) we unwittingly minimize sin, personal responsibility and the necessity of living in holiness, we get the post-Christian culture we are seeing today. The extreme immorality prevalent today in western culture—which interestingly we do not see in other cultures not having Judeo-Christian roots—may be a result of removing the cross of Christ from Christianity from which western civilization sprang.
What does the cross of Christ signify?
Apart from the cross of Christ which involves personal holiness, self-denial and self-control, Christianity is reduced to one of several world religions and results in a condition worse than before. As Scripture prophesies:
2 Peter 2:1 But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying [or contradicting] the sovereign Lord who bought them–bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. 3 In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories.
…5 if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; 6 if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; 7 and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless 8 for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard– 9 if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment.
…13 They will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done. Their idea of pleasure is to carouse in broad daylight. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their pleasures while they feast with you.
14 With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed–an accursed brood! 15 They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Bezer, who loved the wages of wickedness. 16 But he was rebuked for his wrongdoing by a donkey–an animal without speech–who spoke with a human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness. 17 These people are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them.
18 For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of the flesh, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. 19 They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity–for “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.”
20 If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. 21 It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. 22 Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,” and, “A sow that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mud.”
This appears to be happening in the formerly “Christian” West from which the gospel was spread to the rest of the world during the era of modern missions centuries ago. Our mainstream culture has now rejected the cross of Christ while holding to a mere outward form of godliness, and so we have become worse than unbelievers. The cultures of Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, idol-worshipers and non-western countries do not share our liberal politically-correct values so abhorrent to our Most Holy God and Father.