April 11, 2021 Who Enters the Kingdom Part 13 (Judging)

Who Will Enter the Kingdom? Part 13



Scripture reading: Matthew 7:1-5; John 7:24.


[I. Introduction] In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus seems to be teaching not to judge, at least that is what those who are not Christians will tell you. Often, this is the only verse in the Bible that they know! Even some who claim to follow Jesus say that we should not judge. Then, in the gospel of John, Jesus is commanding us to judge. Is there a contradiction between Jesus’ teaching in Matthew and in John?


What do Jesus and the apostles and the entire body of Scripture teach about judging? Should Christians be judging?


The answer is: not only should Christians judge, but they must judge.


The idea, even among Christians, that we should not judge is due to an extreme ignorance of the Bible. It is sad but true that many Christians, because they either don’t read their Bibles or they read them in a superficial way, have fallen for what may be called the “Judge Not Deception.” It sounds almost right because Jesus said, “Judge not…” But this is a prime example of taking Scripture out of context. How about, “Curse God and die?” That is in the Bible (Job 2:9). Or, how about, “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away.” (Matthew 5:29) That is a teaching of Jesus. One man of God has said, and made his students recite the saying in unison at the beginning of every single class that he taught, “Context is king!”[1] He absolutely right. Without context – the setting and the parts of a written or spoken statement that precede or follow a passage – it is so easy to misconstrue the meaning of a statement. So much so, one can think it means the exact opposite of what it actually means. Context permits us to understand the meaning of a text rightly.


Judging is Christianity 101. It is one of the most basic tenets of the faith. It is an embarrassment that some Christians do not understand this.


13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. (Heb. 5:13, ESV).


Today the Church is lactose intolerant and has trouble even with milk.


There are five reasons why we must judge if we are to be faithful in our walk with the Lord. (It is commanded. We are able. It is the loving thing to do. It is the example of all godly persons in the Bible. It is impossible not to judge.)


[II.] We must judge because we are commanded to do so. This is always the simplest answer and the one that engenders the least controversy. We love to obey our Lord and when we read a command we seek to carry it out. Many times we do not understand why the Lord gives certain directives, yet we know that his will is always perfect and ours is not.


In John chapter 7, the context of our verse is that the religious leaders were angry with Jesus because he had healed a man on the Sabbath. He replies to their judgment of him not with, “You shall not judge anyone,” but he says in verse 24:


“Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”


This short verse contains two commands. The first is “Do not judge by appearances.” Our judgments should not be superficial. They should not be according to the way things appear, but the way things really are. The second is “Judge with right judgment.” We are commanded to judge!


But what about Matthew 7? Usually, as soon as the subject of any sin comes up in a conversation, unless it is a perceived sin that the other person likes to condemn –like racism, intolerance, or harming the environment, then the other person will quote Matthew 7:1 – “Judge not, that you will not be judged.” Often, they do not even know the second half of the verse. They will just quote the first two words: “Judge not!” But, they neglect the context. Jesus’ meaning is made known by the context.


Verses 3 through 5 show that Jesus is not giving a prohibition against judging but against hypocritical judging.


3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.


Jesus, of course, is right to warn us of hypocritically judging because we all tend to do it. We easily find fault in others while we are blind to our own sins. Our sins are often worse than what we criticize in others. I have seen observed time and again that those who criticize others frequently are guilty of the very same faults that they condemn. If not the very same ones, then something similar but in a worse way.


The way out of this pattern is not to refrain from judging altogether (some people’s solution) because if we don’t judge, we become disobedient to the many commands in the Bible to judge. The way out is to take the log out of own eye. That is, to stop doing wrong. Then we will be able to see clearly!


But, if we are blind to our own sins how can we? We must be made aware of our own sins. The Lord does this in two ways.


One way is through reading his word. This is why reading[2] the Bible is essential. As we read the Bible the Holy Spirit will convict us of our failures. And, do you know what? He is a gentleman. He nudges us and makes us aware of what we need to change in a gentle way. (If our sin is great there may be a powerful conviction, but those kinds of sins are usually obvious even to ourselves.) Neither does he dump a truckload upon us so that we feel overwhelmed with our own failures. He shows us one thing at a time.


About a year ago I was reading the epistle of James. I came to this passage:


Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. [3]


I thought to myself, “I am not doing this.” I thought of John Banks who doesn’t just visit orphans, but adopts them as his own and gives them a new life. I considered how I could fulfill this verse. Then I remembered that a representative from Missouri Baptist Children’s Home had visited our congregation a year or more before and had shared about that blessed ministry to children who either lost their parents or who had irresponsible parents who could not care for them. As some of you may have done, I gave the Sunday that the speaker was here but then “out of sight, out of mind.” So, I began giving regularly to MBCH and have continued to do so for the past year. Now, I don’t share that experience to get you to start giving to MBCH (although you will be blessed if you do), but to show how the Spirit uses the Scriptures to show us our neglect.


We need to read our Bibles so that we will not be blind to our own sins.


The other way that the Lord makes us aware of our sins is through our brothers and sisters in the Lord. Faithful members of Christ will gently show us our faults. How we react to their faithfulness will reveal some things about us.


Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you;
Rebuke a wise man, and he will love you. (Proverbs 9:8, NKJV)


I like the Good News Translation here:


8 Never correct conceited people; they will hate you for it. But if you correct the wise, they will respect you.


How we react to rebuke reveals whether we are self-absorbed or whether we are wise.


In Matthew 7:1-5 Jesus is prohibiting hypocritical judgment. If I am an adulterer I have no business judging the sin of homosexuality because those sins are related. If I am a drunkard I have no business judging a smoker. Both of those sins harm our bodies.


I’ll never forget when I worked at the Coca-Cola plant as a security guard, putting myself through seminary. There were two of us during the daytime hours. We also had to check the trucks going out in the morning and coming in during the afternoon. So, those times were busy. But, from 8:00 am until about 2:00 pm things were very slow. A fellow on the office staff would come and talk to us now and then. My co-worker, whose name was Curtis, was drinking a diet Coke. This office employee was sitting in a chair at the guard station with us, eating mini chocolate doughnuts and drinking a bottle of Yoohoo. He looked at Curtis and said, “You know you shouldn’t be drinking that. It’s not healthy.” Curtis and I looked at each other. Then I said, “Wait a minute. You are eating chocolate doughnuts and drinking Yoohoo and you’re telling him his drink is unhealthy?” We were all friends so it wasn’t a tense situation and I started laughing. Then Curtis started laughing and we couldn’t stop. We must have laughed for 10 minutes straight. After he went back up to the office I would bring up the incident every now and then, acting it out, and we would just start laughing all over again. The utter hypocrisy of his statement is what made it so funny. It’s funny when it is doughnuts and Yoohoo. But it’s not funny when we are talking about sin.


We must judge because we are commanded to do so.


[III.] Secondly, we must judge because we have received the command and we are able to do so.


When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? 2 Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? 3 Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! [4]


This passage deals with perceived wrongs experienced by some in the church by other members of the church. Somebody is doing something wrong! But, instead of allowing some mature members of the body to arbitrate, the Corinthians were taking one another to court.


In verse 2 Paul reveals that we are going judge the world! Not only is judging appropriate for this life, but it will be appropriate for the next age as well. Paul’s argument is since we will be judging the most important matters of all in the next age, how much more should we be judging the less important matters now.


We are even going to judge angels! Not only are we commanded to judge, but we are competent to judge!


The only Christians who should not judge are the unspiritual and immature Christians. The spiritual person is the one who is guided by his spirit, where the Spirit of God dwells. The unspiritual person is one who is guided by the flesh.


The natural person does not have the wisdom to judge rightly. The spiritual person does.


The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. [5]


Verse 15 says it plainly: “The spiritual person judges all things.”


We must judge because, if we are spiritual, we are able to judge all things.


[IV. Conclusion of Part One] There are still questions to answer. Questions like, “Who shall I judge?” and “When shall I judge?” Even, “How shall I judge?” Before we get to those questions we should be crystal clear on the needfulness of judging. I said that there were five reasons why we must judge. We have seen two.


  • We must judge because we are commanded to do so.
  • We must judge because we are competent to do so.


By God’s grace we will look at the other three reasons next time. Until then let God’s will be made known through judging. The world, and many stumbling Christians too, are ignorant of what is right, what is precarious, and what is spiritually profitable. If we are familiar with God’s word then we know. Do not be reticent. Judge. But do so with grace, humility, and kindness. For these are the ways that the Lord judges us in the present time.


There is a day coming when judgment will be characterized by justice. There is a day coming when judgment will be strict and severe. Jesus spoke of this day often. It occupied the greater part of his teaching in the gospel of Matthew.

I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, 37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” [6]


If this were the only verse in the Bible on the judgment that we all must undergo then we would be without hope. For have not we all said things that we know we should not have said? But there are many such verses.


The sins of some people are conspicuous, going before them to judgment, but the sins of others appear later. [7]


This verse tells us that some sins are obvious but others will not be known until “later” which means the day of judgment. Which of your hidden sins will be made known?


Are you prepared for that judgment? If we must stand before the Lord on that day with only our own actions then we will be in a position of great peril and we will experience the severest alarm. If we must stand before the Lord with only our own words then our condition will be hopeless.


Jesus will come a second time to this world and it will be for judgment. The only way to prepare for that great day is not by relying upon our own words nor actions, but by relying upon His. For those who trust in Jesus, God takes away their sins and places them upon His Son. And, he takes the righteousness of Jesus and places it upon them, so that they can stand before God righteous and holy – not because of what they have done but because of what He has done!


Jesus came the first time to dispense mercy and grace. The invitation to receive mercy and grace is still open even this very day.


If you are not certain that you will be accepted by God on that Great Day of Judgment then do not wait another day. Behold, now is the day of salvation. Now is the acceptable time.





[1] Dr. Jay Sklar at Covenant Seminary.

[2] If a person is either illiterate or functionally illiterate, then a loved one or friend can read to them and audio Bibles are also available.

[3] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Jas 1:27). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[4] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (1 Co 6:1–3). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[5] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (1 Co 2:14–16). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[6] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 12:36–37). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[7] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (1 Ti 5:24). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.