Christians that speak up about things God says are wrong are often accused of being judgmental or trying to make people act like them. Most times, other groups and well-meaning Christians will quote one or both of these verses to get people to stop speaking out.
– John 8:7 “So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”
– Matthew 7:1 “Judge not, that ye be not judged.”
People are under the impression that Christians are not supposed to judge anything or anyone at any time. This is absolutely NOT TRUE! These verses have either been mistakenly interpreted by Christians who don’t understand the purpose for the statements or purposely twisted to keep Christians silent about issues God wants addressed. I would like to examine the context of these verses and hopefully help other Christians that did not feel free to speak out against sins by sharing what I’ve learned.
Let’s first look at the situation revolving around “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone”.
John 8:2-11 “ 2And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them. 3And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, 4They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. 5Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? 6This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. 7So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. 8And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. 9And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. 10When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? 11She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.”
Basically, this was like a set up. She was caught in the act of adultery, yet the man with her was not brought to Jesus. According to the law of Moses, both the adulteress and the man with her were to be stoned. (Lev 20:10 “And the man that committeth adultery with another man’s wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.”) So, the Pharisees showed hypocrisy in this act. Now, Jesus could have allowed this woman to be stoned to death for her crime; however, saying the men should stone her would have condemned her. (John 3:17 “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”) Jesus knew that if this woman was killed, she would have died in her sins never having the opportunity to repent, be forgiven and know the salvation of the Lord. If she chose to continue in her sins and reject Jesus, then she would face condemnation after death. Jesus’s purpose was to offer salvation and reconciliation to God. Jesus forgave this woman of her sins, but He also judged the sin as wrong. He told her to not do it again. (“Go and sin no more.”) As we can see, this casting of the first stone is not about forgiving an action and looking away but not allowing a person to die in her sins, allowing for repentance while still alive and making a conscious choice not to continue in that sin. Casting stones deals with literal, physical rocks being hurled at someone’s head.
Matthew 7:1-5 “1Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. 3And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 4Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? 5Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”
This passage does not say “don’t judge”. This passage says “don’t judge hypocritically”. Verse #5 is critical. It tells us that if we are in sin, we cannot attempt to correct our brother or sister by telling them not to do what we’re doing. For instance, if I’m playing the slots in Vegas, I can’t tell you that you’re not allowed to buy a lottery ticket. If I’m living with my boyfriend, I can’t tell you that you’re wrong for doing the same thing. HOWEVER, if I have never or am no longer participating in that sin, I have removed the “beam” from my own eye to see clearly enough to help you remove the “speck” in your eye.
This is a two-part instruction. Jesus tells us to remove our own beams (if we’re still in the sin) FIRST. THEN we can see to remove the speck from our brother’s eye. Notice that Jesus doesn’t tell us to just get our acts together and walk away. We are to help a fellow brother with his sin. Jesus wants BOTH of us to see clearly.
What does the Bible tell us about judging? If Christians are allowed to judge, how are we to judge?
The Bible has many Scriptures about judging and righteous judgment. We are to measure an action or words and line them up with the Word of God. We are to spiritually discern/judge what is right or wrong by the standards set in the Bible. The Bible states “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.” Isaiah 58:1
– JOHN 7:14: “Judge not according to appearance, but judge righteous judgment.”
– I John 4:1 “1Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.”
– Judge Not? The world’s favorite Scripture – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQFq3hp4zO8
– John MacArthur – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lAX63eOk80c
– Judge Not??? – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vO2WVUKTrzA&NR=1
There’s a difference between condemning someone for what they’ve done and informing/reminding someone about an instruction. If I say, “Mom said don’t eat the cookie, or she’ll ground the person that does”, I’m not calling you a bad person for eating the cookie. What I think of you, personally, is irrelevant. All I’ve done is pass on the message. If I warn you again of the consequences, obviously I care enough about you to try to keep you out of trouble or suffering the consequences of disobedience. When a Christian tells someone, particularly another Christian, something is a sin according to the Bible, that person is simply re-stating what God said to attempt to help that person get in right-standing with Him.
(Originally posted 2010)