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Particulars of Christianity:
312 The Church Ethic

Part 2: The Bible Instructs Us to Judge

Forgiving and Forgiveness
Part 1: Biblical Limitations on Judging
Part 2: The Bible Instructs Us to Judge

Verses Which Instruct Us to Judge

Since there are so many verses that will be covered in this next section (on instructions for Christians to judge) we will group them according the protocols that they establish. (In some cases we have included Strong's Reference #'s in case the reader wishes to look up the Greek word used and see how it relates to judging.)

In order to conserve space we have not quoted the passages themselves, but have only provided the rule regarding judging followed by the verse references, which establish that rule. As always, we encourage the reader to look up each of these passages and examine them for themselves.

Judging in general

1. We can know or identify (judge) whether a person is godly or not (their character) by their fruit (words and actions) which we can identify/judge as good or bad - (Matthew 7:15-20, Matthew 12:33, Luke 6:43)
2. We can judge what is right or wrong - Luke 12:57
3. We are to judge rightly, justly, (1342) according to the judgments of God, not according to man's wisdom or the outward appearance (3799) - (John 8:26, 1 Corinthians 2:10-16, 2 Corinthians 10:6)
4. As spiritual men, we judge, examine, investigate, estimate (350) all things - (1 Corinthians 2:15)
5. We are to judge in small matters - (1 Corinthians 6:2)
6. We are to judge things that pertain to this life - (1 Corinthians 6:3-4, 1 Corinthians 7:25,40, 1 Corinthians 11:13)
7. We are to judge and evaluate our own thoughts - (2 Corinthians 10:5)
8. Our love should abound in knowledge and judgment - (Philippians 1:9)
9. We are to use the scripture to learn and understand doctrine, to instruct, to reprove, to correct - (2 Timothy 3:16)
10. We are to be able to discern both good and evil - (Hebrews 5:14)

Judging ourselves

1. We must judge and examine ourselves (first, before we judge others) - (Matthew 7:5, Luke 6:32, 1 Corinthians 11:31, 2 Corinthians 13:5)
2. We must examine and check (3985) ourselves to see if we are in the faith - (2 Corinthians 13:5)
3. We are to examine ourselves before we partake of communion - (1 Corinthians 11:28)
4. We are to prove examine, scrutinize, test our own work (1381) - (Galatians 6:4)

Judging other Christians

1. We can identify when a Christian has sinned against us and refute/rebuke them for it - (Matthew 18:15-17)
b. First go privately to such a person, if they don't respond, then
c. Second, we can tell one or two others about it and go to the one who has wronged us, taking these others with us, if they still don't respond, then
d. Third, we can bring them before the church, if they still don't respond, then
e. Fourth, we excommunicate them.
2. We can identify and make judgments about how to help each other with problems if we first examine ourselves thoroughly and are do not also struggle with the same problems ourselves - (Matthew 7:3-5, Luke 6:41-42)
3. We can assess each other's faithfulness to the Lord - (Acts 16:15)
4. We are to admonish and warn (3560) one another - (Romans 15:14)
5. We can identify and judge those in the church
6. We can identify, judge (2919), and reprove (1651) those in the church as fornicators (4205), covetous (4123, those greedy to gain, eager to have more, esp. of belongings of other persons), idolators (1496, used of any one, even Christian, who participates in any way in the worship of the heathen), railers (3060), drunkards (3183), and/or extortioners (727) - we cannot fellowship with such people, but must excommunicate them - (1 Corinthians 5:9-13, Ephesians 5:3-7,10-11)
7. We are to judge disputes between other Christians - (1 Corinthians 6:5)
8. Church leaders should admonish and warn those in their congregations who they are discipling (1 Thessalonians 5:12)
9. We are to warn and admonish the unruly or deviating from the prescribed order (813)- (1 Thessalonians 5:14, Romans 16:17)
10. We are to identify and not fellowship with those who do not obey the Word of God, but to admonish (3560) them - (2 Thessalonians 3:14-15, Romans 16:17)
11. Judgment must begin in/at/from the house of God first- (1 Peter 4:17)

Judging Church leadership

1. We can judge whether a person is a false prophet by their actions and deeds - ( Matthew 7:15-20)
2. We are to judge what our leaders say - (1 Corinthians 10:15)
3. We are to judge what those who claim to be prophets say - (1 Corinthians 14:29)
4. We are to judge if a man is qualified to be a leader in the church - (1 Timothy 3:1-12)
5. We are to rebuke church leaders who have been accused by two or three witnesses before the congregation so others may learn - (1 Timothy 5:19-20)
6. We are to test those who claim to be apostles - (Revelation 2:2)

Judging in the Church in general

1. We are to speak the same thing, have no divisions, and be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment - (1 Corinthians 1:10)

Judging those who are not part of the Church

1. We can affirm the condemnation of those who reject us and the Gospel we hold to - (Matthew 10:14-15, Mark 6:11, Luke 9:5, Luke 10:10-11)

Judging doctrines and beliefs

1. We are to search, examine and look critically at (350) the scripture to see if what church leaders are teaching us is true and right - (Acts 17:11)
2. We are to examine, scrutinize, and verify (1381) what God's will is - (Romans 12:2)
3. We are to judge what our leaders say - (1 Corinthians 10:15)
4. We are to be able to identify and distinguish between heresies and approved doctrine - (1 Corinthians 11:19)
5. We are to judge the words of those who claim to be prophets - (1 Corinthians 14:29)
6. We are to judge ideas and everything that exalts itself against the knowledge of God - (2 Corinthians 10:5)
7. We must examine, check (1381) ourselves to see if we are in the faith - (2 Corinthians 13:5)
8. We are to prove, examine, test what is acceptable to God - (Ephesians 5:10-11)
9. We are to examine, test, prove all things - (1 Thessalonians 5:21)
10. We are to hold to the faithful word as it was taught from the beginning, which was imparted by those who penned the New Testament - (1 Thessalonians 5:21, 2 Timothy 1:13, Titus 1:9)
11. We are to study to show ourselves approved unto God, rightly dividing the word of truth - (2 Timothy 2:15)
12. We are to use the scripture to learn and understand doctrine, to instruct, to reprove, to correct - (2 Timothy 3:16)
13. We are to reprove, rebuke, and exhort with patience, sound doctrine and all authority- (2 Timothy 4:2, Titus 1:9, Titus 2:15)
14. The word of God is able to discern thoughts and intentions of the heart - (Hebrews 4:12, Ephesians 6:17)
15. Believe not every spirit, but try/test the spirits to see if they are of God - (1 John 4:1) 16. We are not to receive in our house/church those who don't hold to sound doctrine, nor are we to bid them Godspeed or we are partaking in their evil deeds - (2 John 1:10)
17. We are to earnestly contend for the faith that was once and for all delivered unto the saints *(orthodoxy given intact, complete, understood at the onset, not developed or discovered over time) - (Jude 1:3)
18. Command that no other doctrine be taught than that given by the apostles - (1 Timothy 1:3)

Judging spirits

1. Discerning of spirits - a gift of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:10)
2. We are to try/test the spirits to see if they are of God - (1 John 4:1)

Study Conclusions

At the beginning of this study we stated that the challenge for Christians is to discern which aspects of worldly culture are the result of our godly influence upon our ungodly society and which aspects of church culture are the result of the influence of ungodly culture upon us (the church). Only by doing this, we said, can we sort out what is Biblically correct behavior and model it without accidentally implementing an ungodly, worldly virtue as if it is Biblically compatible or mandated when, in fact, it is not or is even contrary to the Bible.

The above study embarked on an examination of God's Word to see whether or not the tolerance that is prohibitive of judging is a product of ungodly culture or of God. The specific purpose of our examination was to determine if Christians should model the popular tolerance of our day and not judge others or if we should instead reject this notion as unbiblical. To do this we sought to answer the following two questions.

Is the modern Church convinced of the prohibition of judging others because of a strong conviction based on a Biblical understanding of this topic? Or are we simply reflecting the influence of a culture, which seeks to abolish absolute standards of right and wrong as well as to eliminate any accountability to such standards?

We have now answered these questions through our examination of the scripture. What we found was that any compulsion that the modern Church or modern Christians have to prohibit judging cannot be said to be based on God's Word or a solid understanding of the scriptural perspective on this topic. Instead, far from prohibiting judging, the Bible instructs us how to judge and what to judge. This being the case it must be that Christians who prohibit judging are merely reflecting the influence of the ungodly culture around us.

In completing our Biblical survey on judging we have found that there are approximately 70 passages in the New Testament that address the issue. Of these only a small fraction (less than a dozen) actually contain any language limiting judging in any manner. The remaining 60 plus passages provide an overwhelming and unavoidable message from God's word that, contrary to the wishes of our culture, Christians are to judge both people as well as behaviors and beliefs with the only following exceptions:

1. We are not to be angry without cause.
2. We are not to judge one another for whether or not we continue to practice Jewish feasts or Jewish dietary laws.
3. We are not to place final judgment on someone - in terms of salvation or damnation/condemnation.
4. We are not to judge who will be rewarded with a greater position in the kingdom of God.
5. We are not to judge those outside the church, except to judge them as outside the church.
6. We are not to judge hastily, improperly, or presumptuously, and without first examining ourselves.
7. We are not to judge according to appearance, but according to God's standard of righteousness.

Therefore since the scripture does in fact require us to judge others in regard to character, behavior, and beliefs/doctrines, we have no choice but to reject the popular notion of our culture and many in the modern Church who uphold that we can't and shouldn't judge others. We must discard this unbiblical axiom from our beliefs and practices and instead become familiar with God's Word so that we can judge as God expects us to. And should any "Brother Hezekiahs" try to tell us that "the Bible is against judging," we can confidently tell them "uh, no it isn't, you should read it sometime."