The Real Meaning behind the Bible’s “Judge Not, That You Be Not Judged.”

Peter Guirguis controversial 24 Comments

Think of this example that is so common in our society today:

You have a friend that is sleeping with her boyfriend or girlfriend.

You know that they are engaging in this behavior because they share with you regularly that their significant other spent the night at their place.

Plus, they’ve also shared with you openly that their relationship is sexual in nature.

One day while having a conversation with your friend you tell them, “Listen, there’s something that I want to talk to you about.  I’m concerned about you sleeping with _______.  The Bible says that fornicators will not inherit the Kingdom of God and I’m concerned that you are going down a road that you are going to regret.”

Your friend interrupts you and says, “Wait, who are you to judge me!  Doesn’t the Bible say, ‘Don’t judge?'”

Question:  Is you warning your friend about fornication considered “wrongfully judging” according to the Bible?

The “Don’t Judge” Excuse

The “Don’t Judge” excuse is something that is popular today in Christian circles and it will also come up  when you are evangelizing from time to time.

People tell Christians to not be judgemental when it comes to pointing out sins like homosexuality, adultery, lying, and other types of sins.

Today we are going to take a look at what Jesus REALLY meant in that famous passage in Mathew 7 which says, “Judge not, that you be not judged.”

It’s so important that you know what this verse means because it will affect how you communicate with others for the rest of your life.

To Judge or Not to Judge, That is the Question

As a Christian, are you supposed to judge or not to judge?

One the one hand you have Jesus speaking this famous verse in Matthew but in John 7:24, Jesus also says:

“Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”

So which is it, are we to judge or not to judge?

The answer lies in taking Jesus’ words in Mathew 7 and analyzing them in context.

What Jesus was saying was that we shouldn’t judge hypocritically.  Look at the verses that follow:

For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite!(emphasis added) First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

how to judge others righteously

The Bottom Line

When Jesus was telling us to not judge, He was telling us to not judge hypocritically.  We are not to point out other people’s sins when we ourselves are engaging in unrepentant sin.

Jesus even gave us the Biblical model to confront an unrepentant brother or sister in Mathew 18.

I’m not saying that we should be sin-sniffers and go and point out everyone elses sins.

I’m just talking about those times when the need comes up for us to speak the truth in love when we see someone going down a wrong path.  After all, James encourages us in chapter 5 verses 19 and 20:

Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.

So what’s your take on the whole “judging” thing within Christianity?  Are you for or against it?

Comments 24

  1. Thanks for this post Peter. Important stuff. I think I need to go by the words of Jesus and as long as there is something in my eye, I have no business pointing at what is in someone else’s eye. And who among us doesn’t have anything in their eye? Sure plenty of us have removed many sins from our life, but who has completely removed the wood from their eye? Let that man go judge the speck in another’s eye. That’s not me though.
    I think most of us Christians would do good to stop ourselves everytime we’re about to judge someone and use that desire to judge as a call to deeply examine our own walk.
    How many of us have more than one coat or pair of shoes in our closet, while others are shivering in the cold today, homeless. Some might call that stealing.
    How many of us are even a little overwieght, yet continue to snack, eat more than we need and even throw away a little food occasionally when we’ve had enough? Meanwhile around 40, 000 people will die today of as a result of hunger. Should we call that gluttony?
    Are there any of us who even though we have a decent job, house, food and clothes, are hoping for a raise this year and maybe a new car or new clothes this year? As an American with a house, food and running water we are some of the most wealthy, comfortable people to ever walk the earth yet alot of us are hoping for a little more of this, or that. In light of the desperate poverty throughout the world could we say our desire for more is -greed?
    I seek to follow Jesus and hope I do a little better everyday. By His strength and through His grace I’ve removed alot of wood from my eye. But when it comes to me judging someone else’s sin, I hope I continue to hear Jesus’ words and just go back to working on removing the wood from my own eye. I’ll leave the judging up to Him and leave the convicting up to the Holy Spirit. Unless someone asks you to speak into their life about their sin, just keep working on your own sin.

    1. I totally understand your position Ed. I really enjoyed reading your comment because I felt like it truly come from a place of humility. Your comments gave me insight that you are a very thoughtful and considerate person when it comes to others. May the Lord richly bless you and continue to use you to further His kingdom 🙂

    2. Great post and comments. Truly helpful, thanks. Although two things to remember:

      1. Although Jesus loves us in our sin, he came to free us from our sins. The Lord’s expectation is that we will not stay there. As much as He loves us as sinners, nobody can deny that He hates sin. So should we hate it and all that Satan stands for. (Think of it this way, everything wrong in your life, every loved one who has suffered or died is because of sin.)

      2. With respect to the beam in our eye, notice that after calling them “hypocrites”, he continues to tell them to first take the beam out of their eye so that they can help others with the straw in theirs. The final scenario is that a sincere and repentant Christian can be free from that sin and can then help others be free as well. Not very helpful while still in sin and silenced, right?

      If we remain quiet about this, the devil wins. That’s the whole issue with guilt. Keep a Christian guilty and he/she will not say a word. And thus…how can they believe if nobody preaches to them?

      Guilt and conviction are not the same thing. Conviction of sin leads to repentance, while guilt leads to silence.


  2. There will always be someone who’s sin looks worse than ours, to us.. I always try to catch myself and remember Jesus loves us in our sin. We are to strive for a sin free life, yet in our earthly lifetime that is not possible. If you say you are without sin, then I guess you would have cast the first stone…

    John 8:7 “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”

    Yet even in our sin we are not condemned
    John 8:11
    “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

    So Jesus calls us to leave our lives of, yet loves us and sets us free while we are in sin…. = Grace

  3. To the one calling someone else “judgmental, ” you may want to reconsider referring to anyone as judgmental and condemning (a form of fiery darts when making the accusation) –because in so doing, you have done the exact same thing you claim to loath. (A common form of hypocrisy for those who don’t understand God’s Word.)

    Many are confused about discerning God’s Word and communicating it. The confusion can go so far as confuse judgment/discernment with condemnation. Condemnation only belongs to God in Christ and not to us. . . Condemn not. Judgement (condemnation) is mine sayeth the Lord. We should never attempt to get even. And don’t tell folks they’re headed for hell, since we have no say-so in the final matter–but we can help to save a soul by leading them to Christ.

    We should not apologize for discernment that’s based on God’s Word. (How ever it’s perceived.) Righteous anger is not limited to God/Christ.) Complacency (not speaking) in a wrong situation does not make it right.

    Neither should we attempt to discern/judge something in others we are practicing ourselves–i.e., hypocrisy.

    It is a popular concept nowadays to believe that if you let someone know about their errors, you must not be a “good” friend, no matter how kindly the message is stated. Christians, in general, have become way too complacent in delivering what we’ve learned through faith for the sake of keeping the peace (or emotions of others intact). Who’s unrighteous, unruly emotions/feelings trump God’s Word and how He feels?

    We should not make a habit of suppressing righteous indignation to the misperceived “benefit” of laymen’s cowardly interpretations It is the work of saten to use God’s Word against His people’s best interests.

  4. I’ve written a booklet called, “How to Judge Without Being A Jerk”. I appreciate how you point out it hypocritical judging Jesus goes after. “Krino” is the greek word. It means to “discern, decide or condemn” It’s the hypocritical judgement that favors condemnation.

  5. I see this as the very reason many find it very difficult to tell people the truth of God’s word. However, whether we tell them the truth or not because of the verse ”judge not and you will be judged” the truth will still remain truth and a sinner is not saved. If we on the other hand sincerely correct people where we observed that they are missing it, I think we have done what is right. I also want to say that every wise person(born again) accept correction but people of the world do otherwise. If a born again person starts to ague why should s/he not take correction know that something has gone wrong. I remembered when I backslided but God mercy brought me. It takes a humble heart to understand the truth which only accepting and remaining in Jesus Christ assures.

    1. I’m so glad Chidozie that you pointed out in your comment about people who don’t accept correction aren’t humble as well as pointing out the pitfalls of being prideful. I’m reminded of the verse that says that God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.

      Thank you for that great reminder!

  6. Good article peter ! We live in a extremely “seeker friendly” generation. Unfortunately, it’s in the church as well. People don’t want to stand for what’s right anymore. (In case you missed the Grammys, Gay is the new cool trend) No one wants to be the guy saying “homosexuality is a sin” now adays. Unfortunately, what this has led to is many false converts in the church. Many people who think their saved and that God is cool with the sin in their lives..

    I agree, we should rebuke and judge justly and always in love. After all, if you saw someone about to drive off a cliff in their car, wouldn’t you try to get their attention somehow and tell them to change the direction their heading ?

    Also, look at the apostles examples. Look at Jesus example. Jesus and the disciples were consistently rebuking, correcting, encouraging, and always doing so in love. 🙂

    1. Amen to that James, I totally love your comment! I’m so glad that you brought up the subject of false converts because unfortunately, our churches are filled with them. It’s amazing how many times I meet people on the street when witnessing that tell me they are Christians but yet when I ask them how they get to heaven, they tell me that it’s because they are a good person.

      Thank you for your tremendous feedback James, it’s so helpful to the Not Ashamed of the Gospel community 🙂

  7. I would have to agree with your sentiments here Peter, very good post.

    While I can understand the point that was made concerning saying nothing to others because of sin in one’s own life, I cannot really agree with that…no offense to anyone here. If we all looked at it that way, no one would say anything to anyone about anything as we ALL sin. That does not mean we should offer up our opinion on every one elses sins either.

    This is a complex subject needing to be handled with great care. The thing that really gets me is the people who will judge you for what you have done, and do so improperly. We ARE to judge others, but we are to judge their actions, not the person. We really have no idea WHY they did what they did. God looks at the heart, not the outer man. We cannot fully take into account the person and their heart for we do not know it. Take King David for example…how many people today would have thrown him out of the church for what he did???

    Speaking to someone else about something they are doing wrong before God may just make the difference in whether or not they stop doing it! Reaching out to someone in love can make a huge difference. Far too many today are all to willing to rebuke someone and then turn their back on them…that accomplishes nothing good. It is also the biggest reason that “Christians” are not held in high regard by many. We as a class are known to throw our own to the wolves and this really needs to stop.

    What did Jesus do with the woman caught in adultery which was punishable by stoning to death according to Mosaic Law? He let her go and warned her to sin no more.

    1. Wow, what a great comment Greg! I really loved it when you wrote, “We ARE to judge others, but we are to judge their actions, not the person.”

      I have found this piece of advice to be so helpful when confronting somebody with the truth in love. We should never judge the person themselves but their actions. This has really helped me a lot in my ministry.

      I think you are right that there are a lot of people that are willing to rebuke someone and then they turn their back on them. That shouldn’t be the case because if we really love that person, then we will take the time to love them back onto the path towards Jesus Christ.

      Thanks for the great insight, Greg 🙂

  8. U know, its hard to get my daughter’s attention on sleeping around with men. I admitted I was a sinner and yes, I did the same thing. I try to warn her that God loves us but He holds us accountable for our sins when we know in our hearts sex is wrong outside the marriage. A rebellious spirit like mine had consequences and I have H.P.V. I do not blame God. Now, I have pap smears every 6 months to ensure I do not develop cervical cancer. I love my daughter.

    1. Thank you very much for sharing with us your experience, it really is extremely valuable and a good warning for us all. We’ll be praying for a healing for you and for your daughter to wait on the Lord for that perfect husband 🙂

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  13. My dear and beloved brothers & sisters,
    How on earth have I happened in this site? And why am I inclined to write this comment? Very simple answer–all over the world the Spirit is moving! All over the world like the prophets said it will be!

    No question about it, we are living in the last days before the return of our Messiah. His proper name is Yahushua which means sent from Yahuwah, the Father! We have arrived at this late days still ignorant even of our Creator & Savior’s name! Go figure it! Me? Been saved since around 9 yrs. old. But I was raised Catholic and did not get to read the Bible until 1974! The moment I began to read those words I saw the true meaning of such words. Sadly, the rest of my fellow Christians & leaders had no conception of the spiritual meaning of those words because the words were only understood with the mind of the flesh or our carnal nature’s mind!
    Finding no spiritual connection, I wound up in the mental hospital with a complete nervous breakdown! The doctors said that I was never going to recuperate my mind, yet, within 3 days I was out of that hospital to everybody’s amazement! Even so, I quit reading the Bible for fear of loosing my mind again!
    Regardless, Father had His plan for my life, just like He has a plan for each one of you all–for each one of His beloved children. So, in 1985, Yahushua stepped into my life and began my transformation–radical change from within my being! Talking about taking the beam of my carnal self off my eyes? Man! I began to see and hear with my spiritual eyes & ears!
    The first thing I heard: “IT IS NOT YOUR FAITH! IT IS ALL MY FAITHFULNESS TO YOU!” Go figure it! My faith had been pushed on me over & over again!
    Even so, from that moment on, HIS FAITHFULNESS has avail me at the worst & best moments of my existence! Because of His faithfulness, I have learned that everything that the system taught me is, actually opposite to the meaning of the written words. Why?
    Because, for the most we have the misconception that when we are born again we inherit the mind of our Messiah and automatically begin to think as He thinks. It is not so! The mind of the flesh shall remain with us as long as we are on this earth, even when are born again by the Spirit, the mind of the flesh remains with us making havoc of our beings! Romans 7.
    So, what is it that we do? We read the first words of Romans 8 and before we know we find ourselves in the predicament of the Galatians & the Corinthians! Go figure it!
    Me? Ah! Not me! For years & years until 2007 I was living a carnal Corinthian/Galatian life and none the wiser! I was considered and respected as a good & strong Christian woman period!
    Father? Ha! He descended upon me and put an end to my ‘good’ Christian life! That all happened some 8 yrs ago! Father has put me through the furnace of affliction big time! After 2007 in the furnace, at the beginning of September in 2014, it has pleased the Father to expose the work that He has done in my life via the waves of the Internet for a witness of His Presence in my life, leading, molding, directing me in the way He wants me to go at all times!
    Thus I bumped into this site and was inclined to read the article as well as the comments and comment about the matter here discussed. Why? Because, Yahushua’s return is imminent but, He is not coming back for a disjointed body! The Almighty Spirit is reaching out to join us all according to His will not according to our understanding.
    Therefore, every single day He leads me to His especial children to connect and join us to become One in His name! You will find all details in the sites that He has me to create to deliver His restoration message to all of His beloved children, this site is the portal to the rest of the sites. Click according to His prompting! 🙂
    His love in my heart for all, thia/Basilia

  14. Far too often Matthew 7 gets used so flippantly. Anytime someone points out something in someones life we throw this verse at them to show them why they are in the wrong. But we are supposed to offer correction to other Christians. We should not condemn; that’s not our job. But we should point out blindspots and potential errors. Not only is that okay, that’s what love requires isn’t it?

    This is what Jesus is getting after in this verse. Jesus never says we should not point out the speck. Rather that we should deal with our crap SO THAT we can help others deal with their’s.

    I wrote an article about this verse, you want to read it you can find it here:…/judge-not-what-jesus-really…/

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