Preaching the Gospel, Preparing a People

Judging

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Judging

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Judging

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A view against judgment has developed in our society, especially in recent years, which represents a misunderstanding of judgment. Forms of wrong and right judgment are communicated to us in the Bible.

Sermon Notes

There's a powerful new concept that is sweeping through Western societies. It says simply: "Accept me and accept my opinion and I'll do the same for you, I'll accept you as well. You're no better and I'm no worse; we're all the same. Accept my circumstances and like me for who I am. Our beliefs and our opinions all carry equal weight. You can have your thoughts and I'll have mine and one is no better than the other." This concept is the concept of TOLERANCE, the idea of tolerance.

At one point in history tolerance was simply the respectful exchange of ideas between two different parties despite any disagreements on the topic being discussed at the time. However in recent decades it has morphed into a completely different 'virtue'. This philosophy of tolerance says that a person should be accepted regardless of their personal views on religion, their personal views on sexual preferences, interests, curiosities or various moral standards. It says that we should be tolerant of alternative lifestyles, atheism even, Ouija boards, those who are close to nature, those who embrace the universe, and all popular mainstream religions. "Accept me for who I am. Accept me for my customized lifestyle standard. Don't tell me I'm wrong. Don't tell me that what I am doing is wrong or that I need to change. Don't tell me that what I'm doing is evil. And especially don't tell me that your God is against what I am doing." "DON'T JUDGE ME" is a popular phrase that has popped up within the last couple of years. "Don't judge me; simply accept me for who I am and what I'm doing. In return, I'll do the same to you. I'll accept you as well."

1 Corinthians 6:2 1 Corinthians 6:2Do you not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters?
American King James Version×
Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters?

How do we reconcile this verse? Society says, "Don't judge me." These are three very powerful words. If you are mixed in with the society at all, if you watch TV shows, if you go to the movie theaters, if you are in school or have a job… you'll hear this phrase around: "Don't judge me." It's a popular saying right now. It means to tolerate me… grant me tolerance… I don't want to be “guilted” into anything. Making judgments is a curious thing for a true Christian.

We'll turn to a number of verses here in the sermon, but I just want to highlight a couple. Matthew 7:1 Matthew 7:1Judge not, that you be not judged.
American King James Version×
“Judge not, that you be not judged. But on the other hand we read verses like John 7: 24 Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”

How do we reconcile this? Paul writes here in 1 Corinthians 6:2 1 Corinthians 6:2Do you not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters?
American King James Version×
…are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? At some point the saints will judge the world, but society says, "Don't judge me, tolerate what I'm doing." How do we reconcile all of this? What are we to do? Should we accept this 'don't judge me' type of mentality and live for tolerance or should you and I as Christians, trying to do what God wants, have a different perspective we should be considering here?

Today in the sermon I want to discuss this topic of judging and making judgments. What is the proper approach we should have when it comes to judging not only ourselves but judging others? What kind of approach should we have?

As we set the stage for this topic, let's kind of transport ourselves back in time to the city of Corinth and the time frame of when this book was written, about AD 55. We have the death of Jesus Christ, we have His sacrifice and now we're about twenty-two years after Jesus Christ died… very early in that first century.

1 Corinthians 1:2 1 Corinthians 1:2To the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both their's and our's:
American King James Version×
To the church of God which is at Corinth, Paul is not writing to Gentiles at large. He's not writing to the Jewish community. He's not writing to some foreign magistrate. He's writing to a local congregation, the local congregation there in the city of Corinth. Paul in this letter is addressing local members within that congregation, so we see a pretty narrow window as to whom Paul is writing to here. He's not making some gospel proclamation and he's not preaching this out to the world. He's talking to a local congregation and to the members within it. The challenge that Paul saw in this first letter to the Corinthians that Paul addresses is that they were divided internally. They weren't divided physically into different organizations, but that one congregation was divided. There were groups within that one congregation… they were not close to each other.

1 Corinthians 1:10 1 Corinthians 1:10Now I beseech you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
American King James Version×
Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. Paul's goal in this first letter was to try to help reunite this church at Corinth, this congregation, these members within this congregation. Paul's goal was to help them reunite, to help them reconnect and be harmonious with each other… to be one, to be one with each other.

1 Corinthians 6:1 1 Corinthians 6:1Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?
American King James Version×
Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? He says, "How dare you?" Some of the members in the congregation were very daring. They were going forth with boldness, Paul is saying. With boldness they were doing these things… they were taking each other before the law of the land for various lawsuits. They weren't allowing God's Holy Spirit to work with them to work through those issues. The Greek word for the word 'law' here in the middle part of this verse means that they were seeking punishment or retribution. They were going forth and taking other members of the congregation before the law of the land in order to punish those fellow members and to bring retribution upon them. In short, the members had legal matters against other members there in that local congregation. They were going to the legal courts of the land and Paul said that instead they should have come before the church and that they should have kept matters within that congregation. It didn't need to go out to the law of the land.

It's interesting that Paul wasn't correcting them for judging; it was that they were going outside the church. They had little regard for the spiritual success of each other; they weren't looking out for the spiritual benefits of the other members of the congregation. Instead, they were taking each other to court to punish them and cause this retribution to come upon them. 1 Corinthians 6:2 1 Corinthians 6:2Do you not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters?
American King James Version×
Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? He says that if you become a saint, if you follow God's way of life and you are a part of His family in that regard, then at some point… you will be part of this judgment team against the world. You are going to sit there in judgment for the world. Matt. 19: 28 So Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Revelation 5:10 Revelation 5:10And have made us to our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
American King James Version×
And have made us kings and priests to our God;
And we shall reign on the earth.”

These are individuals who will judge and rule. We are being prepared to assist Jesus Christ in the ruling of this world… that's what you and I are being prepared for.

Isaiah 2:2-4 Isaiah 2:2-4 [2] And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. [3] And many people shall go and say, Come you, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. [4] And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
American King James Version×
Now it shall come to pass in the latter days
That the mountain of the Lord’s house
Shall be established on the top of the mountains,
And shall be exalted above the hills;
And all nations shall flow to it.
3 Many people shall come and say,
“Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
To the house of the God of Jacob;
He will teach us His ways,
And we shall walk in His paths.”
For out of Zion shall go forth the law,
And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
4 He shall judge between the nations,
And rebuke many people;
They shall beat their swords into plowshares,
And their spears into pruning hooks;
Nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
Neither shall they learn war anymore.

Christ will judge between the nations and we'll be involved in that process judging cities and states and individuals within the world tomorrow. But Paul asks, "Are you unworthy to judge even the smallest matters?"

1 Corinthians 5:12-13 1 Corinthians 5:12-13 [12] For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not you judge them that are within? [13] But them that are without God judges. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.
American King James Version×
12 For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? 13 But those who are outside God judges. Therefore “put away from yourselves the evil person.” We judge within the church, within the congregation, within our body. We're to have no authority over those outside the church, those that don't attend with us. Paul says that God will judge those individuals, God will judge those matters. Paul makes it very clear that we don't judge those folks, but we judge within. We're there for each other. We should be each other's keeper, each other's brother… helping each other succeed spiritually for the betterment of the other person's relationship with God… for their spiritual success.

1 Corinthians 6:3 1 Corinthians 6:3Know you not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?
American King James Version×
Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life? Paul is saying that off in the future, you are going to do something amazing! You will be ones who judge angels, so how much more so to the things within your own lives and judge other matters? Verse 4 If then you have judgments concerning things pertaining to this life, do you appoint those who are least esteemed by the church to judge? Paul is asking, "Are you going to take these matters to be settled by people who have no standing in the church? Are you going to go outside and have those individuals judge those matters?

 Verse 5-6 I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brethren? 6 But brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers! Paul says that it is shameful that they don't use someone wise in the church to assist in the judging of those small matters to resolve those disputes.

This is an interesting concept to ponder in this context. How often do we bring disputes and misunderstandings to the church, to the church leadership, to the church ministry? How often do we do that? How often do we go to the ministry for various issues and disputes? Doctrinal questions, yes. "Can you please anoint me? Yes. But how often do we do these things that we are talking about here? Oftentimes we don't. Perhaps the bigger question to ask is, "If we did, would we abide by the decision made?" That would require a lot of humility, wouldn't it? A lot of trust.

Paul is trying to address here that the congregation is going outside against the congregation in order to force a member to do something. This was not a legal matter of some sort of spiritual health… 'I'm going to sue you because you don't understand the Holy Days'…that's not what was going on here. 'I'm going to sue you because you're not properly keeping the Sabbath.' 'I'm going to sue you because I know for sure that you're not tithing.' They weren't bringing spiritual matters before these outside courts. They were stepping outside the church to bring punishment and retribution on fellow members. They were doing it to hurt and cause pain to other members within the congregation.

Let's pose another scenario here. Where does the Bible teach us about breaking the laws of the land? What would happen if we would steal, for example or if we would rob a store? Or if we would murder somebody or vandalize some property? What sorts of things might happen? Well, the police would come and they would question us and we'd find ourselves in a lot of trouble, wouldn't we? We'd come under the authority of the courts of this land and we'd be subject to the police and to the state and other ruling bodies of this country.

Romans 13:1-7 Romans 13:1-7 [1] Let every soul be subject to the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. [2] Whoever therefore resists the power, resists the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. [3] For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Will you then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and you shall have praise of the same: [4] For he is the minister of God to you for good. But if you do that which is evil, be afraid; for he bears not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath on him that does evil. [5] Why you must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. [6] For for this cause pay you tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually on this very thing. [7] Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.
American King James Version×

Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. 4 For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. 5 Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. 7 Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.

This is a very powerful section of scripture. These types of crimes are not adjudicated by the church. When you break the law of the land, for instance speeding (which I'm sure none of us have ever done), we're judged by the ruling authority of the courts, aren't we? Paul says in chapter thirteen that we then come under the jurisdiction of that law. We're fined and our insurance is dinged and there is some sort of penalty we have to pay, even to the point of several years after, our insurance rates go up… especially if it's a subsequent ticket.

What have we learned so far? As a minister, I can only judge those matters within our church, within our congregation. What if someone is no longer within the congregation? What if someone leaves and no longer is within that congregation? Then they're no longer under my authority, are they? That's what we read back up in chapter five, verses twelve and thirteen. "Judge those matters which are in your congregation, which are actually in your church." How can the church judge ones who've left? They are no longer a part of the church, the congregation and so we can't.

The apostle Paul, in this section of scripture, is not saying don't ever use the legal system. Paul had no trouble using the legal system of his day when he felt that he was being treated improperly from outside the church. That's the key.

Acts 16:23 Acts 16:23And when they had laid many stripes on them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely:
American King James Version×
And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely.

Acts 16:35-39 Acts 16:35-39 [35] And when it was day, the magistrates sent the sergeants, saying, Let those men go. [36] And the keeper of the prison told this saying to Paul, The magistrates have sent to let you go: now therefore depart, and go in peace. [37] But Paul said to them, They have beaten us openly uncondemned, being Romans, and have cast us into prison; and now do they thrust us out privately? no truly; but let them come themselves and fetch us out. [38] And the sergeants told these words to the magistrates: and they feared, when they heard that they were Romans. [39] And they came and sought them, and brought them out, and desired them to depart out of the city.
American King James Version×

35 And when it was day, the magistrates sent the officers, saying, “Let those men go.”

36 So the keeper of the prison reported these words to Paul, saying, “The magistrates have sent to let you go. Now therefore depart, and go in peace.”

37 But Paul said to them, “They have beaten us openly, uncondemned Romans, and have thrown us into prison. And now do they put us out secretly? No indeed! Let them come themselves and get us out.”

38 And the officers told these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Romans. 39 Then they came and pleaded with them and brought them out, and asked them to depart from the city.

In this case, Paul went because the officials were wrong and he called them on the carpet for it.

Acts 21:30-32 Acts 21:30-32 [30] And all the city was moved, and the people ran together: and they took Paul, and drew him out of the temple: and immediately the doors were shut. [31] And as they went about to kill him, tidings came to the chief captain of the band, that all Jerusalem was in an uproar. [32] Who immediately took soldiers and centurions, and ran down to them: and when they saw the chief captain and the soldiers, they left beating of Paul.
American King James Version×
30 And all the city was disturbed; and the people ran together, seized Paul, and dragged him out of the temple; and immediately the doors were shut. 31 Now as they were seeking to kill him, news came to the commander of the garrison that all Jerusalem was in an uproar. 32 He immediately took soldiers and centurions and ran down to them. And when they saw the commander and the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul.

They sought to beat Paul and to kill him and Paul brought this matter up before the courts.

Acts 22:24-26 Acts 22:24-26 [24] The chief captain commanded him to be brought into the castle, and bade that he should be examined by scourging; that he might know why they cried so against him. [25] And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said to the centurion that stood by, Is it lawful for you to whip a man that is a Roman, and uncondemned? [26] When the centurion heard that, he went and told the chief captain, saying, Take heed what you do: for this man is a Roman.
American King James Version×
24 the commander ordered him to be brought into the barracks, and said that he should be examined under scourging so that he might know why they shouted so against him. 25 And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said to the centurion who stood by, “Is it lawful for you to scourge a man who is a Roman, and uncondemned?” 26 When the centurion heard that, he went and told the commander, saying, “Take care what you do, for this man is a Roman.”

Paul defends himself and he uses his legal rights.

Acts 25:10-11 Acts 25:10-11 [10] Then said Paul, I stand at Caesar's judgment seat, where I ought to be judged: to the Jews have I done no wrong, as you very well know. [11] For if I be an offender, or have committed any thing worthy of death, I refuse not to die: but if there be none of these things whereof these accuse me, no man may deliver me to them. I appeal to Caesar.
American King James Version×
10 So Paul said, “I stand at Caesar’s judgment seat, where I ought to be judged. To the Jews I have done no wrong, as you very well know. 11 For if I am an offender, or have committed anything deserving of death, I do not object to dying; but if there is nothing in these things of which these men accuse me, no one can deliver me to them. I appeal to Caesar.”

Paul appealed directly to the Caesar himself. Paul in first Corinthians six and other places is not saying don't use the legal system. What Paul is getting on the case of the Corinthians about here is that they were taking each other to court and they were trying to do harm to other members within their congregation.

1 Corinthians 6:7-8 1 Corinthians 6:7-8 [7] Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because you go to law one with another. Why do you not rather take wrong? why do you not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? [8] No, you do wrong, and defraud, and that your brothers.
American King James Version×
7 Now, therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated? 8 No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and you do these things to your brethren! Paul is harkening back to some of Jesus Christ's own words when He said to 'turn the other cheek' and 'give the tunic' and 'treat your fellow brother or sister better than yourself '. Paul is saying, "You're not doing those things. Instead, you're stepping out of the church, out of the congregation and you're using them and you're doing things in order to hurt them and harm them… instead of doing what's best for the other person." If we keep this in context, we know we're talking about the church, members within the local congregation. If someone is no longer a part of that congregation, Paul says he no longer comes under the church's jurisdiction, the authority of that congregation, that church. The church at Corinth was divided internally as a congregation. They were still attending together, but they weren't in harmony and they weren't looking out for each other. They weren't looking out for each other's best interests. They were incorrectly judging one another. Paul essentially says, "You, church at Corinth, don't understand this topic."

I wanted to use these verses to set the stage on the sermon today about judging because Paul outlines clearly the relationship that we should have with each other, the relationship that we should have with other members in that congregation and where the line is for outside authorities.

We're to treat our fellow members like ourselves. We should treat each other like we want to be treated, what's best for the other person. We're to be there for their spiritual success. We should have a deep desire that each of us makes it into God's Kingdom. We're here to help and encourage each other in obedience to God's laws. What others do outside our congregation and church is for others to decide. Our goal should be in service to one another… giving to one another, helping one another, sacrificing for one another.

Harkening back to the last part of verse 7, why do you not rather let some of these things happen for the betterment of the congregation… for the betterment of the other person?

I'd like to define some terms. Let's talk about this word 'judging'. When we speak of judging, what do we mean? There are four possible ways to judge:

1) WHEN THE BIBLE SPEAKS ABOUT US INCORRECTLY JUDGING OTHERS, MOST OFTEN IT IS IN THE PLACE OF CONDEMNATION OR SENTENCING. We're convicting somebody else of their sins. "You did this and that's wrong so off with the head." We act as prosecutor, we act as judge, we act as the jury, we act as the jailer and the executioner. It's one fell swoop. "What you did was wrong and I am hereby calling you on the carpet and you're wrong… get out."

Romans 2:1 Romans 2:1Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are that judge: for wherein you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you that judge do the same things.
American King James Version×
, 3 Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. 3 And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God?

(This is addressed to a different group of people, the ones in Rome.) These individuals show a beautiful example for us of incorrectly judging others. They were doing it in order to elevate themselves… in order to suppress others and raise themselves up. They were incorrectly judging others and by extension, they were condemning them, they were sentencing them. They were doing it in order to make themselves feel good. But in the end, Paul says, "You are actually condemning yourself because in many cases you are doing the same things that you are condemning these others for."

 Verse 3 And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? Are we hypocritical? Is it okay for me to do XYZ, but you better not even THINK about it and if you do, I've gotcha because I caught you at doing that thing that I've determined you shouldn't do.

When the Bible refers to us incorrectly judging, it's oftentimes in the place of some sort of condemnation, some sort of 'gotcha' scenario.

2) WHEN THE BIBLE REFERS TO US RIGHTEOUSLY JUDGING OTHERS, IT IS OFTEN IN REFERENCE TO US LOOKING AT THEIR FRUITS AND DECIDING IF WE SHOULD MIMIC THEIR ACTIONS...should I follow them, should I do what they do, should I mimic their actions… should I consider them a source of counsel? Do I admire them? Do I …fill in the blank. It is not to place a conviction on them, but rather to ourselves decide if we should follow what they are doing.

Romans 2:2 Romans 2:2But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things.
American King James Version×
But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. The foundation of judgments is the Word of
God. That's what we should be basing our judgments on… on His way of life… on His word… on His truth.

If you picked up in the few verses at the end of Romans chapter one.. he goes through this whole list of myriad things that people were doing that God hates.

Romans 1:18 Romans 1:18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
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For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.

24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

26 For this reason, God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.

28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; 32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.

This is just one example of lists that we can use in order to look at people's fruits. Are they living these things or are they living other traits… other traits that are godly? The key is that we are looking at their fruits and we're not condemning them, we're not judging them in order to condemn them. We're judging them to decide if we ourselves should mimic their actions if we should follow them.

3) WHEN THE BIBLE REFERS TO US JUDGING OURSELVES, IT IS OFTEN IN THE CONTEXT OF AN INTERNAL EVALUATION. We're looking at ourselves. We judge ourselves. Am I sinning? Am I doing something wrong? Am I breaking God's commandments? Am I violating His laws? It's this inward examination. Am I mistreating a brother or sister? This is another context of judging in the Bible… when we look inward and look at ourselves.

Rom. 2: 4 Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? This is the purpose of making judgments. This is the ultimate purpose for making judgments. It's in hopes that it brings about repentance. It's in hopes that we… you or I or someone else realize their sins and that that sin can then be forgiven and that breach can be repaired and now we're reconciled back to God the Father. That's the ultimate purpose of making judgments… that repentance can be one of those by-products.

1 Corinthians 11:31 1 Corinthians 11:31For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.
American King James Version×
For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. This is an interesting verse considering this third point of judging us and looking inward at who we are and are we sinning and all the things we need to overcome. Paul, later on in this letter to Corinth says that you should be looking inward, you should be examining yourselves. You should be seeing if there's some hidden sense of evil in you that you need to repent of… some sin that's going on. God's not looking for us to be perfect; He's not looking for us to judge and determine righteousness. Ephesians 4:13 Ephesians 4:13Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ:
American King James Version×
till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; We look at this word 'perfect' and we often think of it in terms of flawless… that I need to be flawless… that I need to have everything 'just right' on me… not a hair out of place… not an aspect of my life out of place. We should be moving that direction, but God doesn't see a perfect man as a flawless man because He knows that you and I sin. There are scriptures that support that… that He knows you and I are human and that we will sin. PERFECTION TO GOD IS EQUIVALENT TO BEING REPENTANT. If we are constantly repenting, constantly overcoming and we're that repentant sinner whose always trying to search and try to find our sins… then to God, that's perfect. That's what God wants from us. With this third point of judging ourselves, that's what God wants as the ultimate outcome. He wants us judging ourselves and looking at who we are and examining ourselves so that we can be this repentant sinner and therefore perfect in God's eyes.

4) AFTER WE DO POINT NUMBER THREE, AFTER WE LOOK AT OUR OWN SELVES AND EVALUATE OUR OWN SELVES AND JUDGE OUR OWN SELVES, ONLY AFTER THAT, THEN DOES GOD SAY WE CAN LOVINGLY ENCOURAGE SOMEONE ELSE TO OVERCOME THEIR SINS. That's the fourth aspect of judging.

Matthew 7:1-2 Matthew 7:1-2 [1] Judge not, that you be not judged. [2] For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged: and with what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again.
American King James Version×
“Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. This is an important concept when it comes to the third and fourth points. It can be so easy to judge the other person, can't it? It's so easy to see flaws and mistakes in other people. We can see that like looking through water in a glass. The handwriting in right there, isn't it? It's as plain as black and white, isn't it? We can see through other people and we can see their sins and what they struggle with, but Jesus Christ himself says, 'You be very careful because when you make those condemning statements, it's going to come right back at you.'

Matthew 7:3-5 Matthew 7:3-5 [3] And why behold you the mote that is in your brother's eye, but consider not the beam that is in your own eye? [4] Or how will you say to your brother, Let me pull out the mote out of your eye; and, behold, a beam is in your own eye? [5] You hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of your own eye; and then shall you see clearly to cast out the mote out of your brother's eye.
American King James Version×
3 And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 4 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? 5 Hypocrite! First, remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. The idea here is that we have this great gigantic log coming out of who we are and we're trying to examine this small speck of sand that's in some else's character. Jesus Christ says be careful with that. FIRST, examine yourself. FIRST get yourself right with God. FIRST, overcome your sins and make yourself perfect with God… from His definition of perfection. Then you can actively go and lovingly encourage your brother to overcome his sin. There's a process to helping others, but it first begins with us looking inward at our own sins and who we are. After we've done that, then we can encourage a brother or sister. It's never the other way around.

For the balance of the message, I want to look at one part of a particular proverb, something Solomon wrote. When it comes to making judgments… judging ourselves and judging others, this is a proverb that I would encourage us to memorize. This is a proverb that perhaps we should recall often.

Proverbs 23:1-3 Proverbs 23:1-3 [1] When you sit to eat with a ruler, consider diligently what is before you: [2] And put a knife to your throat, if you be a man given to appetite. [3] Be not desirous of his dainties: for they are deceitful meat.
American King James Version×
When you sit down to eat with a ruler,
Consider carefully what is before you;
2 And put a knife to your throat
If you are a man given to appetite.
3 Do not desire his delicacies,
For they are deceptive food.

Why this section of scripture on the topic of judging? Within these verses are three points for us to consider on this topic of judging. I'd like to look at them and see how these verses can be applied to our lives when it comes to judging.

Point 1) JUDGE THE FRUIT

When you sit down to eat with a ruler carefully consider what is before you. Solomon says here to judge the fruit of that king and judge the situation, judge what is going on, judge the scenario.

Matthew 7:15-16 Matthew 7:15-16 [15] Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. [16] You shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
American King James Version×
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. They look the same on the outside, don't they? These individuals look the same. Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep's clothing. Sheep to sheep they look the same. On the outside, it looks similar, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. Under that outward garment, they're drooling. Right? 'Oh, fresh meat.' 16 You will know them by their fruits. You're not going to know them by their outside appearance, Jesus Christ says. You have to look at the fruits. Matthew 7:16-20 Matthew 7:16-20 [16] You shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? [17] Even so every good tree brings forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit. [18] A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. [19] Every tree that brings not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. [20] Why by their fruits you shall know them.
American King James Version×
16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits, you will know them. Judge them from this perspective, Jesus Christ is saying. Don't judge to condemn. Don't judge to convict them. Don't judge with that noose hanging in your hand waiting to take them out, but judge their fruits. Look at the way that person is reacting and ask, "Is the way that person is reacting according to God's way of life? And is that something I should be following?" This kind of judgment is not like the kind of judgment that we read at the beginning of chapter seven here in the first couple of verses. We're not condemning or sentencing, we're simply evaluating. WE SHOULD NEVER SIT IN THE PLACE OF A CONDEMNING TYPE OF JUDGMENT. That's not a place for us to sit, because God says that if that's what we do… that's what's going to be judged back to us. Evaluation, though, should be our friend. Evaluating fruits is something we should do… not to puff ourselves up. That's not the purpose of evaluation. Such as, "I see what they do and I'm thankful I'm better than that." That's the wrong kind of evaluation. We should be evaluated in order to look at the fruit.

Luke 18:11 Luke 18:11The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank you, that I am not as other men are, extortionists, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
American King James Version×
(Two men went up to the temple to pray.) 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men-extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ This person is standing up and making judgments, isn't he? He's judging the fruit of someone else and he's saying there are extortioners, adulterers and that's not the kind of person I associate with and follow, but then he goes on and he compares himself to that person and this is where evaluation turns awry. This is where evaluation, proper kind of judging takes this terrible left-hand turn. Evaluation should never be in the perspective of stacking ourselves up against someone else. This is exactly what this Pharisee did here and what Jesus Christ got onto his case for. 'You judged, but then you compared.' We should never do that. Don't judge and then compare. Don't look at the fruits and then compare… "I'm thankful I'm not like these other sinners in this room. I'm thankful that I'm not like this. I on the other hand, I fast, study, and pay my tithes, and I show up early and I help set up and look at how great I am." This is not what Jesus Christ is saying to do. He says this is wrong; it's not the kind of judging we should be doing. The Pharisee evaluated the tax collector and he was filled with pride. That then becomes the wrong kind of judgment. That becomes a condemning type of judgment, convicting them… "I'm better than that person because he's doing 'this' and I'm doing 'this' over here."

Romans 6:21-22 Romans 6:21-22 [21] What fruit had you then in those things whereof you are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. [22] But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end everlasting life.
American King James Version×
What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. When we judge, we should be looking for that fruit of holiness… not within us, but within others. We should be encouraging that fruit of holiness, encouraging that aspect of God's way of life.

Galatians 5:22-23 Galatians 5:22-23 [22] But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, [23] Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
American King James Version×
(These are positive attributes that we should look for.) 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such, there is no law.

So, point number one is: "Judge the fruit."

Point 2) PICK UP THE KNIFE

Proverbs 23:1 Proverbs 23:1When you sit to eat with a ruler, consider diligently what is before you:
American King James Version×
When you sit down to eat with a ruler,
Consider carefully what is before you; 

 Consider carefully what is before you. Look at the ruler; look at the scenario; look at the situation that you're finding yourself in; judge the fruit.

Proverbs 23:2 Proverbs 23:2And put a knife to your throat, if you be a man given to appetite.
American King James Version×
And put a knife to your throat
If you are a man given to appetite

Why would you put a knife to your own throat? Why would you do that? Notice, you're not putting a knife to the ruler's throat. You're not leaning across the table saying, "I'm going to judge the situation and here's my knife to your throat." You're not putting a knife to his guards' throats or to the guy's sitting next to you saying, "I'm going to judge the situation, I have my knife on you neighbor." You put the knife to your own throat. This is king Solomon saying that you alone are accountable for your actions. You are accountable for your actions, not the king… not the neighbor… not the guard… not the minister… not the spouse… not the parent. YOU are accountable. You put the knife to your own throat, symbolically speaking. You alone are accountable for your own actions.

Romans 6:12 Romans 6:12Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in the lusts thereof.
American King James Version×
Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. 13 And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. THIS IS PERSONAL. YOU CAN'T CONVICT ANYONE BUT YOURSELF. You should be in control of your actions. When you're not in control of your actions, you're still responsible for those actions. YOU make the decision. YOU decide what you do and what you think and how you react. Paul is saying don't let sin have dominion. Put that knife to your throat symbolically and know that you alone are accountable for what you do and say. Don't try to shift the blame off onto somebody else. Solomon encourages us to symbolically pick up the knife and realize if we live, we chose to live a life worthy of God's gift. But if not, we can write our own death sentence. The choice is ours. Regardless of what choice we make, we can only blame ourselves. This concept today of 'don't judge me' is Satan attacking this very concept. "I'm not responsible." "It's somebody else's fault." "I'm a victim." "I'm not responsible for this thing that I did." "Accept me for who I am." "Give me tolerance."

Society says that it's not your fault… blame your parents… blame your teachers… blame your boss… blame the neighbor… blame my sister's cat. "It's not my fault, don't judge me; judge them instead."

Holding up the knife to your throat is about taking personal responsibility for our actions, for our thoughts, for our decisions.

Psalm fifty-one is an excellent chapter to read. It is David's prayer of repentance. It's a great chapter to read through on a regular occasion.

Psalms 51:3 Psalms 51:3For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.
American King James Version×
For I acknowledge my transgressions,
And my sin is always before me.

Where is the shifting of blame here by David? He could have said, "It was her fault. It was the construction guy's fault because he built my building too high or her building too low. I blame my dad or I blame my guard for not stopping me." He's not doing that, is he?

'For I acknowledge my sins'… he's taking personal responsibility for what he did. 'And my sin is always before me.' WHEN WE SIN, KNOW THAT WE SINNED. Acknowledge it. Repent of it. Ask God to help you change from it. Ask God for help and take personal responsibility for it. Remove the phrase (sometimes it's kind of swanky)… 'Don't judge me'… with the little finger going back and forth and the little head bob. Get it out of your vocabulary! 'Don't judge me'… the concept is unbiblical. Solomon says, 'Pick up the knife and hold it to your own throat' knowing that YOU are responsible for your own actions.

So point number two is: pick up the knife.

POINT 3) KNOW YOUR WEAKNESSES

Where is your weak spot? Do you know?

Prov. 23 1 When you sit down to eat with a ruler,
Consider carefully what is before you;

LOOK AT THE FRUIT.

2 And put a knife to your throat

KNOWING THAT WHATEVER YOU DECIDE TO DO FROM HERE ON, IT'S YOUR DECISION.

If you are a man given to appetite.
3 Do not desire his delicacies,
For they are deceptive food.

WHAT IS YOUR WEAK SPOT?

In Solomon's example here, food was this person's weak spot. He sat down to eat with a ruler and these fine delicacies were his weakness and the king was kind of able to wrap him around his finger based on this spread. WHERE IS YOUR WEAK SPOT THOUGH? Where are you vulnerable to Satan's influence? In what aspect of your life are you vulnerable? Look at yourself. Judge yourself. Evaluate your thoughts and your actions. In this case, this gentleman had this weak spot for food… nice food… high-quality food… fancy food… and food in the presence of someone great.

What if the proverb said 'When you sit down to have a conversation with a ruler, consider carefully what is about to be said; and put a knife to your throat because if you're a man given to power… do not desire his authority and his greatness, for it will trip you up.'

If your weakness is power and control when you go into the presence of the king be aware of that… be on guard. If it's food, be careful of that. Solomon is here saying, 'Know your weaknesses and be on guard for that.' Satan's not going to attack you on your strong points. If you're strong on the Sabbath, he's not going to hit you with the Sabbath issue. He's going to hit you with some other issue. If you're dedicated to tithing and it could be the worst snowfall in the month of July and he knows you're going to tithe no matter what… he's not going to hit you there. He's going to hit you in some other aspect. He's going to dangle power and control; he's going to dangle some other enticement in front of you. Where are you weak? Where are you vulnerable to Satan's influence? Do you know where you are spiritually weak? Do you know that? We all probably know where we're spiritually strong. But do you know where you're spiritually weak? You should… because Satan knows. Satan knows each one of us. He knows where we're weak. He knows where that kink in the armor is. He knows how to get at us.

Let's evaluate our lives and pray and ask God to help shore up those vulnerabilities… to shore up those holes, those weaknesses. In Matthew twenty-six, Jesus goes off to pray and He comes back multiple times and keeps finding the disciples asleep. He then encourages them:

Matthew 26:41 Matthew 26:41Watch and pray, that you enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
American King James Version×
Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Hopefully, we're not so proud that we can stand there and say, "I have no weaknesses spiritually. I have no vulnerabilities. I am iron clad against Satan's influence." Hopefully, we don't say those things to ourselves… because Jesus Christ himself told the disciples, 'You are weak. There are vulnerabilities here.' The spirit may be willing: "Yes, I want to follow God's way of life. Yes, I want to be dedicated to this." But the flesh is weak: "Oh, I can fudge my tithes just this one time. I can skip church just this one time because, wow, the headache is really bad. I can do this or that or justify why I break this law or don't go there or talk to this person or I'm not nice over here." We can justify it all the way.

Jesus Christ is speaking to the disciples and He's telling them, "Stay alert. Be on guard." Know where those vulnerabilities are and work daily to shore them up, to strengthen them.

1 Peter 5:8 1 Peter 5:8Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour:
American King James Version×
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. He doesn't walk around like a squeaky mouse or a nice little tomcat. He doesn't walk around like something venomous or some open pit. He's likened to a roaring lion… a lion that's hungry… a lion with big gigantic teeth and a big wide-open mouth that just wants to eat and to kill. Satan wants to devour us and he has a game plan for how he can do that with each of us. He has a game plan for us. Will you let him sway you? Will we fall prey to his game plan or are we actively working on our defenses? Do we know where we are weak? Are we working on those weaknesses?

So point number three is: Know your weaknesses.

Evaluate the fruit; judge the fruit. Pick up the knife: realize that we alone are personally responsible. And know our weaknesses. Be careful with where we are weak spiritually.

John 7:24 John 7:24Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.
American King James Version×
Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” Righteous judgment knows what kind of judgment to make and in what scenario. The righteous judgment says, 'Hey, I should be looking at myself. There may be other issues going on with my friend, but I need to evaluate myself first. I need to look at my own sins before I can help them. I need to know what needs to happen here.' Righteous judgment helps us identify that fruit that maybe we see in others… that we see certainly within ourselves. The righteous judgment includes God being involved in that and praying for the ultimate outcome of judgment… repentance. We're to judge solely based on God's laws not outside appearances, Jesus said… nor some other criteria that we've come up with. We're to treat our fellow members like ourselves. We're to be there for their spiritual success. We're to have a deep desire for them to gain entrance to the Kingdom of God. We're to help encourage them in obedience to God's way of life.

What others do outside our congregation and church is for them to decide. Our goal should be in service to one another… giving to each other, helping one another, serving one another, sacrificing for them. Let's keep in mind these three principles of judgment found in Proverbs chapter twenty-three and hold ourselves accountable for our sins and submit ourselves to God's way of life.

Brethren, Jesus Christ tells us to judge with righteous judgment. Look at the fruit and decide what you will do with the symbolic knife.

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