Is There A Difference Between Judgment And Righteous Judgment?

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judgment

Does the Bible differentiate between judgment and righteous judgment? In today’s day, we are seeing more and more evil prevail around us.  As a Christian, how are we to handle situations that we find ourselves in with others who spew evil words and actions towards us?

Today, I read a status in a Christian group that spurred this study.  This is a study that one could dig deeply into, but for today, I would just like to brush the surface.  The first verse that came to mind after reading his status was in Isaiah.

 Isaiah 5:20Isaiah 5:20
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

20 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! call...: Heb. say concerning evil, It is good, etc  

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Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

 My Bible gives this in the study for this verse:  ‘When people do not carefully observe the distinction between good and evil, destruction soon follows.  It is easy for people to say, “No one can decide for anyone else what is really right or wrong.”  They may think getting drunk can’t hurt them, extra-marital sex isn’t really adultery, or money doesn’t control them.  But when we make excuses for our actions, we break down the distinction between right and wrong.  If we do not take God’s Word, the Bible, as our standard, soon all moral choices appear fuzzy.  Without God, we are headed for a breakdown and much suffering.’

2 Timothy 3:132 Timothy 3:13
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

13 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.  

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 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.

So, in all this, what does the Bible say our responsibility is as Christians to others? Firstly, we all know that we are to be sharing the Good News, The Message of God, The Salvation plan of Jesus Christ, with others, and we should do this with the love of Jesus Christ in our hearts.  I’m sure we have all had people scoff us, mock us, get up in our face, call us crazy, etc. etc.  This action by others has already been foretold:  Luke 21:17Luke 21:17
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

17 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake.  

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tells us we will be hated for His namesake.

Next, let’s look at Matthew 7:1Matthew 7:1
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

7 1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.  

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.  This verse clearly tells us not to judge others.  If we see a brother in Christ doing something that our hearts are convinced will lead them down a dark path, what should we do?  We can find guidelines to follow in a case such as this in Matthew.

Matthew 18:15-17Matthew 18:15-17
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. 16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. 17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.  

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15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone:  if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.

16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.

17  And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church:  but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

How do we know then if one is a Christian?  The Bible also gives us that answer as well, along with a warning.

false teachers

Matthew 7:1Matthew 7:1
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

7 1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.  

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5-16

15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

16 Ye shall know them by their fruits.  Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

Beware of false teachings, or those who speak against the teaching in the Gospel of Christ, and we shall know them by their fruits.  We shall be able to identify Christians by the love that they show, the words that flow from their mouth, and the actions they take.  But what about when we come up against those who are spewing pure evil, and we visibly see it revealed through their words and actions?

2 Timothy 4:22 Timothy 4:2
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.  

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Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.

As a child of God, we should never bend to say what other’s want to hear just to satisfy them.  The Bible calls that ‘itchy’ ears, those who no longer want the truth or sound doctrine, but instead they are seeking novelty and entertainment.  Under all circumstances, we should hold true to the Word of God without compromise.

John 7:24John 7:24
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

24 Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.  

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Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.

So, if Matthew is telling us not to judge, and in John we are told to judge righteously, what exactly does this mean?  When you see someone doing something and base your judgment on the appearance of the situation, then we open up ourselves to judgment on ourselves.  In righteous judgment, we are basing our correction on God’s Law and the heart, meaning that our judgment, or correction, is done through the love of Jesus Christ.

James 5:20James 5:20
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

20 Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.  

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Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.

Galatians 6:1Galatians 6:1
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

6 1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. if: or, although  

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Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

sinners

We can all admit that we are sinners.  There is not one of us that can go through our entire day without sinning.  So, in this admission, we realize that we must never judge based on our own selfishness, or desires.  But we must also remember that we are never instructed to make a judgment as to whether another person has accepted Jesus Christ as their LORD and Savior.

Romans 10:6Romans 10:6
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

6 But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven?  

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6 But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven:  (that is, to bring Christ down from above:)

7 Or, Who shall descend into the deep?  (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead,)

Matthew 7:5-6Matthew 7:5-6
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

5 Thou 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. 6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.  

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Thou 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.

6  Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

We should always be displaying the love of Christ towards others, regardless of how they treat us, and we should never judge out of selfishness or our own fleshly desires.  In sharing the gospel of Christ with others, we are to learn to discern when the time comes that we are giving holy to dogs or casting our pearls before swine.  Wasting time getting drawn into arguments over scripture and their meaning doesn’t do anyone any good except the opposing party.  They glean great pleasure in their attempts to ‘trip us up’ and create doubt in our faith.  This is why it is so very important to be discerning.  Our time is valuable and sharing of the Gospel should be spent on those who are truly seeking the truth, not on those who want to snare us in a trap.

shake the dust off of your feet

Matthew 10:14Matthew 10:14
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

14 And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.  

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And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.

Luke 9:4-5Luke 9:4-5
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

4 And whatsoever house ye enter into, there abide, and thence depart. 5 And whosoever will not receive you, when ye go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet for a testimony against them.  

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And whatsoever house ye enter into, there abide, and thence depart.

And whosoever will not receive you, when ye go out of that city, shake of the very dust from your feet for a testimony against them.

When people in early times shook the dust off of their feet,  this was a gesture to show that the people were making a wrong choice about accepting Jesus Christ as their Messiah and that this opportunity may not present itself again.  When we continuously meet rejection of our Lord in others, we too, must shake the dust off of our feet and move on.

So, in short, if we are to judge others, it should be done through the love of Jesus Christ and be based on God’s Law.  It should not be done based on our selfishness, or fleshly desires, as we are so often tempted to do.  The word judgment brings about much controversy among Christians.  But, if we seek the truth in the Word, we will find exactly what we are looking for.  God will give us the wisdom and understanding that we need to keep moving forward in His plan for us.  If we are to follow God’s Word, you see that we are instructed in righteous judgment.  Personally, I prefer to call this correction instead of judgment to avoid any arguments with other Christians regarding the scripture.

Now, what happens when a Christian disregards correcting another because they are led to believe they should not judge in any way?  Just as we see strong words and actions of correction were used and recorded in Nehemiah, the same is often times required today to stir people’s hearts.  Our changing society has brought many churches and Christians to the place of compromise.  We are made to feel that by professing our faith that we are offending others so we have become passive in order to keep the peace among people.  Is this what Jesus Christ did when he was upon the earth?  I say not!

Titus 1:131Titus 1:131
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

 

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This witness is true.  Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith;

 What, then, should we expect if we avoid making corrections among others because we fear we are making an incorrect judgment, or we are compromising due to fear of offending another?

Ezekiel 33:8-9Ezekiel 33:8-9
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

8 When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. 9 Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.  

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8 When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.

9 Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.

Of course, we all interpret scripture as God gives us the understanding for that particular time and that particular place.  This was a very interesting study and in doing this study, much was revealed to me in relation to my own personal life.  You may not agree with my interpretation that is presented here, but I challenge you to do a personal study on your own on the question Is there a difference between judgment and righteous judgment?  

Written by Mary Hudak-Collins

Mary Hudak-Collins

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