A familiar verse in the New Testament and one that is often quoted is Matthew 7:1 where Jesus says, “Judge not, that you be not judged.” Unfortunately, many people quote this verse for the purpose of justifying sin.
When one rebukes or criticizes a sinful practice he is often met with the reply “judge not.” The homosexual defends his perverted lifestyle and quotes Matthew 7:1 to discourage criticism. The abortion advocate cries “judge not” to defend the sin of abortion. Still others consider any criticism of sin to be “judging.” The adulterer shouts “judge not” to defend his adulterous marriage. And on and on it goes.
Did Jesus forbid the rebuking of sin when he said, “Judge not, that you be not judged”? Does Matthew 7:1 prohibit all criticism of sin and immorality?
An honest study of the Scriptures will show that the answer to both questions is a resounding no!
If Matthew 7:1 does not forbid the condemnation of sin, what does it forbid? Let’s read further in the same chapter. In verses 3 and 4, Jesus discusses the person who is concerned about the mote in his brother’s eye and does not consider the beam in his own eye. Verse 5 reads: “You hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of your own eye; and then you will see clearly to cast out the mote out of your brother’s eye.”
Paul says in Romans 2:1, “Therefore you are inexcusable, 0 man, whosoever you are that judges; for wherein you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you that judges do the same things.”
Jesus, in Matthew 7:1, and Paul, in Romans 2:1, were speaking of those who would judge others while doing the same things! The action forbidden by these passages is hypocritical judgment.
We must not be guilty of hypocritical or unrighteous judgment. This is made clear by the Scriptures. This fact, however, in no way nullifies the Christian’s obligation to condemn sin. To put it simply, we must judge only “righteous judgment” (Jn. 7:24). In other words, we must practice what we preach and clean out our own back door before we attempt to preach and teach others. Notice the words of Paul once again on this topic: “You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal? You who say, “Do not commit adultery,” do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?” (Rom 2:21,22).
Those who quote the Bible to justify sin can find no comfort in the words of Jesus. Let us understand that the Bible justifies no sin, but rather condemns all sin!
The Christian must ever be ready to speak out against unrighteousness. We must not be deterred by those who would falsely accuse us. “Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear” (1 Tim. 5:20). But above all, let us not be guilty of what we preach against, that the Word of God be not blasphemed!