If judging wisely is a mark of a mature Christian, how does one judge wisely and rightly? What is the purpose of judgement? We make judgements everyday to help us decide a course of action. Do we have the right to make a moral judgement or a judgement of value about someone else’s action?
There are two words in the Greek used for “to judge”: krino and diakrino. “Diakrino” can mean to separate, distinguish, discern. “Krino” can mean to determine, to pronounce judgement, to preside over with the power to give a judicial decision (Strong’s Concordance and Dictionary). This is an important distinction. “Krino” emphasizes the court of law. 1 Corinthians 11:31 exemplifies this difference: For if we would judge ourselves (diakrino) we would not be judged (krino).
The answer is that we are already judged (krino) and condemned to death because our old nature is sinful and it was natural for us to sin (Romans 3:23, 6:23). And God has already told man what is expected of him and how to live rightly, what is moral and what is immoral, what is acceptable to Him, and what is unacceptable (Acts 17:30-31, Romans 1:18-32). But we must judge (diakrino) for ourselves what it is God requires of us (Ephesians 5:6-17) . There are explicit commands (Exodus 20:1-21) and there are personal convictions (Romans 14:22-23, read entire chapter for context). Also we must discern and judge (diakrino) so we are not tricked into exchanging the truth for a lie (1 Timothy 4:1, 6:20-21; 2 Timothy 4:3-4).
Often times it was the work of the prophet to pronounce judgement. God used prophets like Samuel, Nathan, Jonah and John the Baptist, to warn a nation or individual person about their sin and God’s judgement in order to show them His great love and mercy (1 Samuel 3:10-18, 2 Samuel 12:1-15, Jonah 1-4, Mark 6:17-29).
When the Word of God is preached, the world takes offense at the Word of God and their pride denies what they know to be true, and they call it “being judgmental” (1 Corinthians 1:21-25). But the intent of the message is not to burden the people with guilt but to lead to repentance (Romans 7:7-13). Not to display one’s self-righteousness (Isaiah 64:5-6) but to encourage others to walk in righteousness by looking at Christ and not to themselves (Romans 3:21-24).
The story in John about the ” Stoning of the Unfaithful Woman” illustrates well what is right judgment (John 8:1-11). The religious leaders were justified by the Law to stone the adulteress¹. Though they were right to stone her, their heart was not right. Their intention was to trick Christ into blaspheming so they could do away with Him. They had no care, love, or concern for the woman. They had no mercy (Matthew 23:23-24) and did not understand the intent of the Law, which is all fulfilled in love (Romans 13:8-10). Jesus rightly judges (diakrino) what is the intent of the leaders’ harsh judgement (krino) and forces them to consider themselves first. Because in their haughtiness they thought their own works and strict observance of the Law made them exempt from any punishment of the law, that they were indeed holy (Luke 3:7-8). “He who has no sin, cast the first stone.” And then their own hypocrisy is made clear to the leaders and they are forced to walk away.
But it didn’t end there. The woman knows she deserves to be stoned and Jesus knows she deserves to be stoned. But the Father didn’t send the Son condemn us, but to take our punishment so that we can be free from the power of sin (John 3:17), so that we may “Go and sin no more”. ” Where are your accusers?” Jesus asks her, “Neither do I accuse you.” Jesus says this because he knows what is His mission. He now stands before our Accuser the Devil and says “It is finished. I have taken the wrath of God and they have taken up my righteousness (1 John 2:1-2; Revelations 12:10-12).”
We come to faith in Christ because we receive by revelation of the Holy Spirit that we “is nasty”and are incapable of meeting God’s requirements. We need to accept the work of the Son so we can be in right standing with the Father.
When you judge:
- Examine yourself first (Matthew 7:1-5).
- Be humble not self righteous (1 Corinthians 6: 9-11).
- Know the issue is the heart (John 7:24).
- Be led by the Spirit, speak because the Father is speaking first (John 5:30), not because you have a point to make (1 Timothy 6:3-5).
- Speak the truth in love with the intent to build up not to tear down (Ephesians 4:14-15).
- Always give the Answer, which is Salvation, our confession of faith that Jesus is the Son of God (2 Timothy 4:2).
¹It may seem a harsh punishment, but what it should teach the Believer is how harshly God despises sin. Praise God! That on the Cross, Jesus took the punishment of the adulteress and the murderer, the liar, the thief, the heterosexual who has sex outside of marriage, the homosexual etc. And because He has risen victorious on the third day, we too rise up in victory because we are a new creature, our identity found in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).