The CWs justify their judgmental attitude by claiming the passage where Jesus admonishes believers against judging isn’t saying what it obviously says.
They attempt to obfuscate by using another scripture out of context. Let’s have a look at this.
Matthew 7:1-6 “Judge not, that you be not judged. 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! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.”
The opening sentence begins a teaching. Jesus is being succinct regarding judging others. He tells us not to judge, and gives a reason. We will be judged with the same judgment with which we judge others.
Then he gives an illustration of what he means by this by comparing a plank of judgment used to point out a speck in someone else’s eye.
He concludes by advising against making an assessment of those who are unteachable and aggressive towards scriptural correction of any kind.
‘Judge’ means ‘judge’
The Greek word for ‘judge’ tells us much about the meaning of the teaching. Krino has multiple meanings, but it is primarily referring to judgment.
Krino: ‘to be of an opinion, to deem’; ‘to pronounce an opinion concerning right or wrong’; ‘to summon to trial so that one’s case might be examined and judgment passed upon it’; ‘of those who act the part of judges or arbiters in matters of common life, or pass judgment on the deeds and words of others’; ‘to preside over with the power of giving judicial decisions’; ‘to contend together – to dispute or, in a forensic sense, to go to law, have a suit at law.’
Now that is pretty concise. The context is clear. We know from this that Jesus is saying we should not judge in any these various senses.
Or, if we do consider ourselves worthy to judge, we should first examine ourselves to ensure that we are not guilty before we point the finger at others.
The event where a woman was paraded by Jewish lawyers before Jesus after she had committed adultery is a classic example of how Jesus used this admonition in his own ministry.
Her accusers were asked if any of those who were bringing judgment were not guilty of any sin themselves, and, if any was clean, let him cast the first stone. They all slunk away as he wrote in the sand.
Turning back to see they had gone, Jesus said, ‘Woman, where are your accusers?’ As they had no judgment to bring because of their own guilt, Jesus told her that he held nothing against her, and released her from her guilt, saying, “Go your way, and sin no more.”
Paul concurs with Jesus’ teaching his letter to the Romans.
Romans 2:1 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.
So there you have three separate witnesses to make a point.
It would be difficult to know whether the CWs have any specks in their eyes as they choose anonymity as their base of accusation, which, in itself, could be a plank, in fact. Selah.
Their defence of judgment is another quote from Jesus, which, if it is interpreted the way the CWs claim, actually infers that Jesus is contradicting his own previous teaching.
John 7:14-24 Now about the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and taught. And the Jews marvelled, saying, “How does this Man know letters, having never studied?”
Jesus answered them and said, “My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me. If anyone wants to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority. He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him.
Did not Moses give you the law, yet none of you keeps the law? Why do you seek to kill Me?” The people answered and said, “You have a demon. Who is seeking to kill You?”
Jesus answered and said to them, “I did one work, and you all marvel. Moses therefore gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath, so that the law of Moses should not be broken, are you angry with Me because I made a man completely well on the Sabbath?
Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”
The question asked by the lawyers is, “How does this Man know letters, having never studied?” What Jesus is telling them is that they shouldn’t judge according to their standard requirement for being considered learned, but on the merit of what he was teaching.
If what he taught was according to truth then they should accept what he said and apply it to their lives as truth rather than look at his appearance, or judging him because they had no evidence of his credentials.
He is telling them that, in their judgmental attitude, they have even got their motives for judgment wrong.
There are many people who are simply critical. They consider themselves to be ordained critics, people who are set apart to judge others. The lawyers, of course, were masterful in their judgment. They were the hyper-critics of the day.
They spent their time attempting to trip up Jesus with prejudiced doctrinal questions, such as the group mentioned earlier who brought the woman caught in adultery before Jesus.
What Jesus is saying here is that, since the lawyers were accusers anyway, let their judgment at least be according to righteousness. Let their judgment be just.
He is not teaching that we should all judge. He is telling self-appointed unrepentant judges that they should judge in a fair and open way without prejudice or bias.
These were habitual judges who considered their entire purpose in life to make assessment of people and mark them against their own interpretation of the Mosaic law, which, as Jesus points out, they did not live up to themselves.
If they could only learn to judge themselves and meaure up to the standards of the law by which they judged others, there would be no false judgment issued from them.
In fact, their ministry would be completely different because they would know that their self-inflated pride was interfering with any rational assessment of others, which was demonstrated in their attitude towards the teaching of Jesus, which, had they actually known the Spirit of the Law rather than the letter, they would have identified as being from God.
So here the CWs use the same kind of presumptuous assessment of the Word of God, denying what Christ says, to set themselves up to repeatedly and continually judge their quarry in a negative light without any reference to the very obvious greater evidence of excellent ministry coming from their movements.
They claim that Jesus is licensing their judgmental attitude because he rebuked Scribes because of their judgmental attitude, completely missing the point of what Jesus was telling them.
As we have stressed many times before, we are instructed to contend for the faith, to test every spirit to see that it is of God, and to examine doctrine against the Word of God.
However, this is not a license to be constantly judgmental of a group of churches or ministers without a balanced reference to the great good they do, and even denying that they do any good at all.
That is another story…