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Devotionals

The Most Misused, Misunderstood Bible Verse - "Judge Not" Part One - Sin

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"Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye. - Matthew 7: 1-5 (ESV)

Contrary to what many professing Christians seem to believe, "judge not", is not a Bible verse. It is a two word portion of five verses spoken by Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount. In other words, whenever you hear someone say, "judge not" you can be assured they are ripping that phrase violently out of the context in which it was meant to be in. Let's be honest too. It is probably one of the top "Christian" phrases used by both saved and unsaved. Judge not is a Christian defense mechanism used primarily for two reasons. The first is to not have to hear about our own sin and the second is to defend our favorite false teachers/prophets.

When it comes to sin we all know the drill. Someone has the temerity to point out to a brother or sister that they are in sin and the reflexive response is "don't judge me" or "who are you to judge!" The truth of course is that we are our brother's keeper. If not us then who? The problem is not the fact that someone tells us we are sinning. The problem is we are sinning and when we sow to the flesh, we will always reap destruction - that is what the Bible teaches us. What does the Bible specifically say about our responsibility here?

My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. - James 5: 19-20 (ESV)

Yet we remain so gifted at providing Christian sound bites rather than sound doctrine - you know - what God actually says and means. Another favorite here is when people say, "let he without sin cast the first stone!" While that sounds so righteous it actually is merely one line in a much larger story. The Pharisees had caught a woman in the act of adultery. They were not trying to restore her. They were not trying to bring her back from her wandering. They wanted to stone her to death. More specifically, they were trying to trap Jesus into speaking against the Mosaic Law. So if your argument is that we should not try and stone people we find in sin - I wholeheartedly agree and more importantly, Scripture agrees. But that does not mean we ignore the sin. That is essentially what the "judge not" crowd advocates and that is not even supported by this story:

Jesus stood up and said to her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more." - John 8: 10-11 (ESV)

No one is advocating for condemning a sinner because we all fall short of the glory of God. We are all sinners. But the convenient part people tend to leave out is when Jesus says - go and sin no more. Wait a minute preacher! The Book of James says who are you to judge your neighbor! Yes it does, but what is the context?

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