December 18, 2017

Judge Not, That Ye Be Not Judged (1)

Bob Jones

Originally published in Faith for the Family, July/August, 1973. Used by permission.

This is Part OnePart Two ♦ Part Three ♦ Part Four

Although there are many passages in the Word of God which are often misunderstoodfaith-for-the-family and often misapplied, I presume that no verse is more frequently quoted to none effect or to evil effect than the verse “Judge not, that ye be not judged” (Matthew 7:1). I would have you, therefore, to look at this verse in the light of its context.

Let me remind you that Scripture must always be interpreted in the light of Scripture. As no man liveth to himself alone (Romans 14:7), so no verse is given of itself alone (II Peter 1:20). Therefore, any interpretation of Scripture which puts it in conflict with some other portion of Scripture is a wrong interpretation. Scripture does not contradict itself. All Scripture is Truth; and Truth is never at variance with Truth. If you do not understand some passage, always interpret it in the light of some clear passage that is easy to understand. And always keep it in context! There are many verses in God’s Word which have to do with judgment; and if you apply this verse “Judge not, that ye be not judged,” in the light of those verses, you will find how clear and simple and explicit is this teaching of our Lord. Let us see how it stands in its context — the Sermon on the Mount.

First of all, observe to whom the verse is given. We are told in the 5th chapter of Matthew, just before our Lord began His discourse that He had departed from the great multitude down by the sea. “And seeing the multitudes,” we are told, “he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,” (5:1-2). The Sermon on the Mount was not given to an unconverted world. This discourse was given to the disciples, to those who were the followers of our Lord. It is apparent that when our Lord gave this discourse, there were with Him more than the twelve. But all who were present were His followers and not the multitude as a whole.

Notice that our Lord begins His teaching with things that are blessed (5:3-12) — “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God,” “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” He is telling these disciples how blessed they are; for if they are true followers of His, their hearts are pure and they are the meek who shall inherit the earth.

Having applied as a foundation their privileges and their blessings, our Lord sets forth in simple language certain instructions and admonitions which they are to follow. No other sermon ever preached contains so much in so few words. These three chapters — chapters 5, 6, and 7 — are the greatest assembly of teachings ever brought forth by any religious leader in the world. More than that, they are the words of divine authority; they are given by the Captain of our Salvation to those who are heirs of eternal life, teaching how they shall manifest that life and live His life among men.

The last chapter of the discourse begins with the words of our text: “You are not to judge, lest you be judged.” The word judgment in the English language has two meanings. First, it is “an opinion that is formed.” You form opinions every day. You judge things on a great many bases — by their appearance, by their quality, or by some other standard of judgment. You decide what good music is by your “ear” or “lack of ear” for music. Your judgment of music is fanned according to your own background, your own training, and your own musical gift. You judge literature by your appreciation of language. You judge a painting by your knowledge of art, by the training of your eye, by your cultural background, and by your own inner gift. In other words, you form an opinion about these things. You say, “I like this, but I don’t like that.”

The other meaning of judgment is “to pass sentence on someone.” This you are not to do. It is not your place to condemn someone in the sense of passing final judgment on him. You are not to assume the prerogative of a judge and say, “That man should go to Hell.” That judgment is decided by the Word of God. It is the Lord, the Righteous Judge, Who judges all things (II Timothy 4:8; Hebrews 12:23; John 5:22); but He judges all things in the light of the Word of God (John 12:48; 14:24), which is forever settled in Heaven (Psalm 119:89).

Our Lord never tells you not to form standards, to make judgments, or to draw conclusions. His warning is that you should beware of forming an opinion and passing judgment on somebody else on the basis of your own standards. Why? “For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” Have you ever stopped to think that the thing you judge also judges you? That the thing about which you form an opinion either approves or “condemns you (Romans 2:1-3)? If you like that which is beautiful; if you think on those things that are pure and of good report, as God’s Word commands you to do (Philippians 4:8), you are an obedient child of God. You have grown beyond the things of the earth, and have developed a Heavenly taste. If, on the other hand, you like that which is sordid in literature, that which is unclean in art, and that which is discordant in music, there is ugliness and sordidness and discord in your own soul. The thing you judge always judges you.

Let me illustrate. When Mary anointed the feet of Jesus with the costly ointment (John 12), Judas remarked, “This is a waste. We could have sold the ointment in the market and given the money to the poor.” This was the judgment of a man whose heart was not right. Judas was the “carrier of the money bag” — the treasurer of the organization. If the ointment had been sold and the money given to the poor, Judas would have been the one to do it; and some of it, instead of going to the poor, would have gone into Judas’ own pocket. Judas judged selfishly. He judged on the basis of a biased heart, a warped mind, and the nature of a thief.

According to the Word of God, you do not have the right to judge somebody else on the basis of your own selfish desires, to set your standards and form your opinions and make your decisions on the basis of what something means to you personally. By the standards you setup to judge others, Jesus says, you must also judge yourself; for you are judged by your own standards.


Author’s bio as it originally appeared when published: Bob Jones, Litt.D., L.H.D., LL.D., D.D., is chancellor and chairman of the board of trustees at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina, and editor of FAITH for the Family. When Dr. Jones was sixteen, his father, the late Dr. Bob Jones, Sr., founded the school that bears the family name. Five years later the son was named acting president; and in 1947 he succeeded his father as presidenta position he held until 1971 when he passed the reins of that office to his son Dr. Bob Jones, III, and stepped into the newly created position of chancellor.

Dr. Jones passed away November 12, 1997.


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