Matthew 7:1-6

There are individuals and groups and institutions in this country with a vested interest in setting aside all distinctions between good and evil.  In fact, it is the device of satanic deception to shade the area between the two – grey!

The Church itself has allowed its own view of the world order to be redefined by the world order; and now it isn’t sure what’s right and what’s wrong!

And it is strange reasoning when the distinctions between right and wrong stop at the front door of the Church!  And when tolerance and acceptance of others stops before we get to the committed Christian!

The world order preaches tolerance! But Christians can’t be tolerated.  The world preaches that you can’t condemn any practice, because that separates people!  But Christianity is condemned and Christians are separated out as undesirables.  The world order hates it when homosexuals, for example, aren’t accepted as a normal, functioning segment of society!  But that same world order condemns Christianity as an aberration needful of elimination.  And singled out for special propaganda are those who hold the Scriptures to be inerrant and infallible.

I was amazed the other day, listening to a radio program which reported a terrible crime by some kook who said God told him to do it, when people started calling in and wondering if a lot more of this kind of thing wouldn’t happen since we live in the Bible belt?  I mean – to these people Christianity is the root cause of social ills!  They despise it – but at the same time tolerance and acceptance is their cultural philosophy.  Homelessness, abortion, divorce – all understandable human behavior!  But not Christianity.

And, of course, one of the passages of our own Bible which is so strongly used against us is the passage which is before us this morning.

They say – “See!  Look at your own Bible!  You don’t even follow your own book!  ‘Judge not lest ye be judged!’  You say you’re a Christian.  But if you followed Jesus you wouldn’t make these distinctions between people, and you wouldn’t condemn others when they don’t do what you think is right.  You’re so narrow nobody can get through!  The Bible says you ought to be wide enough to let everybody through and not judge anybody!”

And, as a result of this, Christianity is judged as the misfit segment of society.  We’re anachronistic hold-overs from another age.  We’re aberrations – anomalies.

The world has accepted this “tolerance” as a philosophy; and tolerance is now the standard for judging what is evil.  And when something is ruled evil, by that new standard – (tolerance) – then it isn’t tolerated!

But we can’t allow this passage to be misinterpreted and misapplied by those who would use it to set aside all distinctions between good and evil!  That’s an error of colossal proportions!  And every time we hear God’s Word being used that way we must judge it as being in error!

And to be able to do that – confidently – in the face of the whole world’s misinterpretation of Jesus’ words, we have to clearly understand what He says and what He means.

And first we must conclude that clear, irreconcilable differences must be made between good and evil.  We are not only permitted, but we are bound to sharply differentiate between the two and condemn the evil!  (Unless, of course, we choose to completely rebel against God and repeal His Holy Law, and reverse all His decisions, and overturn His judgment seat!)

It is clear in the Scriptures that it is God’s will that we proclaim the sentence which He pronounces on the actions of men!  His Word even says that His people are the judges of men and angels!  And it says that we are to judge with the infallible standard of His Holy Law.  It is the measurement – the plumb-line, the measuring rod – by which all the deeds of men are to be measured!

So, the first verse, here, isn’t an absolute statement against all judgment, is it?  In fact, that’s far from the case!  Look at what the text says:  “Do not judge in order that you not be judged, for you shall be judged with the judgment with which you’re judging, and it shall be measured to you with the measure with which you are measuring!”

Now, we’ve said that this isn’t here to blur the difference between good and evil.  Jesus’ intent here is to address the awful sin of self-glorification which is at the core of each person’ make-up!  That’s the whole context of this passage!  You see, our nature is to flatter ourselves by passing severe censure on others – and using ourselves as the measure for the censure!  Do you see that?

The problem isn’t discrimination between good and bad – which we are commanded to do righteously – but harshness with others, using ourselves as the standard for judging!

One more time, for the sake of clarity – for this is a very important issue that you must see clearly.  In the context of pharisaical hypocrisy, self-image, self fulfillment, self-glory, and self-concentration – ego-centricity – Jesus says, “Do not judge in order that you not be judged….”  And His statement clearly is a condemnation of the severe censure of others – using the self as the standard for judging!  “….for we will be judged with the judgment with which we are judging….” We’ll be measured with the measurement with which we’re measuring….

If we’re using the self as the measuring rod, rather than the Law of God, then we’ll be measured according to the depravity of man – there will be no grace!  If we judge according to the depraved self, then we’ll be judged with the punishment deserved by each and every sinful thought and deed!

If we’re judging others from depraved human egocentricity, then we’re judging from an evil standard.  If we’re measuring other people so harshly as to do so from the inflated view of ourselves, then we’re measuring with an unjust and ungodly measuring rod.

You see, the poor in spirit and those who are mourning their sin discriminate between good and bad by using the Holy Law of God, rather than their own contemptible self!  If there’s no inflated view of self, if there’s no pharisaical hypocrisy, then there’s no ungodly measuring rod!

But people flatter themselves by being critical of others!  There’s this personal affront – this real, down-deep antagonism – which comes pouring out of people toward other people when they don’t act just the way we think they ought to!  And, unfortunately, the measurement for that criticism is usually not the Law of God!  It’s the self!  We get critical of others because they transgress what we think!

And the measurement – the judgment – is the source of some strange enjoyment!  We seem to be enthralled with the idea of inquiring into the faults and inadequacies and idiosyncrasies of others!  We love that – because we’re measuring them against self!

And the greater part of this is that most have this underlying idea that, when they condemn others, when they measure them, that they acquire some kind of liberty from their own sin!  Somehow there is self-justification in this judging process!  Somehow it sets us free!  It makes us feel good.

And it’s this biting, censuring, slanderous judging – this measuring by ourselves, which is being restrained here by Jesus.  Rather than all things about our brothers being interpreted in the best light – the holy and gracious Law of God – the Judge Jesus speaks of here is insolently disdainful of the deeds of his brothers, preferring to put each in the worst possible light!  And measuring each in the light of his own preposterous, inflated view of himself!  You see, the one who’s always critical of everybody is the one who is full of himself!  He’s harsh, and he has a different standard – the self.

Now, we are to make judgments constantly, aren’t we?  But we can now see that the design of Jesus here is to command us against malignity of judgment!  The one who judges and measures by the rule of the Law of God – which is charitable and just – always begins with subjecting the self to scrutiny and examination!

It must be judgment with God’s Law and God’s sentencing – with the self mortified!  When judging and measuring and making judgments, we must preserve such modesty toward each other as to make it manifest that He is the only Lawgiver and Judge!  No judgment is to be with self in mind, or to glorify self, or to make self feel good, or to justify self!  Our judging of our brothers and the world order has to be done with the clear and just and righteous Words of God.  Not some false and evil standard.

Now, let me get more specific with nine instances in which we must not judge our brother.  And as I bring these to you it is with this in mind – that judgment means rule.  And men love to have power over others.  And criticism – judging – measuring – of another is an act of sovereignty.  If I use myself as the standard of measurement, then I place myself over you as your ruler.  But if I make judgments between good and evil using the Words of God, and according to the equity and charity of His Law, then I judge with the acknowledgment that God is Sovereign over us both!

And with that in mind, here are the instances in which we must not judge:

First, James says we are not to speak evil of our brother.  The word used there is a cognate of the word “to judge.”  The only reason anyone would ever have to speak evil of his brother would be to gain some personal satisfaction from it!  You see, of you were judging between good and evil by the true standard, you would be speaking to your brother about the evil in his life – to the glory of God – rather than telling it to somebody else for your own glory!

Secondly, Paul says that we are not to despise our brother!  That is, to set him at naught.  And what that means in its context is that we strongly disapprove of something our brother does, but it’s something in which he answers only to God!  Or we strongly approve of something our brother doesn’t do, but in which he is only answerable to God.  That’s measuring with a false standard!

Third, the Scripture says we must not judge rashly.  In other words, we do our brother an injustice if we judge him too quickly and without grounds.  When we do that it is only a product of our own ill-natured jealousy and self-glorification.  It’s to rush to judgment.

Fourth, we must not make the worst of people – inferring the worst of their words and actions!  It is a denial of the Kingship of Christ to take a sketchy set of circumstances and superimpose – out of the depravity of your own heart – the most scurrilous scenario on it!  And yet that’s what pleases the self!  We love to think the worst – instead of putting the best possible light on our brother’s words and deeds.

Fifth, we must not judge uncharitably!  And what that means is with a desire to do harm - or with a spirit of revenge.  You place your brother’s actions in the light of something else he did, and you harshly censure his present actions because of the earlier ones!  People take pleasure and glee in doing this because they think that chopping their brother down will somehow make them look better!  This is the tyranny of personal law in place of the charitable Law of God our Father.

Sixth, we must not always judge our brother by a single act.  In other words, a single act may not be the result of a rebellious heart.  Now, some single acts must be judged decisively and quickly, but the one who routinely judges the single act of his brother seeks personal rulership rather than the glory of God our Sovereign.

Seventh, we must not, according to Scripture, judge a man solely by what he is to us!  For that is partiality!  This is “the principle of many counselors” – so that we aren’t prejudiced, as depraved men naturally are.  Later in this Gospel we see the teaching about taking others with you to urge a man to repent.  And still later on we see Paul counseling Timothy to not receive an accusation against an elder except by two or more witnesses.  In other words we aren’t to depend absolutely on the single view of a man – not even on our own – but reserve wise judgment.

Eighth, we must not judge the heart of a man.  That’s God’s prerogative, and we must not step up on to His throne!  A man stands or falls unto his own master – and we are not any man’s master.  You may judge between right and wrong – with the Law of God – in a man’s deeds and his words and his plans, but you may not judge his intentions!  You may not say, “His intent is evil.”  Only God our Father can read what a man will do in the future – we cannot do that!  So do not judge your brother’s heart.

And ninth, you cannot condemn a man to eternity.  It is not for us to do.  He is God’s servant.  And God will judge whether that servant has been a good and faithful one.  God rules and is, therefore, the judge of all men.  And He has given it to us, His peculiar people, to discriminate between good and evil according to His Holy Law.  In fact, as I said earlier, God has commanded that we proclaim His sentence on the actions of men!  But these men don’t belong to us, and the standard by which we judge doesn’t belong to us, and the glory doesn’t belong to us!  The people – nor the standard – nor the glory!

And Jesus pronounces judgment against those severe judges who take delight in sifting the faults of others!  And our delight in it provokes God to treat us in the same manner.  They will, He says, experience, in turn, the same severity.  And it is certainly ironic that the seeking after self-glorification is the very thing that will ultimately cause us to be put to open shame and reproach before God and men.

In verses three, four and five, you see some very simple, but very exaggerated, language describing the ludicrous way that most people cherish and indulge and apologize for their own faults – and excuse them – but are quick to condemn the faults of others.  Christ reproves both evils – the guy with the sin and the hypocrite who judges him with a false standard!

In verse six we see that Jesus follows that with the fact that the things of Christ are heavenly treasures, and they’re not to be given to despisers and unclean people!  Now there’s a judgment which we have to make right off the bat, isn’t it?

The Scriptures command us to preach the Gospel to every creature – Paul says that preaching the Gospel is the savor of life to those who will hear and the savor of death to the wicked.  (Second Corinthians two, verse sixteen)  And yet Jesus commands us not to cast our pearls before swine!

Pearls are portions of the Gospel – Jews used to string them out in historical fashion (much like Steven’s sermon) and these historical tidbits came to be known as pearls of great value to the heathen.

But how do we reconcile the two?  Well, we use the wisdom of God and the Law of God and the Charity of God and the Goodness of God – and we judge right and wrong for the glory of God – and all the while there are those who have demonstrated a hardened contempt of God and His Son.  And they are: 1) those who remain in rebellious uncleanness and, 2) those who become ferocious.  And there should be no comfort for either of them.

Paul says to Titus in chapter three that heretics are self-condemned.  And he says that some wallow in sin – thereby denying the truth.  And then others verbally reproach God and His ministers – ripping and tearing at the very fabric of the Gospel – and thereby society as well.

Jesus says – don’t even begin to offer these holy things to them.

Make the judgment – make it Biblically – make it charitably – make it for the glory of God; but don’t ever be so ungodly as to offer the comfort of God and His Son to the most contemptible and rebellious of our society.  To tell these people that God loves them is a reproach to God and a judgment with a false standard.

I said at the very beginning that the Church has allowed its own view of the world order to be redefined by that world order.  And it’s not sure what’s right and what’s wrong.  Its judgment has become cloudy.  Everything’s grey.  The gold has lost its luster.  Its charity has turned inward, and it has given away all the treasures.  May God forgive us for false judging and measuring with a false standard.