Home > Bible, Scripture > One of the most misused scriptures in the Bible, Matt 7:1

One of the most misused scriptures in the Bible, Matt 7:1

A while back I was on social media and ran across a thread concerning Joel Osteen. I believe, as far as I can remember that someone was asking if Osteen was a true minister of God, or something to that effect. So, being the Bible reader which I am, I commented and plainly stated, ‘No.’ Of course, after I replied, I had to defend myself against all kinds of attacks, whereby I was being accused of judging Osteen’s salvation.

The main scripture used against me, of course, was Matt 7:1. I was told that I could not judge Osteen’s theology or lack thereof. This is a misuse of the verse and my opponents did not have enough Biblical insight to rightly interpret scripture, nor to rightly understand the true interpretation of Matt 7:1. On top of that, their entire argument was self refuting because if I can’t judge Osteen’s theology, then they have no right to judge mine.

This verse left in context does not forbid all and every kind of judgment. What Christ is condemning is all rash, censorious, hypocritical, self-righteous or other kind of unfair judgments. This the Jews were inclined towards in their religious lives. This is especially true of the self-righteous Pharisees who were quick to cast the first stones in judgment, but would devour widows houses and would search sea and land to make one proselyte, but then would make him twofold more the child of Hell than themselves.

In context, Christ is forbidding a hypocritical judging of others. For how can one say to his brother, ‘Here let me get the splinter out of your eye,’ when they have a log in their own eye. Christ goes on to say that after one has removed the log out of their eye, then they could see clearly to get the splinter out of their brother’s eye. Also if Christ was speaking against any and all types of judgment, then it is ironic that in the same chapter he tells us to beware of false prophets, which come to us in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Now how could someone determine who a false prophet is, if he couldn’t judge? Also Christ told the Jews in John 7:24 to not judge according to appearance and that when they do judge they are to judge righteous judgment.

So what I am going to do here is just list three groups who misuse this verse. There may be others who misuse this verse, but I will only focus on these three and then I will provide some commentary from learned men of God.

Mat 7:1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.

1. This scripture is abused by those who would not have their sins examined by the light of scripture. (This speaketh to the backslider)

2. This scripture is abused by those who would not have their doctrine brought under the light of scripture. (This speaketh to false teachers and those who twist scripture to their profit)

3. This scripture is abused by those who claim that we should be tolerant of others lifestyles and to each his own.

First, to examine the scripture:

Mat 7:1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.

This scripture is not condemning all judgment, but in context is a prohibition against one particular type of judgment; specifically a hypocritical judging of others while we ourselves live in worse sin. However, if our lives align with scripture according to the grace of God given us, then we are to judge righteous judgment. We are also to discern and judge the doctrine which comes forth from a ministers lips. We are to be like the Bereans and search the scriptures daily to see if these things are so.

There are many things the Christian is called to judge, however to be brief I will only list two:

1. Paul declares that if two brothers are in dispute one with one another, in the Church, then set one over them, who is least esteemed in the Church and let him judge the matter. 1Co 6:2 Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?

2. Scripture declares: 1Co 5:12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? If a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.

What this scripture is condemning:

It condemns rash, judgment or interpreting men’s words and deed in the worst sense. Which was common among the Jews. It condemns hypocritical judgment or judging someone who is living with a little sin, while you are living in the pig pen of sin. First cast out the beam (the great sin) in thine own eye, then you can see clearly to get the mote (the little sin) out of thy brother’s eye.

Now to the 3 people above who misuse this scripture:

1. This scripture is abused by those who would not have their sins examined by the light of scripture. (This speaketh to the backslider)

Are not God’s ministers called to reprove thee when thou art playing the harlot against Christ? Would you cause them more anguish of heart by constantly having to rebuke thee because you will not submit yourself to those who care for your soul?

Heb 13:17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

2. This scripture is abused by those who would not have their doctrine brought under the light of scripture. (This speaketh to false teachers and those who twist scripture to their profit)

The scripture saith: Mat 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

Thou false prophet, this scripture is in the same chapter as judge not, that ye be not judged. So how are we to know who you are, except we judge what comes from thy mouth? What, are God’s ministers supposed to sit back while you make merchandise of the weak and feeble among God’s people?

The scripture saith: 1Jn 4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

And again: Tit 1:10-13 For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake. One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies. This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith;

And finally to the last group:

3. This scripture is abused by those who claim that we should be tolerant of others lifestyles and to each his own.

What do you think that your blaspheming God and rebelling against your Creator should not be called out? Living in the grossest of sins and not wanting anyone to reprove you of it.

The scripture saith:

2Ti 4:2-4 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

Now for several commentators on this verse:

Mat 7:1. Judge not.—The word κρίνειν here undoubtedly implies unkind, condemnatory judgment (Theophylact, Kuinoel, Tholuck, and others), as appears from the opposite clause, ἵνα μὴκρι θῆτε. Meyer denies this without reason, although the simile about the mote and the beam, proves that the expression cannot simply mean condemnation. It is general. Meyer is right in controverting the idea, that the word κριθῆτε refers exclusively to the judgment of other men (Erasmus, etc.). He applies it to the judgment to come; but Mat 7:6 proves that judgment on earth precedes the judgment of the last day. Uncharitable judgment receives its meed here as well as there. Comp. Mat 5:22; Mat 6:14; the parable in Mat 18:23; Jam 2:13. Heubner: “Judge not. This neither refers (unconditionally) to our private judgment, nor to the official expression of our opinion which we may be bound in duty to give (which, however, may run into the sinful extreme here condemned). Least of all does it apply to the sentence pronounced by a judge (who should always bear in mind that he is under the holy law of God), but to those uncalled-for judgments which are neither dictated by duty, nor prompted by love. Κρίνειν therefore is here equivalent to κατακρίνειν.” Comp. Luke 3

Lang’s Commentary; J. P. Lange (1864-1880; Philip Schaff English Translation)

Judge not … – This command refers to rash, censorious, and unjust judgment. See Rom_2:1. Luke Luk_6:37 explains it in the sense of “condemning.” Christ does not condemn judging as a magistrate, for that, when according to justice, is lawful and necessary. Nor does he condemn our “forming an opinion” of the conduct of others, for it is impossible “not” to form an opinion of conduct that we know to be evil. But what he refers to is a habit of forming a judgment hastily, harshly, and without an allowance for every palliating circumstance, and a habit of “expressing” such an opinion harshly and unnecessarily when formed. It rather refers to private judgment than “judicial,” and perhaps primarily to the customs of the scribes and Pharisees.

Albert Barnes Notes on the Bible

Mat 7:1 Judge not, that ye be not judged. This is not to be understood of any sort of judgment; not of judgment in the civil courts of judicature, by proper magistrates, which ought to be made and pass, according to the nature of the case; nor of judgment in the churches of Christ, where offenders are to be called to an account, examined, tried, and dealt with according to the rules of the Gospel; nor of every private judgment, which one man may make upon another, without any detriment to him; but of rash judgment, interpreting men’s words and deeds to the worst sense, and censuring them in a very severe manner; even passing sentence on them, with respect to their eternal state and condition. Good is the advice given by the famous Hillell (u), who lived a little before Christ’s time.

John Gill

So this ought to settle the matter, however, I do not believe it will because many will not take the time to do the necessary work in order to properly exegete scripture.

Tell me what you all think in the comment section below.

  1. April 29, 2020 at 5:05 am

    You’re right its the most misused!

    • May 3, 2020 at 12:03 pm

      Amen brother, working on another one, but want get it up till next week. God bless.

  2. April 29, 2020 at 8:01 am

    Reblogged this on exceptionnoted.

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