Who Judges Who?

How many times have you heard someone say, “Don’t judge others and don’t judge me! That is what the Bible says…we are not supposed to judge people!” The next time someone says that would you respectfully and sincerely ask them to explain to you the context of what they mean, and where in the Bible does it say that? There is a chance they will take the Bible out of context in an attempt to explain what they mean. So, it is important for us to be informed of what Biblical judgment means so that we can accurately answer the questions: 1) Are We to Judge Other People? And, 2) Are Christians to Judge Other Christians? The majority of the following blog will focus on question 2.

I am by no means a Greek or Hebrew Bible scholar and have no Seminary degree, and do not in any way want to hint I think I am a Bible expert by writing this article, as I am not even close. Rather, my goal is to cover a general topic using some basic Greek New Testament as evidence. Feel free to look up the following words in Greek for yourself for your own study to formulate your own opinions.

In my personal opinion, the Church as we have it today—the Body of Christ—especially in the United States, slowly began entering a theological “cotton candy” phase decades ago. On a larger scale much of the country and world, due to satellite television and the internet, become exposed to, and began “drifting” toward, an easier, softer, sweeter, more comfortable, self-absorbed “Gospel.” Society in general seems to have subtly moved into the “me, my family, and I” focus instead of others and the Great Commission focus. By that I am not saying we are too neglect our duty to love and care for our families, friends, etc., but rather we must realize that in each of our Christian lives the Great Commission is to be of utmost importance! In this day and age, we are at a point where it is not “politically correct (PC)” to have much, if any, discipline in the church. Nor is it PC to have any confrontation for questionable “gray area” behaviors or outright sinful behaviors. If we do, then people, including many Christians, are quick to whip out their out-of-context Bible knowledge and quote from the “Bible” where it says, “Do not judge others” in Matthew 7:1. But, they just stop after that one verse, which leaves a huge hole in the fuller contextual meaning of what the word “judge” really means. So, let’s look at this word “judge” as we should, in the full context of what the Bible means, as this Biblical word “judge” actually has different meanings and applications to our lives.

First, let’s look at 1 Corinthians, Chapter 5, where the context is serious sexual immorality taking place by Christians. Verse 12-13 says, “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. ‘Expel the wicked man from among you.’” What Paul was basically saying here is to confront, discipline, and if necessary, expel and “judge” the Christians committing incest. Paul said to expel and to “judge” these Christians in the hope they will repent and stop their sinful behaviors and return to the Church. However, those outside the church, the non-Christians, we are not to “judge” because they aren’t believers yet. If we distance ourselves from every sexually immoral person who is not a Christian, how will they ever hear the Gospel and have the chance to repent and accept the love and mercy of Jesus Christ? In a nutshell, Paul was saying in the world outside the church there is going to be lots of sin, which is “normal” for the satanic world and this should not shock us. However, inside the church where believers in Christ are, there should be much less sin, and if a brother or sister in Christ is in sin we are to “judge” them. Now, the big question is…what does this word “judge” really mean?

In these verses we just read, 1 Corinthians 5:12-13, the word “judge” is the Greek word, “krino,” which means “to divide, separate, to make a distinction.” Imagine taking a knife and cutting open an envelope you received in the mail to see what is inside. This is basically what this word means…to open up, to investigate, and to scrutinize. In this particular text, “krino” does not necessarily mean to judge in a condemning final verdict. Rather, to “judge” by questioning inner content and motives, and by questioning outer choices, and by evaluating the possible effects certain behaviors and such can have on ourselves, and on others, in the short and long term.

This Greek word “krino” is also used in the verse we started with, “Do not judge…” in Matthew 7:1. It is a mistake, however, to stop after the first verse of this chapter, so for context, here is Matthew 7:1-5, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

In these verses we find the same Greek work “krino” that was used in 1 Corinthians 5:12-13, where, let me say again, the Bible told us we are to “judge” Christians inside the Kingdom of God. Krino is used 4 times in this text of Scripture in Matthew 7:1-5, which means it is an important word to have been used that many times in just a few verses. As we study the entire context, at least two things are clear: 1) We are not to “judge/krino” others if we have not first evaluated our own lives for “planks” of sin, as it says in verses 3-5. Example: if I watch pornography, how can I go talk/judge/krino to a brother in Christ who lost his family due to his pornography addiction? I would be a hypocrite, as it says in verses 4-5.  2) After we evaluate our own lives, and have sought and received outside objective Biblical counsel and accountability, and after we have removed our “planks” in our lives, we are to then humbly and respectfully go to our brother/sister in Christ and lovingly “judge/krino” them—perhaps with tough love—and talk to them about any questionable behaviors they are doing in their Christian life. We don’t “condemn” them, as that is a different Greek word we will talk about next. But rather we confront them on their behaviors and choices for the sake of questioning them, and scrutinizing their choices, and talking to them to see if they understand, and see, that some of their choices and behaviors are questionable and can damage their walk and witness for Jesus Christ.

Let’s move on to a second word used for “judge” in the New Testament. We just alluded to it, it is the Greek word “katakrima” that is used for judging as a “condemnation.” This word is found in Romans 8:1, which says, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation (Katakrima) for those who are in Christ Jesus.” This word, katakrima, is related to the word “krino,” but the addition of the suffix “ma” makes this word the result of judgment. In other words, katakrima is the aftereffects of being judged, found guilty, and sentenced by a judge. One commentator said it this way, katakrima is “the exact sentence of condemnation handed down after due process.Here is a way to illustrate the difference between these similar Greek words Krino and Katakrima. Let’s say we are in a courtroom observing a trial, and the lawyers are presenting their evidence…the lawyers are dividing, investigating, scrutinizing, and dissecting all the evidence. In a sense, the lawyers are “judging” the person accused of the crime by deeply evaluating all the evidence…this is the word “krino” in action when the lawyers investigate the evidence stemming from the life and circumstances of the accused person standing trial. But, the lawyers do not make the final decision of guilt or innocence. That is what the judge does.

After the lawyer’s “judge/krino” the evidence and circumstances of their case and of the people involved, they then hand their case to the judge who, after hearing all the evidence, makes the final “judgment/katakrima” of guilt or innocence. This is what the word “katakrima” can mean: “a condemnatory judgment based on the evidence presented to a judicial judge who finds a person innocent or guilty based on the evidence.” So, the lawyers have one form of judgment, “krino,” which is to evaluate and present evidence, and the judge has another form of judgment, “katakrima,” which is to decide final guilt or innocence based on the evidence presented to them. This courtroom illustration can transfer to the Kingdom of God in that we as Christians are, in a sense, the “pre-final judgment lawyers” who “judge/krino” the decisions and behaviors—we evaluate the evidence/fruit—of one another in this life to help each other grow and mature and prepare for our final judgment. Jesus Christ, as “The Judge of the living and the dead” (Acts 10:42), will “judge/katakrima”— condemn — every person after death who does not know Him personally. Now, for those who enter death knowing Jesus personally, this then brings up another word for “judgment” in the Bible, as well as gives us a second application of the Greek word krino. Let’s look at the following: 1) the judgment to determine who goes to heaven and who goes to hell. 2) the judgment of Christians before entering heaven.

The heaven and hell judgment is called the “Great White Throne Judgment,” and it is found in Revelation 20: 11-15. And guess what, the same Greek word “Krino” is used twice in verses 12-13, but, it is used in a different form, context, and application. In Revelation 20, “krino” is used to express action that is not continuous but just right now. In other words, the final “Krino” judgment found in Revelation 20 is made by Jesus Christ once and for all—forever—before the Great White Throne. And that is it…all things are over for the person who rejects Jesus Christ! God’s Son will make His final decisive judgement upon the person who did not accept Him and eternal separation from God—hell—begins immediately after His final “krino” judgement has been made. As you read this, if you are not 100% sure you would go to Heaven if you died today, please know Jesus loves you and you can know Him right now and be sure you WILL go to Heaven! Here is how.

Then, we have the judgment of Christians that happens after we die and before we enter heaven. This is where each of us as Christians will give full account for our lives for the time period after we received Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior. I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior and was saved/born-again at age 19. So, I will stand before Jesus Christ and give account of what I did since that age till my life ends. This will take place at what the Bible calls the “Judgment Seat of Christ,” which is found in 2 Corinthians 5:10 where Scripture says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” The word “judgment” here is the Greek word “bema,” which means “step” or “base.” Basically it means the steps at the base of a throne. To use a court of law again to illustrate, the seat upon which a judge sits in his courtroom is called his tribunal. So the Judgment Seat of Christ will be the Son of God’s tribunal below which, and in front of, me and you, and every Christian, will bow and give an account of our Christian lives in front of Jesus. Another way of describing the “bema” seat of Christ is the platform upon which Olympic judges may stand to watch and evaluate the athletes competing in the Olympic races. When the race is over, the athletes would approach the “bema” platform upon which the judges are standing. Then, the athletes would bow before the judges who then place various medals around the necks of the athletes depending upon each athlete’s individual performance.

Here is how the Judgment/Bema Seat of Jesus Christ applies to you and me today as Christians: for those Christians who served the Lord wholeheartedly to build the Kingdom of God and fulfilled their particular role in the Great Commission, Jesus will Himself rewards these Christians, and it will be a beautiful experience! However, to those Christians who chose to not be wholehearted in their devotion and service to Jesus Christ and to His Great Commission, these Christians will lose some, or all, of their eternal rewards. No one knows exactly how all this will play out, but we do know it is MUCH MUCH better to love and serve Jesus Christ with all of our hearts than it is to live and die as a comfortable lukewarm half-hearted Christian! Clearly, the Bible teaches it is God’s will for each Christian to be totally dedicated to serving in His Great Commission than it is to have any “question marks” and “questionable behaviors” in our Christian lives, and in our Christian witness. Do you and I have any question marks and any questionable behaviors in our Christian life, and in our public and private Christian witness? Have you and I left anything “undone” and incomplete in our Christian life and in our Christian witness? At the “Bema Judgment Seat of Christ” all things will all come out into the open and every Christian will be individually “judged” and rewarded for (or will suffer loss of rewards for lack of the following) using our spiritual gifts, and how we used our time and money, and for our personal evangelism and ministry service, and for obedience and holiness and purity, and for our family, and our motives, etc, etc, etc.

If we really love and care for each other as Christians we will “judge/krino” one another. By that I am not saying we just randomly in “cold turkey” confront Christians constantly about imperfections. But, if a Christian friend/acquaintance of ours has a behavior or something that is clearly and Biblically questionable in their life, it is our duty and responsibility as a brothers and sisters in Christ to go and talk to them about it. I would hope my Christian friends who say they love me would confront me, in love, when I have questionable behaviors in my life. Actually, I have had beloved Christians confront me many times over the years about questionable things in my walk and ministry with Jesus Christ, and sometimes it was not fun. But, once I put my pride and my defensiveness aside, I was able to admit my mistakes and/or my blind spots, and then thank them for loving me enough to do the tough love thing and “judge/krino” me. When they confronted me, or in other words, when they “judged/krino” my behaviors, the end result was they helped me grow as a Christian! And this is what it is all about…helping each other as believers in Jesus Christ to grow! If my Christian friends didn’t really love me, they would have just let me continue forward in my mistakes, and in my blind spots, and in my sins. For all we know it could have brought long-term damage to my life and witness for Jesus Christ if they had not “confronted/judged/krino” me.

Here is a hard truth: if you don’t “krino” me for any questionable choices and behaviors in my life, you are then accountable before God for not coming to me and talking to me about such issues. Likewise, if, after checking my life for hypocrisy, I do not “krino” you, than I am accountable at the Judgment Seat of Christ for not loving you enough to come to you and talk to you about any questionable behaviors in your life! As Christians, every decision and act we make are grounds for “judgment/krino” from other Christians. Both to give encouragement and thanksgiving for fruitful choices and behaviors that impacted our lives in a positive godly way; and, also to challenge and confront questionable choices and behaviors that can potentially confuse, damage, or cause someone to, as the Bible says, “stumble.” So, everything we drink and eat, and what we say and do (and everything we don’t say and do, e.g., evangelism, missions, tithing), should be judged/krino by other Christians because this is what the Bible says Christians are to do: “For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? (1 Corinthians 5:12).

So, what is the conclusion of the primary question in this blog: Are Christians to Judge Other Christians? The Biblical answer is both yes and no. For the answer of no, we are not to “judge/katakrima” another person or Christian as to make a final verdict decision that condemns them. For the answer of yes, we are too lovingly and respectfully “judge/krino” one another as Christians to evaluate, divide, and “check” each other to weigh the evidence and to dissect the fruit of our Christian lives, and when necessary use tough love confrontation for less than best choices that are made. We are to “judge/krino” each other in this life now, but we are to do it after we have checked our own life for hypocrisy. And we are to go humbly to our brothers and sisters in Christ with a posture of equality, not a position of superiority. Imagine this, the “krino judgement” we as Christians apply to one another now in this life is actually a preparation for the “bema judgement” we as Christians will step into when our life in this world ends…when we then stand before our Lord Jesus Christ. We can help each other prepare for eternity, and one way we do this is “judging/krino” one another!

In closing, two questions for you and I: 1) Do you and I have any Christian friends/acquaintances the Lord is prompting us to “judge/krino?” Perhaps for any questionable choices, blind spots, and/or behaviors in their lives that could be hindering their walk with Jesus Christ, and putting questions marks in their public witness for Jesus Christ? 2) Do you need, and do I need, to be “judged/krino” by a brother or sister in Christ? Do you and I have any questionable choices, and blind spots, and/or behaviors in our lives, that could hinder our walk with Jesus Christ, and be putting question marks in our public witness for Jesus Christ?

No Responses — Written on March 30, 2018 — Filed in Blog

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