To listen to those around us one would think that Jesus’ command to “judge not” was the most important thing He ever said, so important in fact that it supersedes common sense, wisdom, discernment, and most everything else He said. As a matter of fact, it’s so high on the importance scale that even the Pharisees agreed with him. They agreed for the same reason that all humanity agrees, because all of humanity sees itself as righteous, and it finds the idea of anyone challenging that notion offensive. And like the Pharisees, it wasn’t as if all don’t want to reserve the right to judge, but that we all want the right to be judged by no one.
The Pharisees were the priests. They were the men of God, the spiritual leaders. It was their job to be righteous and, apparently, they loved their jobs. They would signal their virtue by standing on corners and looking pathetic, and they would pray monotonous prayers loudly so that everyone could see them doing it, and hear what they prayed. They wore long robes and tassels that set them apart from everyone else and they enjoyed sitting in places of honor. And here was this Jesus fellow judging them, threatening to upset their honorable position in the community, and calling them out on their facade.
The Pharisees were also proud, and pride blinds. A Pharisee looked at the publican and thanked God that he wasn’t a sinner like that. Someone looks at the murderer and feels righteous because he’s not like that. The one who says “judge not” looks at the judger and is glad he’s not like that, except this one feels righteous twice. First, because he pretends to not notice the sin in anyone else’s life, and again because he has insulated himself against anyone noticing the sin in his own life. Rather than face the dual realities of his and his fellow Man’s sin he ignores them both and feels superior for doing it. Rather than to desire to help his brother with the splinter in his eye his greater desire is to have others ignore the plank in his own eye.
On the surface, Jesus’ command to not judge creates two dichotomies. The first is setting plain good sense against Jesus’ command. The murderer, for example, is not immune to the murderer. When a stranger wearing a hoodie knocks on Bob-the-murderer’s door at 3 AM, Bob is no more likely to invite him into his home than the stranger knocking on the door would his, unless, of course, he exercised poor judgment. The second is setting the Bible against itself. Paul actually commands us to judge our brothers in Christ. That leaves us with only two viable options. One is to discard the Bible as untrustworthy because it is self-contradictory and so can’t possibly be the “Word of God.” The other is to read Jesus’ command to not judge in its context.
It’s only reasonable to think that Man doesn’t want to be judged. We can all empathize with each other on this. Jesus agreed. He said that men loved the darkness rather than the light because they didn’t want their deeds to be exposed. Jesus is speaking here of our normal and natural dispositions. It only follows then that the Man who doesn’t want his deeds to be exposed would have an affinity toward the command to not judge, because what is judging if not the act of someone else noticing something that we’d much prefer to not be put under the light? We, like the Pharisees, want to continue in our facade of righteousness with our evil deeds hidden in the dark. We can be proud, like the Pharisees. We can be righteous, like the Pharisees. We can be upstanding members of the community, like the Pharisees. And we can deceive ourselves into thinking that our sin is hidden from our fellow man’s sight, just like the Pharisees. The only difference then, between the modern-day us and the modern-day Pharisees is that we have made a compact with our fellow man: You don’t judge me and I won’t judge you; I’m okay, you’re okay… okay?
The goal of this compact is peace. I can have peace with my fellow man, or I can have peace with God, but I can’t have peace with both. God forces us into a choice. We can create a faux peace with our fellow man through a covenant of proud blindness by agreeing to hide ourselves and each other from God’s law. Or we can find true peace with God through a covenant of grace where God agrees to hide us in the cleft of the rock, His Son.
At the root of the present exaltation of this one command to “judge not” is pride. A man does not suffer well the perception that another might think himself morally superior. And at the same time, a man likes to be thought of as morally superior. He likes to be praised for being a good person, saying good things, and doing good stuff. When he serves the poor he wants those cell-phone cameras rolling. He champions the causes that get him the most praises on Facebook. He sees himself as a good person because he doesn’t judge others and he judges harshly anyone who breaks the compact. Just don’t make a pass at his wife or burn his house down. (1) Jesus, on the other hand, was crucified. He gave up His peace with God and Man both on our behalf.
With this disposition, one has a difficult time cutting through all the pride and getting to the point that Jesus was making. To say, “Hey brother, I think that you might have something in your eye” is translated in a world where calling a thing a sin is taboo as, “Hey hypocrite, you’re a rotten human being and I’m not, because I’m righteous and you’re not.” Even to think that something might be a sin, or even to give someone a reason to think that you might have thought it, is not only the same thing as thinking of them as being morally inferior, but it’s also the same thing as thinking yourself as morally superior. And to do such a thing as that, dear children, is an assault on Man’s pride. (2)
There currently exists an entire movement based on fighting back against this sort of “judgmentalism” in the name of pride, and because of pride this movement has succeeded in hamstringing and confusing many in the Church. Its message is that, even though we commit this particular sin, we are not morally inferior. We are, in fact, proud of or our behavior, and anyone who thinks otherwise can take our place in the dock. Lost in all of this pride are the specks and logs in our eyes along with the chance that they might be removed. We become like the Pharisees and are unaware of the pits all around, and worse than that, we are unaware that we are unaware. We’re not worried about falling into a pit as much as we are about falling out of our facade. We seek moral equality by insisting that equality of all morals is itself moral, with the only exception being a suggestion otherwise.
As a Christian, humility ought to reign in our hearts and minds. Assuming the best in others, and realizing the truth in ourselves, ought to make humility the only option available. No man has any reason to be proud. According to Jesus, not one of us is not condemned, and not one of us can do anything about that fact. The only realistic response to our fellow man’s judgment, therefore, ought to be, “You don’t know the half of it.” Pride does nothing to get us closer to the end that Jesus was pointing to of removing logs, specks and everything in between. We’re all inferior before God. Building other believers up ought to be one of the marks of Christianity. Who in God’s name loves his brother and yet is satisfied to see him in sin?
The world, on the other hand, is different. It, by its very nature, suppresses the truth. So it only stands to reason that anything that reminds it of what it is suppressing will become its enemy. The question is raised then, what is this truth that the world is suppressing?
Jesus referred to himself metaphorically as a light, and He said that men hated it. He also said that His followers would be the light of the world and that this world would hate His followers also. That the world suppresses the truth and hates the light go hand in hand in the same way that law and judgment go hand in hand. A person is judged innocent because he has not run afoul of the law. He is guilty, on the other hand, if he has. His innocence or guilt has nothing to do with the judge and everything to do with his action set under the light of the law. It is the law then that exposes our deeds as good or evil.
So to get to the answer to the question concerning what the truth is that this world is so eager to suppress, we should start by asking an altogether different question regarding what it is exactly that determines what is evil. That question is, “Who writes the law?” Because whoever writes the law is the same entity that gets to determine who and what is righteous or unrighteous. This world would beg to differ. It would claim that law is not capable of making anyone evil or righteous. It will tell you that you cannot legislate righteousness. It would point instead to empathy, personal feelings, not harming each other, what’s best for the community, being non-judgmental and accepting, and to emotions in its appeal to determine how evil is defined. Then it will base its laws on these things. It’s a reality that there’s no getting around. A mother feels that the law should give her a choice on whether her unborn child should live or die, for example. Killing her child will definitely cause it harm. So killing preborn children is, according to this appeal, evil and ought to be against the law. But it’s not. God’s law says do not murder and Man’s law says have at it in this case, so God’s law must be suppressed lest it inform us that our deeds are evil. There really isn’t anything new here. Wars are fought over who writes the laws of a land.
But what might be new is the extent to which Christians are now assisting in suppressing the truth. The book of Revelation speaks of “the accuser of the brethren.” One of the accusations that continues day and night is that the Church is judgemental. But what is the Church to do? It is God’s law that judges this world in the same way that it is Man’s law that judges the Church. It’s not a matter of whether judgments are happening or not, the matter is, on who’s law will the judgments be based? The best course for Christianity then is the same course that it has always been. Ignore the accuser and listen to God, not the other way around.
The accuser’s promises are lies. The more we listen to him the worse things get. He appeals to our natural desire to re-enter Eden on our own terms. In his Utopian paradise, there won’t be any judging because there won’t be any morality, and there won’t be any morality because there won’t be any supposed law by which to judge. We’ll all have the same amount of booty, the same amount of power, and the same amount of righteousness. It’s warmed over Marxism applied to morality. (3) But getting there is the problem. It will require harsh judgments in the meantime against the inequalities of resources, control, and virtue. It’s the hypocrisy of the Pharisees all over again except that Jesus said of His Pharisees, do as they say, not as they do. With the modern Pharisee, you’d be better advised to do as they do and not as they say when it comes to judging.
As it concerns who it is acceptable in the eyes of modern man for the Pharisee to judge, the church-goer gets special consideration, especially if it’s a conservative church that he goes to. He gets special consideration because he considers God’s law special. And considering God’s law special has the effect of pushing above the surface what this world wants to be pushed under the surface. And it’s trying to hold it under the surface because it doesn’t like the evil that God’s law exposes. When Man’s evil deeds are exposed by the law he feels morally inferior, he feels judged, and at the same time he despises and hates those who have dared to shed light on the law that is causing these negative vibes.
Most of modern American evangelicalism has succumbed to the accuser. It has set out to prove that we Christians are not, after all, judgemental. To accomplish this goal it had to join forces with this world in its suppression of God’s law. It suppressed it by downplaying it, ignoring it, reinterpreting it or rejecting it outright. It focuses instead on helping the poor, which is the new gospel. The homeless man has usurped the sinner in this gospel because giving someone else’s resources away to the poor soul in need is much easier than revealing to the spiritually-impoverished wretch that they have a need for a savior from the wrath of God, who judges righteously, and who will judge. Having dispensed with God’s law, and so His wrath, a one-sided God is all that remains, a God who only loves and who never judges, because everyone wants to be loved and nobody wants to be judged. This God doesn’t care how much of a mess living according to Man’s law makes of people’s lives. Jesus is sold as a loving Jesus who doesn’t want anyone to feel judged or morally inferior either, even though He warned often of a final judgment and set the bar for morality far higher than it already was. Christians were as sinful as most of the world all along, but now, not only are we sinful, we have suppressed the law that would have been the schoolmaster teaching us how to live, how wonderful mercy and grace are, and how to restrain evil in a rotten world. In short, we have nothing to offer the world except virtue-signaling, hand-outs and a one-sided view of a God who only loves, but has nothing to say about the life we live, nor bothers to warn us of the judgment that He has promised is to come, nor how to escape it. We are all, after all, loved as we are. Why change? And even if He did have something to say about sin, we’re not about to tell anybody because we know how it feels to feel morally inferior, and we know that feelings of moral inferiority are not happy feelings.
Dear children, please don’t buy into the God of your zeitgeist. It’s not only okay to judge, but wisdom would dictate that you make proper judgments, starting with yourself. Compassion and love for your fellow Man would also demand it. Simply keep in mind that the goal is not to crush, or to see yourself more highly than you ought to, but rather to help and be helped in the process of sanctification and transformation from the rudiments of your world to a new mind in Christ. I pray for you in your gaining of wisdom, knowledge and understanding. I pray that you would love grace, have compassion, and would be courageous in truth.
1— In the ’90s an arsonist started one of those massive, California forest-fires that burned down a lot of houses. The front page of a USA Today on one particular morning had a picture of a woman standing in front of the smoking ruins of her house. Reading the story I learned that the woman had always been against the death penalty, but now she had changed her mind about the whole affair because she thought the person who did this deserved to die. In my admitted judgment of her, I remember thinking that for her the idea of the death penalty must have been an abstract thing. It wasn’t real. It was just an idea on which she could take shet seh thought was a virtuous stand. She had more empathy with the murderer than the murdered. That is, after all, why people get the death penalty. They don’t get it for setting forest fires, even if they happen to burn someone’s mansion to the ground, not even if someone’s mom was burned to death in the process. In fact, you’ve got to do something exceedingly rotten in our day to warrant that kind of punishment.
It struck me that this woman was more offended by the loss of her house than she was the horrible deaths of other people’s mothers, fathers, sons, daughters and so on. But the idea of evil had now transformed from the abstract to reality. Having been slapped across the face with a dose of reality she was ready to discard her non-judgmental attitude concerning the murdering of her fellow human beings and was ready to string someone up for causing her house to be burned down. The harsh realities of her existence brought her closer to God’s law and took her further from Man’s corrupt idealism in that the reality of evil had come home to roost in her living room… and now her living room was no more.
2—More times than I can count I’ve made mistakes driving that impacted my fellow drivers. Not always, but still more times than I can count, my fellow drivers have looked at me and shaken their heads like I was the worst sort of moron. But being judged by my fellow drivers is, of course, a two-way street. One way is my propensity to look down on others when they do something that gives me a reason to think they’re stupid. Another is feeling stupid in front of others when I’ve demonstrated that I’m not beyond being moronic myself. When I’m on the receiving end it’s a sort of double hit to my pride: once by my own suspicions that I might actually be a moron, and again by the glares of my fellow man who don’t bother to even suspect.
We find ourselves on both sides of this coin at different times. We know what we think of others and when we suspect that they’re thinking the same of us we are highly offended, and our pride bursts forth. But Jesus said to judge not lest you be judged in the same manner. I’ve always thought that our judgment of others has a way of coming back to haunt us in our own heads. When we judge others harshly, we assume that others are judging us in the same way. When we think someone is a moron for paying that much for a particular car, we fear others might think the same about us when we buy a car, so we make sure to not tell anyone what we paid for it… unless we’re sure we got a steal of a deal; in that case we brag about it and the guy who sold it to us makes sure not to tell anyone what he sold it for.
Rather than my perception of another’s reactions to my failures being a mirror image of my potential reaction to theirs, I believe that Jesus is teaching us here that it is their failures that ought to be a reflection of my own. When you see someone else fail, your first question ought to be, how do I fail in the same way? This is taking the log out of your own eye, giving you empathy with your fellow sinner, and helping you to help him out of his sin, and perhaps vice versa. It is for this reason that I believe that those who are constantly prone to feel like they’re being judged have a bad habit of being judgmental. But I am prone to judging also, so I understand their plight and desire only to help them grow out of their constant feelings of others judging them, and into the reality that, in Christ, we don’t have to live that way.
Grace gives us the ability to beat the accuser to the punch and agree with him before he accuses, whether the accuser be the devil, or our fellow man speaking in his stead. Paul said that he was the worst of sinners, and I tell you the same thing about me. I know who I am better than anyone else ever could, and I’m telling you that if one hour of my thought life was broadcast for all to hear it would remove any doubt in anyone’s mind about my being a chief. This has allowed me to not ever feel judged, which is not to say that I don’t think people notice when I’m being a rotten human being or a moron, or that when they notice, that they’re experiencing feelings of moral superiority, or that they think I’m morally inferior. On the latter, I can only assume they’re right anyway, at least at the moment. By faith in Jesus, I feel as though I am no longer under condemnation by God, whose judgment is all that matters anyway, and which has already been passed, and which has already been paid for. If anyone else judges me my response to them in my heart is, you say or think these things without really knowing me. If you really did know me you would know how wrong you really are, and that I’m way worse than you suspect.
3—We were watching Mission Impossible the other night and I heard Rollin Hand indignantly ask a prison warden, “You’re still flogging? In this day and age?” The scriptwriters based these lines on the premise that progress is constantly moving us forward toward a better world and that morality is in a constant state of change, and that that change is always for the better. Similarly, I had a co-worker once going on about how evil our CEO was because he didn’t pay all his employees what they thought they deserved. I mentioned in response that at least he wasn’t putting us into chambers and gassing us. Realizing that I was referring to Hitler, she was incensed and insisted that humanity had evolved since then. I can remember thinking that that was a lot of evolution for only a half-century, and if that was actually true, she shouldn’t have to wait all that long for her raise.
This mindset goes by the name of progressivism. As odd as it may sound, this view is based on Darwin’s view of Man’s origins. It takes the evolutionary model and applies it to morality and civil society. It sees morality as not being based on anything absolute but rather on evolving mores. On matters of importance, for another example, no president ever says things off the cuff. (…at least not before 2016. More evolution?) So when then president Obama informed the nation that he was changing his mind on a position that he had supposedly previously held, he framed it in evolutionary terms. His statement to the nation was that his view on so-called homosexual marriage had “evolved.” By giving us the theory of biological evolution Darwin gave us much more than an alternative to God and especially His law. He has also given Man a rubric by which he can view himself and morality in the context of time and change.
In addition to Darwin, Karl Marx’s economic views were also borrowed and applied to morality. This application is what you might call cultural-marxism. Marx had a huge problem with wealth disparity and sought to get rid of it by forcing all people to have the same amount of material stuff.
To understand cultural Marxism, just insert morality into his narrative in place of wealth. Out the other end will come multi-culturalism, political correctness, so-called diversity, inclusion and yes, non-judgmentalism, all of which are based on the idea that morality is relative to the individual and as such is equal. No one’s morality is supposed to be better than another’s and no culture is supposed to be better than another, and the emperor’s clothes are supposed to be invisible, and you dare not differ in opinion on these matters. To make it all happen, and to progress us toward our for-sure coming Utopia, an all-powerful government, of course, must be enlisted to force everyone into compliance with this new equality of morals. I’m fairly certain that you’ll see people put into prison during your lifetime for persisting that all morality is actually not equal. Now, if you find it odd that the idea of amorality would require a big government to enforce, you will actually be one of the few who does. You can thank the government’s schoolhouse that you are one of those few, and homeschooling that you’re not one of the many.