A Humanistic Satan-Inspired Misunderstanding Of Matthew 7:1-5

 

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In Matthew 4:5-7, we see Satan used verses of Scripture to try to deceive Jesus Christ. So Satan and his demons will use the written Word of God if it helps to achieve their own wicked purposes.

Matthew 4:5-7 records that the Lord Jesus showed that Satan interpreted Psalm 91:11-12 contrary to Deuteronomy 6:16.

Satan has used a similar tactic in deceiving many church leaders and churchgoers into believing God does not want Christian leaders to rebuke and correct Christians and non-Christians about the various evils and sins in their lives. Satan has spread two lying false interpretations of Matthew 7:1-5 and John 16:8 in the Church as part of his cunning plan.

In this chapter, we will look at the false interpretation of Matthew 7:1-5. In Chapter “Rebuking and Correcting”, we will examine the false interpretation of John 16:8.

 

Verses showing God approves of believers judging in some situations

 

Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:1-5 must be one of the most wrongly interpreted passages in the Bible. I have heard some argue Jesus’ Words in Matthew 7:1-5 and the words of James 4:11-12 about not judging others, means church leaders should never rebuke or correct other leaders or churchgoers through preaching, writing or other means. Matthew 7:1-5 states: “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgement you judge, you will be judged; and with the same measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck out of your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother’s eye.” [1]

But note Jesus here was not opposing church leaders rebuking and correcting others. Instead He was opposing anyone who sets themselves up as the Final Judge instead of Him and His Word, and anyone who judges others about certain sins while refusing to turn from similar or worse sins.

Verses such as Proverbs 24:25, Matthew 10:12-14, 18:15-17, John 7:24, Acts 2:23, 2:40, 3:14-15, 5:1-11, 5:30, 7:51-53, 13:9-11, 14:15, 15:1-2, 20:30-31, 1 Corinthians 5:3, 5:9-13, 6:1-6, Galatians 2:11-14, Philippians 3:2, 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15, 1 Timothy 5:18-20, 6:3-5, Titus 1:10-14, 3:10-11, 2 Peter 3:16-17, 1 John 4:1-3 and 2 John 9-11 show God approves of believers judging other people in certain circumstances.

In John 7:24, Jesus said: “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgement.” The expression “righteous judgement” means judging according to God’s absolutely right standards.

In Matthew 18:15-17, Christ instructed us to judge the sins of our brother in a particular way: “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear you, take with you one or two more, that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.”

In 1 Corinthians 5:3, Paul said that he had already judged a member of the Church at Corinth who was living continuously in a sinful de-facto sexual relationship with his step-mother: “For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged, as though I were present, concerning him who has so done this deed.” In Greek, the word “judged” is a form of the word “krino” – exactly the same word used in Matthew 7:1 when Jesus said: “Judge not…”

In Acts 7:54, we see Stephen was full of the Holy Spirit when he said the previous words recorded in Acts 7:51-53. Read his words in Acts 7:51-53: “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it.” Do you think God will judge Stephen severely for judging the Jews in this way? God gave Stephen a vision of Christ after he spoke these words of judgement.

If judging is wrong in all circumstances, Paul could not have even sent his nephew to the Roman commander to warn that some Jews were planning to kill Paul (see Acts 23:11-30). This is because Paul would be sinfully judging them.

Proverbs 24:25 promises us: “But those who rebuke the wicked will have delight, and a good blessing will come upon them.”

In Matthew 7:1-5, Jesus Christ teaches us to avoid a bitter hostile and unkind attitude which delights in finding fault with others. Also, He warned that if we are going to judge the actions of others, we must ensure we are not presently committing the same sins. In verse 5, He says we must remove the plank from our own eyes, before we can remove the speck from our brother’s eye. This means we must repent and abandon our own sins before we start judging others and trying to help them be free of their sins.

Jesus uses the word “hypocrite” to refer to those who judge others for doing wrong but who do not turn from their own known sins. But note in verse 5, He does say we can help to remove the speck from our brother’s eye if we turn from our own sins beforehand. This does not mean we have to reach some state of permanent sinless perfection before we can correct or rebuke. But it does mean we must repent before rebuking or correcting others.

Acts 8:18-23 records Peter personally rebuked Simon about his specific sins: “Now when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, saying, ‘Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.’ But Peter said to him, ‘Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.’” Peter was not here committing the sin which Jesus condemned in Matthew 7:1-5.

Galatians 2:11-14 records Paul prophetically rebuked Peter about some of Peter’s attitudes and practices: “But when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, ‘If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?’”

Paul did not above commit the sin of judging in the sense Matthew 7:1-5 teaches. Instead Paul here corrected them for amending the truth of the Gospel.

 

Matthew 7:1-5 has been used deceitfully by many heretics

 

Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:1-5 have been used by compromising liberals and many others teaching perversions of the Gospel and serious heresies to stop others in the church from prophetically challenging their false teachings and practices.

In recent centuries, some older Protestant denominations were infiltrated by various major heresies taught by people who continually quoted Matthew 7:1-5 to suppress their more Biblical opposition. The same has happened in some Evangelical, Pentecostal and Charismatic groups in recent decades.

Those teaching the worst heresies seem to quote Matthew 7:1-5 the most often. They do this is order to make others believe that those who challenge their heretical teachings are committing the sin of judging.

This tactic has been a very successful means by which the Devil has promoted the backsliding and the liberalising of parts of the Church in the United States and other Western countries. Matthew 4:5-7 shows the Devil is a master of quoting Biblical verses to suit his own evil purposes and in ways which are contrary to other verses on the same topic.

Many godly Christian leaders and churchgoers have also been misled by the same false interpretations of Matthew 7:1-5. As a result, they have not challenged such errors themselves and have said that those who do oppose these heresies are committing the sin of judging. The result has been that false gospels have spread their influence even more.

In 2 Peter 2:1-22, Peter warns of false teachers who would secretly bring in destructive heresies into the church. 2 Peter 2:1-3 states: “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgement has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.”

Note Peter said these teachers would even deny the Lordship of Jesus Christ. This is similar to the easy believism gospel which sinfully claims that receiving Christ as Lord at conversion is only an optional extra. 2 Peter 2:14-16 predicts these false teachers would be very greedy and love money like the backslidden prophet Balaam did. In 2 Peter 2:18-19, Peter shows these false teachers would be very appealing speakers who would promise people liberty or freedom but really speak empty words which would lead people to backslide and to have a liberal attitude to various sins: “For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through licentiousness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption…” Peter did not believe he was committing the sin of judging by opposing such teachers.

 

Interpreting Matthew 7:1-5 contrary to other Bible verses

 

Naively, many Christians wrongly interpret Matthew 7:1-5 to mean no human has the God-given authority to ever judge whether what another person does is right or wrong in any situation. But if this was true, then this would mean:

 

·         no parent could ever correct or discipline their child when the child does wrong.

·         no teacher could ever correct or discipline any child in his/her care.

·         no policeman or policewoman could charge a person with any crime.

·         no judge or jury could make a verdict as to whether an accused person is guilty or not. No judge could sentence a person to be punished.

·         no government could make laws about what  is right or wrong nor could they impose punishments for those who disobey these laws.

 

But the written Word of God opposes such ridiculous conclusions. The Bible commands parents to correct and discipline their children (see Ephesians 6:4, Genesis 18:19 and Proverbs 22:6). Romans 13:1-4 and 1 Peter 2:13-14 teaches God has appointed governments to punish those who do wrong. [2]

In Deuteronomy 1:16-17, 16:18-20, 17:8-13, 19:15-21, 25:1-4 and Ezekiel 44:24, God shows He wants judges to judge. Deuteronomy 1:16-17 declares: “Then I commanded your judges at that time, saying, ‘Hear the cases between your brethren, and judge righteously between a man and his brother or the stranger who is with him.’” Deuteronomy 25:1 states: “If there is a dispute between men, and they come to court, that the judges may judge them, and they justify the righteous and condemn the wicked.”

God is not against human judges judging the rightness or wrongness of the actions of others. But He is opposed to those who judge contrary to His absolute standards. Proverbs 17:15 states: “He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the just, both of them alike are an abomination to the Lord.”

Also, God is not against witnesses in court commenting on the rightness or wrongness of the actions of others (see Numbers 35:30, Deuteronomy 17:6 and 19:15). But He says He opposes and will punish false witnesses (see Exodus 20:16, 23:1-7, Deuteronomy 5:20, Proverbs 19:5 and 19:9).

God is not going to judge parents, teachers, police, human judges, juries and governments for them fulfilling His delegated authority to judge others who are in their area of God-given responsibility. Instead God will judge them as to whether they have judged rightly or wrongly according to His standards and whether they have rejected their God-given responsibilities to judge as His delegated representatives.

Also note 2 Peter 2:7-8 praises Lot for hating the filthy lawless wicked conduct of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah: “…righteous Lot, who was oppressed with the filthy conduct of the wicked (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds).” God did not punish Lot for in his heart judging the wicked actions of these people.

 

Bible Study Questions

 

1.         Which New Testament verses show that Jesus’ Words in Matthew 7:1-5 do not mean that church leaders should never rebuke or correct other leaders or churchgoers through preaching, writing or other means?

2.         Explain how Matthew 7:1-5 has been used wrongly by compromising liberals and others teaching perversions of the Gospel.

3.         If Matthew 7:1-5 means no human has the God-given authority to ever judge whether what another person does is right and wrong, how would this apply to parents, teachers, the police, court judges, juries and governments?

 

 

 

 


 

[1] In Romans 2:1-3, Paul also condemns those who judge others as doing wrong but who practise the same sins themselves.

[2] Romans 13:1-4 says: “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgement on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.” 1 Peter 2:13-14 states: “Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good.”


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