Judging Others




Dr. John Hoole – September 24, 2017



A recent article [Feb. 10, 2016] found on FoxNews.com, recently asked, “Why are so many Christians biblically illiterate?”  This question involves two key issues.  First, are Christians (or at least American Christians) really biblically illiterate?  Second, if so, what can be done to change the situation?


The article notes that 80 percent of Americans believe the Bible is “God’s word.”  61% wished they read the Bible more.  However, this attitude frequently does not change actions toward reading it.  The Bible remains the world’s most published and translated book.  The problem for Americans is not access, but engagement.  The average household has 4.4 Bibles.


Most people can now access their preferred version of the Bible from any smart phone in either text and audio.  Endless amounts of commentary can be searched on each verse through today’s online tools.


LifeWay Research, a part of the organization that has Lifeway Book Stores, had a survey conducted.


         Here is what they found:


1.  Only 45 percent of those who regularly attend church read the Bible more than once a week.

2.  Over 40 percent of the people attending read their Bible occasionally, maybe once or twice a month.

3.  Almost 1 in 5 churchgoers say they never read the Bible—essentially the same number who read it every day.


Americans revere the Bible, but, by and large, they don’t read it.  And because they don’t read it, they have become a nation of biblical illiterates.  How bad is it?  Researchers tell us that it is worse than most could imagine.


In 2014, the Barna Group conducted a survey for the American Bible Society.  Its final report was titled, “The State of the Bible – 2014,” and was 65 pages in length.  The study was conducted within the United States.  Here are but a few of items they mention in their report.


1.  Fewer than half of all adults can name the four gospels.


2.  Many professing Christians cannot identify more than two or three of the disciples.


3.  60% of Americans cannot name five of the Ten Commandments


4.  A survey of graduating high school seniors revealed that over 50% thought that Sodom and Gomorrah were husband and wife.


If you don’t know much about the Bible, I am not trying to make you feel stupid.  I’m simply pointing out that Biblical literacy is at an all-time low in our culture.  Not reading or listening to Scripture results in not knowing it.  Many atheists today have a greater understanding of what the Bible says than do Christians.


At the top of my web site, I have the following Scripture.


2 Timothy 2:15 KJV


15     Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.


I believe those in this class would not faithfully attend if they did not want a deeper or more thorough understanding of the Word of God.  And I praise the Lord for your consistent attendance.  You understand the importance of studying God’s Word.


The Bible in America is a massive industry – more than $2.5 billion, yet it is the best seller few actually read and fewer understand.


Kenneth Berding, professor of New Testament at Biola's Talbot School of Theology, told The Christian Post: "My own experience teaching a class of new college freshman every year for the past 15 years suggests to me that although students 15 years ago knew little about the Bible upon entering my classes, today's students on average know even less about the Bible."


Not only are Christians seemingly more illiterate today of God’s Word, Many Christians today make statements they believe are from the Bible which are not found there.


The Bible is considered to be a book full of spiritual wisdom and insight to help individuals navigate their lives as they strive to follow God.  However, as full of counsel as the Bible is, there are a number of popular proverbs and familiar sayings that are not recorded in the Bible, but that are commonly thought to originate there.


Because Biblical ignorance is a pervasive problem, according to religion scholars, these sayings are often not challenged but are simply taken as Biblical truth.   I want to spend some time on a few of them.  I think most here today are aware if the first statement.


1.     “Money is the root of all evil.”


Most of you are probably aware that this statement is a misquotation of the Apostle Paul written to a young pastor named Timothy.


It is found in 1 Timothy 6:10, which reads: “The LOVE of money is the root of all evil.”  Without the word “love,” the verse takes on a completely different meaning, and gives the impression that money in and of itself it evil.  That is an inaccurate statement.


2.     “The Lord works in mysterious ways.”


This particular phrase is not found anywhere in the Bible, although it is often misquoted as being a Bible verse.  There are several ideas about where this saying grew from, one being a hymn written by William Cowper in the 19th century that says, "God moves in a mysterious ways; His wonders to perform; He plants His footsteps in the sea, and rides upon the storm."


There are several verses that may seem to allude to this idea as well, including Romans 11:33:


"O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!" (KJV)


3.     “The Seven Deadly Sins”


The Seven Deadly Sins is a categorical list of sins that, according to popular myth, lead to death.  They are gluttony, greed, sloth, lust, vanity, envy and wrath.  History shows that this list was compiled by theologians and used in various commentaries over the centuries.


Proverbs 6:16-19 says, "These six things the Lord hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil, A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren."


Although this verse may have been the inspiration for the "Seven Deadly Sins" list, nowhere does the Bible say these are "deadly."


4.     “God helps those who help themselves”


82% of Americans believe “God helps those who help themselves” is a Bible verse.  This saying did not originate in the Bible but has been repeated often by various speakers and writers throughout the centuries.  Benjamin Franklin mentioned it in Poor Richard's Almanac of 1757.


The Bible, in fact, speaks often about how much God helps humankind.  However, there are instances in the Bible that point the necessity for people to take action on their own behalf in tandem with God's work.  For example, Romans 5:6, 8; Proverbs 28:26 and Jeremiah 17:5.  Also, while we must apply the instructions of the Word of God, it is also true that God helps those who cannot help themselves.


5.     “Cleanliness is next to Godliness”


The Bible never specifically addresses cleanliness being "next to godliness," meaning that being clean is a form of godly behavior.  This proverb is popularly credited to John Wesley's 1778 sermon, titled, “Cleanliness is indeed next to godliness.”  It is also attributed to writings in the Jewish Talmud.  It is not, however, found in the Bible.


6.     “Spare the rod, spoil the child”


Proverbs 13:24 says, "The one who withholds [or spares] the rod is one who hates his son."  Verses like this one are probably the inspiration for the proverb that people often misquote as being Biblical.


Proverbs 22:15 says, "Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of discipline will remove it far from him."  Although similar in concept, the actual phrase "Spare the rod, spoil the child" is not Biblical.


7.     “Pride goeth before a fall”


"Pride goeth before a fall" is a saying that is similar to the original Bible verse, found in Proverbs 16:18, but it does not accurately reflect the original text.  In fact, the verse says, "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall."  This shows that destruction is the end result of pride, according to the Bible.


8.     “Three wisemen”


Nowhere in the Bible is the number of wise men, kings or Magi, as they are also called, who visited Jesus after his birth recorded.  It has been postulated that there must have been 3 wisemen because there were three gifts given to the baby Jesus.


9.     “This too shall pass”


People often use this phrase when working through difficult circumstances in life, and give credit to the Bible.  However, it is not found there.  There is not one definitive answer for the origin of this popular saying, but a common belief is that it stems from a fable written by Persian Sufi poets.  Others credit it to Jewish folklore, saying it originated with King Solomon, although it is not recorded in the Bible.


Even though most folks in our culture have never read much, if any, of the Bible, they all know well a couple of Bible things.  The first is “JOHN 3:16,” which for many years you would see at ball games.  But now, one of the favorite sayings of people is, “Judge not, that you be not judged.”  This is found in the first verse of the seventh chapter of Matthew.  This is our text for today’s lesson.


In Matthew 5, Jesus explains that true righteousness is internal, a matter of the heart.  Righteousness is not just defined by external behavior.  In Matthew 6, he explains that our religious activities must be sincere, not performances designed to make us look good.  In those chapters, Jesus addresses two problems that occur when people focus on external behavior as the main definition of righteousness.  External behavior is not all that God wants.  People can be tempted just to pretend they are righteous with outward show.  But Jesus says the righteousness He wants to see in his followers must be driven by changed in the heart.


In Matthew 7, Jesus addresses a third problem of a focus on behavior – that is, our relationship with others.  Lets read the first 5 verses in chapter 7.


Matthew 7:1-5 NKJV


1       "Judge not, that you be not judged.

2       For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.

3       And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?

4       Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove the speck from your eye'; and look, a plank is in your own eye?

5       Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.


We have just come through our study of Matthew 6, a chapter in which God is often referred to as our Father.


Jesus has just gone to great lengths to help His listeners see more clearly the good character of their heavenly Father.  He had told them that He is a Father who is present, who sees them “in secret” even when no one else is paying attention.  He also tells us our Father is ready to reward them for care and comfort.  He told them not to be anxious because their heavenly Father knows them, knows their needs, is directly active in His creation, and therefore in their lives.  By trusting in God to be their our heavenly Father, we are free to devote ourselves to seeking His kingdom, to living according to His good, perfect will.


Jesus now turns to the subject of judgment.


I want to address the topic of judging others using a different approach.  In 1 John 4:8, we read that “God is Love.”  This phrase is again repeated in verse 16 of the same chapter.




God is the source of all love.  All true love finds its origin in Him.  It is not simply that God “loves”….or is “loving.” ---- but that He IS Love itself.  Love is not merely one of God’s attributes but rather that all his activity is loving activity.


According to this portion of Scripture (1 John 4:7-12), even our ability to love one another is based upon our personal knowledge of God Himself.


God’s love is unselfish: He always seeks the benefit of the object of His love.  His love is voluntary.  He gives to us before we ever give to Him.  “We love Him because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19).”  God’s love cares about us even when we do not care anything about Him.  Through the whole of His being, God is love.






Let me answer this with another question for you just to ponder for the moment.  Could God be called morally perfect if He did not react adversely against evil?  How could He who is the Sum of all excellency look with equal satisfaction upon both virtue and vice?  How could He who is infinitely holy disregard sin and refuse to manifest His ‘severity’ toward it?


Romans 11:22   (NAS)


22     Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God's kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off.


How could He, who delights only in that which is pure and lovely, not loathe and hate that which is impure and vile?  Hate and judgment are not flaws in His character.


Some think God is some nice softy --- Who wouldn’t think ill of anyone.  They reason:  “A loving God would never send anyone to hell for eternity.”  I submit to you that the very nature of God makes Hell as much a reality and necessity as heaven.  The unfathomable wrath of God and the immeasurable mercy of God go hand in hand.




Revelation 2:6  (NIV)  (see also vs. 15)


6       But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.


                   God made this statement to both the church at Ephesis and at Pergamos.


The Nicolaitans had become a heretical sect within the Church.  They did not adhere to the command not to eat meat which had been offered as sacrifices to idols.  They falsely taught that actions of your body did not affect your spiritual life.  This is sometimes known as “Dualism.”  For them, the body and the spirit were to separated entities.  So immorality was condoned, for that was considered an act of the body, not the spirit.  God says He hates these deeds.


Deuteronomy 16:22


Neither shalt you set thee up any image; which the Lord thy God hates.




WHAT IS IDOLATRY?  Anything that comes between you and God --- anything that has a higher priority in your life than God.


Idolatry can be:


         •  worldly wisdom

                   •  a Cadillac convertible

                            •  your home

                                     •  your job

                                              •  golf (sports)

                                                       •  personal comfort

                                                                 •  even your church.


Psalm 45:7 (NKJV)


         Thou love righteousness, and hate wickedness.


Proverbs 6:16-19   (NKJV)


16     These six things the LORD hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him:

17     A proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood,

18     A heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil,

A false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren.


One of the seven things mentioned here that God hates is “A Proud Look.”  WHAT DOES THAT PHRASE MEAN TO YOU?  In the Hebrew --- the literal meaning is: “Eyes of loftiness.”  It is referring to an attitude problem, which causes one to have too high of an opinion of themselves and/or a low opinion of others.  In a word == PRIDE


Pride is often the spawning ground for looking down on others.  Pride includes that thought of the heart, or that little look that flash of the eye which says that you think you are better than others.


God says: “I hate it!!!”  Oh, we would seldom say with our mouths that we think we are better than others --- but our actions give away the real feelings of our hearts.


A proud look!       -- looking down on others


What has this all to do with how the Sermon on the Mount addresses the fact that we should not be judgmental of others?


In Romans 14:10 (NIV), Paul directly links this proud look to being judgmental.


10     You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God's judgment seat.


The second phrase is an enlargement of the first.


         The 2nd question about looking down on your brother expands the 1st question about judging your brother.


Now let’s return to Matthew 7:1-2  (NKJV)


1       Judge not, that you be not judged.

2       For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.


This is one of the most misunderstood Passages in the Bible.  When Jesus says that we are not to judge, many people have interpreted that to mean that we are not to engage in any form of analysis or evaluation of other peoples lifestyles, comments, or actions.  What that means, according to them, is that we cannot conclude that a person’s behavior or lifestyle is wrong because that would mean we are judging them.






Let’s look at 1 Corinthians 2:15 (NKJV) alongside our text (Matthew 7:1) …he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one.”


On one side we are told not to judge at all.  It is totally prohibited.  But on the other, you can judge if you are spiritual.


To some of us, this may appear to be a little confusing if we were not aware that different Greek words are used in these verses --- or at least, it might seem contradictory.  But the same Jesus Who says in Matthew 7:1….“Judge not….”  also says in John 7:24 to “judge righteous judgments.” -- and this time He doesn’t even say you have to be spiritual to do it.


This really is NOT contradictory, but we do have to answer this question:




         How do we know the difference?  Where is the line between judging others improperly vs. properly?  We will look at this in great detail in our next lesson.