IS IT RIGHT: To Judge, To Expose Error, & To Call Names?
by E.L. Bynum
Many today believe that it is wrong to expose error and to name names. Liberals have always seemed to believe this, but in recent times it has been widely espoused by evangelicals and charismatics. Now we are seeing the same fatal error being declared by those who profess to be Bible believing fundamentalists. Those who are faithful in exposing error according to the Bible are now being widely denounced, and are accused of being unloving and unkind. In this tract we intend to present the teaching of the Bible on this vital subject.
One of the most misused verses in the Bible is, "Judge not, that ye be not judged" (Matt. 7: 1). Every Scripture verse should be read in its context, if we are to properly understand the true meaning. In vs. 2-5 of this same chapter it is evident that v. 1 is referring to hypocritical judgment. A brother who has a beam in his own eye should not be judging the brother who may have a mote in his eye. The lesson is plain, you cannot judge another for his sin if you are guilty of the same sin.
Those who cling to "Judge not, that ye be not judged, " to condemn those who expose error should read the entire chapter. Jesus said, "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing... " (v. 15). How can we know false prophets unless we judge them by the Word of God? If we know the false prophets, how can we fail to exam the sheep of these "ravening wolves?" All through the Bible we find proof that they should be identified and exposed.
"Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit, but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit" (vs. 16,17). Did the Lord mean that we could not judge the tree (person), by the fruit of their life and doctrine? Certainly not, for you cannot know without judging. All judgment should be on the basis of Bible teaching, not according to whims or prejudices.
"Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment " (John 7:24). Here our Lord commands that we are to "judge righteous judgment, " which is judgment based upon the Word of God. If judgment is made upon any other basis, other than the Word of God, it is a violation of Matt. 7: 1. Webster's Dictionary says that a judge is "one who declares the law. " The faithful Christian must discern or judge on the basis of God's inspired law, the Bible.
A fornicator is described in I Cor. 5:1-13. Paul "judged" (v.3) the man even though he was absent, and he told the Church at Corinth that they were to "judge" (v. 12) those that were within. The Greek word for "judge" is the same here as in Matt. 7: 1. Paul did not violate "judge not, that ye be not judged, " in judging the man, nor in instructing the Church to judge also. All of this judgment was according to the Word of God.
A person who is able to discern between good and evil, has at least one of the major marks of spiritual maturity. "But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil" (Heb. 5:14). W.E. Vine says of the meaning of discern, "a distinguishing, a clear discrimination, discerning, judging; is translated 'discerning' in I Cor. 12: 10 of discerning spirits, judging by evidence whether they are evil or of God. " Strong also agrees that it means to judge.
Those who are unwilling or incapable of discerning or judging between good and evil are in this manner revealing either their disobedience or their immaturity.
False teachers are free to spread their poisonous doctrines today because there is a conspiracy of silence among many Bible believers. Wolves in sheep's clothing are thus enabled to ravage the flock, thereby destroying many.
John the Baptist called the Pharisees and Sadducees (the religious leaders of his day) "a generation of Vipers" (snakes) (Matt. 3:7). Today, he would be accused of being unloving, unkind, and unchristian.
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