In modern day English, the Bible does not say, Do not judge. I hear this a lot. But what the Bible actually means is, “Do not condemn others”. We are to be known by our love, and love is not condemning.
Come on Christians! Don’t be known by how condemning you are of those around you. It is not our job to put down sinners for their sin. “Be angry but do not sin.” (Ephesians 4:26) Be angry at the sin and ruin. Don’t put down the sinner for whom Christ died.
As Jesus did all His life before giving up His life for sinners who are still in their sin — our life practice should be to love sinners inspite of their sins. Surprise that “offending person”: give them grace. Give sinners a break and actually be loving in some specific act of love for them.
There are, however, many examples in the Bible where we are commanded to make a judgement (meaning: make “discernments”): 1
Make judgements all day long
John 7:24Amplified Bible (AMP)
“Do not judge by appearance [superficially and arrogantly], but judge fairly and righteously.”
35 But love [that is, unselfishly seek the best or higher good for] your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; for your reward will be great (rich, abundant), and you will be sons of the Most High; because He Himself is kind and gracious and good to the ungrateful and the wicked.
2. Church discipline. The local church is a place of refuge and safe inquiry, and a place of following Jesus. All are welcome to seek God.
But the leadership must protect the local church from heresy and from wolfs in sheep’s clothing, and “Christians” practicing sin (as opposed to followers sinning. Big difference! Also see: Me, When I Die…still in sin)
It must not allow any “professing Christian” to spoil the barrel of apples, or soon there is no church of Christ. It will be a church of wannabes. Church discipline is not condemning, but firm and loving, and with a goal of restoration. (1 Corinthians 12:25, 2 Corinthians 11:3-4)
12 For what business is it of mine to judge outsiders (non-believers)? Do you not judge those who are within the church [to protect the church as the situation requires]?
3. Promoting another gospel.
Church visitors are there for many reasons. They are welcome. All of them, all the time.
The regular congregants, on the other hand, those who are professing believers, are there to follow Jesus – not their own ways contrary to Scripture, not to follow the world, the flesh and our Enemy. If a church member promotes following the world with “another gospel”, by (1) their life (“practicing sin“) or by (2) their teaching (false teachings), then they are to be removed. (Deuteronomy 13:1-5, 2 John 10, 2 Peter 1:19-21, Matthew 7:15-20, 2 Corinthians 11:3-4, 2 Corinthians 11:13-14. See: Getting down to God’s meaning.
Galatians 1:8, 9
8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we [originally] preached to you, let him be condemned to destruction!
9 As we have said before, so I now say again, if anyone is preaching to you a gospel different from that which you received [from us], let him be condemned to destruction!
If a church member promotes following the world with “another gospel”, by
(1) their life (“practicing sin“) or by
(2) their teaching (false teachings), …then they are to be removed. (Deuteronomy 13:1-5, 2 John 10, 2 Peter 1:19-21, Matthew 7:15-20, 2 Corinthians 11:3-4, 2 Corinthians 11:13-14.
4. Discernment and being biblical. We are to know Scripture so well — that we recognize error and false teachings. Don’t just accept willy-nilly what your teacher/preacher says. Put it to the test of all of Scripture. (1 John 4:2-3) See: Examine yourself, False teachers.
1 John 4:1-3
Beloved, do not believe every spirit [speaking through a self-proclaimed prophet]; instead test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets and teachers have gone out into the world.
2 By this you know and recognize the Spirit of God: every spirit that acknowledges and confesses [the fact] that Jesus Christ has [actually] come in the flesh [as a man] is from God [God is its source];
3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus [acknowledging that He has come in the flesh, but would deny any of the Son’s true nature] is not of God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming, and is now already in the world.
5. Protecting the flock. What is that congregant teaching, or saying by their actions? If it is contrary to the established teachings of your church – why are they attending? “Whosoever will may come”, Jesus said, in the context of coming to Him in sincerity and truth for salvation. The local church should have an open door for all. But once you go from “visitor” – to “congregant”, then you are subject to the discipline of the church.
2 John 10
If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching [but diminishes or adds to the doctrine of Christ], do not receive or welcome him into your house, and do not give him a greeting or any encouragement;
The message to us as His followers,
as we live our personal life from day to day in the world: Be known by our love toward all peoples, no matter their sins. Don’t condemn others, but be fair and be righteous in how we react, and how we treat others. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 5:12 “For what business is it of mine to judge outsiders (non-believers. See: John 8 verse 11)?”
Pick a sin – any sin – and discern where you are at. Judge yourself all day long.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. 17 Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. 19 Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
- The Biblegateway footnote (a) with Matthew 7:1 notes:
“ a This is not a prohibition of judgment, nor is it a command to stop using godly wisdom, common sense, and moral courage together with God’s written word to discern right from wrong, to distinguish between morality and immorality, and to judge doctrinal truth.