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Newtown Bible Church

Christians and Judging, Pt. 2 (Matthew 7:1-6)

 

It was early in the morning, a slight chill still lingered in the air though it was gently being driven out by the warmth of the rising sun, which was slowly creeping above the horizon dragging with it the light of new day. Jesus had just gone into the temple where “all the people were coming to Him; and [as was His custom] He sat down and began to teach them.”

Then suddenly and abruptly the peaceful morning scene is broken by the brash rudeness of a small group of religious teachers forcefully dragging along a frightened and confused woman, and coming to where Jesus was, roughly stood her in the middle of the temple area and the startled crowds.

Then, amid the confusion of the multitude, all wandering eyes slowly began to focus on the woman. Then, looking at Jesus with a distinct air of arrogance and accusing disdain the religious leaders said: “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the adultery, in the very act. Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?” Jesus, undisturbed by their brashness slowly knelt down and began to write on the ground. Then, amid their incessant accusations and questioning, stood upright, looked them in their proud and glaring eyes and said: “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”

Silence overtook the scene. In an instant the drowning and deafening noise of the voices of the attacking leaders ceased and at once all that could be heard was the nervous breathing of the woman, still standing in the midst of the crowd, and the restless shifting of the audience as all eyes intensely strained to see reaction of the leaders. Then, the silence is broken by the sound of stones falling onto the marble floor of Herod’s temple, the gradual exit of the hostile leaders; then broken again by the voice of Jesus, who looking at the woman said: Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?’ She said, ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said, ‘I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.’ - so goes the account of the adulterous woman (John 8).

- There is a legitimate question of whether this was part of the original text, you can decide. I hold that it probably wasn’t, though it is possibly a true account. In either case, it does line up with the character of the ministry of the Lord while on earth, and illustrates well the hypocrisy of judgemetalism, and the Lord’s teaching in Matthew 7:1-6, where we again turn our attention and consider the Lord’s instructions regarding Christians and judging.

 

READ: Matthew 7:1-6.

 

3 Indictments and 2 Directives of Christian judging, so that the church would be humble, holy, and walk in love.

We began last week by first noting that judgment is essential to the gospel. God judges sin, Christians are to judge truth and error, we are to judge between true and false teachers, we are to judge sin in the church.

However, what Jesus is condemning is not right judgement, but the harsh, self-righteous, critical, and judgmental attitude displayed by the Pharisees. The first indictment we noted is: (1) Being Judgmental is sin. And Second …

 

(2) Being Judgmental is Foolish

Invites God’s Judgement

“in order that you may not be judged” - He now gives the purpose, or motivation for not judging; namely, so that you will not be judged!

Question: Judged by Who? Judged by men? Judged by God?

I believe Jesus is referring here to God’s judgment. Namely, that, both in this life and the future judgment, God will hold you accountable to your own self-righteous standards.

He has already given similar teaching in the sermon. Positively in 5:7 and negatively in 6:14, and here: “Do not judge, that you may not be judged”.

There is a reciprocal nature to the justice of God; a “reaping what you sow” principle (Gal. 5:7). We see an examples of God working out this principle in the life of Jacob (Gen. 29:25); Haman (Esther 7:10); and we could go to dozens of other places, however, it is probably best summed up in: Ps. 18:25-26. (God will treat you in like manner) This is brought out even more in His next statement.

Holds a Self-Condemning Standard

(7:2) “For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you” - you will be held to the same standard of judgment you impose on others.

If you set yourself up as the standard, as the purveyor of truth, then you will have a stricter judgement (James 3:1 [Matt. 23:4]; Rom. 2:1f).

It is setting yourself on God’s throne: [TURN TO] *James (2:11-13) 4:11-12 .

(2:11-12): Context: Showing partiality; ignoring the poor to play up to the rich.

Basic point: If you profess Christ, but fail to show mercy to others, then you are manifesting unbelief. And, as you have failed to show mercy, God will, in turn, show you know mercy on the day of accountability.

(4:11-12): Context: Bickering, divisions, pride, self-indulgence.

The summary of the law is to love God and love neighbor; everything flows out of these. To sit in judgement above others, whom God commands us to love, is to set yourself over the authority of God’s law and thus, sit in judgment of the Law.

Since it is God who gives the Law, to sit in judgement of it is to usurp God’s authority, which is foolish, because “there is only One Lawgiver and Judge who is able to save and destroy. Who are you to judge your neighbor?”

There are couple of ways we do this: (1) Judging by man’s standards and not God’s; or, (2) Judging by applying God’s standards in an unmerciful way - without compassion or gentleness.

Being judgmental is proud & self-condemning & fails to understand the holiness of God and the requirement of the Law and so underestimates the reality of your own sinfulness. This attitude then display’s one who has not yet grasped their reality of your own sin, which is the Lord’s point in the following section:

 

(3) Being Judgmental displays Spiritual Blindness

Spiritually blind to your condition.

“And why do you see the speck in your brother’s eye, but the log in your own eye you do not consider” - the contrast is both humorous and devastating. The Lord uses such a ridiculous comparison and imagery to show the depth of the foolishness in such behavior and thinking.

 

“Jesus is drawing attention to a curious feature of the human race in which a profound ignorance of oneself is so often combined with an arrogant presumption of knowledge about others, especially about their faults.” (Morris).

 

Notice, the Lord phrases it as a rhetorical question, since there is no acceptable answer. Those who would try to defend themselves are left speechless. This is such an obvious hypocrisy there is no excuse for missing it - except for spiritual blindness.

“speck” - could be taken as “splinter,” idea is a small obstacle or particle. “log”- plank, joist, main beam in a house. “to look at the speck” (present active) One who is in the habit of looking to see fault in another. “consider, notice” “look intently, take consideration of” their own sinful condition.

This is the one who is habitually finding sins in others, but seldom, if ever considers their own sin, guilt, and weaknesses before God. One who needs to follow the advise of an anonymous writer: “When looking for faults, use a mirror, not a telescope”

To be judgmental is to prove that you don’t yet have a right view of your own sin and sinfulness, which means you are either a very immature Christian, or no Christian at all. Problem is, this is the exact opposite way a self-righteous hypocrite will view it; they will see themselves as the most spiritual.

Self-righteousness is such a blinding sin because by its very nature this person assumes themselves to be righteous and therefore in a position of superiority by which to criticize and sit in judgment on others.

BGod has to be the One who removes these blinder, beloved, we need to ask Him to shine the light of the truth in our hearts to see this sin.

It is walking in pride. Jesus points out that being judgmental shows one to be spiritually blind to their own sinfulness and spiritual condition. Second.

 

Produces hypocritical Correction

“Also, how will you say to your brother, ‘Permit me, I will cast out the splinter from your eye,’ and behold, the log in your eye.” - Again, the Lord phrases it as rhetorical question - the obviousness of the error, eliminates the need for a response. Moving from the inner attitude to the incredibly presumptuous act of correcting someone else.

This can happen to even the most consistent believer fails to deal with the sin in your heart and life. Probably the greatest example of this in all of Scripture is found in (*2 Sam. 12:1-7 [TURN TO]).

It is very dangerous for to attempt spiritual surgery with such an impediment! It would be like a surgeon performing a delicate surgery while wearing dark sun glasses. The potential for damage is far greater than potential good.

Lk 6:39 “A blind man cannot guide a blind man, can he? Will they not both fall into the pit.” (Cf: Rom. 2:17-24)

What is the source of this attitude? He identifies it v. 5 - “hypocrite” - This is now the 4th time He has made this direct indictment in the sermon. He will use it 13 more times in this gospel alone. The Lord’s most searing rebuke. And we must be on constant watch against it.

So, beloved, the Lord shows us that we must beware of being judgmental because: (1) it is sin, (2) it is foolish, (3) it displays spiritual blindness.

 

2 Directives for Christian Judging (5:b)

*The Lord condemns being judgmental, but does instruct us toward a proper kind of judging, so here He gives 2 Criteria:

(1) Judging is to be done with Humble Love

Humility: By dealing with Personal Sin

“first take out the log from your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” - in other words, deal with your own sin first, then you will come to your brother in a right manner.

“first” - just as in v. 33, a reference to priority not the chronology of events.

Not condemning recognizing sin in another’s just that our sin should seem to us much worse than the sin of others. Especially because we know our own hearts, others only see a small fraction of our sin, a Christian sees so much more. The Lord has already said this is the attitude of a true believer: 5:3-10!

When we think like this we can say with Paul: “Wretched man that I am” “I am the chief of sinners.” Is that how you think of yourself? When you do, then you are ready to help a brother, or sister in love.

Jonathan Edwards Resolutions (a set of standards by which he sought to live his life to the glory of God):

 

#8 “Resolved, to act, in all respects, both speaking and doing, as if nobody had been so vile as I, as as if I had committed the same sins, or had the same infirmities or failings as others; and to let the knowledge of their failings promote nothing but shame in myself, and prove only an occasion of my confessing my own sins and misery to God.”

 

Attitude commended by Paul (Galatians 6:1). Therefore, if we have this view of our own sin, the sin of others should seem much smaller by comparison.

 

Love: by desiring the Others Good

(5) “then you will see clearly” - first deal with your own sin and then you will not be able to help your brother - dia + blepw - “see through” - with vision unhindered by obstacles. Nothing to obstruct your spiritual sight.

“Your brother” - terms of family, care, sincere concern. Assumption is that it will be done in love.

He is not saying don’t ever deal with another’s sin, but do it with humility and with a genuine desire for their good. We are to be as “iron sharpens iron” in one another’s life.

Those who are truly: “hungering and thirsting after righteousness” (5:6) welcome rebuke and correction because it helps them to grow.

Prov. 27:6 “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy. Psalm 141:5 “Let the righteous smite me 1in kindness and reprove me; It is boil upon the head; Do not let my head refuse it”

Point is that if you are first dealing with your own sin, humbled by your own failings, aware of your own weaknesses and guilt then, with the proper motive of love, you will be able to see clearly to help another. And you will be able to do so in the right spirit - and it will likely be better received.

(a) David showed this attitude in Ps. 51:9f. Once David dealt with his own sin then he was in a position to help others. (b) Peter had a similar situation: “When you return go and strengthen your brothers” - you are going to fail, but when you return you will have a humility and gentleness, in dealing with others, because you will have felt the sting of sin and failure.

First direction is humble love, the second is …

 

(2) Judging is to be exercised with Wise Discernment

Protects the honor of God’s truth

“Do not give what is holy to dogs and nor cast your pearls before pigs” - This verse has caused confusion for many, but it is fairly easy to understand and is a profound conclusion to the Lord’s teaching on hypocritical judging: Don’t take those things precious to God and let them be despised and maligned by wicked people. In other words, beware of sharing spiritual truth with those who are unable and unwilling to accept it.”

First, the comparison “holy” those things set apart to God; His truth; the gospel. “pearls” valuable things of God’s Word, of the Kingdom. Don’t take glorious kingdom truth and give them to:

“dogs … pigs.” Both animals were despised by the Jews.

“to the dogs” - not domesticated but wild dogs that roamed the streets, scavenge from the garbage. They were dirty, dangerous, and despised.

Lk. 16:21 [“licked his sores”]; Phil. 3:2 [“beware of the dogs … evildoers … mutilate the flesh”]; Rev. 22:15 [“outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying”].

“the pigs” - a religiously unclean animal for the Jew, and particularly despised among all the unclean animals. Referred to only in the gospels: Pigs are what the demons were cast into (Matt. 8:32; Mk. 5:12-13; Lk. 8:32-33) and used to picture the lowest possible point of destitute disgrace for the prodigal son of Lk. 15:15-16.

Both of these are brought together in: 2 Pet. 2:22 “dog returns to its vomit … sow … returns to wallow in the mire”] - Referring to false teachers; proud, arrogant, no fear of God, self-will, enslaved to lusts.

These are the self-righteous, the pseudo righteous, the religious hypocrite. The one for whom religion is a show and a cover for the sinful lust and pride of their own heart (cf. 5:21f). The one who hates righteousness, who holds the gospel of the kingdom in contempt.

What is Jesus teaching us here?

(A) There is a time to recognize a certain settled rejection, even mocking of truth, of the gospel; a time to leave that person to their own rejection.

We see many examples of this: Matt. 10 “shake the dust”; PAUL in Acts “shook the dust”; Jesus Himself demonstrates this in Matt. 11:28 “I thank you Father, for You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to babes.” There is a point of rejection when God gives a person and a society “given over to their sin.” Jesus hid the truth in parables (Matt. 13); He did not “entrust Himself to” certain groups (John 2:28)

 

“As the ministers of the Gospel, and those who are called to the office of teaching, cannot distinguish between the children of God and swine, it is their duty to present the doctrine of salvation indiscriminately to all. Though many may appear to them, at first, to be hardened and unyielding, yet charity forbids that such persons should be immediately pronounced to be desperate. It ought to be understood, that dogs and swine are names given not to every kind of debauched men, or to those who are destitute of the fear of God and of true godliness, but to those who, by clear evidences, have manifested a hardened contempt of God, so that their disease appears to be incurable … But by dogs and swine he means here those who are so thoroughly imbued with a wicked contempt of God, that they refuse to accept any remedy … the remedy of salvation must be refused to none, till they have rejected it so basely when offered to them, as to make it evident that they are reprobate and self-condemned.” (Calvin).

 

Not in anger, self-righteous satisfaction, but with sadness and sorrow (Lk. 19:41-42).

(B) Jesus is not, however, forbidding the proclamation of the gospel to all men, for that would contradict the entire NT. Jesus is calling for Christian discernment.

This takes prayer and wisdom. As one has noted: “Matthew 7:6 is one of the ‘hard sayings’ of Jesus. We must take the command seriously and do our best to obey it, because it is the Lords’ will. But because it is so serious and because we may also be inclined to be self-righteous and judgmental, we need ot depend on the Lord with special care and sincerity.” (MacArthur).

 

Discerns unnecessary risk

lest they trample you with their feet and turning attack you” - They will hate you and seek to destroy you. This is precisely what happened with the Lord Jesus (cf. Ps. 22:16; Matt. 27:35; John 20:25).

The self-righteous always hate true righteousness, because true righteousness exposes the emptiness, vanity, and putridness of false religion. Thus, Jesus said, “They do not come to the light, for when they come to the light their deeds are exposed as evil” (John 3:19); “The world cannot hate you … but it hates Me because I testify that its deeds are evil” (John 7).

The greatest display of this was the murderous hatred toward Christ that, from the human side, led Him to the cross. Where He hung there and endured suffering and rejection for His people: PSALM 22:1, 6-8, 11-18 [most of these directly applied to Christ in the NT regarding HIs experience at the cross].

At the cross there is not room for boasting, self-righteousness, harsh criticism, judging. At the cross our pride is obliterated and you and I are shown to be vain, empty, guilty, dependent upon mercy, clinging to grace.

How do we navigate out of all of this?

(1) Recognize your own sinfulness and guilt before the Lord. Really lay hold of the fact that, if you are a Christian, you are a wretched sinner saved only by grace.

(2) Intentionally pursue love out of gratitude for grace.

Love is the life blood that must flow through the boy of Christ. It is the humble, gospel broken love of Christians that should mark all of our fellowship and eliminate the sin of judging.

The measure of our understanding of the gospel is in the degree of our humility and love for one another.

Spurgeon well noted in his book, Being God’s friend:

“We are committed to implicit obedience to all of the Master’s will, regardless of what it involves. Will you not agree to this at the outset? If you love HIm, you will not hesitate. Also, take note of every commandment as it personally concerns you … Perhaps you are full of enmity; somebody has treated you very badly, and you cannot forget it. I urge you to hear the Lord’s command: ‘Little children … love one another’ … and again ‘Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee.’ If you are in debt, obey this commandment: ‘Owe no man any thing, but to love one another’ … If you neglect the poor, and live in a stingy way, hear this commandment: ‘Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.’”

And I would add one more: “Do not judge, in order that you may not be judged.”

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