THE LIFE OF CHRIST
In our last lesson on the Life of Christ, we looked at the last part of Matthew 6, which talked about not worrying because God is in control, and Jesus taught us to always put God and first in our lives. In this lesson, we start in Matthew 7 as Jesus continues with the Sermon on the Mount.
Matthew 7:1 "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.
What Jesus said here has been misapplied by many in the religious world. They like to use what Jesus said† to say that we are not allowed to make any kind of judgments about others. When taken to this extreme, this would mean that we have no right to make a judgement call on whether someone is sinning or not. We would would even have to refrain from making a judgment about atheist, murders, and those who teach false doctrine.
However, Jesus in not teaching against all judgments, but He is teaching against a specific kind of judgment, which is when a person puts himself in the place of God and condemns someone or even goes so far as to take vengeance on such a person. As Paul said, vengeance belongs to the Lord (Rom. 12:19).
The word judge in our verse does not mean that we cannot make any judgements whatsoever because Jesus also said:
John 7:24 †"Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment."
The same Greek word is used for the word judge in both of these verses. Jesus is certainly not contradicting Himself here because we are to judge with righteous judgment, which means if a person is committing adultery for example, we can certainly make a righteous judgment by saying that he is committing sin and that sin can keep you out of heaven. After all, we will be judged by the Word of God.
John 12:48 "He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him -- the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.
An example that comes to mind is Simon the sorcerer in:
Acts 8:14 Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them,† 15 who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit.† 16 For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.† 17 Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.† 18 And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money,† 19 saying, "Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit."† 20 But Peter said to him, "Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money!† 21 "You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God.† 22 "Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you.† 23 "For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity."
If we are not allowed to make any kind of judgment call about another, then Peter just sinned because he made a judgement call based on what Simon said. This was a righteous judgment. We even see this done between two apostles in:
Galatians 2:11 Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed;† 12 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.† 13 And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy.† 14 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?† 15 "We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles,† 16 "knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.† 17 "But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not!† 18 "For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.† 19 "For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God.† 20 "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.† 21 "I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain."
If we cannot make any kind of judgments, then was Paul sinning because he just made a righteous judgment against another apostle. Notice what else Paul taught in:
1 Timothy 5:19 Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses.† 20 Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear.
Paul gives elders some protection from one person trying to take revenge on an elder he does not like. So, if an accusation is going to be made about an elder there needs to be 2 or 3 witnesses. What is an accusation? It is a charge. It means that the elder has done something wrong according to the Bible, which means that a judgment call has been made. Then Paul says that an elder who is sinning needs to be rebuked in the presence of all. This can only be done by judging another.
Let me give you one more example to show just how absurd
it is to say that we cannot make any kind of judgment whatsoever. In Acts 2,
the apostles began to proclaim a new message that marked the beginning of the
church. They preached about how the Jews had killed their Messiah, but that He
was raised from the dead.
†Acts 2:36 "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ."† 37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?"† 38 Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.† 39 "For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call."† 40 And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, "Be saved from this perverse generation."† 41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.
Can we tell people that if† they do not obey the gospel that they will be lost? Of course, we can. We are told to preach the truth. When we preach the truth as Peter did, we can tell people that they must repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of their sins. It is pretty obvious that if your sins are not washed away, then there is no way for you to get into heaven. Peter even goes on to make another judgment by telling them to be saved from this perverse generation. Teaching what Godís Word says is making a righteous judgment.
What we have no right to do is to condemn people to hell based on appearance or based on our opinions because Jesus is the final judge who will separate the righteous from unrighteous as:
Matthew 25:31 " When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory.† 32 "All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.† 33 "And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.
However we have every right and are even commanded to make righteous judgments. We are to teach Godís truth, and if someone is guilty of sin, we can rebuke them and warn them about the consequences of that sin. Notice what Jesus told His disciples about forgiveness:
Luke 17:3 "Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.
Jesus gives a more detailed description of what we should do if our brother sins against us in:
Matthew 18:15 " 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.† 16 "But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that 'by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.'† 17 "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.
So, Jesus is no way is teaching us that we cannot make any kind of judgment whatsoever, but that we are to make righteous judgements based on His word but not make judgements based on appearance or opinion. Also, we are not to put ourselves in the place God because Jesus will be the final judge.†
Now letís look at verse 2 again:
2 "For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.†
The greatest example I can give about this is from one of the parables that Jesus taught in:
Matthew 18:23 "Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.† 24 "And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.† 25 "But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made.† 26 "The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, 'Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.'† 27 "Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.† 28 "But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, 'Pay me what you owe!'† 29 "So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.'† 30 "And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt.† 31 "So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done.† 32 "Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, 'You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me.† 33 'Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?'† 34 "And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.† 35 "So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses."
While this parable is about forgiveness, it shows how this servant was shown mercy but did not show mercy himself, and it came back to bite him. Just as he treated his fellow servant with no mercy, his master did the same back to him. As James says:
James 2:13 For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
This teaches us a lot about the attitude we must have when it comes to dealing with people and their sins. We should never be uncompassionate or think we are so much better than the sinner. Instead, Paul tells us:
Galatians 6:1 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.
Throughout the sermon on the mount Jesus is correcting the mentality that the Scribes and Pharisees had. This is no different. These Scribes and Pharisees were quick to judge people and condemn them if they did not like something they did. They had no mercy or concern about trying to help that person get right with God, they just wanted to shun them and kick them out of the synagogue. This is why many in the first century would not follow Jesus even though they believed in Him as can be seen in:
John 12:42 Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue;† 43 for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.
Jesus goes on to say:
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?†
There is much we can learn from these few verses. Consider the visual Jesus is giving us. Imagine a man that has a small speck in his eye. In order to see that speck, you have to look closely and for a long to time to see it. Now imagine a log sticking out of another manís eye. As I visualize it, I cannot see how the man with the log in his eye could even hold his head up much less be concerned about the speck in someone elseís eye.
As Jesus asked, How in the world could someone with a log in their eye be concerned about removing the speck in his brotherís eye. Yet, that is exactly what some people do and the Pharisees were guilty of this as well. As Jesus points out in:
Matthew 23:1 Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples,† 2 saying: "The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat.† 3 "Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do.† 4 "For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.† 5 "But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments.
Matthew 23:13 "But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.† 14 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows' houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation.† 15 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.
Paul also points this out in:
Romans 2:21 You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal?† 22 You who say, "Do not commit adultery," do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?† 23 You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law?†
Not only was the Pharisees guilt of this, there are those who call themselves Christians who are just as guilty because they have no problem pointing out the sins that others commit while they are guilty of the same sins but even more so.
I want to go back to that small speck in your brotherís eye. As I mentioned earlier, in order for you to see that small speck, it means that you have to be looking for it, which means that you are fault finder and you have the wrong attitude. I can promise you that if you look hard enough at any person, you will probably find something he is doing wrong whether it be sin of omission or commission. God did not put us on this earth to be fault finders. However, this does not mean that if something sinful happens before your eyes that you are to just ignore it, but we are not supposed to go out of our way to look for sin.
Jesus said in verse 5:
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.
This teaches a couple of things.
First, Jesus is teaching us about self-examination. As Paul said in:
2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? -- unless indeed you are disqualified.
Paul followed his own advice as can be seen in:
1 Corinthians 9:24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.† 25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.† 26 Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air.† 27 But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.
There is great need for us to take a close look at ourselves to make sure that we are right with God. What good is going to do us to worry about the speck in our brother's eye if we have that big log in our own eyes?
The second thing we learn from what Jesus said is that we can correct our brother or sister in Christ who has a problem with sin once we have taken care of that same sin in our own lives. Once we have removed the plank from our own eyes, then we will be able to see clearly on how to help our brother or sister with the speck in their eyes.
This is so true because if we overcame the sin in our lives that we were drowning in, then we are going to be the best person to help that brother or sister in Christ who has just started wading in the same sin. Think about it, if you struggled with being an alcoholic for many years and then you found the strength to overcome that sin and you find a brother who just started drinking and getting drunk occasionally, you are going to be the perfect person to help them understand about the negative effects of alcohol, and you can offer them wisdom on how to overcome the urge to drink because you have already defeated alcoholism.†
So, I hope you never buy into this idea that Jesus taught that we cannot judge whatsoever because that is not what He taught. The last thing I want to look at is what Jesus said next:
Matthew 7:6 "Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.
This is a proverb that is being used to teach us who we should present the Word of God to and who would should not. The fact that we are to make such a decision goes with what we have been talking about because we have to make a judgment call in order to decide this.
I want you to notice what McGarvey wrote about† this verse:
Meats connected with the sacrificial service of the altar were holy. Even unclean men were not permitted to eat of them, much less unclean brutes. What was left after the priests and clean persons had eaten was to be burned with fire (Leviticus 6:24-30; Leviticus 7:15-21). To give holy things to dogs was to profane them. We are here forbidden, then, to use any religious office, work, or ordinance, in such a manner as to degrade or profane it. Saloons ought not to be opened with prayer, nor ought adulterous marriages to be performed by a man of God. To give pearls to swine is to press the claims of the gospel upon those who despise it until they persecute you for annoying them with it. When such men are known, they are to be avoided. Jesus acted on this principle in refusing to answer the Pharisees, and the apostles did the same in turning to the Gentiles when their Jewish hearers would begin to contradict and blaspheme.
We have many examples of this in the Bible. Letís look at three:
Matthew 10:14 "And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet.
Acts 13:45 But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul. 46 Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, "It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles.
Acts 19:9 But when some were hardened and did not believe, but spoke evil of the Way before the multitude, he departed from them and withdrew the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus.
All three of these examples show that once you start teaching the truth to people and you see that they are resisting the truth, then you are not supposed to waste your time any further because if you keep pressing the truth on them when their hearts are hard, they may tear you to pieces. The only way we can determine that is by making a judgment call. Please understand that Jesus is not saying that you can pick and choose who want to teach the truth †to because the gospel is to be proclaimed to everyone. However, He does teach us that if we encounter resistance to the truth and discern that a person is dull of hearing and hard hearted, we are to move on because there are plenty of other souls out there whose hearts are ready to hear the truth. For you to continue to try and teach a person who is not ready to hear the truth is like giving pigs pearls because they will not appreciate the value of the pearls and have no problem stomping them into the mud.
This brings to end of our lesson, I hope it taught you what Jesus really meant when He said
Matthew 7:1 †Judge not, that you be not judged.
I also hope you learned that we need to use our time wisely when it comes to teaching the Bible to people. If they are hard hearted and will not listen then move on to someone else who will appreciate the true value of the gospel.