Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.
In Romans 2:1-4, Paul explained why a self-righteous person is just as unrighteous as the pagan who has fallen into depravity.
Paul said the self-righteous person is guilty because he condemns other people. “Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things” (2:1).
Did Paul mean that we are never to condemn anybody or anything for any reason? Josh McDowell has noted that 20 years ago the most often cited verse in the culture was John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son…” But do you know what the most often quoted verse is today? It is Matthew 7:1: “Do not judge so that you will not be judged.” Everybody says that, Christians and non-Christians alike: “Do not judge.”
Was Jesus saying that under no circumstances are we to judge anything? Well, if He was saying that, then He contradicted His own words. Three times in this same chapter Jesus told us we are to judge. For example, in Matthew 7:6, He said, “Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” That verse requires you to make a judgment. You have to decide who is a dog and who is a swine and who is unworthy of casting your pearls before. In verses 13-14, Jesus said, “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Jesus said not all roads lead to Heaven. There is a narrow road that leads to Heaven, and there is a broad road that leads to Hell. To determine which road you are on, you have to make a judgment, don’t you? You have to determine which religions are illegitimate and which way is the right way to God. And in verse 15, Jesus said, “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” How do you know who is a false prophet? You have to make a judgment, don’t you, that somebody is a false prophet? You have to ask, “Is this person producing good fruit in his life or bad fruit?” Over and over again Jesus said we must make judgments.
So what did Jesus mean when He said, “Do not judge”? What was Paul saying in Romans 2 when he condemned those who condemn others? The Bible says there is a particular kind of judgment we are never to engage in. The word “judge” in Matthew 7:1 refers to the kind of judgment that only God Himself is capable of making. That is what Jesus and Paul were both saying. We are not to perform the kind of judgment that only God is capable of rendering.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Religious … Right in Hell” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2014.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.