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Question #18

What does "judge not" mean?

I was raised in the Lord’ church. I am married to a non-faithful Baptist, meaning that he does not even attend his own denomination. Over the years of our marriage, we have argued several times over the whole one church concept. His opinion is that we are being judgmental and have no business doing so. He keeps quoting judge not, lest ye be judged. He says that we are being hypocrites by doing this. Frankly, I do not know what to say back to him and often end up in a corner when we have this argument. Church is the biggest difference that we have in our marriage. Otherwise, we have a very happy, loving marriage. We have been married almost 16 years.

The Answer:

First, since the scripture teaches that there is one church, it is the scripture that is judging him, not you. Ephesians 1:22-23 informs us that God “hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.” The church is the body of Christ. Ephesians 4:4 instructs that “there is one body. . . .” If there is one body, and the body is the church, there can be but one church. Thus, the accusation made by your husband is not against you, but against the scripture, the word of God. It is that very word that shall judge him in the last day. John 12:48. Accordingly, he would do well to heed its teachings and judgments now.

Second, the use that your husband makes of “judge not, that ye be not judged” (Matthew 7:1) is a misapplication of that passage. Much of the Sermon on the Mount has been directed against the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees. Certainly we should not judge in the manner that they did. However, this does not prevent “righteous judgment” (John 7:24). The very passage that your husband cites permits the right kind of judgment. One cannot obey Matthew 7:6 unless he is able to recognize (judge) who are the dogs and the swine. How can one obey Matthew 7:15 unless he can determine (judge) who is a false prophet? Some have been fond of saying that they are not judges, but fruit inspectors (Matthew 7:16), but one must judge the difference between the good fruit and the bad and discern (judge) the difference between fruit on the one hand and briars and thistles on the other to be a good fruit inspector. The truth is that many who have rejected the teaching of God’s word do not want anyone telling them what it teaches, for by that teaching they are both judged and condemned.

God's Plan of Salvation

You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)

You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)

You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)

You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)

Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)