Judge Not, Lest You Be Judged? – By Rev George Ong (Dated 5 Feb 2021)
“People have said and even lambasted me, “George – You shouldn’t judge Joseph Prince.” They base their argument on Matthew 7:1-2, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
Are they sure they have the right understanding of Matthew 7:1-2? Are they saying that we mustn’t judge Joseph Prince even though he is obviously twisting the word of God many times and clearly teaching against the core doctrines of the Christian Faith? Even though he is leading people to hell? What kind of theology is that? No wonder the false teachings of Joseph Prince have flourished largely unhindered because of this ‘don’t judge people theology’.
From what I have written about Joseph Prince – Yes, I have judged him and I have judged him as a wolf in sheepskin. Their response should not be, “George, you have no right to judge him,” but whether all that I have said about him that he is a false teacher have been proven in all that I have written. And they must prove to me why Joseph Prince is not a false teacher and that what I have said about him is wrong or unbiblical. Are they saying we shouldn’t judge someone to see whether he is rightly teaching from the scriptures or he is teaching falsely?
When someone discredits the teachings of another as false, many in today’s tolerant world will voice out their strong objections, ‘judge not, lest you be judged’. These objections are often not due to an informed reflection of the scriptures but a hasty reaction of an ignorant and overly tolerant world. A tolerant world that has become intolerant against intolerance – get my point? Not tolerating people who are intolerant is a contradiction. And anyone who dares to speak up for truth and against falsity is now branded as an intolerant, self-righteous Pharisee or an unloving, dogmatic conservative.
They (and unbelievably, even pastors) even invoke the Bible in Matthew 7:1-2 to make their point – “Judge not.” They thought they are Biblical, but in reality, they are largely ignorant. They ignorantly thought that is the proof text that will seal their argument about stopping one from judging another.
They thought Matthew 7:1-2 is used to support the fact that no one has the right to make any judgement on anyone on any grounds. In making this judgement, they do not realise that they, too, are judging others who judge others.
Just remember that Matthew 7:1-2 was given in the context of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew chapters 5-7). If we are not supposed to judge, Jesus would be contradicting Himself because He had judged the Pharisees sternly (Matt 5:20, etc) in the same context of the Sermon on the Mount.
What does Jesus mean when he tells us not to judge others, or we will be judged (Matt 7:1-5)?
First, let us consider what he does not mean. The text cannot mean that we are not to judge under all circumstances because in the next passage, Jesus gave the following instructions:
6 “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”
The simple lesson is – don’t cast precious and valuable truths to people who are not ready. Not only will they not appreciate it, they will also reject it, and they may even ‘bite’ you with it.
If we are to obey this command of Jesus, are we not to judge by making appraisals of others about their readiness for precious truths? We cannot obey Jesus’ command unless we make a judgement on who are the ‘pigs’ and ‘dogs’. If we do not judge by making an honest assessment of others, how are we to know who is ready and who is not? We have to honestly say that so and so is not ready because he is extremely proud and unteachable. Are we judging others when we make that kind of assessment?
About 10 verses down from Matthew 7:1-5 in Matthew 7:15-20, Jesus instructed the apostles to judge leaders and teachers by their fruits. If it is wrong to judge leaders and teachers (by their fruits), how will we know whether they are true or false? How can we tell whether one is a true shepherd or a wolf in sheepskin? To judge whether someone is a wolf in sheep’s clothing requires informed, judicious and discerning judgement.
It is precisely because of the silence and absence of such a needed judgement from many (not every) bishops, pastors and elders in the church that has led to many members of churches who have been deceived by false prophets, such as Joseph Prince. What has contributed to such a sorry state of affairs is the wrong teaching that we should not judge leaders or teachers, and we should not touch the Lord’s anointed (advanced by Joseph Prince himself for his own interest).
On the contrary, Jesus categorically instructed us to judge them by their fruits (Matt 7:15-20). The key fruit or test that Joseph Prince is to be judged on is his teaching – whether he is teaching the Jesus of the Bible or his own version of Jesus. Kindly view this important video if you haven’t: “Joseph Prince’s Jesus Or Bible Jesus?” (Click)
After I’ve explained about what judging others does not mean, let’s see what Jesus really meant when he tells us not to judge:
Matthew 7:1-5 NIV
1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
In context, Jesus was teaching the principle that we are not to judge others for the same sin we are committing. This is particularly so when the same sin that we are committing is a much bigger flaw (plank) than the one that is committed by our brother (speck) that we are correcting.
If we judge others for not observing the same standard of behaviour that we don’t exemplify, we are in danger of being judged by God (Matt 7:1-2). If we judge others for the same faults that we are guilty of, we have become hypocrites (Matt 7:5), and we, indeed, have committed the kind of judgement that Jesus forbids (Matt 7:1-2).
To put it in practical terms, it is one brother who has not gotten over the sin of explosive anger (plank) to have the audacity to point out the sin of intermittent anger (speck) in another brother’s life.
To apply it to myself – if I am guilty of teaching false teachings, I would have no right to correct and contend against the false teachings of Joseph Prince (whom I don’t consider to be a brother-in-Christ but a wolf in sheepskin). If I do, I will be guilty of hypocrisy (Matt 7:5).
So, Jesus wasn’t teaching that we are not to judge others. He is stating the fact that one must first overcome and remove, say, the sin of anger first, by taking “the plank out of your own eye,” (Matt 7:5a) before he confronts another of the same sin and helping him “to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matt 7:5b).
Jesus did not forbid addressing and judging the faults and flaws of others (Matt 7:5b). If He did, He would have contradicted the rest of His teachings in the Sermon on the Mount about the need to judge others. What Jesus is against are people who pinpoint the smaller flaws of others (speck), when they don’t even attempt to deal with the bigger faults (plank) of their own.
The lesson is – we must first remove the sin in our life before removing the same sin from others. Only when we have victory over the sin of covetousness, do we have the privilege to challenge others to do the same. Only when we have first removed the plank in our eyes, do we have the authority to remove the speck in another’s eye.”
Rev George Ong