Jesus said, “Judge not, lest you be judged.” Right? Were are not supposed to judge others, are we? This is the unfortunate conclusion of the world and sadly, even the Church. What ever happened to “rightly dividing the Word of Truth?” As the Church, we are to learn, understand and teach the WHOLE counsel of God.
Matthew 7:1-5 actually says,
(1) “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. (2) For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. (3) Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? (4) Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' and behold, the log is in your own eye? (5) You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.” So we can see clearly that Jesus was not just saying, “Do not judge,” He was saying do not judge hypocritically. In other words, do not judge and condemn others for things you, yourself, are guilty of, too. Verse five says that you may judge something as being wrong, as long as you are not committing that same sin yourself. Jesus would not be saying never judge anything then a few verses later in 7:15 say, "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them." Jesus also said in John 7:24,
“Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” If you believe that Jesus was saying never judge, in Matthew 7:1, then He would be contradicting Himself in John 7:24.
When it comes to judging others, Jesus was actually very merciful to repentant sinners, but quite the opposite with false teachers. Jesus reserved His most harsh judgments for those who would lead others astray. In Matthew 23:13-34 Jesus warned,
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. (14) Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows' houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive greater condemnation. (15) Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves...
(24) You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! (25) Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. (26) You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also. (27) Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. (28) So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness...
(33) You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell? (34) Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city... Harsh words? Yes. True words? Obviously! But the Church has bought into the world’s lie that we are not to judge at all. Now I wonder why the world would not want the Church to do its job? Could it be that the world wants the Church to lower, or better yet, eliminate God's standards?
The Church is supposed to stand as a pillar of righteous judgment. To be able to judge righteously, though, the Church itself must be righteous. That’s where the issue of hypocrisy comes in. For example, the Catholic Church has no right to pronounce judgment on anyone when to comes to the issue of homosexuality, since their priesthood is defiled by sexual impurities of all kinds.
The issue really comes down to who and what we, the Church, are supposed to judge. The Apostle Paul said in I Corinthians 5:9-12,
(9) “I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; (10) I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. (11) But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler--not even to eat with such a one. (12) For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? (13) But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.” What Paul is saying is that our primary focus of judgment is to be on the Church, not on the world. Let God judge the world, we are to concentrate on judging “those who are within the Church.” In this context, the word “judge” does not mean to condemn, but to compare. Compare what?
I Corinthians 2:15 says, “He who is spiritual, judges all things.” What type of things does he judge? DOCTRINE! The teachings of the Church. Why? To keep the Church on the right path.
II Timothy 2:15 says, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” Why?
II Timothy 4:1-5 says, “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: (2) preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. (3) For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, (4) and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. (5) But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” God warns us, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.”That time, my friend has come. The Church is so naive that she thinks that the Joseph Smiths and the Jim Jones and the David Koreshes are all gone now. WAKE UP! The world is FILLED with false teachers and false prophets. That is why we are warned in I John 4:1, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” In other words, do not believe everything that people say comes from the Holy Spirit, but test their words against God’s Word. Do they agree? If not, that teacher or prophet is false.
Luke said of the Berean believers in Acts 17:11, “Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.” So God says that it is a noble thing to seek the Truth, by comparing the teachings of the Church with the word of God, “see whether these things were so,” to see if what we are being taught agrees with His Word.
To sum up, discernment ministries are not the bad guys. We and you are the Bereans, searching the Scriptures daily, to see if the Church is maintaining the doctrinal purity of God’s Word. When we find egregious error, it is our duty and yours to bring it into the light of day.
Paul told Timothy in II Timothy 5: 19-21, “Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses. (20) Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also will be fearful of sinning. (21) I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of His chosen angels, to maintain these principles without bias, doing nothing in a spirit of partiality.” Paul says your treatment of an individual cannot be affected by your relationship with that individual, good or bad. In other words, you cannot be harsh and unforgiving just because you dislike that person. In the same vein, you cannot turn a blind eye to error just because that person is your friend or pastor.
Unfortunately, in today's culture, we seem to be breeding more and more "personality driven" ministries. Mega churches and para-church ministries tend to hire and foster personalities that draw the biggest crowds and donations. This tends to develop a "celebrity" mentality in that person, to the point that they think and act like they are above others and don't need to adhere to Biblical standards for Christian behavior.
Their initial reaction to any scrutiny is usually, "Who do you think you are? Don't you know who I am?" Joseph Smith (founder of the Mormon church) would be a perfect example. Another more modern example would be Ted Haggard. Sometimes they get blinded by their own success and figure they can do no wrong, even if their behavior flies in the face of Scripture. They all seem to start out on the straight and narrow but somehow end up on a crooked highway.
So pray for your spiritually leaders! But we all must continue to be willing to hold ourselves (and the rest of the Church) to highest level of doctrinally accountability, holding fast to that which is true, and rejecting compromise and heresy, at all cost.
Micah 6:8, "What does the LORD require of you? Be fair, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God."