1 John 4:1 “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.”
We live in a very politically correct world today (especially in the United States of America). It saturates society to the point that even those who do not like political correctness, will be politically correct when it comes to this verse and matters of judging righteous judgment! Many people will remember this verse:
“Judge not, that ye be not judged.” (Matthew 7:1)
They will uphold that verse ferociously! They will condemn anyone and everyone with that verse by telling them they are judging them or someone else when they speak against something, or rebuke someone. They forget that when they repeat this verse and tell someone “Judge not!” they are in fact judging the person they are telling to stop judging! This is quite hypocritical. In order to know, and correct someone for what you have “judged” to be wrong, it is indeed judging. Yet that is something often not understood by those who do such things.
I do understand why most people play the “judge not” card though. The second part of the verse says “that ye be not judged” and that is the very reason most people do not judge righteously. If they point out to others that this or that thing is a sin, they know they run the risk of someone pointing out to them that something they do is a sin! So they would rather not risk exposure by exposing others. However, this is so contrary to the teachings of Christ, so contrary to the nature of a Christian, that I cannot dare say they are “children of light” (Ephesians 5:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:5) or lights in the world (Matthew 5:14) that shine into the darkness. Darkness refuses to expose things, and refuses to want exposure. And, naturally, mankind loves darkness rather than light (John 3:19-21). Therefore the majority of unsaved people will not want to judge others merely for fear of themselves being judged. Yet, they fail to realize that they will indeed be judged no matter what on judgment day. And those self-proclaiming Christians who “judge not, that ye be not judged,” will actually face harsher judgment because they knew well enough to call themselves Christians and quote a verse but not do the teachings of Christ (Luke 12:41-48).
Understand the verse though: Matthew 7:1 is speaking of judging with hypocrisy—certainly not about never judging. This is why we read to FIRST take out the “beam” from our own eye before trying to help our brother remove the splinter in his eye in verse 5 “Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.” If this chapter was all about never judging someone, Jesus would not tell us how to see clearly in order to cast the mote out of our brother’s eye! In John 7:24 even we are told by Jesus to not judge based on appearance but rather to judge RIGHTEOUS judgment!
So we can see the Word of God telling us that we Christians are indeed supposed to judge. The two major guidelines however, are that we do not judge according to appearance (how things seem on the outside); and we are not to judge with hypocrisy (such as being an addict while telling someone else not to do drugs who has only done it once).
Today’s verse ties in with all this in the manner that we live in such a time that when someone merely says they are a Christian, then people believe they are a Christian! They refuse to question whether someone is a Christian, because they themselves most likely do not want someone to question whether they are a Christian! The world (including many self-proclaiming Christians who are Christian in tongue only) believes “You’re a Christian until proven not to be one—and I don’t judge so I can’t prove it.” This causes not only a great deal of confusion in the church, but also a great deal of confusion, strife, and DECEPTION in the church as well as in the world!
If all it takes for one to be accepted as Christian is that they say they are one, then there is no clear presentation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Instead a false gospel is presented, and both the church and the world no longer know how to get to heaven! In the church it also opens up false brethren to lead astray other brethren simply because they’re accepted as being true Christian and trustworthy. Out of the church the world looks at the false Christians and the name of Christ is soiled to them since there is no proper judgment to determine if they truly are Christ’s church or not. We see that everywhere today among the mockers and lost souls who come so vehemently against the Lord.
The Bible teaches quite a different view however. We are taught to approach everything with discernment and not blindly believing everything and everyone! We should be prone to say “You’re a lost soul until proven otherwise.” This is not a condemnation. We do not condemn those who are lost souls…they are already condemned and therefore need no one to condemn them (John 3:18). Instead this would give proper place to share the True Gospel with someone until it is known that the person has given his or her life to Christ. This is much more loving than allowing a person to go to hell all the while letting them believe they are going to heaven! This also is for our own spiritual good, because it will keep us from being tossed around by false doctrine taught by false converts! We will indeed be guarding our hearts.
Yet…one major thing to remember is that we will not know the difference between truth and error, unless we spend time studying and knowing the Word of God! You can’t grow enough to properly discern just by watching the TV teacher, reading a daily devotional, reading the daily scripture, or browsing a dozen “Christian” facebook posts, pages, profiles, and sermon live-streams (Hebrews 5:12-14). You need to get into the Word of God yourself, and feed your spirit what is right! Follow the example of the Bereans in Acts 17:10-11.
Just a handful of scriptures that tell us this, have been shared. Some may ask how we are to judge others. First, read Matthew 7:15-27. Then read Luke 6:46. Next Romans 8:4-9. After that, read Galatians 5:19-25. These are just the start of learning the difference between the wheat and the tares (Matthew 13:24-30). The more you study the Truth, the more able you’ll be to recognize the lie.
Am I saying if someone sins or isn’t perfect then they are a false Christian? Far from it. The Bible doesn’t say that and so I wouldn’t dream of teaching that. A Christian may not be perfect, but they have been born again. This means that the way they acted and thought and spoke before they came to Christ, is changed after they give their life to Christ! Think of someone who has a lifestyle of sleeping around and being with a new person at least once a week. They think nothing is wrong with it, and so they keep messing around. Now, imagine that something happens to this person and they meet someone who they truly fall in love with. They thought they loved before, but this one…is real love. That person even marries this one they love! Now…proof that the person actually loves, is that their whole life has changed. The way they thought, the way they spoke, the way they acted. They see how wrong they were before! Now…of course they’ve built up bad habits in living that old lifestyle for so very many years. They may have some of those habits creep up and mess them up every now and then. Yet…the change is that they realize those are not good, and they do everything they can to stop doing them because they know it hurts the one they truly love.
Before someone is saved, they are like that person always going around living for pleasure according to however they so choose. When someone gets saved their life now revolves around pleasing God because they love God. They may mess up due to their fleshly habits creeping up on them. However, their desire is no longer to their flesh but rather to deny their flesh and walk in the Spirit so they can please God. That…is what a Christian is. If you find someone claiming to be a Christian but they have little to no desire to actually follow Christ, stop sinning, or deny their flesh…then it is fully biblical to question whether they are actually a Christian.
In a world when people do not want to judge, are afraid of judging, don’t know how to judge, and believe the Bible says we cannot judge….let us judge. Yet let us judge EVERYTHING (people, situations, AND OURSELVES) with Righteous judgment. Not judging based on outward appearance. Not condemning people to hell without any hope. Not in anger or emotions. Not in partiality being lenient to one but strict on another. And certainly, above all…let us not judge based on our opinions but rather based on the Truth found in the Word of God, in love and meekness (Ephesians 4:14-16, Galatians 6:1)! Remember, we will be judged the same way we judge others. If you are merciless in judgment to others, don’t expect to receive mercy when you are judged.
I love you all so much, and do continue to pray for you daily. I pray that you are kept close to the Lord, drawn closer every passing day. Please keep all lost souls in your prayers, and keep the brethren worldwide in your prayers! Please keep me in prayer for guidance as I truly do need the Lord’s guidance. Thank you all so much, and may God keep blessing you!
Love always in Christ,