The Necessity of Judging

By Dr. Ken Matto

(John 7:24 KJV) Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.

One of the most important and necessary functions of the true Christian walk is to be able to judge properly. We have all heard from people that we are not to judge. Many people take offense at the fact that their actions are judged. The bottom line is that everybody judges something every day of their life. Doctors make judgments, firemen make judgments, police officers make judgments, investors make judgments, and every other profession on earth makes judgments. When you go the store and you buy Produce, why do you linger at the specific fruit or vegetable you want to buy? The answer is simple, you are looking at all the fruit so you can decide on which is the best ones to buy. So we all make judgments every single day. Why then when it comes to eternal matters do we invoke the belief that we should not judge? Don’t you think that eternal matters are more important than judging the best tomatoes or bananas?

The Bible does not prohibit us from judging matters, in fact, God gave us the Bible for the purpose of judging matters.

(1 John 4:1 KJV) Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

The word “try” in this verse carries with it the meaning of “prove, test, or scrutinize.” After you test something, you will make a judgment as to whether you can accept the teaching or not. God gives us the true Gospel in the Bible and when we run into a teaching that may be questionable, we are to hold it up to the test of Scripture. If it contradicts the Scriptures, then we are to judge that teaching as a false teaching. Along with the teaching we are to name those who are promulgating the teaching so Christians will be warned not listen to those false teachings. There is definitely biblical precedence for naming names and we will look at this a little later in the article.

The word for “judge” in the Greek is the word “krino” (
krinw) which carries with it the meaning of “separate, decide between, approve, condemn, give judgment.” As you can see it carries many different yet similar meanings. The word is used 115 times in the New Testament and always deals with judging. Now we are going to look at two types of judging, one is prohibited and one is endorsed.


The Prohibited Judgment
The judgment that we are prohibited from doing is the type of judgment which is a scathing judgment of another based on a personal bias. The Bible warns us that we are not to judge people in a manner which will denigrate them.

(James 4:11 KJV) Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge.

James warns us that we are not to speak evil of another brother in pronouncing judgments upon them. Instead of helping a brother who may be caught up in something sinful, we set ourselves up as a judge and then pronounce judgment on that person. The Scriptures teach that we must never do this because we, as humans, are definitely prone to the same sins.
(Rom 2:1 KJV) Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. A scathing judgment on another only brings a condemnation on us because we are capable of doing the same things. We look at a person who got in trouble for stealing and we look down our noses at them but did we take a paper clip from work? Stealing is stealing! Thou shalt not steal!

Whenever we attempt to judge somebody because of personal motives, no matter what they are such as envy, jealousy, or hatred, we are judging a condemnation unto ourselves and the judgment we make will be tainted and evil. I remember in 1987 when Jimmy Swaggart was interviewed concerning the situation with Jim Bakker and Swaggart called the PTL ministry and its Heritage USA theme park “a cancer in the body of Christ.” Then eleven months later Swaggart himself was crying in front of the whole world because his hidden sins were now made public. So a scathing judgment on others will always bring hurt to someone else and will bring trouble to us.

The Permitted Judgment
Just as there are judgments which are prohibited by the Scriptures, there are judgments we must make which are permitted and endorsed by the Scriptures. The primary judgment that all true believers must make is to judge the words that they are hearing. We live in a day when new teachings and new systems of theology are being developed by false teachers. The problem with these teachings is that they are combined with just enough truth to sound credible. It is incumbent upon every true Christian to try, remember 1 John 4:1, to make a judgment as to what we are hearing. We can no longer trust theologians and famous bible teachers as to the content of their message. All those who teach must be scrutinized whether they like it or not. If someone is teaching something then they need to realize they are also subject to examination of their teachings.

(1 Cor 14:32-33 KJV) And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. {33} For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

In the above verse when the Apostle Paul was giving instructions concerning the legitimacy of those who spoke in other languages at Corinth, he stated that those who are or claim to be prophets, their message is subject to the other prophets in the congregation. The other prophets were to judge that message to see if it contained truth or if it was a false message. The principle in this verse is simple. Those who teach, whether they be Pastors, Sunday School teachers, evangelists, or theologians must realize that their teachings are subject to the other believers. There is no such thing written in Scripture that we are to accept the teachings of someone simply based on who they are. I want to give a few examples of what teachings are being disseminated in Christendom today, both by those inside and outside the church.

RC Sproul - Teaches that Anselm and Augustine were Christians - both were Roman Catholics - He also endorses the English Standard Version.

Harold Camping - Long time endorser of the home church now tells everyone to leave their churches - He also taught the Lord’s return in 2011 - From teaching the truths of Scripture to date setting.

Jack Van Impe - Long time fundamentalist prophecy preacher - Now endorses Roman Catholicism and glorifies Pope John Paul II. I was saved through his ministry back in 1980.

Billy Graham - Long time evangelist now teaches that people don’t even have to hear the name of Christ to be saved - Believes those in false religions are saved.

These are just four examples of teachers who were once solid who have adopted false teaching while mixing just enough truth to sound credible. Then in the Reformed camp there are other teachings rearing its ugly head concerning Justification by Faith alone. These are the New Perspectives on Paul, The Federal Vision, the Auburn Avenue Confession, which claims that works must be added to justification for salvation. This makes it a Roman Catholic doctrine which is works plus faith. In the Baptist Camp there is Landmarkism which claims apostolic succession back to Christ Himself, in other words Landmark Baptist churches are the only true church.

This is why we are to judge with biblical discernment. Every teacher you hear, you must judge according to the Scriptures and don’t fall into the trap of comparing their teachings with the teachings of another teacher, even though they may be right on target, your criteria for judgment is the Scriptures. Now since the modern versions endorse false teachings, we have only one true Bible whereby we can measure the teachings of men and that is the King James Bible. The Lord commanded us to make sure that our judgment be righteous judgment and that can only happen if we have the true Bible.

(Jude 1:4 KJV) For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

Here Jude warns us that certain men have crept into the church. The phrase “crept in unawares” carries with it the meaning in Greek of “coming in stealthily.” The word “stealth” means “secretly or clandestinely.” This means people have come into churches with personal agendas bent on propagating their false views. Now let me widen the application, this does not mean that they only come in physically but when their teachings are introduced by the leadership or by any congregant, it is as if that author was right in the congregation. False written materials can be just as persuasive and destructive as the author standing behind the pulpit or microphone. What better way to enter a church stealthily than to have a deceived Christian place materials on the book table.

One of the subtle traps that discerning Christians will face is that when you judge a teaching, you will be accused of judging the person who invented it. Don’t let that divert you or frighten you from continuing your examination of the teachings. In the Bible, those who opposed Christianity are mentioned by name.

(2 Tim 4:10 KJV) For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia.

(2 Tim 4:14-15 KJV) Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works: {15} Of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words.

(3 John 1:9 KJV) I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not.

If you notice that Paul mentioned the names of two men, one who abandoned him and the other who did him much evil. Then we look at 3 John and John mentions a man named Diotrephes who obviously wanted to have the first place of dignity in the church would not allow anyone else in the church to “show him up.” So we see three people who did harm to Paul and John, and they are named. Now is it correct to name people who are teaching error? The answer is yes! Not to condemn or to build a hate base against them but to warn other Christians of their error so they will be removed from church office or if they are in a media ministry, then they will not receive support so that their error continues to grow. Keep in mind that error taught by one person, would only remain with that one person if Christians would not support them until they repent of the false teachings. The problem is that too many foolish Christians support these false teachers because they do not judge their teachings according to the Scriptures, and that is a bigger error. To support false teachings is akin to lining up with Satan. God does not tolerate false teachings but unfortunately many of His children do. If you notice above that both Alexander and Diotrephes refused to allow true teachings.

This is why it is so important that Christians judge the teachings that they hear. The reason why Christianity is in the confused state it is in, is because for too long Christians have trusted pastors, theologians, and Bible teachers without comparing their teachings with the Scriptures. There seems to be no accountability required for a church office or a media ministry. When a leader refuses to be accountable, then what you can do is just withhold your offerings. It is not sin to withhold support from your church or favorite ministry if they go off into false teachings. For example, if your church decides to adopt the Purpose Driven Church agenda and your Pastor will not listen to reason, then you have every right to withhold support and to be vocal about it. To say nothing about the encroaching false teachings or to continue financial support in your church is to give approbation to them.

(Rom 16:17-18 KJV) Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. {18} For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.

In verse 17, we see the word “mark.” It is an interesting word in the Greek because it means “ examine carefully or look at.” The Koine Greek word is also used in Classical Greek and carries with it the meaning of “examine carefully” plus it is the word used in “microscope.” Now what does one do with a microscope? They look at the smallest things to enlarge them. Now why would God use a word like this, if He did not want us to make proper judgments about heretical teachings and those who are bringing them? Notice God says, “mark them” not mark their teachings. This means that God is holding responsible those who bring false teachings even if the Christians on earth are not holding them accountable.

There are many other Scriptures which deal with the subject of judging but they do not disagree with the Scriptures used here. When a Christian refuses to judge, they are setting themselves up for a fall. It is imperative that Christians establish judgmental mindsets when it comes to bible teachings from teachers.
(2 John 1:4 KJV) I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father. This verse teaches us that God is glorified when His children are walking in truth. Truth walking requires judgment on the part of the child of God. The only way you can know that you are walking in truth is that you have judged your doctrine according to the Scriptures. (Eph 4:14 KJV) That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

(2 Tim 4:3 KJV) For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;

2 Timothy 4:3 describes the time which we are living in. Don’t be deceived by the smooth talkers and those who think they have discovered something new!