• Jenna

The Most Abused Verse in the Bible

Updated: Jul 26

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a worker who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the Word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15


"Judge Not" Out of Context

​Judge not. (Matthew 7.1). This verse is the most abused and misquoted verse in all the Bible. People often manipulate this verse when they are offended and puffed up with pride, do not want to be corrected, do not want light to be shed on their sins, and do not want to learn from their wrongdoings or mistakes. This verse is often abused by those who demand to be supported in their sins, or nowadays, even respected, praised, and glorified in their shame. they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things (Philippians 3:19).

Misquoting this verse is an easy out for people to escape taking responsibility for their wrongdoing, and they manipulate the situation by twisting it onto the other person by calling them judgmental. Ironically, the offended one becomes the self-righteously judgmental one for judging the person who they think is judging them. Scripture says that a wise and righteous man graciously accepts correction and rebuke, while a wicked man hates you for it. Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse, and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury. Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you; rebuke a wise man and he will love you. Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning (Proverbs 9:7-9).

Often time the phrase, "Judge not," is followed up with the common phrase, "Only God can judge." Yes, only God is able to judge someone's heart since only He can see in there, and it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31). However, Scripture commands us to righteously judge someone's actions (the things that we can see) and to test the spirits to see whether they are from God. Jesus tells us to beware of false prophets who are wolves dressed in sheep's clothing, and He says that we will recognize them by their fruit (what they produce). All of this requires using theological discernment and righteous judgement on our part.


"Judge Not" In Context


To interpret "Judge not" accurately and responsibly, we must read it within its rightful context and understand it in the Bible as a whole. We can't stop at verse 1 and choose to leave out all the rest if we want to truly understand God's intended meaning, which is His revelation. If we don't get God's intended meaning right, we won't have the revelation of God's Truth for our lives, which is vital. So we must also read the rest of Matthew 7 and cross-reference Scripture in other parts of the Bible too.


Jesus says, "Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 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. Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you." (Matthew 7:1-6).

Does Jesus say anywhere in this passage that we are not to make any kind of judgment? No, He does not. The thing is, if that’s what Jesus actually meant in the Sermon on the Mount, we would never be able to correct someone’s wrongdoing, mistake, or inaccuracy. We wouldn't ever be able to help guide anyone in the right direction or help them with a problem so that they could learn, understand, and grow. We wouldn't even be able to teach people the Truth at all if that was the case. That's because all of these things would require us to make judgments.


Truth Told in Love


In this passage, Jesus never says we are not to judge people. What does He say instead? He says to first take the log out of our own eye. Why does Jesus say that? It's so that we will be able to see clearly to take the speck that is out of our brother or sister’s eye. Jesus is actually saying that we ought to judge, and he is giving us the correct method and the proper motives on how to go about using righteous judgment in order to help someone else. Jesus says that we should first take a look at our own sins before we judge someone else in their sins. He basically says don't be hypocrites. Scripture tells us that we are to confront others in their sins with the truth that is told in love. In other words, we are gentle and caring when confronting others about their sins. Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently (Galatians 6:1). Telling someone the truth is the most loving thing there is, when done in love. We are called to discern and judge that which is true, right and good, and we are to love others by sharing the truth with them, even if it is awkward or uncomfortable. The Truth should never take the backseat to our comfort because that would be the selfish thing to do. We would be placing our comfort as the order of most importance, above the Truth, which is what ultimately helps people. That would be loving ourselves, not loving others.


Do Not Give Dogs What is Holy


In verse 6 Jesus also commands us to not give dogs what is holy or throw our pearls before pigs. This means we are not to continue sharing the glorious gift of eternal life with those who are obstinate, dismissive, or hostile towards the gospel. We are not to continue sharing the good news with someone who tramples all over that which is holy and even turns to attack us for it. How could we ever obey this command without exercising our judgment?

If we aren't to judge anybody ever, then we should never be able to tell someone they shouldn't lie, steal, cheat, blaspheme God's name, commit adultrey, murder, or even to tell someone they can’t judge. See, all of this would rightfully call us to use our judgement. And so, Jesus is never telling us that we are not to judge. He is teaching us how to judge.

Judge with Right Judgement


Basically, Jesus teaches us that we are to not judge hypocritically, unfair, condescendingly, or with a judgmental attitude, but He does call us to judge righteously. Jesus says, Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment (John 7:24). While Jesus forbids prideful or harsh judgment coming from a place of self-righteousness and pretense, He demands us to use moral and theological discernment to rightly judge someone's actions, speech, behavior, and lifestyle - the fruit they produce. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks (Luke 6:45). We are never to judge the intentions of a person's heart because only God knows what's in the heart of a person. However, Jesus calls us to righteously judge a person's speech and actions, because out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks, and Jesus tells us that we will recognize people by their fruit.


Here Jesus warns us about false prophets and how we will recognize them:

13 "Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. 15 Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, you will recognize them by their fruits (Matthew 7:13-20).


Again, judging someone does not mean we are to be judgmental towards someone or to look down our nose at someone who doesn't agree with us on non-essential matters. We are talking about judging someone by their fruits; by their actions, speech, what they openly express, show, and teach; by how they live and by what they openly display to us and to the rest of the world. As children of God, we are called to be discerning so as not to trust the wrong people, and we are called to gently correct or rebuke a brother or sister who is in sin. Without exercising right judgment, we would fail to uphold these commands.


Testing the Spirits


Jesus tells us to beware of false prophets, and His Word also commands us to not believe every spirit but to test the spirits. Again, all of this would require us to use our judgement. In First John 4:1-3, it says, "Beloved, do not believe every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they are from God for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God. Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and is now in the world already"


Now, this is not the only way we test and judge a spirit to see whether they are from God. This is only one of the ways. Many people profess with their lips to know Christ, but by their actions deny them. They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work (Titus 1:16). So, this is only one test, but it doesn't stop at this test. We must be willing to further test what we hear and see from people by how they live and the fruit they produce. We are to give the benefit of the doubt, but we are not to blindly trust someone with important matters before examining the fruit they produce over a period of time. We are called to be excellent fruit inspectors, always keeping in mind that Jesus tells us to beware because false prophets are not always easy to spot. This is a judgment call that protects the children of God from satanically-driven people. It is the way we are commanded to live.


Test Like the Bereans


We are to test the spirits like the Bereans. The Bereans were a group of people who were from Berea, Macedonia and lived during the days of Paul. They were people who eagerly and carefully examined everything with Scripture and were highly receptive to the Word of God. They searched the Scriptures to see whether what they were hearing and seeing lined up with God's Truth. The only we are able to judge righteously and know truth from error and discern right from almost right, is with correctly intepreting the Truth of God's Word. The Bereans are a wonderful model and positive example of how a person should respond biblically to what is being said, shown, or taught.


How to Correctly Interpret Scripture


We must be responsible to read the surrounding context a verse is in, and we are always to compare Scripture with Scripture when determining the meaning of a verse or passage. We are never to just cherry pick one verse out of the Bible when it calls for context to be properly understood and applied like, "Judge not." We will only be deceiving ourselves when we do that and abusing Scripture to try and suit our own agendas.

​Scripture calls us to interpret Scripture in the plain, normal sense of language, just as we would interpret the natural meaning of any kind of book or document. Normal, natural literal interpretation is the only way to interpret it responsibly and stop the reckless abuse of Scripture. As soon as anyone stops interpreting Scripture in the normal, natural literal sense that it demands for, it becomes a fair game for anyone to interpret the Bible in a wild and reckless manner. It's a very dangerous thing to interpret Scripture carelessly, and we would only be deceiving ourselves. “Ignorance of Scripture is the most dangerous self-inflicted wound” - Dale Partridge

"The most important law of biblical hermeneutics is that the Bible should be interpreted literally. We are to understand the Bible in its normal or plain meaning unless the passage is obviously intended to be symbolic or if figures of speech are employed. The Bible says what it means and means what it says. For example, when Jesus speaks of having fed “the five thousand” in Mark 8:19, the law of hermeneutics says we should understand five thousand literally—there was a crowd of hungry people that numbered five thousand who were fed with real bread and fish by a miracle-working Savior. Any attempt to “spiritualize” the number or to deny a literal miracle is to do injustice to the text and ignore the purpose of language, which is to communicate. Some interpreters make the mistake of trying to read between the lines of Scripture to come up with esoteric meanings that are not truly in the text, as if every passage has a hidden spiritual truth that we should seek to decrypt. Biblical hermeneutics keeps us faithful to the intended meaning of Scripture and away from allegorizing Bible verses that should be understood literally." - Gotquestions.org

​Scripture is not what I think it means to me personally. Scripture is what God meant it to say. There could be 500 different applications to any given verse, but there is only one true meaning that God gives it. As His children, we are commanded to know it and obey it for our lives. We are commanded to rightly handle God's Truth, meaning we are called to interpret it responsibly and accurately. Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a worker who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the Word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15) We are not to be the interpreter of God's intended meaning in Scripture, giving it our own private interpretation. We are to be the humble, obedient, responsible, and joyful receivers of God's Word, handling it as He commands us to - with correct understanding and application, bringing Him glory.


Ending With the Gospel


I always aim to share the gospel and weave it into everything I write. I will end this one with the gospel. Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Repent of your sins, (even learn to love the correction of your sins, for those who kindly correct you are the people who love you and care about you, and they are not unfairly judging you. Remember, the one who tells you the most Truth loves you the most), and believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and you will be saved. It's nothing we can do to save ourselves. It's what Jesus has already done for us - through his life, death on the cross, and ressurection. Authentic saving faith in Christ will naturally produce good fruit in us, and we will be recognized as Children of God by our speech, actions, behavior, and transformed life through the power of the gospel. Amen!

 

You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2 Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth.3 So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Romans 2:1-3


Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy. Proverbs 31:9


If any of you has a dispute with another, do you dare to take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the Lord’s people? 2 Or do you not know that the Lord’s people will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? 3 Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! 1 Corinthians 6:1-3


‘Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly. Leviticus 19:15


The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 1 Corinthians 2:15


All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17


For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” 1 Corinthians 5:12-13


Be sure to read all these verses in contexts. :)



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