The Scriptures provide guidance about who and what Christians may judge, and how judging is to occur.
We are to judge other believers solely as a means of maintaining purity in the church. In so doing, we are to act in love, gentleness, forgiveness, and mercy, under an overarching covering of much prayer, because the purpose is to cause repentance and encouragement in the family of God. Further, we are to judge ourselves, to settle matters between brothers, to judge what is taught, and to judge all spiritual things.
We are also cautioned to judge according to God's standards, not man-made standards, and to be on guard lest we are hypocrites (e.g., remove the log in our own eye.) It should serve to provoke great personal humility. We are also not to judge matters of conscience or opinion or non-believers. God Himself will judge these.
We are taught "all scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be completely equipped for every good work" (I Tim. 3:16). Clearly, Scripture is the basis for correction and reproof to be applied to ourselves and others. Thus, we must know the Word to be able to discern and judge so that correction and reproof will occur in a God-glorifying manner.
1. Are we to judge?
a. Yes, other believers
• "Is it not those in the church you are to judge" (I Cor. 5:12)
- Do not associate with so called believers who are immoral. (I Cor. 5:11)
- Drive out the wicked person from among you. (I Cor. 5:13) Example: Paul pronounces judgment on a believer involved in immorality and tells church to deliver him to Satan. (I Cor. 5:3-5).
b. Yes, grievances between brothers
• Decide among yourselves "Can it be that there is no man among you wise enough to decide among members of the brotherhood." (I Cor. 6:5)
• You are qualified: "you are to judge the world and the angels" (v. 2, 3)
• It is best to suffer a wrong (v. 7)
c. Yes, what we are told about God
• Paul told Corinthians to judge what he said (I Cor. 10:15)
• Let 2 or 3 prophets speak and judge what is said (I Cor. 14:29)
d. Yes, ourselves
• In context of communion, Paul tells us to judge ourselves so that we will not be judged and chastened by God (I Cor. 11:31 & 32)
e. Yes, "all things"
• "The spiritual man judges all things" (I Cor. 2:15) This refers by context to all spiritual things. We are told that we have the "mind of Christ" (I Cor. 2:16)
f. Yes, in worldly matters (context: accused by others in civil matter)
• "and why do you not judge for yourself what is right?" (Luke 12:57?)
2. What we are not to judge.
a. Matters of opinion (or conscience) Rom. 14:1
• Such matters are between God and the believer (Rom. 14:4)
• Such matters are done to honor the Lord (Rom. 14:6)
• Do not judge outward action, particularly when such action is based on opinion. God looks at the inward motivation.
• "Let no one pass judgment on you in matters of food and drink . . ." (Col. 2:16)
b. Do not judge people on the basis of manmade criteria (e.g., wealth, appearance)
• "have you not made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts" (James 2:4)
c. Those outside the church
• Paul stated "For what have I to do with judging outsiders [those outside the church]? Is it not those inside the church you are to judge? God judges those outside." (I Cor. 5:12 & 13)
3. How to judge.
a. Do not be a hypocrite. (You must be qualified to judge)
• "Remove the log from your own eye before removing the speck from your brother's eye" (Mt. 7:6)
• ". . . in passing judgment upon him you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things." (Rom. 2:1)
b. Judge in a manner, and according to a standard, that you are willing to be judged. (Mt. 7:2)
• Similarly in Luke 6:37, you receive what you give, "judge not, and you will not be judged . . . forgive and you will be forgiven."
c. Judge rightly, in accordance with God's precepts
• "Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment" (John 7:24)