Most people think that they can judge because they're under a different condition than everybody else is. The Pharisees thought they were exempt. They lived on some strata beyond the purview of any judgment.
I mean, they were up here where everything was fine and only people down here got it. But he says in verse 2, with what judgment you judge, you'll be judged, and with what measure you measure, it'll be measured to you again. You're going to get just what you get. If you've ever tried to speak out against dishonesty at work, or help a loved one understand what God's Word says about sex, or evangelize someone who's leading an ungodly lifestyle, perhaps you've been told, judge not that you be not judged. But when Jesus said those words, did he mean that we shouldn't judge sin? What does that verse really mean? John MacArthur answers those questions today on Grace to You as he continues his study titled, Mishandled. To find out why this verse is so often interpreted wrongly, follow along now with John MacArthur as he begins the lesson. I want to encourage you, if you will, with me to turn in your Bible to Matthew chapter 7. Now, we're going to look at the negative, what not to do, verses 1 to 6, and the principle appears in verse 1. Note it. Judge not.
Now you can stop there. That's the principle. Don't judge. Now you say, well you can't reduce all of human relations down to that.
Oh yes you can from the negative, as we shall see as we move along. Don't judge. Now there are many people who've misunderstood this. Tolstoy, for example, the Russian novelist said, Christ here totally forbids the human institution of any law court. Now that is a gross misunderstanding of this. But there are other people who equally misunderstand it only with another aberration. They say we should never criticize. We should never condemn anybody for anything.
We should never evaluate anything at all. We don't want to judge, lest we should be judged. Then we look at judge not. We know it doesn't mean that we're not to discriminate between truth and error. I mean that's infantile.
It is a child, according to Ephesians 4, that doesn't know the difference between good and evil, that becomes victimized and prey to Satan's cunning craftiness because of an inability to discern. We must discern. We must discriminate. We must evaluate. There are things we must judge. We are not to make an official judgment. We are not to make a hasty judgment. We're not to make unwarranted judgments. We're not to do that. And then worst of all, after we've made that judgment in our heart, we go tell people about it and we become a tail bearer or a gossiper. So we're not to do that. It gives three reasons why not.
And I'm going to go through these rapidly, so hang on to your seat. Number one, to make that kind of a judgment manifests an erroneous view of God, verse 1. Secondly, don't judge because it's an erroneous view of God and also an erroneous view of others, verse 2. You see, most people think that they can judge because they're under a different condition than everybody else is. The Pharisees thought they were exempt. They lived on some strata beyond the purview of any judgment.
I mean, they were up here where everything was fine and only people down here got it. But he says in verse 2, with what judgment you judge, you'll be judged, and with what measure you measure, it'll be measured to you again. You're going to get just what you give. Now some people think this is talking about human relationships. You judge somebody, they'll judge you the same way.
You measure out something to them, they'll measure it out to you the same way. And they keep it on a human level. There is a sense in which the way we treat people, they'll treat us.
That's true to some extent. Luke 6 38 says, give and it shall be given unto you, pressed down, shaken together and running over shall men give into your bosom. So there is a sense in which we will get reciprocation for the way we treat people. But that's not the heart of this verse at all.
That's to miss the point. Because, you see, how men treat us is not what motivates us, right? Paul says it is a small thing how you judge me.
That's a small issue with me. I mean, what people think of me is not a major restriction on my behavior. A man or a woman who walked with God is not so concerned about what men think as about what God thinks. And the great restriction on our life, the great confining element of our life is what God thinks. And what God feels about us. Oh, we're not indifferent to what men feel.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend. And we want to hear criticism like Psalm 141. Let the righteous smite me if I deserve it. It isn't that we're indifferent, but it is that more than anything else, we seek God and His judgment and His evaluation, as Paul said in 1 Corinthians 4. And so I believe it's talking about God's judgment.
And what he's saying is, and I want you to see this, a powerful statement. What judgment you judge, God will judge you with. And what measure you measure, God will measure to you again. In other words, God is going to evaluate you on the basis of your knowledge, your light. If you say, all right, I know enough to judge all of you people on this, then you prove you know enough to be judged on it yourself, right? I mean, if you're the guy who's going to be able to judge everybody else at that level, then you manifest evidence that you know enough to be judged for that same standard. That's why the Bible says to whom much is given, what?
Much is required. That's why the Bible says that when you trample underfoot the blood of the covenant and count the sacrifice of Christ, an unholy thing, and you reject the full gospel as the book of Hebrews says, you reject the whole knowledge of everything there is to know, and you reject all of that, you're going to receive the hottest hell and the sorest punishment of all. Because the more you reject, the greater evidence you give of guilt.
And that's really what he's saying. The more you know, the more you're responsible for it. So he's saying to them, look, you think that by knowing all of this stuff, you sit on a seat of judgment. And I'm telling you, by knowing all of that, you manifest the fact that you are responsible to have lived up to all of it. And if you haven't, you'll be judged on it all. You see, they had a wrong view of others.
They thought they were exempt and everybody else was going to get it. And he says, no, I don't have a double standard. You're going to be judged on the same basis that you're judging everybody else.
That's powerful. There's no double standard. We should not criticize because in criticizing we play God. And in criticizing, we assume that we're exempt from what other people are not exempt from and we miss the point. That's the wrong view of others.
They're not under us. They're equal with us. And God will judge us by the same standard. If you're negative, gossipy, tail-bearing, critical, judgmental, you're under the false illusion that you're exempt from judgment. For whatever you condemn in somebody else, you prove that you should be condemned for in your own life by virtue of such knowledge. Criticism then becomes a boomerang.
You throw it out and it comes right back. And unloving criticism will recoil on your own head at the hand of God. Finally, of these three reasons not to judge, when you critically judge other people, you manifest an erroneous view of yourself. I mean, are you so good that you can sit around checking out everybody else? I mean, you've got nothing to work on? I mean, you've got it all under control so that you can spend your time evaluating everyone else? Some of us would do well to take the time we spend criticizing other people and put it to action in prayer and confession of our own sin somewhere in a closet.
Because until we get our own life straightened out, we have little usefulness in trying to assist someone else. That is essentially what the Lord says in verses 3 and 4. Listen to it. And this is like a cartoon.
This is so bizarre. And why beholdest thou the mote? And that means a splinter or a twig. A splinter might be a good one, but it's the idea of not something that's mammoth, but something that's the size of a twig. It's not a little tiny speck.
It's something substantial. I mean, if you got it in your eye, it would be horrendous. But anyway, so let's call it a splinter in your brother's eye. And you're not considering the plank, the timber, the beam, like a beam underneath a ceiling in your own eye.
And you see the picture? Here's a guy with a twig in his eye and he's miserable. I mean, you get anything in your eye and it's really... you get a little tiny thing in there and it drives you crazy. But imagine a twig or a splinter in your eye and here comes a guy I'll help you and sticking out of his eye is an eight-foot two-by-four. I mean, you can't even get over there to help the guy, let alone see what's going on. It's the blind leading the blind.
Or, how wilt thou say to thy brother, verse 4, let me pull the splinter out of your eye and behold, you've got a two-by-four in your own eye. Ridiculous. It's comedic.
It's so bizarre. We are unfit judges, not only because we are fallible and we can't play the part of God and because we are partial in our own favor and tend to think we have a different standard than everybody else, but because we are hopelessly and utterly blind when it comes to perception. Because, listen to me, as soon as you approach someone to judge them or to criticize them or to force them to your standard, you give evidence of the fact that you're blind or you'd be working on your own plank instead of their splinter.
See, that's the point. Usually the people who see everything wrong in somebody else's life see absolutely nothing wrong in their own life. And the only gross, vile, wretched sin that never sees anything wrong in its own life is what? Self-righteousness.
And that's what the plank is. As long as you're self-righteous, as long as you're spiritually proud, as long as you set yourself up as a judge, you can't help anybody out with any sin. It is interesting, though, that in the Lord's caricature, that is a far worse sin than any other because it plays God. It is the vilest of all sins. Do you realize that every situation in the New Testament, Jesus condemned sin, not the sinner, except one, self-righteousness, and there He blasted the sinner with the sin because it is the worst sin of all.
It plays God. It denies the gospel. It denies the need for redemption. It says, I'm holy like I am. And so the plank is self-righteous, and as long as you're self-righteous and you think you're all right and you never bother dealing with your own sin, there's no way you're going to help anybody else.
You're blind. It is the sin of subtle self-righteous criticism. And it's a plank in your own eye, and you cannot help anybody else.
Listen, if you're more interested in the principle than the personality, you'll deal with your own problem, not the other person, not the other person. If you're really concerned about righteousness, if you're really concerned about judgment, if you're really concerned about truth, then you're going to see it first in your own life, aren't you? Because if you have the perception to know truth and see it, and you have the perception to see righteousness and hunger for it, where you're going to see it is right where it is most obvious, and that's in your own heart. Immediately we run into two dangers right now. We say, I'm not going to judge.
I hear that message. I'm going to go in a corner and confess my sin and take care of me, boy. I'm not going to get into this. And immediately we run into two dangers. Danger number one is we will not be willing to confront a sinning brother. We'll say, boy, I'm not going to... Oh, no, I'm not going to judge.
Judge not lest you be judged. Who am I to say we certainly don't want to do that? And danger number two, we will not discern or discriminate at all. We'll say, well, we don't want to get into that, boy.
We'll just, oh, whatever you say, we'll just take everything in. And those are the two dangers, and we would be devastated because if we don't confront sin, then leaven is never put out of the lump, right? And the church is going to get corrupted. And if we don't discriminate the truth from the false, we're all going to go waltzing down the line into heresy. So the two dangers are that we would fail to deal with a brother in sin, and we would fail to deal with a heretic or one who would corrupt the faith or one who would mock the faith or blaspheme the faith, and we must do that.
And so the Lord closes then with an injunction to cover both of those, and it is a masterful balancing. First of all, He says we must still, even though we have to be careful, we must maintain the tension and the balance so that we still reprove and rebuke a sinning brother. Verse 5, first cast the beam out of thine own eye. Now He doesn't stop with it's in your eye. He says get it out of your eye. Get rid of yourself, righteousness. Get rid of your pride.
How do you do that? I believe it's a matter of confession of sin, don't you? I think first you have to look and see that it's there. Verse 3, considerist, not the plank in your own eye. And the word considerist there means to perceive in a meditative, prolonged way. It is used, for example, in Luke 12, 27, consider the lilies in James 1, 23, as we behold our face in a glass.
It is a constant look, a look of understanding, a look of comprehension. And so He's saying take a good look. Don't you see you've got a spiritual problem yourself? Don't you see you've got an ungodly self-righteousness that makes you judgmental and critical of other people? Consider that. Having considered it, you go to verse 5, cast it out.
And how do you do that? By confessing it to the Lord. 1 Corinthians 11, 21, if we judge ourselves, we won't be judged, right?
God's not going to have to chasten the sin of self-righteousness if we deal with it. And so I bring my life fully to the judgment of God. And I ask Him to cleanse, to purify, to remove it. And once I've done that, I can move on to verse 5 and 11, then shalt thou see clearly to cast the mote out of thy brother's eye. Listen, we've got to get the thing out of our brother's eye, don't we? We can't let him go on in sin. That's to hate him, Leviticus 19, 17 says.
We've got to get it out, but we've got to deal with first ourselves. Listen to how David put it, Psalm 51, Create in me, O Lord, a what? Clean heart.
Did you hear that? Create in me, O Lord, a clean heart. Now listen, then will I teach transgressors thy ways, and sinners shall be converted to thee. But there's no way to teach a transgressor the right way, and there's no way to convert a sinner to God until I have in my own life a clean heart. He's not saying don't help a sinning brother.
He's saying get your own act together first, because then your help is going to be the right kind. It's going to be the humble help. It's going to be the meek and quiet spirit. If you restore a brother, it says in Galatians 6, 1, Restore him in love, in meekness and fear, considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. You don't come to a sinning brother on top, you come from underneath in humility.
Jesus said to Peter, and this is a very potent passage, in Luke 22 He said, Peter, Satan has desired to have you that he may sift you like wheat. He's going to find out what in you is real, but I have prayed for you that your faith fail not. Now listen to this, and when you are recovered, strengthen the brethren. The point is you couldn't strengthen the brethren until he got recovered himself. He was useless until his own life was made right. Ye who are spiritual, Galatians 6, 1, restore such a one.
We have to be right before we can help. So the key is a selfless, humble love. We're not to be a judge, playing God. We're not to be a superior, thinking there's a double standard. We're not to be a hypocrite, blaming everybody else and not seeing the sin in our own life. But we are to be a brother, and having dealt with that sin, we are to deal in brotherly love. The second danger is that people who say, well, judge not, judge not, like today in this flabby, sentimental day, they say, well, we don't want to discriminate.
No doctrine. We don't want to get anybody upset. We just want to love everybody.
We'll all get together. They don't discern and they don't discriminate. And then verse 6 comes like a thunderbolt to them.
Listen to it. Give not that which is holy unto the dogs. Neither cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them unto their feet and turn again and lacerate you.
Now listen, this is a fascinating verse, and I want to pull it together for you because I think it will really open your understanding. Dogs in those days were not the little, you know, nice smelling painted nails, rhinestone collars, funny little sweater things that flip-flop around the houses today. They were not the little lap dog, pet dog things, you know, that we spend a fortune on and all. Dogs in those days, apart from the dogs that worked with the flocks, and of course in Job it talks about the dog of the flocks.
It would be a trained dog that worked with the sheep. But the dogs in the cities were a mongrel, ugly, big bunch of dogs that scavenged around the city and ate the garbage. And they were a horrible, ugly bunch of wild dogs. The Jews believed them to be filthy.
The Old Testament talks about that. Unclean, Psalms say they threaten, they howl, they snarl, they are a greedy, shameless group. They are called contemptible in 1 Samuel. Dogs were an ugly kind of a being. They weren't anything like we have today except for those that worked with the sheep.
They would be pariahs, savage mongrels, lived in the garbage heaps. And holy things were not to be thrown to the dogs. What are the holy things? Well, when you came to the temple to make a sacrifice, sacrifice would be presented to the Lord. You'd keep a part to take home. A part would go to the priest for his meal, and a part would go on the altar. The part that went on the altar was for God, and it would be consumed on the altar as an offering to the Lord. Now, no priest would take the part on the altar. He might throw the bones left from the part that he took, and you might throw the bones left from the part you took out the opening in the house so the dogs could have something to eat, the wild dogs roaming the streets. But no way was a priest going to take that which was offered to God on the altar and throw it to the dogs. That would be a horrible desecration by an unclean, filthy, vile animal.
I wouldn't do that. Jesus says, anybody knows you don't throw the holy part of a sacrifice to a bunch of wild dogs. In other words, the Lord is saying, look, you better be discriminating in your ministry. There are some people who will hear your criticisms and who will respond to your work and respond to your word and respond to your efforts, but don't waste the precious truths on those who would shred it and tear it without a thought of its significance.
And then he gives him a second illustration. Now, the pigs in those days weren't quite as domesticated perhaps as today, and you get a bunch of hogs mad at you, you could be in real trouble. You come out pretending to feed them and throw them pearls. You say, who'd do that? Nobody would do that. That's the point. I mean, a man would have to liquidate his entire fortune to get just one pearl from the Persian Sea or the Indian Ocean.
They were priceless things, incredible things. Who's going to throw a pearl to a hog? A hog can't appreciate a pearl.
True? A hog's going to think it's a big piece of barley, and when it isn't, boy, it's going to go bang, bang, and you're going to get it. See? Hogs don't appreciate pearls. Don't waste things on those who don't appreciate them. Therefore, you're going to have to discern and discriminate that. This is a tremendous truth, people.
You see, we have discrimination, so we have to evaluate. Hogs were the chosen refuge of the demons in Matthew 8. They were contemptible and filthy in Jewish eyes. The prodigal sent us to eat pig slop and live with the hogs that reached the pits of Jewish culture. They were considered unclean, and in Isaiah it says that the eating of hogs' flesh is an abomination to God.
Now, who are the hogs and the dogs? Look at 2 Peter 2, and I'll show you. 2 Peter 2, it says in this chapter that there were false prophets among the people, and there will be false teachers. 2 Peter 2, 1, and verse 2 says, And many will follow their pernicious ways.
Listen. Many are going to follow the pernicious ways of false prophets, false teachers. So all the people who are involved in the false systems of religion, the adamant, covetous, lustful, evil, vile people, such as those who were drowned in the flood, verse 5, those who were destroyed in Sodom and Gomorrah for their homosexuality, those who walk in the lust of uncleanness, who are self-willed, who mock angels, who are scabs, calls them scabs, filth spots. Verse 14, cursed children in the way of Balaam, verse 17, wells without water, liars, and so forth, and who have, verse 20, escaped the pollutions of the world through a head knowledge of the Lord Jesus, but have turned away from it. And then verse 22, It has happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again, and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire. You can take one of those street dogs and bring him in and try to change his diet, but he'll go right back to his vomit.
You can take a hog in the house, clean it up, leave the door open, it'll be right back in the slop. Hogs and dogs are those who, having known the truth, have followed the way of false teachers and false prophets and liars and deceivers. That's a hard, hard word from the Lord because it's difficult to distinguish so much in our own mind that we have to be dependent on the Lord. When the disciples were sent out in Matthew chapter 10, he said, if you come to a place and they don't hear your message, you leave that place and you shake the dust off your feet. Listen, Jesus was patient with Peter and he was patient with Thomas, but he didn't say one single word to Herod Antipas because Herod Antipas had a hard heart and he didn't waste the pearls, see? And the apostle Paul in the 18th chapter of Acts 1, and he preached to the Jews and they blasphemed and they mocked and they rejected, and he said, your blood be on you, from now on I go to the Gentiles. He turned his back and walked out. You say, well, what about them? Well, listen, later some of them were saved, but they had to be saved by coming to the gospel, not by the gospel coming to them.
Paul turned his back and walked out. There comes a time, you see, when we have to be careful. In John's epistle, he says, if somebody comes to your door and he belongs to one of these false systems, don't let him in your house and don't you bid him Godspeed. You say, well, what about his soul? Maybe I could win him to the Lord.
You let God take care of that. Don't you let him trample the pearl. Don't you throw holy things to dogs.
Now, what is it saying? What is the holy thing and what is the pearl? I believe without a doubt it's the word of God.
It's the truth of the word of God encompassing the gospel and all of the contents of the Scripture. We must make judgments, beloved, but they must be proper righteous judgments. We must discriminate and we must deal with sin in the life of another brother or sister. But we must never be judgmental and critical because we set ourselves up as some self-righteous judge. And I'll tell you frankly, folks, it all comes down to an attitude, and I say this because I really believe this.
It all comes down to an attitude. Are you criticizing? Are you evaluating? Are you discerning? Are you discriminating in order to know the truth and honor God? Or are you doing it to exalt yourself and hurt somebody else?
Ultimately, it comes to that decision. This is Grace to You with John MacArthur. Thanks for being with us. John's been our featured speaker over five decades. He's also chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary, and his current study is titled, Miss Handel. Now John, before you first preach this lesson from Matthew 7, I know you put in hours of preparation. In fact, Matthew 7, I think some of your most important sermons are right there. And I think about the hours you must put into preparation. Talk about what that looks like week after week, how you study the Bible, how do you make sure you can accurately explain it to others.
What does that process look like? Well, you know, when I come to a passage, first of all, I read the passage repeatedly. I read it over and read it over until I have it in my mind. And because I'm going through books, I already know the previous passage, so I'm in the flow of the book.
And they are books, by the way, 66 books, and they go from a beginning to an end. So there's a chronological flow in the intention of the author. So once I'm in the flow and I come to the next passage, I read it until I'm familiar with it. And then I go to original sources. I'll go back, like in the case of Matthew, to my Greek New Testament, and I'll dig around in all the resources there so that I know I understand the original text. And while I'm doing that, I write down notes on eight and a half by eleven paper. And then I pull down commentaries off my shelf, and I read probably, I don't know, 10, 12 commentaries on Matthew, and looking for insights and adding those to my notes.
So now I've got kind of the original language notes, and I've got commentary notes. And then where I find theological issues, I might pull the theology, the big book on biblical doctrine I would use now that I wrote with Dr. Mayhew. And I would look more closely at the theological issues, take some notes on that. And my whole goal in that is to understand the passage, to understand the passage. That is the goal, not to make a sermon.
The sermon comes out of my understanding of the passage. And as I've said before, I ask questions of the text. What about this? What about this? What about this? And when I run out of questions, I know I've got everything that I need, and I can put it into a sermon. That may sound like a difficult process.
It's not, and it's a habit that you can develop. We want to send you a booklet free called How to Study the Bible. It kind of follows the pattern that I've just talked about. Maybe you can't do the original language approach to it, but there are very basic principles in understanding the Bible, interpreting the Bible, and getting to the meaning of the Bible. And we share them in this little booklet called How to Study the Bible.
Good news, free to anyone who asks. Call, write, or email us today. Yes, friend, and I promise you this booklet will be a big help to you or any other student of Scripture. Again, we'll send you a free copy of How to Study the Bible.
Just ask for it when you contact us today. Call our toll-free number, 800-55-GRACE, or go to our website, gty.org. How to Study the Bible gives you clear, practical guidance on the proper way to interpret the Bible. It also shows you some of the common mistakes people make when studying Scripture and how to avoid them. Again, this booklet is our gift to you. Call our toll-free number, 800-55-GRACE, or go to our website, gty.org.
And keep in mind right now, nearly everything we sell is 25% off the regular price. That includes John's systematic theology, titled Biblical Doctrine. Biblical Doctrine looks at the crucial doctrines in Scripture, and it answers questions you might have or questions you may be asked about the Christian faith. To get a copy of Biblical Doctrine or the MacArthur Study Bible at a 25% discount, call us at 800-55-GRACE, or go online to gty.org. Now for John MacArthur and the entire staff, I'm Phil Johnson, encouraging you to tune in tomorrow when John looks at Christ's most famous and frequently misinterpreted parable, the Parable of the Prodigal Son. Make sure you're here for another 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth, one verse at a time, on Grace To You.
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