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  To read the first part of this study click here (May 24, 2007). 

  The picture to the right sounds somewhat Biblical, but it is not.  It is a subtle misquote of what is found in Matthew 7:1-2 (Click here to read it).  Some take the view that if they don’t judge (Evaluate, assess, discern, or appraise) other people’s conduct, they are free to act in whatever manner they feel comfortable with.  I’m talking about Christians.

  The idea found in Scripture is that there is conduct acceptable as Christian and there is conduct that is not acceptable.  It is Biblical to assess, discern, evaluate, and determine if/when the conduct of another believer is consistent with the teachings of Christ.

  Paul, who is second only to Jesus in understanding and explaining Scripture, affirmed this in the book of Galatians.  Paul was a big proponent of grace, forgiveness, and liberty… however… he was also a huge proponent of right conduct.  And when improper conduct was engaged in by believers he was quick to correct their error in his letters.

  Paul correctly judged Peter’s conduct as improper (See point 4 below).  He also judged a whole church, and a member of that church, as engaging in improper conduct (Click here).  Christians are also warned that their freedom in Christ is not to be used as a cover to sin (Click here).  Thus there are times when it is appropriate to determine, discern, judge that another believer’s actions are not in keeping with the Gospel.

  I would like to take a few paragraphs to show how Paul… a huge proponent of grace… wrote in the book of Galatians (A book affirming a Christian’s freedom and liberty) that there is proper and improper conduct for believers.  And how there are times when assessing (judging) another person’s conduct is called for as part of the Christian faith.  All references are found in Galatians…

  1:6-9.  Paul came to the conclusion that the believers in Galatia were not being wise in their acceptance of the teaching and doctrines being presented to them by false teachers.  In verse 9 Paul writes that if a person preaches another gospel, they are to be accursed.  Thus Paul is judging, discerning, evaluating both the Galatians and those who were preaching false doctrine.  He is writing that the Galatians should have made this determination themselves.

  2:1-2.  Paul submitted what he preached to those who were influential in the church for the purpose of making sure his message was consisitent with the Gospel.  Thus he requested to be judged as to the correctness of his doctrine by those in the church.  There are times when believers are to submit their life to the evaluation (judgment) of other believers.

  2:7-9.  The Apostles evaluated (Assessed, judged) Paul and his message and found it consistent with the Gospel.  Note: Those who desire to be “spot on” in their theology and practice have no problem being checked out (judged) by others in these areas.

  2:11-14.  Paul evaluated (judged) that Peter’s conduct was not in keeping with the Gospel.  Peter was being a hypocrite… and Paul confronted him with his error.  I’m sure we would agree that Paul did the right thing in evaluating Peter’s conduct as unacceptable for a believer.  We certainly wouldn’t have opposed Paul’s determination that conduct contrary to the Gospel was something he shouldn’t have done.  Certainly the most loving thing Paul could do was help Peter see through his blind spot so that he could correct his indescretion in order for the church not to be harmed by his hypocrisy.  There are times when judging another person’s conduct is proper and called for.

  3:1.  Here Paul judges the Galatians conduct, beliefs, and acceptance of heresy by confronting them with their error.  I’m sure we’d agree that if heresy were to make it’s way into the church that it should be confronted and opposed.  The only way heresy can be identified and opposed is when believers are discerning about what is being taught… which would require evaluating (judging) the person who teaches heretical doctrine.

  4:8-11.  Read verses 10-11 closely.  Paul has determined that the Galatians conduct was not in keeping with the Gospel.  Otherwise he would not be coming to the conclusion that he labored in vain among them.

  4:20.  Paul could not have written this unless he had evaluated (judged) the Galatians in some way.  Paul’s words here is another way of saying “Your conduct is not in keeping with the Gospel” (Philippians 1:27).

  5:1.  This is the idea of freedom in Christ.  See comments below on 5:13.

  5:12.  This is a strong statement made by Paul regarding those who were teaching false doctrine to the Galatians.  The Apostle was so angry with them that he wanted them to do something abhorrent to themselves (Click here).  Consider that Paul writes this in the middle of a book talking about grace, freedom, and liberty.  The only way Paul could have written this was if he had determined (judged) that these men were in opposition to the Gospel.

  5:13.  While believers are free… there is conduct that is improper for believers.  This kind of conduct can be observed by others and deemed to be improper… which is what Paul did regarding both the Galatians’ acceptance of false teachers and regarding the false teachers themselves.  See Romans 6:1-2!  There is conduct Christians have no business engaging in!

  5:18-21.  Here Paul writes strongly concerning judgment in relation to people with conduct and attitudes that were improper and unchristian.  He writes that they will not be in heaven… that they are not saved.  Paul could not have made that assessment without coming to a conclusion by discerning (judging) that the conduct of the person exposed their lost condition.

  6:1-2.  Make sure to read this.  This could not be done unless people in the church came to a conclusion about their brothers and sisters in Christ that their conduct was not in keeping with the Gospel… that their conduct was unacceptable.  In other words, they had to make a judgment about the person.  BUT NOTICE that the goal is reconciliation and restoration!  It is not condemnation for the purposes of expelling them out of the church.  Notice also that the person going to those in error are to first look at themselves closely with an attitude of brokenness and contrition.  Judging is not for the purpose of condemning another in this context.  No… it is for the purpose of loving the person enough to show them their error and love them back into the fellowship.

  “Judge not lest ye be judged” does NOT mean that Christians are never to evaluate, discern, assess, or determine whether or not another person’s conduct is proper or in keeping with the Gospel.  It means that the way we judge people will be applied to us.  There are two things a Christians cannot discern with absolute certainty… 1) The motivation of the heart {Including our own.  Click here.}, 2) If a person is saved.

  Christians are called on to judge rightly… in regards to proper and improper conduct… in regards to sound doctrine versus false doctrine… for the purpose of helping other Christians in an attitude of humility and grace.