Are we supposed to judge our brethren in the church? I know that some are “measuring the Church” and many find fault with the ministry and fellow brethren. But I can’t help but wonder how that works and what God thinks about it?
The word does say that you will know them by their fruits.
(Mat 7:15) Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
(Mat 7:16) Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
Referring of course to False Prophets and by implication false brethren. We are to beware of them showing that we should avoid them. But should we judge or condemn them? Notice the words of Christ;
Mat 7:1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.
Mat 7:2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
So how does this work? In context again it is showing that while we can judge what is sin even in our brethren we are not to judge in the meaning of condemning them.
Paul tells us that it is an important part of spiritual maturity to have the ability to discern(one of the meanings of of the word Judge) right from wrong.
Heb_5:14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
But now look at the wrong use of the word judge.
Rom 14:4 Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.
Rom 14:10 But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
Rom 14:11 For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.
Rom 14:12 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.
Rom 14:13 Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.
Clearly God is saying to us that we do not judge or condemn our brethren even if they are committing sins. They are after all HIS servants and it is HIS prerogative to judge them.
We are to judge or discern when there are bad fruits but we dare not ASSUME to know what is in the hearts of those who are producing these fruits. Can we talk badly about them as if they were lying to us or trying to teach us something that they do not believe to be true?
We call a man a liar if we judge what he is saying to be false. But, what if he believes it to be true? In my understanding and I am open to comments on this a man is a liar ONLY if he knows that what he is saying is not true. He may be teaching something that is false. But he is a liar only if he KNOWS it is false. And brethren without evidence showing it to be otherwise we cannot judge him to be a liar because as stated above we cannot know his heart. We do not know how God is working with him to bring him to the truth.
For that matter sometimes God will allow false doctrine to be preached in order to TEST us. He will allow even a brother to think something is true when it is not in order to test not only him but those of us who hear. In His view of things He can always bring the truth back to that brother. We simply do not have enough understanding to judge the person, only the sin.
Jas 4:11 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.
Jas 4:12 There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?
We are commanded to not even speak evil of one another as that is considered judging the law. God is the one who decides whether we are keeping the law or not. Because only HE knows our hearts.
So we have to be very careful when we are judging Church groups, ministers or brethren. Are we pointing out sins and false doctrines or are we spending our time condemning, imputing motives, calling them liars, the people who are running the corporate groups or the ministers or brethren where we hear wrong doctrine or actions. Doing so in my estimation is speaking evil of our brethren and we are commanded to not do that.
Here are two related post about measuring the Church;