1Co 5:12-13 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? (13) God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”
I was reading a commentary on Matthew this morning and came across the following statement by the author:
God is the one truly competent Judge, for he alone knows all things. Every human judgment is based on imperfect knowledge. We make every decision on insufficient evidence. Not so with God. He knows all that is, was, and shall be. [Matthew: Reformed Expository Commentary, Daniel Doriani]
Now, this statement is true, in part at least. God is indeed the only truly competent judge. He is the only one who knows all things. This cannot be said of any human. If perfection in judgment is the subject of discussion, yes – it is only to be found in God.
If you have been or currently are the target of a domestic abuser, sociopath, narcissist, or other generally evildoer, you have probably had this kind of statement thrown at you to keep you quiet. “Only God is able to judge.” “You cannot judge because you do not know that person’s heart.” Judge not. Yada, yada, yada.
What is conveniently omitted from such claims of course are the many verses in Scripture, such as the one quoted above, that not only tell us we can judge another person, but that we must do so. Here is another in the very next chapter of 1 Corinthians:
1Co 6:1-5 When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? (2) Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? (3) Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! (4) So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? (5) I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers,
The implication, which is entirely illogical, in the “only God is competent to judge” nonsense is that perfect knowledge is required in order to make a judgement. But clearly it is not required:
Mat 7:18-20 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.
I do not need to know everything that is possible to know about apple trees before I can make a very judgmental statement: “This is a very bad apple.” It really isn’t true that my judgment of a bad apple is based on “imperfect knowledge” as this commentator claims. While my knowledge may be incomplete as to the total knowledge of apples, the data I have is accurate. That is a wormhole. This apple is small and scaly and flavorless. Those are perfectly true observations and they lead me to a perfectly true judgment – bad apple.
If perfectly complete knowledge of some person or event in our universe were required before a judgment could be made, thus leaving God the only one able to judge, consider the implications:
- Civil courts would have to be closed because reaching a verdict would be impossible
- I could not make any judgments based upon my observations – “that is a good sound car. I am going to buy it.”
- Science, in fact, would have to be discarded.
- Knowledge, in other words, would be impossible for human beings.
- Morality and law would necessarily be null and void. After all, discerning what is right and wrong requires making a judgment.
This kind of thinking, as bizarre as it may sound, is actually permeating our world today. “You cannot judge what the United States Constitution really means because that is a judgment. We just have to make it a fluid, changing, adapting document which develops as time rolls on.” We are seeing the chaos and insanity that such thinking results in.
So the next time some pastor or counselor or fellow Christian pulls this “we are not competent to judge” card on you, well… laugh at them. “What did you just say? Only God is able to judge? We are not able to judge that a person is evil? Is that what you said?” And then go right on seeing clearly that your abuser is indeed an evil person. Make your decisions – your judgments – based upon that sound truth.