A Common Claim – “Only God can Judge”

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.

However…

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.

 

 

9 thoughts on “A Common Claim – “Only God can Judge”

  1. anonymous

    So many of these things have been taught and taught and a person doesn’t even recall such until seeing such posted here. Yes, the whole “only God can judge” “only God knows the heart” message. And it’s harped on to a disproportionate degree where the victim feels guilty, ashamed, and almost haughty to have been judging her abuser (or other abusers) as being evil, wicked persons, very much children of the devil.

    Thankfully you put your stuff on SermonAudio and your 2 blogs. Going back to prior churches is no longer an option, as it really is the ‘grace-on-steroids’ stuff that keeps being preached, sin leveling and all. Not so with your content, thanking God I found your stuff.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Jeff Crippen

      Thank you anonymous. Yes, going back just isn’t an option. Sitting through sermons and classes that keep pounding on these false doctrines becomes impossible once we see them for what they are and once we have experienced the damage they do.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Amy

    Excellent post, as always!

    What I find ironic, is a Christian telling a victim of abuse not to judge her abuser and yet isn’t that exactly what they are doing to the victim?? They judge the victim exposing their abuser and for choosing to divorce. Every stone of judgment thrown at an abuse victim by other Christians only serves to weigh that person down. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they covered the victim in love instead!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. cindy burrell

    It is truly ironic for the Christian know-it-alls to say that we mustn’t judge, for if they are decree that all – even those who have proven themselves untrustworthy or even wicked – should be viewed and treated as honest, godly people, haven’t they made a judgment in their favor?

    “He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous, both of them alike are an abomination to the Lord.” Proverbs 17:15

    Liked by 2 people

  4. walkinginlight

    Yes Pastor Crippen, many churches do not have the heart of the Lord. They uphold the wicked because standing with the innocent one it too costly. They must not take the scripture in revelation to seriously where the Lord condemns being a coward and punishes these people! The Lord gave me that scripture in Proverbs many years ago with a horrible situation I was dealing with. I have seen people who have done rotten evil things treated like a saint, without any repentance. It is a disgrace and the final trumpet can not blow soon enough for me!
    MARANATHA!!!

    Like

    1. Jeff Crippen

      Indeed. In my opinion, observing churches over these last 36 years as a pastor, local churches are getting worse and worse. It is not my imagination that it is very, very hard now to find a real church with a real pastor and real Christians.

      Like

  5. anonymous

    Given some of us are now ‘unchurched’ and part of your online congregation, what’s a person to do about Communion? Regular partaking in the Holy Sacrament is impossible if a person is not a part of a church. I don’t know what to do about that. Any thoughts, Pastor Crippen?

    Like

    1. Jeff Crippen

      Anonymous- That is a very good question. This issue must be one that many Christians down through the history of the church had to face as they were persecuted and found themselves isolated. First of all, the observance of the Lord’s table does not require a human priesthood for its administration. By priesthood in this context, I mean some man made priesthood that supposedly has the sole power to administer the bread and cup. There is no priesthood in the New Covenant except the priesthood of Christ in which all believers share. Believers, in other words, are qualified to administer and partake even if they are all alone.

      So, as a suggestion, this is what I would propose. That, on the Lord’s Day, you listen to the sermon we post at sermonaudio.com/crc and have your own bread and cup as part of that time. We used to broadcast our Sunday services live on sermon audio but there were just too many technical and electronic glitches to deal with. Also, live broadcasts face the problem of different time zones. I try to get the PDF and the audio formats of the sermons online by Sunday afternoon.

      Perhaps we need to consider using the Sermon Audio video format if that would help our online congregation feel more like a part of us, which of course you all are.

      Like

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