How to escape God’s judgment for judging others
The sin of judging others should not be taken likely. It is the root of many different forms of malice, such as slander, discrimination, racism, mockery, hatred, bitterness, murder, and so forth. A judgmental person turns a blind eye to God’s grace towards us and presumes to have the right to take over Jesus’ judgment seat. It is little wonder that we will reap various curses as a result. God’s Word says that those who judge and condemn others will themselves be judged and condemned by God.
Romans 14:10-12 ESV Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.
Luke 6:37 NLT “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven.
Being judgmental is a very real temptation for many Christians. We believe we know what’s right and wrong because we rely on the ultimate Law from God. As we strive to do all that is in the Bible, we may judge those who don’t. Because we set high personal standards to be “good” and “holy”, we may judge those who aren’t.
The grave error here is the focus on ourselves. Every single human being has “fallen short of God’s glorious standard” and imperfect people will pass imperfect judgments. It takes a perfect Person like Jesus to judge righteously.
Romans 3:23-24 NLT For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.
As followers of Jesus Christ, we are called to focus on entrusting all judgments to Jesus alone. He is the “only one Lawgiver and Judge who is able to save and to destroy.” We are not the ones who set up God’s eternal Law. Neither did we create mankind. Therefore, we are not in the position to judge anyone.
James 4:11-12 ESV Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?
The only time we are to judge another person is to expose evil within the body of Christ before it spreads like cancer. This means we are to judge, confront, and even condemn those who call themselves Christ-followers and yet continue to blatantly tell lies and sin. We are called to consider “purging” them from our circles before the Body of Christ becomes infected and diseased.
For more, please see Beware the 5 instinctive ways we judge others
Ephesians 5:11 ESV Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.
1 Corinthians 5:11-13 ESV But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”
The subconscious emotions that drive us to judge
We often think that our judgments of other people are based on sound reasoning. The truth is, it is our subconscious emotions that lead the charge.
Judging others makes us feel righteous, superior, validated, safer, or included. It can make us feel good because it appeals to the “desires and inclinations of our sinful nature”. It is little wonder that the pattern of judging others is now so ingrained in society that we may even feel guilty, weak, or strange for not having a negative opinion about anyone like everyone else.
Ephesians 2:2-5 NLT You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)
As followers of Jesus Christ, we need to remember to act as children of God and not follow the world around us, which is “under the control of the evil one,” Satan.
1 John 5:19 NLT We know that we are children of God and that the world around us is under the control of the evil one.
1 John 3:10 ESV By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.
The Bible calls us to turn away from such passions and no longer “live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil.” Unless we recognise and steer the emotions that drive our judgmental attitudes, we are in grave danger of becoming blind to our own sinful nature and being corrupted by Satan.
It is for this reason that the Bible expressly warns us to remain sober-minded at all times because Satan knows that the best time to enslave us is when we are so “intoxicated” and overcome by our emotions that we can’t see or think straight. In fact, this is when we need to be on the highest alert because this is precisely when the devil will bombard us with thoughts that are judgmental and vengeful. The devil will tempt us to become an accuser, just like himself. God’s Word points out that when we go on sinning and condemning other people as Satan does, we will become “children of the devil.”
1 Peter 5:8 ESV Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
2 Peter 2:19 ESV … For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.
How we incur God’s judgment on ourselves
1. We glorify the work of the devil in others
People are the product of worldly influences and circumstances. When we judge them for their behaviour and choices, we focus on how they have allowed themselves to be influenced by Satan, whom the Bible calls the god of this world. When we choose only to see them as such, we indirectly glorify Satan because we “decide” that Satan has more power than Jesus. We also lose sight of how they are originally a son or daughter of God and still bear His image. Can we expect God to reward such an attitude?
2 Corinthians 4:3-4 ESV And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
2. We will reap the judgments we sow, to the same degree
God is our true and just Witness, Defender, and Prosecutor. He will judge those who judge and condemn us and treat them as they have treated us.
Revelation 16:7 NLT And I heard a voice from the altar, saying, “Yes, O Lord God, the Almighty, your judgments are true and just.”
At the same time, we can expect God to judge us according to the standard we judge and treat others. The more merciful we are, the more merciful God will be towards us in return. The more judgment and condemnation we pour onto others, the more God will judge and condemn us in return.
Matthew 7:2 NLT For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.
James 2:12-13 ESV So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
3. We become blind to our own sins and distant from God
We cannot judge others without idolising ourselves to some degree.
We use our own standards, gifts, personal laws, biblical knowledge, or our pain as our benchmarks, and reject God’s Word. We choose to overturn the Holy Spirit’s convictions to love our enemies but judge them instead. In the process, we become blind to our own sins, incapable of judging ourselves with a sober mind. Our hearts become hardened to our sins and we grow more and more distant from God.
Matthew 7:2-5 ESV Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
Romans 12:3 ESV For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
Isaiah 59:1-2 ESV Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.
4. We end up judging ourselves too
Once we form a hardened pattern of judging others, we cannot help but subconsciously judge ourselves too. We start to become more uncomfortable in our own skin and find ourselves striving harder and harder to allay our internal anxieties. We don’t experience genuine deep joy or peace that surpasses all understanding.
Titus 3:11 NLT For people like that have turned away from the truth, and their own sins condemn them.
Philippians 4:5-7 NIV Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
5. We perpetuate vicious cycles of judgments in our own families
We often learn to judge from other people, and then go on to perpetuate the same culture of judgments by continuing the very same pattern in our own families and down to our next generation.
Exodus 34:6-7 ESV The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”
The importance of self-awareness and self-reflection
All of us would like to have God’s blessing to “run over and pour into our laps.” This, however, comes with a condition; that we are “kind to those who are unthankful and wicked.” God rewards goodness and mercy, not judgment and condemnation.
Luke 6:35-38 NLT “Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate. “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven. Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.”
Being kind and merciful requires us to make conscious choices because our sinful fleshly nature will automatically self-elevate, self-protect, self-justify, and hunger for revenge. This is why we need to offer our entire bodies (which includes our hearts and minds) as living sacrifices to God and be led by the Holy Spirit so we “do not gratify the desires of the flesh.”
Galatians 5:16-17 ESV But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.
Romans 12:1-2 NLT I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
It also requires us to be aware of our emotions before they run ahead of us – and lead us back into Satan’s traps. This is not to say we are to deny how we feel. The Bible tells us to “be angry” but “not to sin”. We can acknowledge our hot emotions but not allow the ensuing thoughts to control us. To do this, we need the Holy Spirit’s help to teach us and guide us. This way, we will always bear His fruit; “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control”.
Ephesians 4:26-27 ESV Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.
Galatians 5:22-23 ESV But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
When we yield our spirit to the Holy Spirit’s guidance, we will have sufficient self-control to not judge others and not sin against God. We will not become “fools who give full vent to our spirits” but instead can mature to become “a wise person who quietly holds it back.”
2 Timothy 1:7 ESV or God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
Proverbs 29:11 ESV A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.
Those of us with a hardened habit of judging others, however, will be poor judges of our own true desires and emotions. Thankfully, we can turn to the Holy Spirit to lead us to the truth. Here are some questions we can ask Him.
1 Corinthians 2:10 ESV These things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.
1. ”Holy Spirit, do I follow this world to judge others?”
The peer pressure to join the world in sin is always present, especially if the people around us are very judgmental. Family, co-workers, and friends make cutting remarks about other people on a regular basis and laugh at them. When we refuse to join in with them, they may turn on us to judge and mock us too.
Reminder: When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, we no longer belong to this world. Satan is the god of this world. God is the Lord of lords and King of kings. We now answer to Someone much greater than the devil. Therefore, we need to be careful not to mindlessly copy the behavior and customs of this world.
Revelation 17:14 ESV They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful.”
Romans 12:2 NLT Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
2. “Holy Spirit, do I judge others in preemptive self-defence?”
We sometimes judge others because we are afraid they judge us.
Reminder: God is our true Defender. He will keep us from harm if we trust Him. We should not fear people. Let us ask Him to show us what our deep fears are so we can surrender and cast them to Jesus, who promises to shoulder our burdens with us.
Psalm 121:1-4 ESV … From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
Hebrews 13:6 ESV So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”
Matthew 11:28-30 ESV Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
3. “Holy Spirit, do I judge myself?”
Sometimes, we judge and criticise other people because we are harsh critics of ourselves. We inadvertently do to others what we do to ourselves.
God’s Word teaches us to love others as we love ourselves. One possible reason we judge others is because we have not learnt to accept and appreciate ourselves for who God created us to be; with all our strengths as well as our weaknesses. God allows us to be born with shortcomings because He can perfect us through our relationship with the Holy Spirit.
James 2:8 ESV If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well.
Reminder: Satan stands before God and accuses us day and night. God, on the other hand, extends His grace, counsel, loyalty, and forgiveness if we repent and choose to follow Him. Whose side do we prefer to choose?
Revelation 12:10 ESV And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.
Hebrews 8:12 NV For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
4. “Holy Spirit, do I have unresolved wounds that trigger me to judge others?”
We judge others as a way to protect ourselves from potential pain. This can be such a subconscious defence mechanism that we aren’t even aware we are doing this. For example, we judge those who remind us of people who have hurt us in the past. We jump to conclusions about them simply because they display similar characteristics.
Reminder: The Bible reminds us to humble ourselves before God and cast all our worries and cares to Him. Therefore, let us ask the Holy Spirit to show us the things that trigger our anxious emotions. Often, He will bring back memories of events where we have judged people for in the past. As we repent and release forgiveness to them in Jesus’ name, we will find that our hearts are no longer enslaved to the brokenness of our past and that we can love others as Jesus loves them.
1 Peter 5:6-7 NLT So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.
5. “Holy Spirit, have I judged God in times of suffering?”
In the midst of pain and suffering, our instinctual fleshly response is often to cry out, “Why me? I am a good person / a victim (in my own eyes) and I don’t deserve this.”
In our hearts, we think that “if God is good, He will do things my way.” Therefore, when things don’t go our way, we question God and judge Him for allowing us to suffer. Instead of asking Him to show us His purpose for putting us through trials and to give us the strength to overcome and become “more than conquerors in Christ”, we sin against our own Creator, Defender, and Judge.
Romans 8:35-37 ESV Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
Reminder: Hardships are a test of our faith and an opportunity to develop endurance and spiritual maturity. They are also the basis for some of the most powerful testimonies if we follow God’s will. Let us repent for judging God and forsaking the opportunities to witness God’s miraculous work because we gave up too soon.
Romans 5:3-5 ESV More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
1 Peter 3:17-18 NIV For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.
1 Peter 2:20 NIV But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.
6. “Holy Spirit, have I misused the spiritual gifts You have given me?”
The Holy Spirit gives us spiritual gifts for the common good. When we allow our fleshly instincts to “hijack” their use, however, we can end up tearing people down, instead of building them up. For example, we can use our spiritual gift of empathy or discernment to discern and judge a person’s true feelings and motives. Instead of sympathising with their anxieties, we judge them as being insecure, insincere, or two-faced.
1 Corinthians 12:7 ESV To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 ESV Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
Reminder: The best Person to guide us in using our spiritual gifts is the Giver Himself, the Holy Spirit. When we allow God’s Spirit to lead us in our spiritual gifts, people will experience His grace and love. When we use our spiritual gifts based on our human instincts, however, we can hurt and destroy people. To learn how to use our gifts with “compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another,” we need the Holy Spirit’s help.
Colossians 3:12-13 NIV Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
1 Corinthians 12:7,10 ESV To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits…
A real-life example
In this post, we close with a real-life example of how we can rely on the Holy Spirit for wisdom, rather than be too quick to judge others. Here is the story of Monica (not her real name), a single lady who was in an adulterous affair with a married man who already had two children.
Monica had been a Christ follower for several years and even served as a worship leader at her church. Monica knew adultery was a sin but felt powerless to stop. Afraid that she would be judged by others in her church, she kept this affair secret. After several months, Monica finally confessed to some fellow believers, sobbing bitterly. Her friends quietly listened, comforted her, and asked the Holy Spirit for His guidance.
The Holy Spirit then revealed the words, “sexual abuse at home,” to one friend. Stunned, Monica then told them something that she had never told anyone before, that her elder brother had repeatedly molested her for years when she was a little girl. As a result, she felt dirty and defiled, and believed the lie that no one would ever truly love her. Perhaps the married man was the only one who might. How could she take the risk and let him go?
John 14:15-17 NLT “If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.
Monica also described how, later on in life, she judged and despised her brother for his continued sexual immorality. He was addicted to pornography and visited prostitutes.
Guided by her friends, Monica confessed her deep pain to God and forgave her brother. Additionally, she was led to repent of her judgements and hatred towards her brother. This was when she was set free from bondage to a spirit of prostitution that had plagued her family. On that day, Monica received a vision of Jesus washing her clean and giving her a fresh set of white robes to wear.
Matthew 6:14-15 NLT “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.
A few days later, Monica happily reported that she had broken up with the married man for good. She has not looked back since. Praise God!
There are several important lessons we can learn from this true story.
- Monica had reaped her own judgments. By judging her brother for his sexual perversions, she had fallen into sexual immorality herself | Galatians 6:7 ESV Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.
- Thankfully, Monica humbled herself to seek help and received God’s grace | James 4:6 ESV But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
- Monica experienced a breakthrough because her friends did not judge and condemn her. Instead, they sought the Holy Spirit’s help together. | Romans 14:13 NLT So let’s stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall.
- They loved Monica by demonstrating unity, sympathy love, tender hearts and humility | 1 Peter 3:8 ESV Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.
- The Holy Spirit revealed the lies and traumatic root that led to Monica’s sin, which she was set free from as she repented in Jesus’ name | John 8:32 NIV Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
As we can see, Monica didn’t need her friend’s judgements. She needed their love and God’s restoration and strengthening. May we remember to do the same for fellow brothers and sisters-in-Christ who confess their sins and ask for help.
James 5:16 ESV Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
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