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H1: Whos to Judge?

The Bible is one of the most read and widely interpreted pieces of literature that has ever existed, largely because many people will quote fragments of scripture literally, without taking into consideration the context of the surrounding verses. One of the most frequently cited verses in the Bible was, at one time, John 3:16 ("For God so loved the world..."). This has now been usurped by Matthew 7:1, which states, "Judge not, that ye be not judged," and is part of Jesus' teachings in Galilee to his disciples and a large following of diverse people. Does Matthew 7:1 tell us that we are not to cast judgment upon anyone for any reason, to avoid receiving critical judgment upon ourselves? Matthew 7:1 is closely tied in with Jesus' words in John 8:7, where he told those who wished to stone an adulterous woman, "Let him who is without sin among you, let he be the one to cast the first stone." Taking those two verses together, the meaning of Matthew 7:1 becomes more clear - Jesus is instructing the people to avoid being judgmental because we are all guilty of something for which we ourselves can be judged (Romans 2:1). Unless you are completely without sin or transgression, you are in no position to pass judgment on the actions or words of another. When We Can Judge Others Once we have achieved spiritual perfection through ascension, we will be tasked with judgment of the entire world, including God's angels (1 Corinthians 6:2-3). However, we are incapable of passing judgment rightly so long as we view the world through human eyes (John 7:24) and apply human standards (John 8:15) to our beliefs, ideals, values, and - yes - our judgments. While Jesus provided instruction on spiritual perfection in several verses of the Bible, we will never achieve this goal, and God is aware of the fact that we will fail regularly. This is why his son shed blood for us (John 12:47, "...for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world..."). If we were able to achieve spiritual perfection in our physical manifestations, there would have been no need for the crucifixion. Instead of judging others we need to work together to provide healing for Christians. Faith Versus Law The Bible tells us that there is only one Lawgiver and Judge (James 4:12), and then questions who we are to pass judgment on our neighbors. Yet the Bible also makes reference to judges who preside over courts of law and pass legal judgment upon the accused (Matthew 5:25, Luke 12:58). In 1 Corinthians 6:1, we are admonished for taking contentious matters before the unrighteous for judgment at law, rather than having the issues addressed by fellow believers. But what place does spiritual guidance regarding passing judgment have in today's society, where we have appointed individuals at various legal levels (local, state, federal) to deliver judgments upon others every day? We live in a world that is governed by man's laws that we are required to follow or face various penalties, yet we must take care to ensure that our actions do not compromise the spiritual grace through which we have obtained salvation.