J.C. Ryle on ‘Judge Not, Lest Ye, Be Judged!’

“People tell me judge not lest ye be judged. I always tell them, twist not scripture lest ye be like satan.” Paul Washer.

I know I have posted on the abuse of the passage found in Matthew 7:1 “Judge not, that ye be not judged,” before, but really enjoyed what J.C. Ryle had to say about the passage in his commentary on Matthew. I post this in the hopes that my fellow believers will not be silenced when the wicked twist this passage in an attempt to silence us. Let us press on in doing good, regardless of what the wicked do.

Our LORD does not mean that it is wrong, under any circumstances, to pass an unfavorable judgment on the conduct of opinions of others. We ought to have decided opinions. We are to ‘prove all things.’ We are to ‘try the spirits.’ — Nor yet does He mean that it is wrong to reprove the sins and faults of others, until we are perfect and faultless ourselves. Such an interpretation would contradict other parts of Scripture. It would make it impossible to condemn error and false doctrine. It would debar anyone from attempting the office of a minister or a judge. The earth would be ‘given into the hands of the wicked’ (John 9:24). Heresy would flourish. Wrong-doing would abound.

What our LORD means to condemn is a censorious and fault-finding spirit. A readiness to blame others for trifling offense, or matters of indifference–a habit of passing rash and hasty judgments–a disposition to magnify the errors and infirmities of our neighbors, and make the worst of them–this is what our LORD forbids.

Of course, the lost will have no problem ignoring these clarifying words of Ryle. It doesn’t fit their narrative of finding a few passages to try and silence believers and the truth. They will continue to twist Scripture to their own advantage and their own peril until God calls them to give an account. Let them do so. Our calling is to continue to stand for the truth even when the wicked do not heed our words. Our LORD is big enough to deal with them.


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