God, through Moses, and Jesus Himself addressed this issue. Paul summarized their teaching in Romans 2:1. Addressing the Romans, Paul explains that we have no excuse for our sins. At the least, we are all guilty of judging someone of a sin when we ourselves have equally committed a sin.
Never Take Scripture Out of Context
Does Paul mean that if you accuse someone of murder, you have committed murder? No; we need to see the context. We must not take scripture out of context. Not only can we misinterpret and falsely apply the scripture, but we can bring God’s judgment upon ourselves, especially us teachers (James 3:1). Several verses throughout the Bible condemn adding to or diminishing God’s Word (Deuteronomy 4:2; at least 99 other references; and especially Revelation 22:18-19).
Examining the verse in context, we can see that in Romans 1:29-31, Paul pointed out the sin (with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice) of the most notoriously guilty. And now he speaks to those who are generally moral in their conduct but are congratulating themselves that they are not like the people described in Romans 1.
Paul was not saying that the Romans were also guilty of murder, but by judging someone of committing the heinous sin, they are equally guilty of committing a sin. Not that they committed the same crime, but their conduct is the same, i.e., they sinned against God. Jesus said that we must not judge others because we will be judged likewise (Matthew 7:1). We might be judged for murder, but we will be judged for sinning by disobeying the commandment against judging.
Now, we know that there are degrees of sin and not all sins are equal. (John 19:11; 1 John 5:16-17; Isaiah 1:18; Luke 20:47; Hebrews 10:26; Revelation 21:8) In fact, the Book of Proverbs (6:16-19) identifies seven things that God hates. God does view sin differently and He proscribed different punishment for sin depending upon its severity. (Matthew 5:19)
And who’s to say that the sin of murder is greater, in God’s eye, than the disobeying God’s commandment? After all, the Bible begins, in Genesis, with Adam and Eve being punished for disobeying God.
Degrees of Sins Prescribed by Man
Church doctrine also expresses differing degrees of sin, especially when comparing differing denominations.
For instance, Catholicism has taught that if a person’s first marriage ended in divorce, God won’t bless a second one. But excommunication and disposition can be purchased, for money to pay for a special mass, then God will bless the second marriage. Protestant traditions also prescribe degrees of sinning in a divorce. Most denominations do not assign a commercial price, but do require the blame be put on the spouse so that the divorce may be biblically justifiable grounds for divorce.
In Catholic theology, a mortal sin (Latin: peccatum mortale), is a gravely sinful act which can lead to damnation if a person does not repent of the sin before death. Most Protest denominations feel that no sin is greater than the other, based on Romans 1:18-32.
The Bigger Point: Don’t Judge
We are all guilty of something, so we should not judge other people. The catch being that by judging someone else, you are committing a sin and deserve to suffer the unpleasant consequences. Righteous judgment means we judge the fruit (the sin) and not the motive (the person) (John 8:15). Let the courts pass judgement on the murder.
In conclusion, the Daily Bread email message sent on 9/26/2022 says,
Romans 2:1 – Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. (NASB)
This verse must be taken in context, not blindly applied to all circumstances. Paul says you who judge practice the same things. Paul does not mean that if you accuse someone of murder, you have committed murder.
In Romans 1, Paul pointed out the sins of the most notoriously guilty. Now he speaks to those who are generally moral in their conduct but congratulating themselves that they are not like the people described in Romans 1. If we judge someone of a sin, and we say that sinners deserve to be punished, we need to remember that we have sinned and we also deserve to suffer the unpleasant consequences.
Paul probably bases his teaching on God’s Law described by Moses and the teaching of Jesus Christ. The Law of Moses says only in righteousness should we judge our neighbors (Leviticus 19:16). Righteous judgment means we judge the fruit (the sin) and not the motive (the person) (John 8:15). Jesus was more direct, He said, “Judge not, that ye be not judged”? (Matthew 7:1)
Human nature tends to judge and condemn the person committing the act. But that’s not our job. While our legal system punishes the actor for his sin after judging the action, only Jesus can truly judge him. In fact, believers more righteous than myself pray for the sinner.
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1 thought on “Do You Judge the Sin, or the Sinner?”
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