Discernment and Judgment

August 17, 2011

There are a few more words in the religious lexicon that require some sorting in light of our need for discernment.  The words are “judge,” “judgment,” and “judgmentalism.” We can address the first two today; judgmentalism will be taken up tomorrow.

Judgment differs from condemnation. Some people think that judgment, for instance, equals condemnation. Since condemnation is off-limits to the Christ-follower, it is said, judgment is, too. However, New Testament (NT) references to condemnation all involve sentencing to punishment, and this role is reserved for God alone. [God also has the authority to release those who trust his Son, Jesus Christ, from the eternal condemnation all sinners deserve.]

There is such a thing as “right judgment”: Jesus said, “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment” (John 7:4).

Proper judgment is really the judgment of God’s Word applied to the individual, not the individual’s opinion of a behavior or belief: “Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb. 4:12).

One must judge the wisdom of behaviors and beliefs in order to commit to God’s will in daily life. Judgment according to God’s standard (the Word) always is directed first to ones self: Jesus said, “Do not judge [other people], so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is 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 neighbor’s eye” (Matthew 7:1-5).

The point is “truth unto goodness” (G-1:0304), that is, faith as a way of life:  “Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Eph. 5:15-17). “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom 12:2). Correct judgment is the process of figuring out what God’s will is; the spiritual gift of discernment empowers this proper judgment.

The Father and the Son are together on this judgment thing: Then Jesus cried aloud: “Whoever believes in me believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness. I do not judge anyone who hears my words and does not keep them, for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my word has a judge; on the last day the word that I have spoken will serve as judge, for I have not spoken on my own, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment about what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I speak, therefore, I speak just as the Father has told me” (John 12:44-50).

More tomorrow!


3 Responses to “Discernment and Judgment”

  1. hi I just found this blog. Why is this article titled “Discernment and Judgment”? There is no talk of discernment. I would like to read a blog post that explains what discernment is, by itself.

  2. revmary Says:

    Hello Christine! Thanks for writing. I think you are right that the title of this post was not spot-on. However, prior to this post I had spent two days on Discernment. So maybe you can catch up by going to
    Let me know if you have questions.

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