Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned.
This is among the most abused verses in Scripture currently. “Don’t judge me,” people will say, meaning, “This is my lifestyle choices, and no one should judge me negatively about my lifestyle choices.”
This is not at all what Jesus meant. As mentioned in the previous devotion, there is a difference between saying, “Eliminate whatever standard that puts my behavior in a negative light,” and “With the standard at hand, please apply mercy regarding how I measure up to it.”
The former is antinomian, that is, against the Law as such. The Gnostics were antinomian to the extreme, an extremism we find ourselves in once again. Think of the Law not so much as a set of rules, but as the hardline blueprints for how existence is to happen. One God, a specific (denominated) God, time set aside for God, families headed by parents, the life of one’s body, marriage of man and woman, property rights, reputation rights, and the reality of sanctioned possession (no one should desire what is not their’s) are not just rules embedded in the Ten Commandments, but principles governing this world order.
Gnostics have always been against each of the Ten Commandments. If you notice, each of the principles exists due to the realities arising from substantial existence. One God is not two gods, but the concept of “two gods” is only possible when a substance is divisible. The idea of God having a name arises from the reality of language, something that again happens (as we see in the creation account) as the chaotic substance became divided. God is the eternally existing “named one,” and He bestows His “namedness” on us, that we may have individual existence. The idea of specified time for God assumes the creation of divisible time.
The same we could say about the latter seven commandments. Parents, bodily life, marriage of man and woman, physical property, one’s reputation, sanctioned possession, these are all things arising from material, or substantial, creation. The Ten Commandments set up the blueprints for existence.
Gnostics, because they deny the material, substantial creation, deny the necessity of the Ten Commandments, and see them as rules imposed by a lesser deity to prop up his material order. Here we can begin to see why Gnostic antinomianism is popular again today. The commandments on marriage and family codify the reality of male and female, and what family means. The commandments on property and possession codify the reality of property rights and possessiveness. The commandment on reputations assumes the reality of objective truth. Of course, the first three commandments codify a doctrinally correct God that does not transcend all paths, but is demarcated by specific teachings.
A Gnostic culture eschews each of these commandments. An authentic “Self” trapped in a substantial world must become liberated from all the things imposed on him by his substantiality, like his family, the God of his upbringing, or his gender. Property is communally owned, regardless of what property owners might thing. Reputations are governed not by objective truth but by mythological narratives (all paralleling the original Gnostic mythology, incidentally).
You become liberated by breaking free from the laws and principles governing this world order. These laws and principles govern hearts and minds by their sheer pervasiveness in our material order. Christians call it the conscience; the radical left calls it structural oppression. Christians believe they are something to submit before, and the reason for Christ’s advent. The radical left believes they are something to iconoclastically overthrow.
“Don’t judge me,” must be seen in this context. What is meant is the overthrow of the Christian standard as governed by the Ten Commandments.
Applying this understanding to Jesus’ words is impossible, because if the standard as governed by the Ten Commandments is overthrown, then why did Jesus have to die? Jesus had to die because of the accusations of the Law against humanity, because man was not living up to them. Jesus is the ultimate supporter of the Law, the fulfiller of it, the administrator of it.
To say, “Judge not, and you shall not be judged” is to apply what Christ’s death means for people other than oneself. That person struggling with the sin of homosexuality, Jesus died for. Ours is not to judge him for his sins if Jesus died for all his sins. By contrast, that person identifying with his sin of homosexuality and saying, “Jesus wouldn’t judge me, so you shouldn’t either,” well, let’s ask him, “Are you saying homosexuality is a sin that Jesus died for?” You know what the answer will be.
Because if he’s just using Jesus’ death as a license to immerse in his homosexuality, to such an extent that he identifies with it, he’s wrong. St. Paul condemns this use of grace. Freedom of the Gospel does not mean liberation from the Law’s standard.
But realistically, he’s probably not thinking in these terms. He’s thinking “don’t judge me” means Jesus has removed, or at least revolutionized, the standard to mean only “love and tolerate everyone, no matter what they do, so long as they’re not racist, sexist, homophobic.”
And this simply is not what Jesus was teaching. He’s absolutely teaching a merciful application of God’s judgment based on the Law, due to the fact that He died for all the sins against the Law. So radical was His act of redemption that all judgment ends, to such an extent that He can say, “Judge not.” Judgment ends for the believer. Judgment ends for all people, in fact, but sadly not all will avail themselves of that reality.
Who are such as these? Those who do not know what Christ has done with judgment, who do not know that Christ has been judged in our place, and who therefore believe there are some who remain under that judgment, themselves included.
But the Christian who lives in the new reality, the liberation from judgment, is joyful to pass this blessing on to others, others who struggle in their sins, who struggle under the burden of the standard. “Fear not,” he says, “You are not judged!” And he himself enjoys this same announcement.