Are we judging by assuming people need to be witnessed to?

Full question: 1 Corinthians 5:12-13 says we should not judge those outside the church. Aren’t we judging them by assuming they need to be witnessed to?

For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? But those who are outside God judges. Therefore “put away from yourselves the evil person.”

1 Corinthians 5:12-13

To Judge

The passage at hand was to address effectively the openly and defiantly erring church member. Although all thoughts, words, and deeds of all men are judged by God for He is the One that approves or condemns according to His justice (Genesis 18:25; Psalm 50:6; Acts 10:42), the church has the authority to discipline and correct its erring members. Paul explained that he had no authority or jurisdiction over those that are outside the church. His instruction here was only for the church members. And he addressed himself only to “them that are within.”

The apostle Paul wrote: “But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person. For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? But those who are outside God judges. Therefore “put away from yourselves the evil person” (1 Corinthians 5:11-13).

Paul, in verse 11, is specifically identifying the “sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner.” This person is publicly living the life of a sinner by his actions. Thus, his actions, are the ones that already judged him.

The apostle taught that the believers are prohibited from having social meals (Galatians 2:12) as well as the Lord’s Supper with the member that is living in open sin. Believers should do nothing that would give the non-believers outside the church an excuse to believe that defiant sinner of God’s law is considered a Christian brother in good standing (2 John 10, 11).

Consider the following:

  1. “Do not judge” teachings:
    • One of the most well-known teachings on judgment comes from Jesus in the Bible. In Matthew 7:1-5, Jesus says, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
    • This teaching is often interpreted as a caution against hypocritical and self-righteous judgment.
  2. Discernment vs. Condemnation:
    • Some Christians argue that while Jesus discouraged harsh and hypocritical judgment, there is a place for discernment. They believe that Christians should be discerning about behavior and beliefs, but not in a condemning or judgmental way.
  3. Forgiveness and Love:
    • Other passages in the Bible emphasize forgiveness and love. For example, Jesus taught in Matthew 22:39 to “love your neighbor as yourself.” This emphasis on love and forgiveness is often cited as a reason not to judge others harshly.
  4. Church Discipline:
    • In certain situations, the Bible discusses the concept of church discipline (Matthew 18:15-17, 1 Corinthians 5:1-13). This involves addressing and correcting sinful behavior within the Christian community, but it is often seen as a process of restoration rather than condemnation.
  5. Personal Accountability:
    • Christians are encouraged to focus on their own faults and shortcomings before pointing fingers at others. The idea is to recognize one’s own need for God’s grace and mercy.

The bar of purity should be set high because the enemies of Christianity are always ready to accuse the church members of different kinds of sins. And if it became known that Christians tolerated in their company the actions of sinners, those charges would be considered valid. Therefore, it is important to separate from the unrepentant sinner and let it be seen that the believers don’t support his wickedness.

While Christians are encouraged to exercise discernment and address sin within the community, there is a strong emphasis on avoiding hypocritical and harsh judgment. The overarching message is often one of love, forgiveness, and humility. Individual interpretations may vary, and different Christian traditions may have specific teachings on this matter.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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