By Hank Hanegraaff
Not only is judging permissible, it is our responsibility. Nobody’s teachings are above sound judgment—especially those of influential leaders! Biblically, authority and accountability go hand in hand (cf. Luke 12:48). The greater the responsibility one holds, the greater the accountability (cf. James 3:1).
First, the precedent for making right judgments comes from Scripture itself. In the Old Testament, the Israelites were commanded to practice sound judgment by thoroughly testing the teachings of their leaders (Deuteronomy 13). Similarly, in the New Testament, the apostle Paul commanded the Thessalonians to test all things and to hold fast to that which is good (1 Thessalonians 5:21–22). Moreover, Paul lauded the Bereans for testing his teachings (Acts 17:11).
Furthermore, while our Lord cautioned followers not to judge self-righteously (Matthew 7:1–5), He also counseled them to make judgments based on right standards (John 7:24). In the context of His oft-misquoted command “Judge not, or you too will be judged” (Matthew 7:1), Jesus exhorted us to judge false prophets, whose teachings and behavior lead people astray (vv. 15–20). Thus, while we are commanded not to judge hypocritically, we are nevertheless called to judge.
Finally, common sense should be sufficient to alert us to the importance of making public as well as private judgments regarding false doctrine. During the infamous Tylenol scare in 1982, public warnings were issued by the media and the medical community regarding the physical danger of ingesting Tylenol capsules that someone had laced with cyanide. In similar fashion, when spiritual cyanide is dispensed within the Christian community, we are duty-bound to warn the public. As such, Paul publicly rebuked Hymenaeus and Philetus, whose teachings “spread like gangrene” (2 Timothy 2:17–18; cf. Galatians 2:11–14).
“Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”
John 7:24 NKJV
For further study, see Hank Hanegraaff, “The Untouchables: Are ‘God’s Anointed’ Beyond Criticism?” and Bob and Gretchen Passantino, “Christians Criticizing Christians: Can It Be Biblical?
**Note the preceding text is adapted from a new Revised and Updated version of The Complete Bible Answer Book that is forthcoming. When available we will update this page with corresponding information. Until then you can still purchase or receive for your partnering gift the current version by clicking here for purchase or here for partnering gift. ***