One of the favorite verses used in our society comes from Matthew 7: “Judge not, that you be not judged”. It is the only verse many people know. The majority of the time this verse is taken out of its proper context and used to condone sinful behavior. If we choose to live immoral lives, then we say “judge not”. If we choose to live a lifestyle contrary to the Word of God, then we say “judge not”. So if someone says premarital sex is wrong, a person says “who are you to judge?”, to drunkenness “who are you to judge?”, to homosexuality “who are you to judge?”. The problem is the lack of understanding concerning God’s Word and the desire to remain in sinful behavior. See, God has already made these judgments and they can be clearly seen in His Word. Galatians 5: 19-21 “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God“. Also seen in Romans 1:26-27 “For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men, likewise, gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error“. And in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God“. The point is that God has already declared these things to be sinful and wrong, and God has already made the judgment. In fact, 1 Corinthians 2:15 states: “But he that is spiritual judgeth all things“. It is true that man only sees what is on the outside and we should not judge the motives of others, because we do not know the heart. This verse in Matthew is not to be abused as an attempt to take part in wicked behavior, God’s Words are clear and strong in these texts. Here are two quick applications: first, we should be slow to criticize others and also exhibit a spirit of gentleness when addressing the behaviors of others, because next time we may be the one who stumbles (Gal 6). Second, don’t try to use Matthew 7 as a reason to condone sin that God has already made His judgment on. If someone who loves God and cares for you and your soul addresses a behavior in your life that is contrary to God’s Word, recognize that God has placed them there to help you – not to hurt you. If you find yourself quick to judge others, repent and ask God for you to display more mercy and gentleness in your life. If you are someone who has sought to remain in sin, recognize the truth of these scriptures and turn from your sin, repent, and flee asking God for forgiveness that only comes in Jesus Christ. I know what it is like to be too judgmental and what it is like to try and justify my sin. However, I thank God for His mercy that we are able to confess our sins and be cleansed from all unrighteousness. It is a wonderful thing to be cleansed and right with God. Remember – you cannot judge a book by its cover, but you can judge a book by its contents. Ephesians 4 says speaking the TRUTH in LOVE!