1 Corinthians 5:3
For my part, even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. As one who is present with you in this way, I have already passed judgment in the name of our Lord Jesus on the one who has been doing this.
It seems one Scripture many people know and enjoy quoting is Jesus saying “judge not that you be not judged”. This is a handy one to bring up when confronted with sin in our lives. So is Paul disobeying this command of Jesus when he says “I have already passed judgment” on this man?
Most who quote Matthew 7:1, “judge not”, aren’t aware that 14 verses later Jesus says, “Watch out for false prophets”. How can I do that if I do not make some judgment about who is speaking truth and who is speaking lies? Clearly Jesus was not saying close your eyes to all evil, all false teaching, swallow whatever comes your way with no discernment. So what was He referring to?
In short, there are things I can know and things I cannot know. I can know a man who is openly engaged in immorality is living in sin because God’s Word tells me such behavior is sin. I can know a man teaching things contrary to Scripture is a false prophet. What I cannot know, and therefore am not to judge, are the motives of his heart.
To point out evil and call it evil is not judging. In fact, it is following the example of Jesus, Paul, Peter and others. In fact, it is following what we are often commanded to do in Scripture – “overcome evil with good”. It is “good” to warn someone of something in their life that will destroy them. It would be unloving and evil to see symptoms of a deadly disease in someone’s life and not warn them. The disease would only kill the body. How much more unloving to not warn them of a disease that will destroy their soul?
Just a few of many passages that command us to judge actions: Matthew 18:15-17; Romans 16:17,18; 1 Corinthians 5:11; Galatians 6:1; Titus 3:10,11; Leviticus 19:17