Matthew 7:6 Judgement and Spiritual Discernment
Matthew 7:6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your perls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.
Jesus starts this chapter off by saying that we should not judge one another. Then he gives the reason why. He says that we do not have proper understanding to judge one another and therefor put ourselves in danger of judgement. Instead, Jesus says that we should concentrate on our own faults and seek to correct ourselves. To assume that you have no faults is to lie to yourself. But more directly Jesus says that you who judge others of hypocrisy would do well to make sure that you are not being hypocritical yourself. This then would mean that we should use wisdom in judgement because there is a terrible responsibility and consequence for not using righteous judgement. In addition, this set of verses is not talking about judging if something is right and wrong. Instead it is a discussion on the weight of the judgment. Remember in this discourse, Jesus has drawn several contrasts and comparisons between the religious and the ones who would seek the Kingdom of God. He corrected misconceptions, in what true sanctification is verses what it was perceived as. He addressed matters of the heart, clarified the Law of Moses and the Law of Reconciliation. Jesus gave us an understanding that God sees what a man is like in his heart and not in his appearance. He also said that love should be the primary motivation in everything we do. In judgement then, we should not judge harshly or put undue burdens of punishment. In these verses in Matthew, it also does not say that we should not judge the brother with a “mote” in his eye. It does say that we should be more concerned with our own sinfulness than someone else’s. Paul says that we should work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. In Matthew 7:1-5 we receive a warning that our judgement is subject to review by God who is the rightful judge, so be aware. It does not say that we cannot be discerning. The whole of Proverbs is concerned with us seeking wisdom and making correct decisions in order that we may be prosperous in the will of the Lord. So it is a discussion of judging with a good heart, in love, and in accordance with scripture. So what does scripture say about this?
Matthew 7:6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your perls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.
Romans 14:4 it tells us, “who art thou that judgest another man’ servant? To his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand”. We are all at different levels of spiritual maturity in Christ, but it is the Spirit that instills knowledge and understanding. To fear the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. This is a point where we all have to start at. We have to recognize that God exists and is the Creator and source of all existence. Without God nothing can exist. He is the supreme authority over all the Creation. It is God who then establishes all kingdoms, and all their rulers. He established all powers, principalities, and dominions. This includes Pastors, teachers, musicians, church counsels, deacons, and other ministers of the Word. Each God has given authority fit to their position and function. This is established and blessed by God. We also then can trust that God knows what he is doing and that he established these for our benefit. He gives according to his will. He is the master who will ultimately judge the work of his servant. For you to judge his servant is to assume the place of God and thereby expose yourself to judgement from God. We are then forbidden to make judgements of condemnation.
We are warned several times in scripture that there will be those agents from the enemy who will try to infiltrate our churches in order to lead astray the flock with misleading doctrines and smooth talking sentiments of partial doctrines. Those who feed us what we want to hear instead of the truth. The most dangerous lie is one half-based in truth. (Matthew 7:15;24:24; 1 Timothy 4; Ezekiel 13:9; Jeremiah 23:6; Luke 6:26; 2 Timothy 4:3-4; 1 John 4:1-6; Matthew 7:15-20)
That being understood; in our verse, Jesus reveals that we are still to use discernment. Because although we are not to judge hypocritically, we are to discern with scripture and hate evil and the deeds of the wicked. Our opinion is not the standard by which we make decisions judgement of others. Because our opinion is inherently flawed. However, scripture has definite ideas on what sin is, its effects, and how it should be dealt with. Just to note, our opinion of someone should never be used as a basis for judgment either. Bias distorts discernment. Instead we should be looking to be a loving family member, seeking to help our brother or sister in Christ. We should make sound decisions based on the things we have learned and been taught in sound doctrine. The Apostle Paul wrote Timothy concerning this very issue when advising him on ordaining elders in the church and what their responsibilities are. Take a quick look:
For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. (Titus 1:7-9)
So a Bishop (Pastor, Elder) is to hold fast (depend on in obedience) the faithful word (the scriptures and teachings of the faithful) that he was taught (the elder is instructed) so that he will have the ability to teach others and convert the lost by the use of sound (proper, complete) doctrine. Why? Well in verse 11 it tells us so that the mouths of the unruly, vain talkers, and deceivers may be stopped from subverting the teachings. They are to be rebuked sharply (Titus 1:13) Discernment of the believer is an absolute necessity. Even though we love, love does not dictate that we turn our eyes from correcting sin in the church. Just to clarify, correcting sin in the church is not everyone talking about it behind someone’s back. That is gossip and gossip is a sin. I hope also you understand that this is not a lofty gaze on someone who is being the “police” of the church. We should do all things in love and humility.
Romans 12:9 “Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.” We all like the first part of this verse, Love without hypocrisy, be sincere. However; we also see that a part of loving with sincerity is to hate evil and to cling to goodness. This is a choosing between good and evil. We should choose to be good, not evil. This is a part or our sanctification. “I have hated the congregation of evil doers; and will not sit with the wicked.” (Psalm 26:5) We should love those around us, and especially in our church to care enough to confront sin issues. While a loved one is in sin they are out of communion with God, the church, and their family. This is easily seen in cases that involve extreme behavioral sins.
Everyone who sees signs of drug dependency, alcoholism, or spousal or child abuse, knows that there is a sin issue that needs to be confronted. I mention these issue specifically because most everyone understands that these typically require internal and external intervention. These will most often require the removal of the offender for a limited time. This is in order to allow repentance, forgiveness, and healing to take effect. When these are done in love, restoration is always the goal. The separation or removal of the offender is done for love and is best for all parties involved. To allow such behaviors to go on would actually indicate a lack of love and concern for family and church members involved.
Jesus in Matthew 7:6 tells us to be discriminating. “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your perls before swine, …“.
The Apostle Paul give us an example of this in his correspondence with the Corinthians. In 1st Corinthians Paul has to address the issue of sin in the church. In chapter five, Paul is confronting an issue of incest among members of the church. The matter was no small or private thing. It had affected the church on many levels, so much that people outside of the church were talking about it. Paul told the church that they should be ashamed of what was being allowed to happen in the membership of the local church. He accused them of having a false doctrine of love. He said they were puffed up, proud, of their tolerance of the sin, when they should have executed church discipline and confronted the sin. This is what love does. Love confronts sin, it does not turn a blind eye, or become an excuse for acceptance of sin.
It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. (1 Corinthians 5:1-3).
Now Paul says that they should be taken away from among you. We must understand that in the verses following this Paul talks about the need for personal sanctification and the detrimental effects that willful sin has on the individual and the church. It takes over the whole of the host that allows it to remain. Paul is saying, for the good of the individual and the church, the sin must be identified and removed. A patient suffering from Cancer has to have the cancer physically removed and follow up medical procedures initiated in order to have any hope of recovery. This is the drastic measure of church discipline. It is never entered into lightly, and should always be done with the end result focused on reunification of the believer in fellowship with God first, and the church second. Christ himself give us the process of moving from individual confrontation of sin to ultimate church discipline.
- Have a conversation (Matthew 18:15)
- Take a witness to confront again (Matthew 18:6)
- If the individual will no listen – Involve elders of the church (
- If they still do not listen – bring the matter before the whole of the church (Matthew 18:17; 1 Corinthians 5:4)
- If they are unrepentant- Remove them from membership/ fellowship (Matthew 18:17)
This is an unfortunate step that is sometimes necessary. No one likes to have to take this step. We are in the business of the spread of the gospel. However as our verse in Matthew 7.6 tells us, not everyone will receive criticism well. Let’s face it, no one likes to be corrected, especially if they already know what they are doing is wrong. Some will even become violent. In our efforts to reach out to the community in love and care for their needs, we will expose ourselves to some who would take the generosity, but reject the love of Christ.
Unfortunately some will pretend to believe, in fear that if they do not act like a church person, the church will stop helping them. When the church asks them to conform to what they confess, instead of doing what is good, they return the good for evil. They do this because they were never really a believer. Now we must also see that Paul is not calling for condemnation of the rebellious believer. Instead, he says “To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that they spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” (1 Corinthians 5:5) Paul is saying that if they desire to live in the flesh, then return them to the world.
There are many benefits to being in fellowship in the church. Those benefits could keep someone living comfortable in sin by absorbing some of the consequences that sin brings. Paul is saying let them go out into the world and suffer the consequences of their actions. This suffering of consequences of sin, may bring them to true repentance, and the allow them to be restored into fellowship with the Lord and the church. This drastic measure does not apply to the majority of believers who sincerely seek to walk in the Spirit and are seeking to grow closer to the Lord, but have a besetting sin, that they are struggling to overcome.
Some believe, but have difficulty in their walk and need close discipleship in order to grow. We must be wise to the difference in trying but failing and not trying but lying. We are called to be discerning. In 1st Corinthians, Paul says “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?” Paul later tells them that it is shameful that they are so ignorant that they cannot be discerning among themselves to use proper church authority and discipline. This all being said, Jesus gives his own warning. He said, “lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.”
They will disregard your sharing of that which is holy, or sanctified (gospel, truth) and treat it like rubbish to be trampled on. Then they will rend you. Rend means to violently tear apart. This is where you hear phrases like: “who are you to judge me?”; “you think you’re not a sinner?”; “they think they are better than me”. Then they spread lies, and even become physically confrontational, and violent. James tell us, “But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.” (James 3:14) James therefore says, if you have contentions in your heart, then stop lying to yourself. If you are filled with hatred and anger then you are not filled with the love of Christ. So then someone who says they are a believer, but responds with arrogance and returns condemnation or violence against someone who loved them enough to tell them of their error before God, instead of repentance is not walking in the Spirit of Christ. They have not clear judgement. This is a point of understanding raised in Proverbs 9:7.
He that reporveth a scorner getteth to himself shame: and he that rebuketh a wicked man getteth himself a blot. – Proverbs 9-7
- One who corrects a scorner or a wicked man will be turned on by the one they are trying to help.
- The wicked man will lash out against the one trying to help them.
- Like a dog who bites the one who feeds them.
Interestingly, this verse does not tell us, “don’t reprove a scorner, nor rebuke a wicked man”. The, verses 6-9, of this text draw a comparison and contrast between the wise and the wicked in their response to correction. The correction, or how it was managed, or by whom it was directed is irrelevant to the response. In other words, it would be great if the correction was delivered in a very tactful way, which was discrete and sensitive to the receiver’s feelings and privacy. However; the delivery method does not change the reaction of the rebellious hearted man or woman. Especially in light of the Politically Correct attitude so prevalent today. This generation looks for a reason to be offended where there would otherwise not be one, except that it was invented in the ever self-absorbed, mind of the spoiled child.
What good is this discernment and correction then? Well believe it or not, it is a sort of “leave no man behind” focus of discipleship. We should be concerned with our fellow believers, and their needs, physical and spiritual.
- Ephesians 4:26–27 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil.
- Philippians 2:4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
- 1 Peter 3:8–9 Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.
The whole reason for discernment and church discipline is based on forgiveness and restoration.
Galatians 6:1–2 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
We should walk in Sprit not in the flesh (Galatians 5:16). So then focus on yourself and encourage others to be vigilant, rejoice in the hope of the Kingdom of Heaven, being patient in tribulation, and in continuous prayer.
There will always be differences in opinion in a church and feelings will get stepped on from time to time. Clergy are human also and will make errors in judgement. Church members will take offence to the preacher and hurt the preacher’s feelings. But we must always keep in mind that we are all part of the same body. When one part of the body is hurt, the whole body suffers. Sin hurts the individual, and it hurts the whole body of Christ. Sin must be dealt with directly and swiftly. In being dealt with we mean that it should be addressed out of love for the benefit of the believer and the church.