Judge the Sin, Not the Sinner

we must judge the sinner, we choose sin, we are responsible for our sins
Is this popular saying true?

Actually, it's not only untrue; it's impossible. 

We can hate the sin and love the sinner, but we cannot judge the sin without judging the sinner.

Because the sinner is responsible for the sin. Sin doesn’t just happen to us, we choose it. 

We don't have to read very far in Scripture to dispel this notion. Look at Paul's judgment of sinners in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 as one of many examples.

Scripture commands:
1. Formal Church Judgment of Sinners (1 Corinthians 5:5-8; Matthew 18:15-17)
2. Personal Judgment of Sinners (1Corinthians 5:9-12
    A. To protect ourselves (1 Corinthians 15:33; 2 Corinthians 6:14-18). 
    B. To warn the sinner (Ephesians 4:11-15; Matthew 18:15; James 5:19-20)

Our culture is offended by judgment, not by sin. But we have a responsibility to be salt and light,* and proper judgment of sinners (with mercy and without slander or hypocrisy) is part of that responsibility.

* Matthew 5:13-16
 For more study of this subject:
Read also Who Are We To Judge? a Christianity Today article that states: "I would suggest that, in our day and age, we need more—not less—judgment. Modern Americans suffer from a fear of judging."
And read Do Not Judge, yesterday's 1-Minute Bible Love Note
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  1. Excellent thoughts, as Christians we have a fine line to hold to, proper judgment and showing the love of Christ.

  2. Such a truthful post Gail, thanks so much for sharing it with us.

  3. Thank you for this reminder. Sometimes the "sin" keeps us from loving and accepting the sinner.

  4. Do you suppose if we called it "discernment" rather than judgement, it would be received better? It's a difficult road to walk because so often the sinner has offended us with the sin, so we naturally don't like the sinner or the sin. Very thought provoking, Gail.

    1. Perhaps "discernment" would gain the same negative connotation if used for the same purpose. But it is a better word choice in some ways.

      When I wrote this, I had in more in mind our tendency to accept sin and sinners in a general way...our fear to label something a sin and someone a sinner because our culture demands tolerance of everyone and everything. In that respect, I feel we've weakened the Gospel message and the commands of God so we can fit in better with our culture.

      But it does have applications on the personal level and with those who've offended us. And then the real challenge is to make our judgment fair and without bitterness.

      Thanks for your comments, Carol.

    2. But God loved us even though we we sinners. Christ died for the ungodly.rom5v6 While we were still sinners, Christ died for us Rom5v8 All have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God. Romans3v23. Bleesed are the merciful,For they shall obtain mercy Mathw5v7 I cant help but have compassion toward the ungodly, because God loved me first before I loved Him.

  5. Thank you for clearing this misconception.

  6. Thanks Gail for delivering a great post again!! Have a wonderfully blessed day!!

  7. But then it also says: "Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you." Matthew 7:1-2 I believe we are not supposed to hate the people that commit the sin but hate the sin itself because we are believers. I have not come across anybody that does not sin including myself so I find this post very confusing.

    1. I encourage you to look up each of the verses linked to this devotion, Amber and read the context. I think it will clear up your confusion. Thanks, Gail

    2. I apologize I should have read those first :) I am trying to learn God's will and word the best thing to do is to continue a relationship with Christ. Ask forgiveness of your transgressions and sins and he will give you wisdom, discernment and understanding.

  8. These 1 Minute Love Notes are a must read for every believer! Am so enjoying them! Thank you!

  9. I've been searching out this topic myself as well. I don't know if I agree with your statement at the end that part of our responsibility is 'the proper judgement of sinners." if your definition of a sinner is one outside of the faith in Jesus. Verse 12 of Chapter 5 in 1st Cor. (which you referenced) says:

    12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”[d]

    I am finding in scripture that we are called to judge those in the body (who claim to be brothers and sisters in the faith), but not those outside the faith- God will judge them, as is referenced above. I like to remember it is not even 'us' who are judging those within the faith- but it is the Truth that acts as the judge, and we as bearers of light, when we show forth truth to the one sinning it is that truth that brings the judgement (and conviction, I might add).

    Anyhow, I so appreciate you tackling some tough subjects, Gail and dispelling myths in the church on many issues, of this is just one. As I wrote, I'm searching the scriptures on this one myself and value Godly dialog on the topic as I continue in my study.

    1. I appreciate and agree with your insights. 1 Cor. 5 talks about formal/"legal" judgment, and the church is not meant to judge unbelievers in that way unless they are representing themselves as believers (Matthew 7:15-23).

      The type of judging Christians do of non-Christians is simply agreeing with the judgment of sin and sinners set forth in Scripture.

      It's a necessary part of evangelism to help the unbeliever see he/she is a sinner in need of a Savior.

      But the error we sometimes make is trying to convince the unbeliever of his sin apart from explaining his need for salvation.

      Thanks again for adding your comments.


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