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Real faith in God is one of the rarest qualities in today's world. People of faith are quite likely to find themselves, like Abraham, all alone in an alien world.At the same time that we could be mistaken by writing someone off because their religion is not the same as ours, we are almost certain to be mistaken if we assume that people who share our religion share our faith, if, indeed, we ourselves even have real faith.

Jesus said, "Enter in at the strait gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction and many go in it. But strait is the gate and narrow is the way that leads to life, and few will find it." (Matthew 7:13-14) He asked, regarding the spiritual condition of the world just before he returns to earth: "When the Son of man comes, will he find any faith left on earth?" (Luke 18:8)

These are spiritually dangerous times. We must learn to recognise the lies and deception behind today's spiritual counterfeits. To do this, we must learn to judge.

One of the biggest lies in the world today is the teaching that we must never judge people. People who don't know anything else about the teachings of Jesus know that he once said something like, "Judge not, that you be not judged." (Matthew 7:1)

We will come back to that in a bit, but first let's look at this one: "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment." (John 7:24
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The second half ("Judge righteous judgment") is actually a command from Christ to judge. But he tells us to judge fairly.

St. Paul said, "Don't you know that we Christians are going to judge the world one day? So why shouldn't we be able to judge in little matters now?" (1 Corinthians 6:2)

St. Peter said, "The time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God." (1 Peter 4:17) And Paul said, "If we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged." (1 Corinthians 11:31)

BB4 14Look up "judgment" in a Bible concordance. You will find it is used as a virtue rather than a vice. (Matthew 12:20; Matthew 23:23; Luke 11:42; John 9:39; 16:8; Romans 2:2; 11:33; Hebrews 6:2; Revelation 16:7; Revelation 20:4)

The word "hypocritical" comes from two Greek words which mean "under critical". It is because of a lack of critical judgment in the religious world that hypocrisy abounds so much today.Of course our judgment can never be absolute, because "people look at outward appearances, but God looks at the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7) But Jesus gave us a very good clue as to where a person's heart is when he said, "Where your wealth is, that is where your heart is." (Matthew 6:21)

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So what of the passage against judging? It concludes, "The way you judge is the way you will be judged." Obviously the emphasis is on the way we judge. It's impossible not to judge at all. Even if we defend someone, we are judging them to be worthy of defence. And it's as wrong for a judge to declare a guilty person innocent as it is to declare an innocent person guilty.

Certainly a few verses later, when Jesus says, "Don't give that which is holy to dogs" (i.e. religious bigots), he assumes that we will judge whether or not a person is a "dog" before applying that command to them. (Matthew 7:6)

In fact, life is pretty much impossible without judgment of some sort. We constantly have to make decisions based on the evidence we have; and anyone who cannot tell a bargain from a rip-off, a lie from the truth, or a friend from an enemy is going to be in a lot of trouble.

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