Lesson 11

Discernment vs. Judgment

God warns that those who judge others will themselves be judged.  So, we are instructed not to judge.
Matthew 7:1-2  Judge not, that ye be not judged.  For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged:
and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
Romans 14:10  But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we
shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.

Yet, we are told to judge some things.
1Corinthians 6:3  Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?
1Corinthians 11:31  For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.

We will judge angels, and we must judge ourselves.  

Further, Jesus said we would know men by their fruits.  So, we are to judge those who profess to be
teachers and prophets; we are to judge prophecies, whether they be of God, and teachings, whether
they be accurate interpretations of God's Word.

We are told to be discerning.
1John 4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many
false prophets are gone out into the world.

There is even a spiritual gift of discernment.

What is the difference between judging and discerning?
Let’s define the words (by definition of the original Greek words in the text):

Discern - to examine; to prove or test; to ask questions; to evaluate;  to weigh thoroughly;  to try.

Judge - to pass judgment or sentence;  to decide;  to condemn.

Six basic Indicators that expose a judgmental spirit.

1.         If another’s failure improves the opinion I have of myself, I am judging.
2.         If another’s failure decreases my concern for my own faults, I am judging.
3.         If another’s failure gives me a desire to see that they are punished, I am judging.
4.         If I am eager to tell others about another’s failure, I am judging.
5.         If another’s failure prompts me to review their past failures, I am judging.
6.         If another’s failure causes me to feel that I cannot forgive them, I am judging.

Basic Factors of Discernment vs. Judgmental Spirit

A discerning Christian is one who detects a fault in another and is able to give clear direction for victory
based on the principles of God’s Word and his own application of them.  On this basis, he is able to
restore an offending brother rather than reject him.

Galatians 6:1 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. (AV)

How A Judgmental Spirit Reveals Our Own Sins

Do You Know The Difference Between Reproving And Reviling?

Reproving - Scripture associates exhorting with the action of reproving or rebuking an offending
brother.  Together these three provide the necessary balance to approach a brother who needs

Reprove - to tell someone his fault, to admonish, to convince someone of his error; to give evidence;  to

Rebuke - to command, to charge, to order; to admonish

Exhort - to beg, to urge; to encourage, to request, to ask, to appeal to;  to console, to comfort, to cheer
up;  to call to one side and urge to pursue a course of action

Reviling - the sin of reviling or railing.

Revile - to reproach, to denounce, to insult, to taunt, to chide;  to speak evil of

Rail - to vilify;  to speak impiously;  to defame;  to speak evil

Basic Factors of Reproving vs. Reviling

There is a major difference between reproving and reviling.  We are told in Scripture to reprove an
offending brother, but some who believe they are reproving are, in reality, reviling.  Reviling is such a
serious offense that a Christian who persists in doing it is to be totally avoided by other Christians.

1 Corinhians 5:11  But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a
brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with
such an one no not to eat.

Evaluating Evidences of Disrespectful Attitudes
(Be careful what you communicate through your words and actions.)
One who discerns will thoroughly examine
himself before evaluating the actions of
Galatians 6:4  But let every man prove his
own work, and then shall he have rejoicing
in himself alone, and not in another.
1 Corinthians 11:28  But let a man examine
himself, and so let him eat of that bread,
and drink of that cup.
1 Corinthians 11:31  For if we would judge
ourselves, we should not be judged.
2 Corinthians 13:5  Examine yourselves,
whether ye be in the faith; prove your own
selves. Know ye not your own selves, how
that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be
One who judges will condemn others for
their visible problems but fail to realize that
their attitudes stem from root problems
which he himself has not yet overcome.

Romans 2:1 Therefore thou art inexcusable,
O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for
wherein thou judgest another, thou
condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest
doest the same things.
Romans 14:10  But why dost thou judge thy
brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy
brother? for we shall all stand before the
judgment seat of Christ.
One who discerns will check the accuracy
of all the facts and related factors before
reaching a conclusion.
1 Corinthians 2:15  But he that is spiritual
judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged
of no man.  
1 Thessalonians 5:21  Prove all things;
hold fast that which is good.
1 John 4:1  Beloved, believe not every
spirit, but try the spirits whether they are
of God: because many false prophets are
gone out into the world.
One who judges will form opinions on first
impressions of hearsay, and then he will
look for evidence to confirm his opinions,
even though the evidence may be out of
John 7:24  Judge not according to the
appearance, but judge righteous judgment.
John 7:51  Doth our law judge any man,
before it hear him, and know what he doeth?
James 4:11  Speak not evil one of another,
brethren. He that speaketh evil of his
brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh
evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if
thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of
the law, but a judge.
One who discerns will deal as privately as
possible with the problem he sees.

1 Corinthians 6:5-6  I speak to your shame.
Is it so, that there is not a wise man among
you? no, not one that shall be able to
judge between his brethren? But brother
goeth to law with brother, and that before
the unbelievers.
One who judges will publicly expose those
whom he condemns.  This may cause others
to condemn him for having the same root
problem such as pride, lack of love, or a
critical spirit.
Luke 6:37  Judge not, and ye shall not be
judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be
condemned: forgive, and ye shall be
What we condemn in others
The root problem of the sin that
we condemn
Are we guilty of the same sin?
Not giving us our share
Covetousness and greed
Do we have a temporal or worldly
Those who dress immodestly
Moral impurity  
Do we have lustful eyes and secret
desires for immorality?
Being critical of others
Bitterness and rejection
Do we have an unloving and
rejecting spirit toward the one whom
we condemn?
One who reviles or rails has the basic objective of
exposing one whom he has already judged.
One who reproves or rebukes has the basic objective of
restoring an offender through exhortation.
One who reviles or rails declaims any further
responsibility for or association with the one whom he
has judged.
One who reproves or rebukes combines live and truth
when correcting a brother.  Truth without love is
harshness.  Love without truth is compromise.
One who reviles or rails recognizes no restrictions on his
efforts to vilify or defame.
One who reproves or rebukes is aware of certain
Yawning loudly while another individual is speaking   
“I am tired of listening to you.”
Failing to acknowledge one who greets you
“You are not important to me.”
Slouching in a classroom chair  
“I am really here against my will.”
Looking at a watch or clock while someone is speaking
to you   
“I think you have already talked too long.”
Tapping with fingers or pen while someone else is
“How much longer do I have to endure this?”
Running in church  
“I do not respect God.”
Unspoken Expression
Possible Translation By Others
Frowning at the dinner someone prepared   
“You have no right to fix something I do not like.”
Listening to one who whispers to you while someone
else is talking  
“I do not respect you as much as the one who is
whispering to me.”
Gazing around the room during a message
“What you are saying is not important for me to hear.”
Frowning at the one who is speaking
“Are you sure know what you are talking about?”
Making sloppy clothes your normal attire  
“I do not think much of the way God made me.”
Continuing to watch television when visitors have arrived
“Why did you have to bother me now?”