In Matthew 7:1–6, Jesus gives us some interesting teaching. We see in this section that we are to “Judge not, that you be not judged”(v. 1). We are not to do so because, “For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you” (v. 2). But then we see this, “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye?” (vv. 3-4) We are told that we see the speck in their eye but not the log that is in our own eye. Here Jesus corrects us in our judging, “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you” (vv. 5-6).
This is an interesting teaching because Jesus tells us to not judge then He tells us to get the speck out of a brother’s eye. If we do not judge how will we know they have a speck in the eye? Hence Jesus telling us to remove the log from our own eye.
In removing the log we see that we are all sinners and as such, we do not harshly judge another. We see that we struggle too and we then go to them with gentleness and correction, not rebuke and scorn.
I say this because we see in the last verse that one is not to cast their pearls before swine or give the dogs what is holy. If we are to be able to know what is considered a pig or a dog we have to make a judgment. If we do not use discernment and make a judgment we may very fail in this area.
Also, we see in other New Testament teachings that we are to judge others. In 1 Corinthians 6:1-8, we see that as believers when a dispute arises we should take this before the church and have fellow believers help settle the problem. To do this there has to be judging involved or no dispute could be settled. Also, in Matt. 18:17 and 1 Cor. 5:9-13 the local church body you are in is to judge serious sins of the members and then take action suiting the sin.
Along these lines, we as believers are to judge the doctrinal teachings of teachers and preachers. This is to be done by what the Word of God says and not from an indignant heart or scorned heart (Matt. 7:15-20; 1 Cor. 14:29; 1 John 4:1). For us to be able to do this we have to be able to know if other people in the church are believers (2 Cor. 6:14). As the verse from 2 Corinthians says, we are not to be unequally yoked to unbelievers. We have to judge to see if they are believers or not.
Finally, we have to be able to judge the men in the church to see if they are qualified to be elders and deacons (1 Tim. 3:1-13). In all these situations one, or many, must make judgments on people. If they just said “I can’t judge because of what Matthew seven says”, then the church would be in dire straits. It would have who knows what in its teaching and who knows who leading people.
I do want to say that Paul does tell us that we are not to judge those on the outside of the church because God will judge them, but we are to purge the evil person from us (1 Cor. 5:12-13). To be able to purge we must be able to make a judgment that the person is evil. This does not mean we condemn them, only God does that, but we make a judgment that they are evil and need to be removed.
I believe that is why Jesus said that with what measure you use and with the judgment you use so will it be used against you (Matt. 7:2). Also, that we are to remove the plank from our own eye first. What this means is that we must not just attack but first make sure our motives are right and that we are not just against them because of the sin we have. But He does say that we must remove the log to remove their speck. So, Jesus is not telling us to not judge at all but the proper way to judge.
What we must do, then, is to check ourselves and our motives before we decide to pass judgment. We must never condemn those on the outside. After all, they are only doing what they feel is right because they are not in Christ. They are doing what sin-filled fallen humanity does. They are living for themselves and they are acting in a manner that they believe is correct. We do not judge them but we do take Jesus to them and let Him judge them. But we must be able to discern who is our brother and sister in Christ and who is not. And if we have a brother or sister living like the world, then we must exercise the divinely ordered method of judgment on them. But we must first make sure we are in line with the Lord first.
So, the question in the title is yes. Yes, we are to judge as Scripture teaches us to do. And yes, we are not to judge as Scripture teaches us to do. This means we must use discernment and know what God’s word tells us. Trust the Lord to guide you and know that when you confront another who is in Christ if it does not hurt your heart, you may need to remove a log from your own eye. I know I have had to do this and it is never good to not remove the log. It is not because you then feel the weight of your sin and the guilt of acting in an unChristian manner.