The Forgotten Words of Jesus

Not only have we forgotten when Jesus really meant when He said, “Judge not.” We’ve also forgotten many of His other words.

By Michael Brown Published on March 8, 2018

If you asked your average American today, especially a millennial, to repeat something Jesus taught, many would respond, “Jesus said, ‘Judge not.’” That’s about all many people know these days about Jesus. He taught us not to judge.

But not only have we forgotten when Jesus really meant when He said, “Judge not.” We’ve also forgotten many of His other words. Are you ready for a refresher course?

Two Men, Different Fruit

I’ve written on this subject before, explaining that Jesus taught us not to judge superficially or hypocritically, and that He taught us not to condemn.

But the subject came up afresh for me in response to a meme we posted on our Facebook page, picturing Hugh Hefner and Billy Graham. The text of the meme read: “2 men. Both died recently in their 90’s. Both influenced the world. Both born into Christian homes. 1 saw only religion & led millions astray. The other saw the Savior and led millions to faith.”

That was it. Simple. Powerful. Clear.

Yet some folks protested the meme, with one man writing, “Really? Let God be the judge! Negative example for Christianity! Prime example why people have issues with Christians. Very poor taste!”

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This man even had 19 people like his comment. How insane is that?

Aside from the fact that the meme said nothing about Hefner’s eternal state (heaven or hell), there was nothing debatable in the meme.

Hefner vocally rebelled against his strict Christian upbringing and was a key player in the terribly destructive sexual revolution. To dispute his negative influence is like disputing that a hurricane causes destruction.

But no, not today. We dare not judge! What a misinterpretation and misuse of the words of Jesus.

The Rest of the Sermon on the Mount

So, to set the record straight, since “Judge not” is taken from the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), allow me to quote for you some other sayings of Jesus from the very same sermon.

He said,

You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery.” But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell (Matt. 5:27-30).

When is the last time you heard a sermon on this? Does this comport with your image of Jesus?

Then, in the very next verses, He said this: “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery” (Matt. 5:31-32).

The next time someone tells you that Jesus said, “Don’t judge,” how about saying this? “Did you know those words are from the Sermon on the Mount? How about we read that sermon together?”

Heard many sermons on this topic either?

How about this? The Lord said, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money” (Matt. 6:24).

Jesus did not play games.

And He said all this before His famous teaching to “Judge not, lest you be judged.” What did He say after those words?

A Call to Judge Righteously

In contrast with the idea that, when it comes our faith, you can have your way and I can have mine, Jesus said this:

Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few (Matt. 7:13-14).

Then He gave this stern warning, which contains a call to judge righteously:

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits (Matt. 7:15-20).

That’s exactly what that Facebook meme was doing. It was judging the tree by the fruits. And while deathbed conversion is certainly possible, based on what we know up until the time of death, Hugh Hefner was a God-rejecting man who produced much terrible fruit. (And in his case, he hardly came in sheep’s clothing.)

Do You Know Him?

And for any who think that just calling on Jesus’ name without following Him is enough, He had this to say:

Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?” And then will I declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” (Matt. 7:21-23)

Do you feel the weight of these words?

So, I’d like to make a simple proposal. The next time someone tells you that Jesus said, “Don’t judge,” how about saying this? “Did you know those words are from the Sermon on the Mount? How about we read that sermon together?”

It might just rock a few boats — and perhaps save a few lives.

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  • Anne E. Reid

    When did we start criticizing the judging more than the under-lying behavior? We all make judgments every day; find the courage to judge right from wrong and to speak up when it’s called for and it may not be comfortable

  • Bojaws Dubois

    Gee. Who’d a thunk that people who don’t know the Bible and have never studied it would not know everything it says?

    • Chip Crawford

      Exactly! So, why are they judging its interpretation by those who are more familiar?

  • Steve Maples

    Great teaching!

  • Patmos

    “Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” -1 Corinthians 1:24

    Wisdom includes the ability to judge, to discern.

    This is the folly of the modern lukewarm church, which has turned grace into license, that it would somehow equate judging to tossing wisdom out of the window.

    How can there be repentance without being able to judge sin? How can their be grace without repentance?

    Come on church.

  • Close B Conserva

    I really enjoyed this article and it touches on an area of my life that i’ve been struggling with. If I may I have a question for Michael Brown. How do you judge when needed but still maintain a peaceful and compassionate presence? It would be nice to discuss the proper way to model tough love in modern day America. When everything is driven by PC instead JC!

    • Public_Citizen

      Judge the act/action with love in your heart for the person.
      Political Correctness is the way of the world and one of the great snares designed by the fallen one to ensnare one and trap you in thinking in the way of the world instead of the way of Christ.

  • Craig Roberts

    Jesus was a master of psychology. He could never be pinned down so that everybody could spend the rest of the time on earth arguing about what he said and what he meant.

    “For whoever is not against us is for us.” (Mark 9:40)
    “Whoever is not with me is against me.” (Luke 11:23)

    It reminds me of the scene in Raising Arizona where the bank robber says “Freeze and get down on the ground!” and some old fogey says, “Well which is it son? You want I should freeze or get down on the ground.”

    • TheTexasCooke

      A way that can be described is not the way. [Taoism] Strait is the gate and narrow is the way, and few there be that find it.[Jesus] My ways are not your ways, nor my thoughts your thoughts…for as the heavens are above the Earth, so are my ways above your ways, and my thoughts your thoughts. [God] Jesus’ words were pure Buddhism. So, beware of any one who starts a conversation with, “God told me to tell you…” Especially, if it’s second hand. But then, just as He described himself, it’s a mystery to me….and I’m okay with that.

      • Craig Roberts

        The parables are like Zen koans. They are meant to force you to go beyond words, stop thinking like you usually do, and act on faith. They blow your mind to reveal the heart.

        Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” (John 9:39) To all those people that think they have the mystery of Jesus all figured out, riddle me this one straight from the master himself: Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin. But since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.” (John 9:41)

        • TheTexasCooke

          The “eyes” have it? Never trust translators bearing gifts…

          • Craig Roberts

            Good one! Here’s another one of my favorites: “So the first shall be last and the last shall be first.” (Matt 20:16) Try to ‘splain that without twisting your brain into a pretzel.

          • TheTexasCooke

            Actually I do get that one. When folks line up in order of their understanding of a “fact”… and the “fact” takes a 180…and everyone in line does an about face….you just visualized the quote…that was zen, this is tao…new notions create new leaders of thought.

          • Craig Roberts


    • Chip Crawford

      Jesus doesn’t play games or sponsor arguments. He said he explained his parables to his disciples; others needed to draw nearer for his heart’s message to be understood. Let him who has ears to hear, hear. Let those who don’t have ears to hear, get some by receiving him. It’s children’s bread.

  • KC

    Good read!

  • Jim Walker

    Judge Not ! you mean Chuck, CC, John Connor?

    • Chip Crawford

      Or are they self-condemning at times … (like a lot of times)

  • Hmmm…

    Giving everyone a pass is actually unGodly instead of loving. It does matter; just look at the pictures of the fast-becoming open sewer that is San Francisco. ‘Anything goes’ has nothing to do with the God of love and order.

    The scripture says to judge yourself lest you be judged. That’s prescribed judging that we don’t first think about. Mostly, folks are aware that others should not be judging them. But we tend to do it under many another guise. Someone said, “Be careful what you choose to have an opinion about.” That is something that poses to mask judging and will come back home to you. It’s a preoccupation with others’ behavior. However, we aren’t called to play games with it, like the liberals. We don’t call evil good and the reverse.

    Spiritual law works every time, like gravity, unless superseded by the law of lift and thrust, for example. Judging and unforgiveness will yield a bad crop unless repented. You don’t have to believe that; it is spiritual law – you will reap back what you are sowing. When we think folks are suddenly being mean to us — the Holy Spirit can help us search that out if we will inquire of the Lord about it. It may be our harvest coming up. Oh me … The good news is that we can take hold of our thoughts and words, turn it around and change what we are sowing.

    • TheTexasCooke

      And we can always fall back on rufus….

      • Hmmm…

        Good news! Jesus took the fall, ya’ll !!

  • Tex Taylor

    If we are not to judge, how exactly do people decide Jesus was the Christ? God did not make us Christians some Pet Rock and in fact, every Christian and Jew is called to be a “watchman.”

    If I could paraphrase the judgment call from the Sermon on the Mount – “Be righteous in how you judge, using the precepts of the commandments Christ gave us.”

  • swordfish

    Interesting that I’ve seen several of these passages quoted on atheist websites as examples of how extreme many of Jesus’s teachings really were, and how most Christians don’t actually follow them. “And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away.” is insane – your hand doesn’t cause you to sin, it’s your brain, and cutting it off won’t do any good at all.

    • Chip Crawford

      Their ignorance is in their way, but not in ours. We know that we are in a new Covenant, and that an eye for an eye, etc. has been fulfilled in Jesus. We also know, as you refer, that it is the heart that determines, that God sees and evaluates. The world at large is ignorant of the place of the spirit within man, nor do they enjoy the benefit as yet of the Holy Spirit’s inner workings.

    • Bryan

      You’ve missed the next sentence: “For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.” The point isn’t to cut your hand off or gouge your eye out. The point is to not do the things that will cause you to sin. And that it is extremely important. I suppose you could call it hyperbole. It’s similar to the way we say “it’s raining cats and dogs”. So the whole of the passage, taken in context is extreme in it’s full meaning but not insane. For proof, read the story of Abraham and Isaac. God provided then and he does now.

    • Ever heard of simile? But, hey, atheists think they are the smartest people in the room. “The fool says in his heart, there is no God.” Woe, wait, did I just judge you?

      • Chip Crawford


      • TheTexasCooke

        Actually, I think that is a metaphor…..

      • swordfish

        As ‘TheTexasCooke’ points out, it’s not a similie. If it’s a metaphor, it’s not clear what it means. Maybe Jesus’s resurrection is also a metaphor.

        • Ken Abbott

          Maybe. Was the empty tomb a metaphor?

          • swordfish

            How do you know there was an empty tomb?

          • Ken Abbott

            The fastest way for the Jewish and Roman authorities to quash the preaching of a resurrection would have been to produce a body or show an occupied tomb. They did not because they could not.

          • swordfish

            I think you missed the point of my question which was really: how do you know that any of this happened? All you have are contradictory accounts written by unnamed authors decades after the events they allege to have happened.

            But to respond to your point, Roman crucifictions were usually carried out en masse with bodies disposed of in mass graves. If the Romans were really worried about Jesus’s body going missing, why would they have put it in a tomb?

          • Ken Abbott

            The Romans didn’t put Jesus’ body in a tomb, nor was he consigned to a mass grave. A sympathetic member of the Jewish Sanhedrin named Joseph of Arimathea went to Pilate and requested the body and placed it in a new tomb after proper preparation.

            I didn’t miss your point, by the way. Your skepticism is misplaced and your information regarding the historical reliability of the NT documents is woefully inadequate.

            Did Jesus really live? Was he in fact crucified? The consensus of history is near unanimous on both points. If so, something must have been done with the body. Again, within two months of his crucifixion his followers were proclaiming he was alive and had been seen by many. It was in the interests of the religious and political authorities to put the lie to this claim if they could. They never made the attempt. The body was not available to them. It was no longer where it had been placed.

          • swordfish

            “A sympathetic member of the Jewish Sanhedrin named Joseph of Arimathea went to Pilate and requested the body and placed it in a new tomb after proper preparation.”

            Again, you have no real evidence that any of this happened, but taking it at face value, my question remains the same only more so: Why would the Romans do this if they were worried that Jesus’s body would go missing?

            “Did Jesus really live? Was he in fact crucified? The consensus of history is near unanimous on both points.”

            Actually, it isn’t “near unanimous”, nor could it be when obviously weak and contradictory short accounts in three of the gospels are the only source for this story.

          • Ken Abbott

            Why would the Romans do what? Release the body to a member of the Jewish religious ruling elite when he came personally to Pilate to make the request? But remember the request of other Jewish authorities, suspicious of possible interception of the body by the disciples in order to fake a resurrection, requested and obtained security for the tomb against that possibility.

            Actually, it is “near unanimous,” and I only qualify it because of the cranky fringe of deniers of Jesus’ existence who have no credibility in the scholarly field but thrive in the dark recesses of the Internet. Please note I didn’t insist on this for the entirety of the gospel accounts. I said the historicity of Jesus and his death by crucifixion are broadly accepted even by secular historians. The question remains: There was a body but it was not in the tomb and it was not within the ability of the authorities to produce it. Where did it go?

          • swordfish

            You’re claiming that it was in the Roman’s interest to be able to produce a body, but that is only because the body was (supposedly) given away to a known supporter of Jesus in the first place. If it had been buried in a mass grave, as was common practice, this would never have been an issue. The whole story doesn’t add up.

            In any case, a (supposedly) missing body isn’t sufficient evidence for someone being resurrected. Where is Madeleine McCann’s body?

          • Ken Abbott

            So you don’t think the Roman government had any interest in promoting the public peace and reducing unrest in Judea by putting the lie to false claims for a resurrection?

            The existing accounts are quite clear that the body of Jesus was not consigned to a mass grave.

            Was Madeleine McCann witnessed to have died and her corpse placed in a grave from which it later disappeared? This is a non sequiter, swordfish.

          • swordfish

            I was trying to get you to see that you’re arguing that a claim in a book can be corroborated by other claims in the same book. In my view, this doesn’t work even if the story in the book is plausible, which it isn’t in this case.

            I won’t continue with this argument, but I hope you have a nice day.

          • Ken Abbott

            In one of your early posts in this thread, you spelled out the basis for our disagreement: “All you have are contradictory accounts written by unnamed authors decades after the events they allege to have happened.” This in your view effectively guts the reliability of the gospel narratives. I see the matter rather differently, as I expect you already know. I am convinced these accounts are not only reliable but unimpeachable sources of information on the subject matter they relate. Further discussion becomes impossible without resolving the difference, which cannot be done here.

            Thank you for the closing wish, which is my hope for you as well.

  • GaryLockhart

    “And why even of yourselves, do you not judge that which is just?” Jesus Christ, Luke 12:57

  • Xrucianus

    Luke 17:3
    Rebuke the brother who sins against you

    Romans 15:14
    Admonish one another

    Ephesians 4:15
    Speak the truth in love

    Ephesians 5:11
    have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness; rather expose them

    2 Thessalonians 3:15
    Admonish him as a brother

    Titus 1:13
    Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith

    Titus 2:15
    exhort, rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you.

    1 Timothy 5:20
    Rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear

    2 Timothy 4:2
    Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all long-suffering & teaching

    Revelation 3:19
    As many as I love, I rebuke…

    • Sue McMahon

      Yes, yes, yes!!! Thank you for this!

  • Anne Neufeld

    Well said Michael Brown! Thank you!

  • Guest Dude

    “He who is without sin cast the first stone.”

    Yes … Jesus said that.

    He also turned to her and said “Go. And sin no more”.

    That last admonition always some how gets omitted.

    • Sue McMahon


  • Chip Crawford

    Did they really call him out strongly on that or ID for hypocrisy alert?

  • azsxdcf1

    Thank you, Dr Brown

  • mdemetrius

    There are at least three Greek words that are translated “judge” in most Bibles. We are certainly to pay attention an evaluate things. If this were not true, Jesus wouldn’t have said, “Don’t give what is holy to dogs; don’t cast your pearls before swine”, so if we didn’t evaluate those people (He wasn’t talking about 4 legged animals) how would we know who are dogs and swine? We’re to watch out for false teachers and false prophets. That requires that we judge who is who.

    Paul pointed out that we ARE too judge what is inside the church. We aren’t supposed to walk along blindfolded and with fingers in our ears.

    Shrewd as serpents and harmless as doves.

  • mdemetrius

    The word “victory” is meaningless without conflict, isn’t it?

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