Righteous Judgment

By: James L. Kilgore


Correct judgment is one of the most important responsibilities connected with the ministry, and whether we like it or not, there are times we are required to render judgment among our brethren. Paul used strong language in I Corinthians 6:1-8. (Read Amplified New Testament.)

Judgment begins at the house of God (I Peter 4:17). Jesus gives good reasoning on settling matters if men would only follow it closely. Matthew 18:15-18 is a carry-over from Old Testament instruction. (See Numbers 35:30; Deuteronomy 17:6-7; 19:15.)

Paul called for the wisest to be called upon to pass judgment. However, when he passes judgment, he will make enemies and will become the least esteemed.

I. THE DISCIPLINE OF THE CHURCH. This discipline is of a two-fold nature: (1) instructive, (2) corrective.

A. Instructive discipline-preventative in nature.

1. The work of elders and leaders.

a. Feed the flock (Acts 20:28).

b. Tend the flock (I Peter 5:2).

c. Take the oversight (I Peter 5:2).

d. Rule well by example (I Timothy 5: 17).

e. Watch for souls (Hebrews 13:17).

f. Must give account (Hebrews 13:17).

2. The attitude of the church.

a. Esteem them highly in love (I Thessalonians 5: 12- 13).

b. Submit to them and obey them (Hebrews 13: 17).

c. Count them worthy of honor (I Timothy 5:17).

d. Imitate their faith (Hebrews 13:7).

A recognition of the scriptural order will meet with the approval of God. To reject God’s order will result in chaos and confusion.

B. Corrective discipline-chastising or penalizing in nature.

1. Its importance.

a. The Lord wants a pure church (Ephesians 5:25-27; II Corinthians 11:2-3).

b. Sin, disorder, and rebellion must be dealt with (I Corinthians 5:6). “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.”

c. Corrective discipline therefore has a two-fold purpose.

(1) To save the church (I Corinthians 5:5).

(2) To save the guilty party (I Corinthians 5:5).

2. Upon whom to be exercised.

a. Those who walk disorderly (II Thessalonians 3:6).

b. Those who persist in sin, rebel against the teaching (I Corinthians 5:11-13).

c. Those who cause divisions (Romans 16:17; II John 9-10; Titus 3:10-11).

3. The scriptural course to pursue (Matthew 18:15-18).

a. Pray for them (I John 5:16).

b. Try to correct them (James 5:19-20).

c. Restore them if possible (Galatians 6:1).

d. Admonish them (I Thessalonians 5:14).

e. As a last resort, if they will not repent, withdraw from them (II Thessalonians 3:6; I Corinthians 5:4-5,13).

f. In which case it is the duty of the church as a whole to support such action (I Corinthians 5:9-13; II John 10-11; Matthew 18:17).


A. Procedures set down for judging (Deuteronomy 17:2-6; Deuteronomy 19:14-19).

1. Diligent inquiry.

2. Before guilty verdict, it must be proven true.

3. Can only be accomplished by two witnesses.

4. Not witnesses of different things but the same thing.

5. Otherwise guilty only upon confession.

6. There is always the possibility a witness may testify falsely.

B. There were six commands of Moses to judges (Deuteronomy 1:9- 18).

1. Hear the causes between your brethren and strangers among you.

2. Judge righteously between you and your brethren.

3. You shall have no respect of persons in judgment.

4. You shall not consider any cause too small or too great to judge.

5. You shall not be afraid of the face of any man, for you judge for God.

6. If the cause is too hard for you, bring it to me and I will hear it.


A. Must be able and God-fearing men (Exodus 18:21; II Samuel 23:3; Ezra 7:25).

B. Must be truthful men (Exodus 18:21; Deuteronomy 16:19).

C. Must have a hatred for covetousness (Exodus 18:21; I Timothy 3:3).

D. Must refuse bribes (Exodus 23:8).

E. Must be wise and understanding (Deuteronomy 1:17; I Chronicles 12:32).

F. Must have a knowledge of the Word (II Timothy 4:3; Ezra 7:25, I Chronicles 12:32; Luke 24:45).

G. Must have a love for justice and judgment (Deuteronomy 1:16; 16:18-19; 27:19; Zechariah 7:9-10).

H. Must judge without being a respecter of persons (Deuteronomy 1:17; 16:19; 25:1; Isaiah 5:23).

I. Must be fearless (Deuteronomy 1:17).

J. Must be conscientious (Deuteronomy 1:17).

K. Must be strong and courageous (Joshua 1:7-8; Ephesians 6:10).

L. Must be obedient to the law (Joshua 1:7-8, James 1:23-25).


We had rather free a man who is guilty then to find a man guilty who has been unjustly accused. Leave it to God if the man is guilty and let Him take care of it (Luke 12:2-3).

(The above material appeared in the UPCI World Evangelism Center Symposium, 1985).

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