In 1 Corinthians 5:12-13 the Apostle Paul states, “What have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside.”
In his commentary about Paul’s statement, William Barclay writes, “It is Paul’s principle that we are not to judge those outside the Church. “Those outside” was a Jewish phrase used to describe people outside the Chosen People. We must leave their judgment to God who alone knows the hearts of men.”
The idea that Christians are not to judge non-Christians isn’t an idea that every member of the Christian community accepts. All too often, Christian adults in the USA will get on their soap boxes and lecture non-Christian adults on how to live their lives. The ones doing such lecturing may feel pleased with themselves, but all that the lecturing does is to cause the non-Christian adults to put up their defenses.
Christians who engage in such lecturing fail to grasp one of the realities of life: It is foolish to expect spiritual fruit from one who is spiritually dead. If Christians behave in a way that pleases God, then they do so because the Holy Spirit dwells within them and gives them the ability to behave in a way that pleases God. Without the power of the Holy Spirit, Christians are no more able to live a godly life than non-Christians are able to.
In John 15:5 Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” Godly living isn’t something that is self-generated. So, one does not make others clean by getting on one’s soap box.
William Barclay, The Letters to the Corinthians, The Daily Study Bible Series (The Westminster Press: 1975), p. 48.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.