According to the Bible, the act of judging righteously is a benefit to the individual Christian and to the body of believers as a whole.
Judging helps to sanctify the individual believer, prepares us to do the work of God, protects us from heretical doctrine that jeopardizes our faith, makes us an effective witness for Christ, and is a demonstration of God's grace to others.
"Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth." John 17:17
Judging ones' self with the Word of God is a key part of the process of sanctification through which every believer proceeds. This is why we are told to examine ourselves to see if we be in faith. (II Corinthians 13:5)
This is not simply an act of casual reflection. God is charging us, "Judge yourself to see if you really are what you claim!" Do the fruit of our lives attest to the words of our lips? Although we proclaim to be Christians, do our day-to-day lives line up to the Word of God?
Christ has come in direct opposition to the god of this world, the Father of lies. To combat the lies, Jesus presents us with incorruptible Truth. It is only by submitting to this Truth that the Spirit of God can be a lamp unto our feet, searching out our souls and turning our stony hearts into hearts of flesh. (Psalms 119; Acts 26:18; Romans 15:16; Ephesians 5:26-27; I Corinthians 6:11; II Corinthians 3:3; I Thessalonians 5:23; II Thessalonians 2:13; I Peter 1:2, 22)
Sanctification is not a one time, immediate change that occurs when we accept Christ. It is a process of being cleansed through the washing of the water by the word whereby we can be transformed into the image of God as we walk in relationship with Him. It is this process of judging ones' self that prompted David to cry out, "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Psalms 139:23-24
As we judge our own selves in the light of God's word we continue in the process of sanctification, which is the will of God for every Christian. "For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour." I Thessalonians 4:3-4
In fact, the Apostle Paul said that if we would simply judge ourselves, we will not be condemned when God judges us. "For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world." I Corinthians 11:31-32
Not only does judging one's self keep you in a place of being sanctified by God, it is only then that we are made fit for the Master's use.
"If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work." II Timothy 2:21
"Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them." Romans 16:17
First, this Scripture does not say to simply mark those who cause divisions or offenses (although this is what many who will say not to judge would like us to believe). It says to mark those who cause divisions or offenses by espousing doctrine that is contrary to Scripture.
This is an important distinction because it implies that there are divisions or offenses that are not contrary to Scripture. In fact, Scripture itself can be such a division or offense. We are told that the Word of God is a sword dividing the wheat from the chaff, both within the inner being of an individual and between individuals. (Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12; Matthew 10:34-36)
Further, both the written and the incarnate Word of God are referred to as a rock of offense (Romans 9:33; I Peter 2:7-8) Every Christian needs to settle in their minds that the Word of God will be considered divisive and offensive by those who rebel against God.
If you have determined that you will not "judge" so as to avoid these accusations, then you have essentially chosen not to be a witness for Christ.
"Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee." I Timothy 4:16
In the above Scripture, we are warned to "take heed" for not only our own selves but for the doctrine. In other words, God is saying to pay attention to, watch out for, take care of the doctrine. Why? Because not all doctrine is sound doctrine. In fact, we are told specifically that devils also have doctrines. (I Timothy 4:1; Revelation 2:14-15; Revelation 2:24)
It is precisely because there are these other "gospels" that we are warned to hold fast to what was given to us originally. (II Corinthians 11:4; Galatians 1:6-7;Titus 1:9; II Peter 3:1-13; I Timothy 1:6-7; Romans 6:17; Acts 2:42; Revelation 3:3)
Yet, the only way that we can hold fast to the Gospel is if we can discern or judge between the true and the false. (Hebrews 5:13-14)
Once again, the Word of God is presented as the standard for such an evaluation (Romans 6:17; Romans 16:17; II Thessalonians 2:15; I Timothy 1:3; II Timothy 1:13; II Timothy 3:13-17; II Timothy 4:2; II Peter 3:1-13; II John 1:10; Titus 1:9; Matthew 15:3-6)
Why is judging doctrine so important? Because there are doctrines that can jeopardize your faith and even your salvation.
"Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds." (II John 1:9-11)
I Timothy 4:16 also states that it is not only important to take heed to the doctrine but to continue in it. This is precisely the type of problem that the Apostle Paul was addressing in Galatians 1:6-7:
"I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ."
We are further warned that in the last days these doctrines of devils will be more prevalent and persuasive than ever, even to the point of deceiving the elect of God - if it were possible to do so. (Matthew 10:11; Matthew 24:24; Mark 13:22; II Thessalonians 2:3; I Timothy 4:1-5; II Timothy 4:3-4)
Lastly, I Timothy 4:16 reveals that by taking heed for and continuing in sound doctrine we will not only see salvation ourselves, but so will those to whom we witness. Conversely, as supported in II John 1:9-11, not continuing in sound doctrine results in us believing and spreading a perverted gospel that is powerless to save.
"Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world." I John 4:1
Everyone who claims to be a minister or even a Christian must be believed by virtue of their confession. As brothers and sisters in the Lord, we must not question or judge one another because God alone is our judge. If someone is in error, it is not for us to point it out. After all, no one has it all right and God will correct them if they are wrong. To judge another person is not only unloving, but is against Scripture.
While perhaps not verbatim, the above sentiments are often expressed when the subject of judging one another is raised. Yet these views are not only ludicrous, Scripture directly refutes such claims.
Not Everyone Who Says "Lord, Lord" Is Your Brother
The Word of God continually warns about the presence of false prophets in the world. Even more disarming, Scripture tells us that these deceivers will be mixed in with the church itself. (Matthew 13:24-40; Acts 20:29-31; II Timothy 2:20-21; II Timothy 4:3; II Timothy 3:13; Matthew 7:15; Matthew 24:11, 24; Mark 13:22; II Corinthians 11:4; Philippians 3:18-19; Galatians 2:4; II Peter 2:1)
"For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works."(II Corinthians 11:13-15)
God is telling us that there are ministers of Satan in the church who are actually transformed so that they appear as ministers of righteousness! We are even told that some of these false ministers will have Satanic power to perform supernatural signs, wonders, healings, and other miraculous events. Matthew 24:24; Mark 13:22; II Thessalonians 2:9)
Throughout Scripture, God warns us about these false prophets, false brethren, false apostles, etc. Is His direction for us to accept these individuals without question in a some superficial show of love? No. God is no fool and He knows that the intent of these individuals is to pull you out of the faith. (II Peter 2:1-22)
The end times, we are told, will be specifically marked by a great apostasy as people are drawn away after false gospels. As a result, God commands us to judge whether they in fact are members of the Body of Christ, discern the signs, try the spirits, examine the fruit and be purged from these! (I Corinthians 5:7; II Corinthians 6:14-17; Ephesians 5:11; I Timothy 6:5; II Timothy 2:21; II Thessalonians 3:6; Titus 3:10)
How do we identify false brethren? Because they preach and live a gospel that is a perversion of the Word of God. (Isaiah 8:20) Scripture not only tells us how to identify the false, but it shows us how to recognize the true Body of Christ? We know them by their fruit. (Matthew 7:16-20; Matthew 12:33; Matthew 13:23; Matthew 21:19-43; Mark 4:8, 20; Luke 6:44; Luke 8:15; John 15:1-16; Galatians 5:22; Ephesians 5:9-11; Colossians 1:10)
As Christians, we are not only engrafted into the family of God, but we are made a part of a spiritual family of brothers and sisters with whom we can fellowship, learn, share, and grow in the faith. We have been birthed into a body of believers who can encourage, strengthen, support, and yes even admonish each other when necessary.
"And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another."(Romans 15:14)
Webster's defines admonish as "to express warning or disapproval to especially in a gentle, earnest, or solicitous manner." Although some in the church would say that we should not even do that, there are Scriptures that show this as one of the responsibilities of the church. (Colossians 3:16; I Thessalonians 5:12; Acts 27:9)
In fact, we are specifically told to admonish and rebuke those brethren who may be in error (Titus 1:13; Titus 2:15; Titus 3:10; Ephesians 5:11; Colossians 3:16; I Corinthians 4:14; II Timothy 3:16-4:2; II Timothy 4:2)
"But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing. And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother." (II Thessalonians 3:13-15)
The Bible even shows that it is sometimes necessary to specifically name those who are erring in the faith in order to protect others whom they may influence.
"But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already: and overthrow the faith of some."(II Timothy 2:16-Also I Timothy 1:19-20; I Timothy 5:20-21; II Timothy 4:10; Galatians 2: 11-14; II Timothy 4: 14-15; III John 1:9)
When a brother or sister is in error, it is an extension of God's grace and mercy to have another member of the Body provide correction. This gives the one in error an opportunity to repent and it serves as a witness for others in the faith. Letting a brother or sister continue in error is the most unloving and self-righteous act, because it allows them to continue in something that may result in them falling away from the Lord.
Our fellowship with each other is but one of the ways in which God helps to steer us in the right direction when we go astray.