What we should be looking for in correction of another believer is a pattern of sin, where the goal is one of restoration (Matt. 18:15; Gal. 6:1; Jd. 1:22-23). There are proper channels in which we are to do this in the life of the church (Matt. 18:15-20). We are likewise not to judge the unbeliever in the same manner as we would a brother, because God Himself will judge those outside of the church (1 Cor. 5:12-13).
One of the most misused verses in the Bible is Matthew 7:1, “Judge not lest ye be judged.” Professing Christians and non-Christians alike will quote this verse in a myriad of ways—mostly though as a tool for deflection. In other words, it’s used as a “gotcha.” Drop Matthew 7:1 in any particular debate over issues of sin and apparently the debate is over. However, much like any other misused verse in the Scriptures, the problem is resolved simply by examining the context of the passage.
“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at 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,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? 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” (Matt. 7:1-5).
The implication is rather simple: judge and you will also be judged. How you judge someone is the same way you will be judged, hence why Christ explains we ought to first examine our own motives and actions first. If we are in sin, the primary focus should be upon “removing the log” from our own eye so that we can see clearly in removing the speck in another’s. It is then and only then that we can appropriately judge another—and the presumption of the passage is in fact that we will judge another. Notice, however, that the focus of Christ in Matt. 7:5 is that of the hypocritical person, who judges without respect to their own sins. In other words, there is still judgment that is deemed necessary to take place; the “speck” is not to be left in another’s eye, but rather, the one seeking to remove the speck from their brother’s eye ought to first inspect their own eye in order to rightly remove it.
No matter how you stretch it, the demand placed on the one who passes unrighteous judgment is repentance, for we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things (Rom. 2:2). They should know they will experience the same fate as others who practice evil deeds (Rom. 2:3), for God’s patience is not a sanction of their sin, but a demonstration of His kindness, which is to lead to repentance (Rom. 2:4). Those of a stubborn, unrepentant heart will only store up further condemnation on the Day of Judgement, where God will reward each man their due (Rom. 2:5-16). Again, to put it as bluntly as one can, those who practice lawlessness will not inherit the Kingdom of God (Gal. 5:21; 1 Cor. 6:9-10) and their hypocritical judgment will only build up more and more wrath.