This verse often comes into play when you suggest that a certain behavior is sinful. The person puts up her hand to stop you. "Judge not, that you be not judged!" she says with a "shame on you" tone in her voice.
Ouch! You wince! How frustrating! The conversation is over. How dare you suggest that you know if another person's behavior is wrong?
But is that what this sentence means? In its biblical context, Jesus is telling people that they need to admit their own sin before God and not to be self-righteous hypocrites.
(Matthew 7:1-5) “Judge not, that you be not judged.Jesus is not suggesting that we ignore sin or pretend that we don't know right from wrong. Jesus is not suggesting that we just let everyone do their own thing without ever correcting them or telling them what the Bible says about their behavior.
2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.
3 And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?
4 Or how can you say to your brother, “Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye?
5 Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
We should not be self-righteous hypocrites. Instead, we should repent of our own sin and come to Jesus for cleansing.
(1John 1:9) If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.Once we have found true righteousness in Jesus Christ, we not only CAN warn people about their sins, but we MUST! Notice that at the end of this admonition Jesus says you will finally see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye! You shouldn't pretend you are perfect, but you would be unkind to just let your friend suffer with a speck in his eye when you know where he can get relief.
In modern times "Judge not..." has been twisted into something contrary to its original meaning. Those who use it often do so in a very self-righteous tone - judging those who violate the modern ethic of "tolerance" and relative truth. "Judge not..." has become a code to suggest that anything goes - anything except the condemnation of sin or an appeal to Biblical authority.