John 3:17 says, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” In this passage of Scripture, Jesus is telling us that the Father sent Him into the world to save the people of the world — not to condemn them. If Jesus did not condemn the world, why are Christians today found guilty of condemning others?
What Is the Meaning of John 3:17?
Sadly, many Christians judge and condemn others on the basis of external sin, appearance, or actions. As Christians, we should never judge one another. Jesus tells all people, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Matthew 7:1-2).
In this passage, Jesus is directly telling believers the importance of not judging others. Jesus goes on to say in Matthew 7:3, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” Christians cannot condemn others because just like everybody else, Christians are sinners too (Romans 3:23).
Once an individual places faith in Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, the individual is given forgiveness of sins and eternal life (Romans 6:23). Noteworthy to mention is the fact of salvation providing the individual with forgiveness of sins — not eradication of sins.
The ability to sin is not erased at the moment of salvation. The Holy Spirit can help us resist temptation; however, all Christians will continue to sin. Since we are equally guilty of sin, we must not judge others nor condemn others (Romans 3:10-12).
Jesus is God, which means He is the only One who can truly condemn a person. He could have chosen to condemn all people because we have all drifted away from Him and have chosen to sin against Him.
Rather than condemning us, Jesus came to save us. Similar to how Jesus did not condemn the woman caught in adultery, neither should we condemn others (John 8:1-11). Just like Jesus, we should be willing to forgive others and to treat others kindly, lovingly, and respectfully.
Jesus Did Not Come to Condemn the World
Many Christians are quick to judge others on the basis of outward appearance and behaviors. Christians condemn others out of judgment and pride. While this is a sad reality, each Christian can decide for themselves whether or not they will condemn others. The right thing to do is to never condemn others.
Condemning others will result in the other person feeling attacked, belittled, and rejected. As believers, we should ever cause another person to feel rejected or cause them pain. Rude stares, impolite gestures, and judgmental tones and statements are not to be practiced by Christians.
The Word of God tells us, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Galatians 6:10). This is the petition to all believers to be kind, compassionate, and caring to all people whether they are Christians or not.
It can be easy for Christians to condemn others based on outward appearances, such as if the individual has a tattoo, smokes tobacco, drinks alcohol, or is a homosexual (Alicia Purdy, “5 Things Christians Often Condemn and What the Bible Actually Says,” Crosswalk). A Christian cannot condemn others based on these factors.
A good rule of thumb to adhere to when we try to help others in what they are struggling with is to engage them in conversation and talk with them rather than condemning them (Purdy). The Bible does not tell us to condemn others for getting a tattoo, smoking cigarettes, or drinking alcohol.
Homosexuality is prohibited in the Bible (Leviticus 18:22); however, believers should not condemn those struggling with homosexuality. If a believer truly wants to help an individual struggling with homosexuality, they should get to know them, talk with them, and study the Bible with them.
There are Christians who struggle with homosexuality, but that does not mean we should condemn them. Simply because these sins are more externally noticed does not mean they are “worse” sins than other sins. All sin is sin, and all sin is equal in God’s eyes (James 2:10-11).
Rather than condemning others because of sin, it is important that Christians respond without judgment. Try to imagine yourself in another person’s shoes before you even consider condemning them. God could have condemned us all to hell, but He chose to love us and redeem us through His Son’s death on the cross.
Jesus Came to Save
There are dangerous risks in condemning other Christians and unbelievers. If a Christian condemns an unbeliever or judges them, it could result in the unbeliever becoming disenchanted with the idea of Jesus and completely turning away from the faith. As believers, we are to reflect Christ to the world.
If we condemn and judge others, it will present Christ as condemning, judgmental, and hateful to others. We should never misrepresent our Savior and Lord. Jesus never condemned other people as He showed them love, forgiveness, and kindness. Christians need to do the same today.
If Christians condemn other Christians, it can cause friction to erupt among the body of believers. Within the family of God, there should not be any hate, disrespect, or judgment brought upon another believer.
Christians can help other people if they are struggling with a sin, but a Christian should never condemn a person for a sin. Jesus freely offers forgiveness, and He does not hold grudges. Ephesians 4:32 reads, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
Therefore, Christians should not condemn others, but rather love others. This does not mean you accept every sin. However, it does mean we should never condemn another individual. We should reflect Christ to others, which means since Christ did not condemn others, neither should we.
Each Christian struggles with their own sin and we should not condemn other Christians or other people because of sin in their life. We all fall short of God’s glory, which means we are in no place to condemn others.
Instead of cultivating a judgmental attitude, Christians should allow the Holy Spirit to work in their lives and produce the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Condemnation is not needed in a Christian’s life nor is hate, pride, or discord. Jesus did not condemn others, therefore, Christians should not either.
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Vivian Bricker loves Jesus, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She has earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Christian Ministry and is currently working toward her Master’s Degree. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, reading, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, she is probably embarking on an adventure.