Sin Shaming

Sin Shaming June 7, 2019

It is far too easy to judge others over their sins when our own sins are obvious, so here’s why we shouldn’t “sin shame” others when they sin.

Condemning Others

Jesus said, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you” (Matt 7:1-2). The word Jesus used for “judge” has the connotation of condemning someone; similar to being the prosecuting attorney, jury, and judge all rolled into one. It’s so easy to judge others and have others judge us, but we can be wrong, and so can they. We may not have all the facts, or we’ve got the wrong facts, so it’s best to give people the benefit of the doubt (1 Cor 13:7). The Apostle Paul didn’t care about hurting the church’s feelings because they were being judgmental. He chastised them, telling them that they “have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things” (Rom 2:1-2). The whole idea is summed up by Jesus, saying, “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37). God commands us to “not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door” (James 5:9), and He’s not you or me.

The Heart

It is usually a bad idea to attribute motives and intents toward people, being we cannot really know their heart like God can. As God was choosing a king for Israel, Samuel gave some good advice to Jesse, telling him, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Sam 16:7). Unfortunately, we (including me) tend to judge by sight, even though that works no better than judging a book by the front cover. We are told not to “judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment” (John 7:24), so even though “All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes [it is] the LORD weighs the spirit” (Prov 16:2).

The Church

We have no business condemning or judging unbelievers, or those outside of Christ. That’s not our job (Rev 20:12-15). God’s Word and God Himself will judge the unsaved, but this doesn’t mean we don’t share Christ with them. The Apostle Peter said that “it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God” (1 Pet 4:17). Judging those outside of the church is God’s business (Rom 2:6, 12:19). In fact, “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:17). Within the Body of Christ, we’re told to “not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor” (James 4:11-12). Paul asks the church at Corinth, “[W]hat have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge” (1 Cor 5:12)? Shaming unbelievers because they sin (by the way, we still sin too!) is unfair because they do not have Christ to help them (John 15:5; Phil 4:13), or the Holy Spirit to convict them of sin (John 16:8). That is the Spirit’s job, not ours.

God’s Judgment

When the Jews had brought a woman caught in adultery before Jesus, they told Him that the law required stoning her. It appears that they were trying to put Jesus in a conundrum. If Jesus said, “Yes, stone her,” they would have probably turned Jesus into the Roman authorities who alone had the power to sentence someone to death, but if Jesus excused the woman’s sin, then the Jews would have accused Jesus of breaking Jewish law, so apparently, it was breaking Roman law or Jewish law, but Jesus stuns the crowd. He says, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7b). One by one, they all left, beginning with the oldest…those who probably had the most sin over a lifetime, and lastly, the youngest.  Only Jesus was left since He was without sin.  And, why didn’t they bring the man? Wasn’t he just as guilty as the woman, possibly even the culprit? In a sense, Jesus could have asked them in this setting or context, “[H]ow can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log 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 7:4-5).


If we could sum up the idea of shaming people over their sin or over those who haven’t yet trusted in Christ, we quote Paul who wrote, “Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord” (Rom 12:17-29). The Apostle Paul adds an important thought about judging others: “The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one” (1 Cor 2:15). This doesn’t say “the spiritual person judges all people,” but rather, he or she is able to judge themselves and other things with good judgment. Judgement starts at the house of God, and I believe, if you draw a circle in the sand and step into it, that’s where judgment begins. We must make judgments about things in life, and about ourselves, but that doesn’t mean we should judge people in a condemning way. For example, we should never judge someone as irredeemable. Or judge them as beyond hope of salvation. God can change any human heart (Prov 21:1). He does as He pleases. He is God. He is the Judge of all things. For now, I am busy enough judging the one I face in the mirror every day. I have enough trouble with him without worrying about others.

Article by Jack Wellman

Jack Wellman is an ordained elder of the Brethren Church and a Pastor and Prison Minister in the State of Kansas, but also a writer at Christian Quotes and What Christians Want to Know which address questions about the Bible. He also plants ministries like nursing home ministries, Outreach for the poor, and other evangelistic activities, and check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.

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  • Susan Jane Elohim

    Worthy Is The Lamb, Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

    The Gospel is the ministry of reconciliation. It’s not the ministry of condemnation. The Old Testament law was the ministry of condemnation and we all sin and fall short of the law. Sometimes in our deeds, sometimes in our words and sometimes in our hearts.

    So God sent Jesus to give us a new nature. One that is teachable and correctable.

    You cannot always accurately judge someone’s heart but you can see that it is peaceful or disturbed by a person’s words or deeds. You can judge by words and deeds because this world does judge people by both and sends people to prisons and mental institutions based on them. We get married using words and divorced using them, too.

    When that happens guard your own heart because corruption likes to gain access to people through their gates which are the five senses.

    So you have to see no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil, think no evil and keep your garments clean.

    Because out of the heart the mouth speaks.

    Jacob said “All I need is my food and my raiment” speaking of spiritual food and clothing. Jesus provides both to all the spiritual orphans letting him adopt them and every person ever born is a spiritual orphan without Jesus Christ that’s why he gave his life for people to be born again spiritually cf. John 3.

    From 1 Timothy 6, Berean Study Bible

    Contentment in Godliness
    6Of course, godliness with contentment is great gain. 7For we brought nothing into the world, andb neither can we carry anything out of it. 8But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these.

    9Those who want to be rich, however, fall into temptation and become ensnared by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. 10For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. By craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.

    From Proverbs 21, Berean Study Bible

    1The king’s heart is a waterway in the hand of the LORD;
    He directs it where He pleases.

    2All a man’s ways seem right to him,
    but the LORD weighs the heart.

    • Jack Wellman

      Amen and amen! Thank you for this.

      • pud

        Lunatic cult.

      • Susan Jane Elohim

        “Separate Yourself”. It can be hard to do this separation when people want to meddle and control you into arguing with them all the time cf. Acts 19:8-9.

        Separate Yourself

        And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” Eph. 5:11

        Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God.” Lev. 20:7 Also: I Peter 1:16.

        When a Christian lives the way God commands, the ungodly will separate from him. Godly living convicts the ungodly, and rather than change their way of living, they often will alienate themselves from the source of their “feeling guilty.” So many Christians that do not live a separated life never make any difference to those around them, as their lifestyle is not a godly example.
        “Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake.” Luke 6:22

  • I thought that Christians were supposed to love one another and to consider others “better than themselves”. So “sin shaming” seems a terrible thing to do because those that are doing the shaming are not free from “sin” themselves. This often smacks of hypocrisy and, it is no wonder that people are leaving the churches in droves and one of the reasons is “sin shaming”.

    • Carlos Santiago

      Good points John, Scripture informs us that, now that we are aware of what sins we do personally have….. we are prohibited from using this as judgement against others as you note from Philippians and others. Secular institutions have no such prohibition so what we are seeing today is character assassination, hate and shame speech dominating social forums. It is a horribly angry society. We must also keep in mind Christs church is a hospital for sinners in all stages.

      • Good points! Christ’s church ought to be a hospital for sinners, but too often those who are considered sinners are rejected by that subset of the church that considers itself the “sanctified” but are really sanctimonious. There are still some gracious persons left in the churches and we need to be thankful for them, but they ( I may be mistaken here and hope that I am) seem to be getting fewer.

  • pud

    Why janitor jack should anyone care what some ancient religious psychotic lunatic said in a few letters to his cult? How many other insane people do you model your pitiful life after?

  • pud

    Why janitor jack should anyone care what some ancient religious psychotic lunatic said in a few letters to his cult? How many other insane people do you model your pitiful life after?

  • Carlos Santiago

    ‘ Judge not’ is certainly a tall order but is possible with the working of the Spirit. The challenge is that now were are more sensitive to grievances against God and our neighbor we are not to think of ourselves as righteous enough to judge others. Better is to examine ourselves and see of we are producing the Fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Thank you Jack!

  • Collin Stringer

    In body of your article, you begin with Mat. 7:1,2, “Judge not, that you be not judged.” Then, you end with Mat. 7:4,5, where Jesus speaks of the speck and log in the eyes of the judged and judge. > It’s disappointing to see authors who love the Bible take the Lord’s comments out of context.
    Did you notice Christ’s clinching statement in Mat. 7:5? “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.” He is clearly teaching against a certain kind of judgment: hypocritical judgment. He is not broadly condemning the practice of judging others. How do we know this? If we obey Jesus’s words, we must use our judgment to see whether there is a speck in that person’s eye. My judgment: Is it actually a speck worth calling attention to? Maybe it’s not even a speck – I’ll ignore it.
    Also, did you only look at the first phrase in John 7:24 to make your point about judging by appearances? Jesus continues, “judge with right judgment.” Did you hear this clear command? The Lord wants us to judge — not hypocritically but righteously. For example (Mat. 7:6), … should I throw pearls here? … uh let’s see … hmm … those are actually pigs, so I won’t throw them there. Yes, Jesus says that when teaching others, we can make a righteous judgment about how receptive they will be, and possibly conclude that we are wasting our time with certain people. I’m not condemning this “pig” to hell; I’ll pray he repents at some time in the future. But I’ll use my precious time finding someone who is eager to hear the good news.
    Context is crucial with Mat. 7:1. It’s lifted out of context far too often. Let’s do better.
    Grace and peace to you.

    • Jack Wellman

      I am dissapointed too that you are judging me as a poor author. The word Judge used by Jesus is condemtnation or condemn. We cannot condemn others but we must make judgments. So many Christians are quick to go on the offensive in finding the splinter in other people’s lives and yet don’t see that they are doing what they accuse others of doing. I realize Jesus is not broadly condemning the practice of judging…but of condemning and when someone has something far worse in their lives. I hope you are more kind to others in person. You can do better too my friend, I am sure.

  • Micho Lambwe

    Thank you so much for life changing messages,true gospel from the heart of God into us so that we be content and see every human special!( Living all matters in the hands of our maker)
    God bless you servant of God abundantly!!

    • Jack Wellman

      It is so nice to hear words of encouragment (as opposed to those of discouragement, like below). Thank you.

      • Micho Lambwe

        You most welcome Servant of the Lord! Continue reaching to many with the true gospel msgs.
        Here in Zambia Africa I get changed Everytime I read your Articles Keep shinning for Jesus.

  • Micho Lambwe



    Many powerful people always like to shame people beneath them but don’t like it when it is thrown back in their face.