“Such a moment [of Christian conversion], of course, is elusive of observation…The possibility of outward ambiguity remains. Love as the shaping force of a life may not declare itself immediately in observable ways. The most outward and public gestures of reformation and change may be the most illusory. Without recanting what we said [earlier] about the revelation of character through acts, we have to recognize that the shaping moment of conversion complicates this revelation, since it introduces an inner contradiction, a conflict of ‘flesh’ and ‘Spirit’, as Saint Paul calls it (Gal. 5:17), into the hidden reality of the character itself. And that is why Christians are warned not to ‘judge’ people. We are not able to draw quick conclusions from appearances as to whether someone is a good or a bad person, a saved or a damned soul…Only when that judgment is finally manifest can we expect to see clearly with what design it has cut through the fabric of human conduct.
The words ‘Judge not, that you be not judged’ (Mt. 7:1) are not intended, as a liberal indifferentism can so easily construe them, to forbid moral judgment. There is a tolerance which comes from not taking moral questions seriously, from regarding the difference between right and wrong skeptically because of the ambiguities with which human behavior confronts us. There is another tolerance, quite different in spirit from this, which comes from taking moral questions so seriously that we recognize the point at which they exceed our competence to resolve them. We can speak and think about the right and wrong of acts, the value of virtues and traits of character; but when it comes to pronouncing a verdict on a human being’s life in its totality, we know that too much is hidden from us to permit any anticipation of God’s final word.” (Oliver O’Donovan, Resurrection and Moral Order: An Outline for Evangelical Ethics, pp. 257-58)