Scriptures

The Sermon On The Mount Part 3

Introduction

‘You’re judging me!’ is a common response uttered by many today whose toes are stepped on by the truth. The implication is that no one has the right to draw attention to a fault in their life. Although some forms of judging are prohibited by Scripture, there are other types that we are commanded to engage in.

The Bible is a beautiful book, isn’t it? It contains the wonderful message of God’s love for us. Part of the beauty of God’s Word is its simplicity. In my Bible, the New Testament is only about 250 pages long! Yet, I’ve seen commentaries written by men that consume the same amount of space in only discussing one New Testament book!

We have a tendency to make things unnecessarily complicated, but, in general, God doesn’t do this. God has given us His inspired, revealed will and we can understand it if we diligently desire to do so.

But, at the same time, we need to realise that there are a few things in the Bible that are somewhat difficult to comprehend. Peter acknowledges this very thing concerning Paul’s letters, 2 Peter 3:16.

Essentially, he says that those who are unstable and untaught will twist the Scriptures to their own destruction when they encounter a passage that is difficult to understand! That is, they misuse these difficult passages by teaching error, and they will suffer the loss of their souls as a result.

What should we do when we encounter a passage of Scripture that is difficult for us to understand? We should be very careful, careful to study the verses completely in context and careful to consider all other passages on the same topic. If we do this, we can have some confidence that we are not twisting the Scriptures to our own destruction.

We must always remember that if we come to a conclusion that is contrary to clear Biblical teaching elsewhere, then we’ve made a mistake and our conclusion, whatever it may be, is invalid.

I wrote all that to help prepare us for analysing one difficult passage in the New Testament, however, I don’t believe that Jesus intended His words to be difficult to understand.

Judge With Righteous Judgment

‘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. ‘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? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. ‘ Matthew 7:1-5

For some people these words are difficult. Many incorrectly believe that these verses teach us that it’s absolutely wrong to judge others. This is simply not true; it is not always wrong to judge others. Jesus is laying down a general principle here, but He isn’t limiting all types of judging.

How do I know? Well, the Scriptures authorise certain actions that simply cannot be done without humans exercising judgment upon others.

Let me give you a few examples to think about.

1. Consider our judicial system.

God has given authority to civil governments to make judgments, Romans 13:1-7, and we are to obey our leaders unless they instruct us to go against the Lord’s ways, Acts 5:29.

2. Consider the church.

The body of Christ has the responsibility to exercise judgment on those who walk disorderly. The judgment to be exercised is that of discipline or withdrawal of fellowship. There are numerous passages that support this truth, Matthew 18:15-20 / 2 Thessalonians 3:6-10 / 1 Corinthians 5.

3. Look at the immediate context.

We are not to cast our pearls before swine, Matthew 7:6. But, how can we obey this command without making some judgments? Jesus warns His followers to beware of false teachers, Matthew 7:15.

However, if we could never make judgments about individuals, then how could it ever be determined who is a false teacher and who isn’t?

4. The title of this lesson proves that judging others is not always wrong.

The title comes from John 7:24 is a direct quote from the Lord Himself! Jesus instructs us in that verse to judge with righteous judgment, and we will consider exactly what that means shortly.

But, for now it should be exceedingly clear that God requires us to make certain types of judgments, and thus Matthew 7:1 must not be interpreted as an absolute prohibition against all types of judging.

So, if this doesn’t mean that all types of human judging are wrong, then what type of judging is Jesus speaking against here? I believe the Lord is speaking against judging that is unmerciful, hypocritical, or vengeful.

Let’s consider these three aspects one at a time.

1. We must not judge unmercifully.

If we aren’t merciful to humans in our dealings with them, then they are not likely to be merciful to us, Matthew 7:2. The way they judge us will be a reflection of the way we have judged them.

Remember Haman? He was hanged on the gallows which he had prepared for Mordecai, Esther 7. What Solomon said truly applies to the realm of human judging, Ecclesiastes 10:8.

And, even more importantly, eventually we will all be judged by God Himself, and He will take into consideration the way we have judged others. If we are merciful, He will be merciful to us.

If we are cold, unloving, and unforgiving toward others, God will treat us similarly, Matthew 5:7 / James 2:13 / Matthew 18:21-35. Jesus has little use for followers with harsh, bitter, and fault-finding spirits.

2. We must not judge hypocritically.

This seems to be the fundamental thrust of Matthew 7:3-5. Jesus uses the term ‘hypocrite’ for those who judge others and do not examine themselves first. They are in no position to judge others or assist them when they suffer from an even greater problem! Both parties described have a problem with sin, depicted by the speck and plank in their eyes.

Common sense tells us that both need to remove the foreign objects, that is sin from their eyes, that is life. Christians mustn’t allow sin to reside in their lives even to a small degree. When a person has successfully overcome a problem with a particular sin, they will then be in a better position to assist someone else with a similar problem.

Those who are no longer in sin will be better able to ‘see clearly’ and assist others. Jesus isn’t condemning this type of judging but encouraging it. Paul elaborates upon this thought in Galatians 6:1.

It is not wrong to realise that a brother or sister has a problem with sin. It’s not wrong to confront them and help them overcome it. However, if we are burdened with the same sin ourselves, or perhaps one even more heinous, then we aren’t going to be able to do them much good. Often, humans engage in hypocritical judging without even being aware of it.

I’m reminded of the true story I read about two well-known preachers of the past. One of the men admired the other very greatly and had an opportunity to meet him one day. The admired preacher answered the door with a cigar in his mouth. The other preacher was aghast; he couldn’t believe it! He bluntly asked, ‘how can you, a man of God, smoke that?’ In response, the other preacher pulled the cigar from his mouth, put his finger on his visitor’s rather inflated stomach, smiled and said, ‘the same way as you, a man of God, could be that fat’.

Now, what can we learn from these two men? Humans are often blind to their own vices. Both of these men had a problem; namely, they were not taking care of their bodies as they should. Our bodies are not our own; our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit Himself, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.

We must be good stewards of our physical bodies just as we are of our time and other resources. We should take care of our bodies to the best of our ability. Being significantly overweight and smoking are both provably bad for our health. We should try to help one another overcome problems like these.

But, let us be careful not to judge others hypocritically. These men were guilty of it and so are we sometimes. Even great men like David have been guilty of it! 2 Samuel 11 / 2 Samuel 12:1-7. Let us be exceedingly careful in our efforts to avoid hypocritical judgment.

3. We must not judge vengefully.

Although it isn’t mentioned explicitly in this passage, Jesus seems to also be condemning judgment that is vengeful. Embedded in the Greek word for ‘judge’ in Matthew 7:1 is the idea of condemning someone and even sentencing them.

We don’t have the right to do this as individuals, even if we have been wronged by someone, Romans 12:19. God is the ultimate judge. He has reserved the right of vengeance for Himself.

Thus far, we’ve seen that there is a wrong kind of judging. When we judge without mercy, when we judge hypocritically, or when we judge vengefully, we are not being pleasing to God. But what about the right kind of judging? John 7:24 instructs us to ‘judge with righteous judgment’.

How can we know if our judgment is righteous? I believe the key to judging righteously is found in our attitude. We must have a good attitude in order to judge righteously, an attitude that manifests several characteristics. Some of these characteristics have already been indirectly mentioned, but now let’s examine them more closely.

1. To judge righteously, one must have an attitude of love.

Our love should be seen at all times, but especially when we are confronting someone regarding sin in their life, John 13:35.

2. To judge righteously, one must have an attitude of consideration and compassion.

Paul wrote in Philippians 2:3-4 and Peter wrote in 1 Peter 3:8. To correct someone in sin should not be a joyful privilege but a serious duty, James 5:19-20.

We should feel compassion for a brother or sister who is overtaken in sin; we should not rejoice in their shortcomings or think ourselves superior. If we aren’t humble and spiritually minded, Galatians 6:1, then we aren’t well equipped to help someone else overcome their sins.

3. To judge righteously, one must have an attitude of forgiveness.

May we never forget that ‘all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’, Romans 3:23. That would include you and me. When we identify sin in the life of someone else, we cannot do it from the perspective of perfection; none of us are sinless.

Instead, as Christians, we should be addressing sin in the life of someone else from the perspective of having been forgiven an exceedingly large debt ourselves, Matthew 18:21-35.

4. To judge righteously, one must have an attitude of self-examination.

This point has already been addressed earlier, though it can be supplemented well with two passages, 2 Corinthians 13:5 / Romans 2:21. When we are loving, considerate, compassionate, and willing to forgive others and examine ourselves, then we’re ready to use the Word of God to judge others, not according to appearances, but righteously.

We can only do this by examining fruit, Matthew 7:20. That is, when examining the actions and words of others, we must ask, are these actions and words in harmony with the Bible? This is how judgments should be made, not according to my personal likes or dislikes, but according to the Scriptures. We should be making judgments like this all the time.

Even as write, you should be examining my words and judging whether or not I speak the truth. This is a good thing, Acts 17:11. Let it also be observed on this point that we must be exceedingly careful in judging a person’s intentions since we don’t know the hearts of men like God does.

Caution is always in order in this regard. If the Bible is the standard we use for judging, and we use it correctly with a proper heart, then we will not go wrong, because in essence we are merely passing down the judgment that God has already given! Psalm 119:172.

Righteous judgment can only be based upon the Word of God! For example, if we know that a person is engaging in sexually immorality and we go to them humbly and tell them that they are sinning and need to repent, they might respond by saying that, ‘we’re judging them and that I have no right to do so’. But, they’re wrong.

We’re merely passing down God’s judgment that He has made known through His word. We shouldn’t be there addressing this person if we’re not interested in trying to help them. we shouldn’t be there if we don’t love them and their soul. We shouldn’t be there if we ourselves are not right before God. If we’re a hypocrite or if our motives are improper, the chance of them repenting is very unlikely.

The same could be said for any sin, not just sexual immorality. If we know that a person is teaching false doctrine, if we know that a person is using profanity, if we know that a person is walking disorderly, etc., then we have a responsibility to help them.

Our own life needs to be right first and then, with God’s Word and a proper attitude, we can help others. But we can only judge them by their fruits with the Word of God, for this is what we ourselves will be judged by. John 12:48.

There is a right way to judge and a wrong way. It is only when we have ‘clear vision,’ a proper, helpful attitude, all the facts in perspective, and a knowledge of God’s Word that a just and correct judgment on any issue can be made.

Let us abstain from improper judgment and practice righteous judgment as God expects us to and let us be wise enough to receive it gracefully from others.

Pigs And Dogs

‘Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.’ Matthew 7:6

In the first century, dogs and pigs were considered to be unclean animals; they were not domesticated and were sometimes fierce. The connection of this verse to the previous ones is not obvious.

Jesus had been speaking about judging in Matthew 7:1-5. Perhaps Jesus is now trying to prevent His disciples from drawing the false conclusion that all judging is wrong. The Lord commands that holy things are not be given to dogs, and pearls are not be thrown before pigs. Obviously, in order to obey this command, some judging is necessary, but what does Jesus mean by these statements?

Let’s first state what we know His prohibition does not mean.

1. He does not mean that there are some who should not have the opportunity to hear the Gospel.

The Gospel message is for all; God wants all to come to the knowledge of the truth, Mark 16:15 / 1 Timothy 2:4.

2. He does not mean that we are to predetermine which individuals would be good prospects for conversion.

Who would have ever known that Saul of Tarsus, the great persecutor of the church, would be an ideal prospect for Christianity, Acts 9.

3. He does not mean that we are to have a self-righteous attitude and withhold the Gospel from those who aren’t ‘righteous’ like us.

We are to esteem others as better than ourselves and look out for their best interests, Philippians 2:3-4.

Now that we’ve mentioned some common misconceptions on this passage, let’s talk about what Jesus does mean in this verse. Quite simply, Jesus is warning us that certain things cannot be given to some individuals or types of persons. Specifically, He means that we should be wise in our attempts to preach to individuals who thrust the Gospel away and reject it.

When we encounter individuals, who don’t want anything to do with the Gospel, we should ‘shake the dust off our feet,’ Matthew 10:14, and go to those who want it. We can’t do this without making a judgment!

It is a foolish waste of precious time to try to force the Gospel on those who resist it, for they don’t understand the beauty or value of it, and persistent presentation of it only provokes their anger! Nevertheless, in order to determine whether or not one actually will reject the Gospel, they must first be given a chance to hear it.

To judge anyone on the basis of physical appearances or habits and conclude that they would not be interested in the Gospel is premature judgment and wrong!

Let us strive for a humble attitude as we preach God’s saving Gospel to all but let us also cherish and respect the preciousness of it by not forcing it upon those who reject it and are unappreciative of our efforts, (i.e., the dogs and pigs of our day. For New Testament examples of this, Matthew 21:23-27 / Acts 13:42-52 / Acts 19:9.

Although we are not to judge vengefully, unmercifully, or hypocritically toward our fellow man, there must be some discerning of character based upon the evidence at hand, Matthew 7:20. May God give us wisdom in this regard!

Ask, Seek, Knock

‘Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. ‘Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!’ Matthew 7:7-11

Our Lord is again teaching on the subject of prayer in this context. Asking is making a request with our voice, seeking is the act of pursuing someone or something, and knocking is an effort to open and pass through an obstacle.

All three of these verbs are continuous in the Greek, i.e., one must continue to ask, seek, and knock, and they seem to be communicating the same basic idea in a progressive manner.

When we pray to the heavenly Father, we must do so seriously, not vainly. Prayer is not to be an empty ritual. To pray correctly, we must not only ‘ask’ for a blessing, but we must also faithfully ‘knock’ and ‘seek’ for the fulfilment of our request, Luke 18:1-8.

Prayer isn’t an opportunity to make requests for things we aren’t willing to work for or too lazy to sincerely pray for again if the petition is not immediately answered in the affirmative! Prayers that are pleasing to God are offered from the heart zealously. When a person puts little heart or passion into their prayers, should they really expect God to put much heart into answering them?

We must continue to ask, seek, and knock according to the Lord’s will, and He will bless us. This is a promise of God, and He is faithful to keep His word!

Let me hasten to state that although there are no explicit restrictions placed upon this teaching here, the rest of the New Testament does establish some parameters, Matthew 6:14-15 / James 1:6-7 / James 4:3 / 1 Peter 3:7 / 1 John 3:22 / 1 John 5:14.

I believe one proper application of this verse is that those who are genuinely seeking the truth are going to find it. I do not believe that there is anyone who has lived, or will live, who sincerely desired to know the truth, who did not have an opportunity to come in contact with it, Acts 10. No one can truly believe in this promise unless they have great faith in the providence of God.

Jesus speaks of ‘bread’ and ‘fish.’ These were common foods for the peasants of Galilee. Human parents ‘give good gifts’ to their children to the best of their ability because they love them; that is, they wouldn’t give them a stone instead of bread or a serpent instead of fish. But, how much more will God the Creator, whose love and ability to give are infinitely beyond any earthly parent, ‘give good things to those who ask Him!’.

Jesus is comparing human parents, who are ‘evil’, with God Almighty who is perfectly good and righteous in every way. Have you considered that God’s love for you is even greater than your parents’ love for you? This truth must be remembered when petitions are offered to the Lord and not answered as we think they should be.

Our prayers should always centre around the fact that God knows best and He has our best interests in mind, regardless of how He answers. The Lord doesn’t just give good gifts, He gives the greatest gifts, James 1:17. As we ask, seek, and knock, let us never view prayer as striving to conquer God’s reluctance but rather as the act of laying hold of His willingness, Ephesians 3:20-21.

The Golden Rule

Throughout the middle of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus has specified many moral duties. He now proceeds to close this portion of His lesson by setting forth a general principle, often referred to as the Golden Rule.

‘So, in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.’ Matthew 7:12

This principle that Jesus sets forth touches every aspect of our life and is the best moral rule we can live by. It far exceeds its declaration in the negative sense, that is, ‘do not do to others what you would not want them to do to you,’ which was taught by men such as Socrates, Buddha, Confucius, and Hillel.

The rule, as stated by Jesus, is supreme in that it requires doing good to others and not merely refraining from doing them harm. It is not always easy to see things from another’s perspective, but one should always try to do so and then direct his conduct accordingly.

This verse is certainly an appropriate conclusion to any instruction on moral duties because of its exceedingly broad scope. Interestingly enough, Jesus comments that this principle is really nothing more than a summary of the Old Testament!

A person who is practising the Golden Rule will not murder, lust, commit adultery, divorce unscripturally, make false promises, hate others, judge unrighteously, etc, Matthew 5:17-48. Thus, for a Hebrew of Jesus’ day to faithfully obey the Golden Rule was for them to live obediently under the Mosaic law. In so doing, they would exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, Matthew 5:20.

But, what about today? Let us consider some practical examples of how the Golden Rule should be applied in various circumstances of life.

1. We want to be able to trust in and confide in a friend.

Thus, we should be trustworthy and never betray something told to us in confidence.

2. We do not want to be misquoted.

Thus, we will be very careful not to misquote another person or take out of context what they have said or written.

3. We would like for others to give us the benefit of the doubt.

Thus, we must be inclined to believe the best about others and give them the benefit of the doubt. Truly, love ‘thinks no evil’, 1 Corinthians 13:5.

4. We don’t like for anyone to hurt our feelings, mock, or ridicule us.

Thus, we will be very careful not to do such to others.

5. We like for our friends and family to show an interest in what we’re interested in.

Thus, we will genuinely reciprocate that behaviour, even though their interests may be unimportant to us otherwise.

6. We should treat every woman with the same respect we would want other men to give to our wife.

7. We do not want others to listen to us with the idea of catching us in a mistake.

Thus, we will not listen to others with that kind of critical attitude.

8. We should be as sympathetic to someone mourning the loss of a loved one as we would wish others to be sympathetic toward us in those circumstances.

9. We should show the same interest in saving a lost soul as we would want them to show us if we were lost.

10. When necessary, we will correct and rebuke others in a way in which we would want to be corrected or rebuked.

We could go on and on, for certainly there are an infinite number of applications for the Golden Rule in everyday life. There are numerous topics that we haven’t even mentioned in regard to this principle.

Take some time to really think about how we would like or expect to be treated, and then make sure we’re living up to our own standards in the way we behave toward others. It’s not enough to simply avoid doing something wrong or harmful to another. We must also desire to do that which is good for them!

The Narrow And Wide Gates

‘Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.’ Matthew 7:15-20

Because the way requires humility that is combined with suffering and persecution, few will enter the gate into heaven, Luke 13:24 / Acts 14:22. This gate is wide and many will enter the gate to condemnation into hell, is the way of indifference, self-righteousness, laziness and hypocrisy.

The fact that Jesus here states that it is wide assumes that most people will be lost. Most people who live upon the face of the earth will choose not to obey God. People must enter through the narrow gate, which implies the road will be difficult, not many will find it but the reward will be worth it.

Fruit Inspectors

‘Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognise them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognise them.’ Matthew 7:15-20

The term ‘prophets’ technically only includes those who claim inspiration, though practically speaking it would include any teacher who claims to be delivering a message from deity, either directly via inspiration or indirectly via the Scriptures.

Consequently, Jesus’ warning should be considered as potentially applicable to any who claim to teach God’s ways to anyone, myself included. A false teacher should be characterised as one whose teachings do not harmonise with God’s Word and as one who is unwilling to repent of their erroneous views when brought to their attention.

Although there are many teachers with an outward demeanour of innocence and gentleness, Jesus says that some of them are ravenous wolves inwardly, 2 Corinthians 11:13-15. They will devour many souls, leading themselves and others down the pathway to destruction, 2 Peter 2:1-3.

But, how can one distinguish between a sheep and a wolf in sheep’s clothing, since their appearance is essentially the same?

The answer is simple, we must examine their ‘fruit’! That is, we must examine their actions and their teachings carefully and determine if such are in harmony with God’s Word or not. We must make judgments of this sort all the time. Even at this very moment, you should be examining my words and judging whether or not I am writing the truth, Acts 17:11.

It’s entirely possible to have a good tree and a bad tree that look nearly identical in trunk, limbs, and leaves, yet they differ in the quality of fruit they produce. This is why we must be ‘fruit inspectors.’ And, when one inspects ‘fruit,’ we must use God’s standard for determining what is good, Galatians 5:22-23.

Eventually, the hypocrisy of all false teachers will be exposed by those who observe them carefully. Such must be true because, as the Lord declared, ‘a bad tree bears bad fruit’.

It would be unwise to interpret Jesus’ statement in Matthew 7:18 in an absolute way. Surely there are good trees physically that may occasionally produce a bad piece of fruit. Likewise, it would seem reasonable to suggest that a bad tree might occasionally produce a good piece of fruit. Jesus’ point should be viewed as a general truth.

Good trees are the ones that generally produce good fruit. If a tree is producing a quantity of bad fruit, then that tree itself cannot be good. The same is true with people. The Scriptures teach elsewhere that the duty of man is to fear God and obey Him, Ecclesiastes 12:13.

Fulfilling this duty is synonymous with bearing good fruit. If we aren’t fulfilling the duty for which we were created, God will eventually throw us into the eternal fire. God calls us to be fruit inspectors.

While we have no right to sentence and condemn others, Matthew 7:1, we are to discern or judge whether or not a person is a false teacher. We should not blindly accept or support any spiritual idea or religious person. We must carefully test the fruit and hold fast to that which is good, 1 Thessalonians 5:21.

And, may we realise that others are examining the fruit we produce! If we’re a ‘good tree’, keep producing for the Lord! If we’re a ‘bad tree’, repent while we still can, for the axe of God’s judgment and the fire of His wrath are approaching!

Sincere But Wrong

I wonder how many people are going to come up before the Lord’s counter, expecting to get into heaven even though they are not truly prepared. Many feel they are right with God, but they make sincere yet big mistakes in their life’s choices, expecting God to make an exception for them. Jesus, as He neared the conclusion of His Sermon on the Mount, delivered some hard words relating to this theme.

‘Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and, in your name, perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ Matthew 7:21-23

Jesus spoke the truth plainly, didn’t He? It’s not enough just to cry out, ‘Lord, Lord!’ We must do the will of the heavenly Father if we hope to be saved! These verses clearly disprove the notion of salvation by faith only, though many denominations teach such. We must obey the will of the heavenly Father to the best of our ability, Luke 6:46.

There are ‘many’, Matthew 7:13, who will try to rationalise their way into heaven by listing certain accomplishments or acts of service, but it won’t work. The problem ultimately is that the Lord doesn’t know them! In spite of the fact that they have done some good deeds, they are guilty of practising sinful behaviour, ‘lawlessness’!

They are not right before God in taking the broad path that leads to destruction. They feel that they deserve salvation for certain acts of service, even though they haven’t genuinely been obedient. There are many religious people who believe in Jesus and have the appearance of righteousness but will end up in hell, even though they feel they should not receive condemnation.

Let it be understood that to prophesy, cast out demons, or do many wonders does not excuse anyone from obeying God’s revealed will! As important as these actions may appear to people, to do these things doesn’t necessarily mean that they are producing good fruit, to obey God is to produce good fruit!

When we stands before God’s throne in judgment, the stakes are of an eternal nature. Those who are sincere but wrong won’t make it into the heavenly abode. We must do everything within our power to ensure that we are not of that number! We must believe and obey God’s word today!

Building On The Rock

‘Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.’ Matthew 7:24-27

As our Lord wrapped up His Sermon on the Mount, He emphasised the need to be doers and not just hearers, John 13:17 / James 1:22. Human nature is such that most who heard His powerful words that day would walk away impressed but not changed; most would hear but not do. Thus, Jesus challenged His listeners to action. He wants all to be wise men who hear and do; such can be described as building our ‘house on the rock’.

The hills of Palestine were subject to heavy rainstorms, and even floods, at certain times of the year. Water rushing down the ravines would soon undermine a foundation if the house was built on sand.

But, if a house was founded on rock, it was safe from such. In like manner, anyone who builds their character, i.e., their ‘house’, by hearing and doing what Jesus teaches will stand approved of God on the Day of Judgment, their house will not ‘fall’.

It should be noted that the difference between these two builders is not in their craftsmanship or quality of materials used. It can be assumed that both men do their best in building their ‘house’. However, the difference is that one chose their foundation wisely, while the other was careless, Luke 6:48 makes this point clear.

When the trials of life come, and they will come, there is only one way to guarantee success, our life must be built on Christ, the only solid foundation, and we must remain faithful to Him, 1 Corinthians 3:11 / Matthew 10:22. Anyone who builds their life on Jesus Christ by obeying His revealed will, the New Testament, will have nothing to worry about when the floodwaters of life strike.

Jesus ended His sermon, not with words of comfort, but with words of tragedy, ‘it fell with a great crash.’ Even a single lost soul is a terrible waste in the eyes of God.

‘When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.’ Matthew 7:28-29

The people were astonished at Jesus’ teaching because ‘He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes’. Jesus didn’t quote rabbis to establish the things He was speaking, which was the common practice of the day. Instead, He merely spoke the truth.

How great a loss it would be for any Christians to never hear or study the Sermon on the Mount! But there is an even greater loss and that is to fail to obey the truths contained therein once they are heard! May we always endeavour to be diligent hearers and faithful doers of God’s Word!

‘Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.’ James 1:22-25

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline."

2 Timothy 1:7

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