February 23, 2014
Topic: Sermon Passage: Matthew 7:1–7:29
5:20 – the “righteousness” of the scribes & Pharisees was a SELF-righteousness; a form of righteousness that God REJECTS & CONDEMNS.
Jesus’ teaching here on JUDGMENT, then, must be understood in light of the HYPOCRISY & SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS of the scribes & Pharisees.
The entire chapter can be understood in terms of JUDGMENT:
Our judgment of OURSELVES;
Our judgment of OTHERS; &
GOD’S judgment OF US.
Our Judgment OF OTHERS
We must judge OURSELVES BEFORE judging OTHERS, because:
WE shall be judged: v.1.
It is WRONG to think that Jesus is teaching that we should never EVALUATE or CRITICIZE others – but anyone who does so is immediately branded by society as being INTOLERANT & JUDGMENTAL.
James Montgomery Boice: “In our postmodern environment, the only acknowledged evil is claiming that someone else is mistaken.”
In fact, refusing to WARN someone about their SIN is as WRONG & UNLOVING as to fail to warn them of a SERIOUS DISEASE they may have.
The PROBLEM is when we judge the MINOR faults OF OTHERS without dealing with OUR OWN MAJOR faults FIRST.
In telling us to “judge not,” Jesus is referring to the judgment OF MOTIVES, which ONLY GOD can do. Rom. 14:4: “Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls.”
We are BEING judged: v.2. God will judge US at the END, but PEOPLE are judging us RIGHT NOW.
In the end, GOD will judge us with the SAME TYPE of judgment that we used to judge OTHERS.
ADDED to our condemnation would be our failure to PRACTICE what we PREACH:
It is all vain to preach the truth,
To the eager ears of a trusting youth,
If, whenever the lad is standing by,
He sees you cheat and he hears you lie.
We must be able to SEE CLEARLY if we are to be able to HELP OTHERS: vs.3-5.
Jesus uses hyperbole to emphasize the HYPOCRISY when the sin of the CRITIC is GREATER than the sin of the one being CRITICIZED.
In fact, it is possible that doing “MINISTRY” can be used as a COVER-UP for OUR OWN sins that we refuse to ACKNOWLEDGE or DEAL with.
The picture is of someone who fixes his ATTENTION on something relatively UNIMPORTANT in SOMEONE ELSE, without NOTICING something truly SIGNIFICANT in HIMSELF – in other words, what he finds wrong IN HIS BROTHER is INSIGNIFICANT in COMPARISON with the sin that GOD SEES in HIM.
LOVE & TENDERNESS must be exercised when we seek to HELP OTHERS deal with their sin.
The “SPECK” is NOT IGNORED; it is to be REMOVED – but not before OUR OWN “PLANK” is removed first.
Our Judgment OF OTHERS
Warren Wiersbe: “We are the Lord’s sheep, but this does not mean we should let people pull the wool over our eyes!”
The REASON for judging others: v.6. As God’s people, we are RESPONSIBLE for HANDLING CORRECTLY the HOLY THINGS of God.
NOTHING is more holy than the GOSPEL. It is to be offered TO ALL, but there is a LIMIT to the TIME that it is to be offered to those who OBSTINATELY REFUSE it.
Though we are not to be “JUDGMENTAL,” we are also not to lack DISCERNMENT.
Even JESUS refused to talk to HEROD, & PAUL refused to argue with those who REJECTED the Word.
So, after SUSTAINED REJECTION of the truth, we must MOVE ON to present it TO OTHERS.
The RESOURCES for our judging of others: vs.7-11.
PRAYER is the ONLY WAY to achieve the HIGH STANDARD set in the previous passage.
We MUST PRAY, for ONLY God can JUDGE PERFECTLY. Therefore, we must seek His WISDOM & DIRECTION.
We are to pray with an EXPECTANT attitude. The word “GIVE” is the key word here, used 5 times.
We don’t GET MORE from God by REPEATING our requests over & over (6:7), but we should NEVER TIRE of asking, seeking, & knocking, since GOD never tires of HEARING & ANSWERING.
The CENTRAL POINT is that praying to a LOVING FATHER is EFFECTIVE!
But our MOTIVE in ASKING God must be right, & we must be SUBMISSIVE to His will.
The “RULE” for judging others: v.12.
Rabbi Hillel: “What is hateful to yourself, do to no other; that is the whole Law; the rest is commentary.”
“YOU” is emphatic – OTHERS may not follow this rule, but His DISCIPLES MUST.
GOD’S Judgment OF US
What counts in the end IS NOT what WE think of ourselves, or what OTHERS think of us, but, what will GOD SAY about us?
In these verses, Jesus makes clear that EACH of us MUST CHOOSE between one of ONLY TWO WAYS.
Jer. 21:8: “Behold, I set before you the way of life and way of death.”
This passage is an amazing study of the CONTRASTS of “TWO’S:”
2 GATES: NARROW vs. BROAD
2 WAYS: NARROW vs. BROAD
2 DESTINATIONS: LIFE vs. DESTRUCTION
2 GROUPS: FEW vs. MANY
2 kinds of TREES: GOOD vs. BAD
2 kinds of FRUIT: GOOD vs. BAD
2 kinds of PEOPLE who profess Christ: SINCERE vs. FALSE
2 kinds of BUILDERS: WISE vs. FOOLISH
2 FOUNDATIONS: ROCK vs. SAND
2 HOUSES: SECURE vs. INSECURE
Vs.13-14 – the COMMAND is not to ADMIRE the gate (as some claim to admire JESUS & this particular SERMON), but to ENTER it.
God’s WAY of SALVATION is SIMPLE, but NOT EASY.
We can PAY NOTHING for our salvation, but FOLLOWING Jesus DEMANDS EVERYTHING we have. Luke 14:27: “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.”
V.14 - believers are not FEW in number because the gate is TOO NARROW to include MORE. There is NO LIMIT to those who could ENTER the gate, if they would only choose to go GOD’S way, the way of repentance & faith.
2 Pet. 3:9: “not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”
Vs.15-20 – just as there are misleading GATES & misleading WAYS, so there are misleading PREACHERS & TEACHERS.
The MARKET for false teachers is always LARGE, because most people do not want to HEAR the TRUTH.
They are GLADLY HEARD, because they say what people WANT to hear.
The most DANGEROUS characteristic of these false teachers is their claim to be speaking FOR GOD.
“Beware” of them, for they are truly DANGEROUS.
How can these false teachers be IDENTIFIED? Primarily, by what they DO NOT affirm:
The DIVINITY of Christ (all false teachers have a DISTORTED VIEW of Christ);
His SUBSTITUTIONARY ATONEMENT at Calvary;
The LOSTNESS & DEPRAVITY of the human race;
The reality of HELL, etc.
REAL Christians can be DECEIVED by false teachers, if they are CARELESS about PRAYER & careful study of the WORD.
It has become out of fashion to IDENTIFY or CONDEMN false teachers, because “When we identify ourselves with Jesus Christ, we declare war on the devil, and he declares war on us.” (John MacArthur)
Vs.21-23 – many are deceived because they have a FALSE ASSURANCE, along with a failure to seriously EXAMINE THEMSELVES. Preaching, casting out demons, & working miracles give NO ASSURANCE of salvation.
As one person has commented, “they have done everything but the Lord’s will.”
They may base their confidence on their RELIGIOUS ACTIVITIES, or in believing that the GOOD they do OUTWEIGHS the bad (the law of “fair exchange”).
The ISSUE is OBEDIENCE to GOD’S WORD. John 8:31: “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples.”
Vs.24-27 – the “foundation” to which Jesus is referring is NOT HIMSELF but His TEACHING:
How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for you faith, in his excellent Word.”
TRUE faith is REVEALED in a time of CRISIS. The DIFFERENCE is the FOUNDATION: OBEDIENCE to the WORD of God: Ps. 1:1-6.
Vs.28-29 – the crowd was AMAZED at Jesus’ teaching – but it doesn’t say that they also BELIEVED what He taught.
They WATCHED & LISTENED – but they did not DECIDE.
It was the AUTHORITY of Jesus that made the crowd marvel:
He QUOTES Scripture, but also REINTERPRETS it;
He speaks with the CONFIDENCE that He is BRINGING IN God’s KINGDOM.
Such a man is either the SON of GOD, or the most brazenly ARROGANT man who has EVER LIVED.
WHICH is He?
Will you BELIEVE Him?
Will you OBEY Him?