Today: [Matthew 7] Sermon on the Mount, Conclusion: In chapter 7 of Matthew Jesus concludes the Sermon on the Mount, getting very personal with us, demanding us to look at ourselves with a much deeper scrutiny than we might find comfortable. The promise however, is in so doing we will discover the flaws and fault lines in the foundation of our lives that will destroy us if they go undealt with.
[Mat 7:1-29 KJV] 1 Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. 3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam [is] in thine own eye? 5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye. 6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you. 7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: 8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. 9 Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? 10 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? 12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. 13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide [is] the gate, and broad [is] the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14 Because strait [is] the gate, and narrow [is] the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it
In chapter 7 we find the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount. Verse 1 begins with an admonition regarding judgment and withholding criticism against one another. If there is one teaching of Jesus that is marginalized more than any other, it would be this one. Evangelist A.A. Allen made the observation that come Christians are more holy than God Himself, meaning that so-called believers often hold each other to standards and expectations that do not reflect biblical values. Teacher Bill Gothard made the statement that to the degree we level blame we establish our own guilt. Assigning guilt and magnifying the failings of others is a national past time in Christian culture, flying into the face of Jesus exhortation “judge not that you be not judged”.
Going on to elaborate, Jesus warns in verse 2 that our attitudes toward others, (whether merciful or harsh) establish a metric by which we ourselves will be held in regard by God Himself. I remember years ago when pondering my own faults and failures, the Lord comforted me with the words “Russ, when I look at you I see the Lamb slain by the foundation of the world”. He went on to say that when we come to Him in contrition and receive cleansing that He never looks past the blood that was shed on Calvary on our behalf. Others might bring up things we have done, and hold us repeated in scorn because of some real or imagined fault, but that is not the perspective from the judgment seat of heaven. What a relief. Upon hearing this the Lord followed up with this – when God looks at you, He chooses to see the Lamb, but you will only enjoy the dividends of that clemency to the degree you choose to see the Lamb when you look at others. Even where non-believers are concerned, we are to look at them regardless as those for whom Christ died. Those who do otherwise are branded with the epithet of being a hypocrite, more willing to take the sliver out of someone else’s eye than to deal with the beam in your own.
Considering these remarks admonishing us to non-judgment, we can then inquire into the context of verse 6 that says “give not that which is holy to the dogs…” This verse does not stand alone. It is an observation, or concluding remark that Jesus is making based on what He just said. How does casting our pearls before swine connect with refraining from judging others? Generally, this verse we have interpreted as do not offer your good opinion to those who are not prone to agree with us, but Jesus is making the point that we should have no opinion at all, because to do so is to take that part of ourselves that is cleansed by the forgiveness of God and feeding it to the swine nature of our own flesh. The swine are not people out there who don’t agree with us, the swine, the pigs in this statement represent our own sinful appetite for criticism, judgment toward others and harshness that we are tempted to exercise toward those without while letting ourselves off the hook for deeper offenses.
In verse 7, Jesus makes a blanket statement about answered prayer that is seldom taught by Christian leadership without adding several caveats that Jesus fails to make. Ask and it shall be given you. Seek and ye shall find. Knock and it shall be opened. These are unambiguous, open ended promises.
Because the religious mindset doesn’t like this, I have never heard this preached without the speaker adding to the word of God as though what Jesus chose to say was somehow deficient. Men teach this as, “ask and it shall be given (if it is God’s will); seek and you shall find (unless God doesn’t want you to, for some ineffable reason); knock and it shall be opened (unless in God’s lofty wisdom He intends that particular door to remain closed). That may sound spiritual and it is certainly consistent with accepted Christian teaching in the popular view, but what it amounts to is a corruption of what Jesus was actually saying.
In verses 9-12, Jesus drives home the point, observing that if earthly parents with imperfect characters, faithfully take care of their own children, how much more will our Father which is in heaven take care of us – IF WE ASK? The problem is that our asking is absent. Prayerlessness is the bane of every Christian generation in recent decades. Even when we do pray, often it is not asking in Jesus’ name, but asking in an assertion of our own worth, or some performance based idea of religious legalism that in our view should compel God to answer, rather than simply throwing ourselves at the mercy of a loving, giving God expecting Him to act not because we are so good, or perfect or moral but because He is so disposed to show loving-kindness, that if He withheld not His only son, why would He be hesitant to meet any lesser need we might have?
As if realizing that His remarks left His hearers squirming, Jesus pauses to conclude that if we are to follow Him we are to enter in at the strait (or narrow) gate. He is admitting that which is obvious to any that are truly listening, that His doctrine, if it is to be accepted and obey will dismantle our habitual way of thinking about God, ourselves and others and constrain us to a much more disciplined thought and lifestyle. This teaching of Jesus, as laid out in the sermon on the mount, is Jesus divulging to us the ethic by which He governs His own inner life. He is inviting us to take up the cross of our own sinful tendencies, nailing them to a commitment and discipline to follow Him, denying the demand of the self-life, to judge, to be harsh toward others, to be greedy and avaricious, to be unkind and accusatory and forsaking all these to live life in the “Jesus-style”!
15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither [can] a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. 21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. 24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: 25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. 26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: 27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. 28 And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: 29 For he taught them as [one] having authority, and not as the scribes.
In verse 15 Jesus speaks about false prophets. They are described as those presenting themselves as one of the sheep, but when you reach out to receive from them you come away with thorns instead of fruit. In other words, the fruits of the Spirit and not the alleged anointing of the prophet determine whether or not they are false. Prophets today tend to use the assertion of their call as an exemption they claim to have NOT to be required to demonstrate the fruits of the Spirit. Paul gives us the fruit of the Spirit in Gal. 5:22-23:
[Gal 5:22-23 KJV] 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
Yet, many who claim to be prophetic will exempt themselves from being loving, joyful, abiding in peace, showing longsuffering, gentleness, etc., because they will object “I’m prophetic! I have an excuse to be harsh, mean, condemnatory and aloof! It is the nature of my calling!” Jesus however says that a prophet so-called who consistently demonstrates something other than the sweetness of the aroma of the Holy Spirit in His life is not only immature and carnal but bordering on and in fact may be a false prophet. We should not celebrate these leaders for the entertainment value of their pessimism and bombastic critical nature, we should in fact withdraw from them in the fear of the Lord lest we drink from their spirit and become like them. Jesus goes on to say that there would be many who stand in the judgment who had a history of exercising gifts, but were in fact unknown to the Father, who would be excluded.
In conclusion, Jesus says to us that He is trying to help us build a house, or a life in the Spirit that is anchored to the rock of His person, who Jesus is and not upon any other thing. There is always someone in leadership offering us building materials for Christian blessing, but are they extracting their doctrine from the living person of Christ, or from some other, defective source? If we anchor ourselves in the opinions of men, in our own flawed human reasoning or judgments, we will falter and fail when the storms of life come. If we anchor ourselves by contrast to the person of Christ and the dependencies that He offers us in Himself, we will be left standing when all others have been washed out to sea.
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