Study Notes: Matthew 7:15-29
This morning, we are finishing up our study of the Sermon on the Mount.
7:15-20 False Prophets Bearing Bad Fruit
Jesus warns His disciples to beware of the false prophets. They are dangerous because they are dressed in sheep's clothing. That is, they look like other Christians in the church. The Bible speaks of God's people as sheep (Matt. 9:36) and His church as the flock (Acts 20:29; 1Pet. 5:2, etc.). These wolves look like sheep. They could be sitting next to us in church, coming to our Home Fellowship, or playing on the church sports team. But Jesus said they are dangerous. They are wolves. The Bible describes wolves as ravenous (Gen 49:27; Matt. 7:15), savage (Acts 20:29), destroyers (Jer. 5:6) who snatch sheep (John 10:12), tear them to pieces (Ezek. 22:27), and scatter the flock (John 10:12), not sparing them (Acts 20:29).
These people obviously do a lot of damage to God's people and to the church, so we want to beware of them, staying away from them. But if they look like sheep, then how can we know who they are? Jesus said that we will know them by their fruits.
A lot of times we're too nice. We say, "That guy lies a lot, but I wouldn't say he's a liar. That guy's actions aren't very consistent with his speech, but I wouldn't call him a hypocrite." But Jesus said that trees are identified by their fruit. At the creation,
Gen. 1:11 ...God said, "Let the earth sprout vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees on the earth bearing fruit after their kind with seed in them; and it was so."
Fruit trees bear fruit. Apple trees bring forth apples, orange trees bring forth oranges. And that is true of each of us as well. The fruit that we bear shows what kind of people we are.
What is that fruit? Hopefully it is the fruit of the Spirit (Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control - Gal. 5:22-23), fruit in keeping with repentance (Matt. 3:8), and good works (Col. 1:10).
But sometimes people bear poisonous fruit (Deut. 29:18). These are people who have turned their hearts away from God. And Jesus and John both said that people who don't bear good fruit are not sheep:
Matt. 3:10 "The axe is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire."
And so you can see that not everyone who claims to be a Christian really is - even those that appear to be. It is all about whether they are bearing fruit. And just to clarify His point, Jesus says...
7:21-23 Not Everyone
There are many people who call Jesus, "Lord," who will not be in heaven. Because Lord isn't a name to call Jesus, it's a title of position that He must have in our lives. It means "Master, Possessor, Owner." It comes from a root word that means "supremacy." If people call Him Lord, but don't give Him Lordship, then it shows that He is not really their Lord.
And so it is only those who do the will of God who will enter the kingdom of heaven. It's all about the fruit - we must do God's will, otherwise we are proven to be false.
And it's doing God's will, not doing things that look like God's will. There are many people who have prophesied, cast out demons, and performed miracles who won't make it. Because although they did miraculous things in the name of God, they never gave their lives over to the Lordship of God. He was never truly their Master.
Saints, it's not about doing "Christian" things. We can be in church faithfully, sing worship songs loudly, and witness constantly, but if the we're practicing lawlessness instead of righteousness, then we're not sheep. We must ask ourselves, "Is sin rampant and unrepented of in my life?" If so, I am a likely candidate for hearing God say, "Depart from Me."
7:24-27 Built On The Rock
The story is so familiar to us that we often miss how poignant it truly is. Two men build houses. One survives a terrible storm, the other one is destroyed.
What was the difference between the house that survived and the house which was destroyed? The foundation of one was on the rock, the other on sand. Jesus said this is the difference between hearing the Word with inaction and hearing it with action.
And so it's not enough to be in church. It's not enough to study the Bible. We have to apply what we hear, and do what the Bible says. It's great that we hear it, but if we don't appropriate it to our lives, then we are terribly deceived. James said,
James 1:22 ...Prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.
And so we must both hear and do, or our house will fall. And this is the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount.
7:28-29 Teaching With Authority
In Jesus' day, the teachers never had original words. They simply quoted from earlier Rabbis who were respected, believing that it validated their ministry. But Jesus taught with authority and power. The word has in its meaning, "What I say is truth."
Even today, we hear teachers who don't believe what they are saying, and others who are afraid to have strong convictions about what they are saying, for fear of upsetting people. I don't want to suffer from either malady. I desire to speak the Word of God with authority, not because I am the authority, but because the Word is the authority.
Many don't like me for this. Others have said in the last ten years, "How can someone so young possibly teach me anything?" But Paul told young Pastor Timothy,
1Tim. 4:12-13 Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe. Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching.
Remember, Jesus was only thirty years old when He taught the Sermon on the Mount. But no one was saying, "He's only thirty! What could He teach us?" Instead, they were saying, "This is amazing! This is real!"
©2006 Ron Daniel - Any distribution not for profit is permitted
All Scripture (unless otherwise indicated) taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE
©1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.