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Chapter 7 

 

 

Judging

7:1-2 "Do not judge so that you will not be judged.  For by the standard you judge you will be judged, and the measure you use will be the measure you receive.

 

The Lord exhorts his disciples not to be like the self-righteous Pharisees who put themselves above everyone else in the position of judges. People judge according to the outward appearance (1 Sam. 16:7) and the facts which present themselves. People can never hope to judge in absolute righteousness for only God knows the heart of all (Jer. 17:10); and his Word is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Heb. 4:12). The word “judge” as used here also suggests to condemn, pass sentence or to criticise. Jesus gives the reason why we are not to judge others: that we should not in turn be judged by God according to the same standards that we have used. In dealing with us God will use the same measuring stick that we have used in our condemnation of others. Matthew Henry comments "What would become of us, if God should be as exact and severe in judging us, as we are in judging our brethren; if he should weigh us in the same balance?"

 

Reproving

To reprove is to rebuke, convict and expose. Although we are not to judge anyone, this does not mean that we are not to reprove for James 5:19-20 Amp. N.T. says “My brethren, if anyone among you strays from the truth and falls into error, and another person brings him back to God, let the (latter) one be sure that whoever turns a sinner from his evil course will save that one's soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins (that is, procure the pardon of the many sins committed by the convert).”

 

7:3-4 Why do you see the speck in your brother's eye, but fail to see the beam of wood in your own?  Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove the speck from your eye,' while there is a beam in your own?  

 

We must however make certain that we are not guilty of the same faults as others before we seek to correct them.  How is it that we make a big thing about the small faults (mote, splinter, speck) that we see in other people, and are quick to point them out and yet fail to see the larger faults (beam, plank) in our own lives? Jesus uses the word “consider” which would seem to suggest that we are aware of our own faults but are prone to ignore these whilst highlighting the faults of others.

 

7:5 You hypocrite! First, remove the beam from your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.  

 

The matter of reproving a Christian brother or sister must be handled in the right way. First we have to consider our own faults and failings and seek to right these. Although this should not stop us offering a friendly reproof, it ought to keep us from being magisterial or condemnatory.  

 

7:6 Do not give what is holy to dogs or throw your pearls before pigs; otherwise they will trample them under their feet and turn around and tear you to pieces.

 

This verse would seem to be out of place here but Matthew Henry ties it in by saying "Our zeal against sin must be guided by discretion, and we must not go about to give instructions, counsels, and rebukes, much less comforts, to hardened scorners".

 

Do not give what is holy to dogs. To the Jew the holy things were those that were separated for the service of God, the sacrifices and the word of God. These were not to be given as meat for the dogs. In the New Testament, believers in Christ are the temple of God, and the Spirit of God dwells in them (1 Cor. 3:16; 1 Cor. 6:19); therefore as Christians we are not to give ourselves over to anything that would defile (1 Cor. 3:17) but present our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God (Rom. 12:1).

 

The Bible is the Holy Bible and we are to handle and use it correctly. To give its deep truth to those who despise and treat it as worthless would be just like giving pearls to pigs for food.

 

False Prophets

7:15 "Watch out for false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are voracious wolves.

 

Jesus warns us to be on our guard against the false prophets that we will meet on our journey. They will be very difficult to recognise for they will be cleverly disguised and to all outward appearance will seem like fellow pilgrims. They will say and do the right things. They will participate in the fellowship, praise and worship, but inwardly their purpose is to destroy and tear apart the church of Christ and to cause division. They seek to undermine the truth and replace it by their own doctrines. How are we to recognise them?

 

7:16 You will recognize them by their fruit. Grapes are not gathered from thorns or figs from thistles, are they?

 

"By their fruit" - Jesus uses an illustration from nature. We do not expect to find grapes on thorn trees or figs from a thistle; it is impossible. Therefore no matter how well disguised these false prophets are, what is in their hearts will show (Prov. 23:7; Mark 7:21-22). Their fruits are well described by Paul in Galatians 5:20.

 

7:17-18 In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit.  A good tree is not able to bear bad fruit, nor a bad tree to bear good fruit.

 

A good tree is a cultivated one that has been planted by the Lord Jesus Christ (Isaiah 61:3, Jer.17:8).   New fruit trees purchased from a garden centre have usually been grafted on to an approved root stock so that they will bear good fruit. So it is with us, for we have been grafted into the new Israel of God, into the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 11:17). It is only as we abide in him that we can bring forth good fruit, the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). The false prophets on the other hand are bad or wild trees. It is impossible for them to bring forth good fruit for they are not the planting of the Lord but tares (Matt. 13:24-29).

 

7:19-20 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will recognize them by their fruit.

 

We will recognise false prophets by their speech and behaviour. For a little while they may be able to pretend to be what they are not, but it is impossible to keep up this charade forever. What is in their hearts will eventually reveal itself; and in the end they will be cut down and thrown into the fire (Rev. 21:8).

 

True Believers

In these verses Jesus shows that true believers are not those who call themselves Christians but those who live the life of a Christian.

 

7:21 "Not everyone who calls me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter into the kingdom of heaven – only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.

 

The key words here are “calls” and “does”. It is not the ones who pay lip service to the Lord but those who are obedient and seek to carry out the will of the Father that shall enter the kingdom of heaven.

 

7:22-23 On that day, many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, didn't we prophesy in your name, and in your name cast out demons and do many powerful deeds?' Then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you. Go away from me, you lawbreakers!'  

 

Many who stand before the Lord when he comes to separate the goats from the sheep (Matt. 25:31-41) will try to escape judgement by making claims that they had prophesied, cast out devils and done many mighty works in the name of Jesus. But Christ will declare before everyone that he never knew them and banish them from his presence. These are "mock believers", the "false prophets".

 

Spiritual Foundation

Here Jesus uses the illustration of house building to show how those who truly belong to him are firmly established (2 Chron. 20:20; 2 Thess. 2:17; Col. 2:7).

 

7:24-25 (Therefore) "Everyone who hears these words of mine and does them is like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the flood came, and the winds beat against that house, but it did not collapse because it had been founded on rock.

 

In verse 24 we have the final “therefore” which is a reference to all that Jesus has said in the Sermon on the Mount. It is a blessed thing to hear the word of God, but it is far more blessed to allow the Lord to do the work of grace in our lives so that we can obey his words. Jesus Christ is the rock on which the foundation of our faith is laid (1 Cor. 10:4; 1 Cor. 3:11), and we are being built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone (Eph. 2:20). Therefore when temptations, trials and persecution beat upon us like a mighty hurricane we shall not be moved (Psa. 46:5) but remain firm and steadfast.

 

7:26-27 Everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the flood came, and the winds beat against that house, and it collapsed; it was utterly destroyed!"

 

On the other hand those who hear but do not carry out the words of the Lord are building their lives on the uncertain, unstable and shifting things of the world rather than eternal things. When the storms of life assail such people collapse like a pack of cards with nothing left to show for all their wasted labours.

 

7:28-29 When Jesus finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed by his teaching, because he taught them like one who had authority, not like their experts in the law.  

 

The things that Jesus spoke to the people in the Sermon on the Mount completely astounded them; for although they were used to the teaching of the Scribes and the Pharisees, no man ever spoke like Jesus. The words which he spoke were living and packed with genuine power and authority.

 

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This Bible study is taken from Faithbuilders: The Gospel of Matthew

 

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