A Manual For Discipleship

 

Disciples – You Must Exceed Religion – Part 3

 

In Matthew chapter five we learned the primary focus of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount teaching which is that disciples must exceed the external religion of Pharisees and instead give God their heart (Matthew 5:20). Jesus directs the Sermon on the Mount specifically to disciples and what Jesus teaches is that being a disciple is a matter of the heart. In chapter six of Matthew, Jesus contrasted true disciples with religious Pharisees to point out the difference in heart attitudes of the two groups. Religious Pharisees do their charitable deeds to show off before people, while a true disciple serves to glorify and please God (6:1-4). Religious Pharisees pray in a way that plays to people, true disciples pray personally to God (6:5-15). Religious Pharisees fast in a fleshly way to impress people, true disciples fast to sacrifice their flesh (6:16-18). And, religious Pharisees dwell on the temporal things, which leads to worry, while true disciples trust God to supply their everyday needs and seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness (6:19-34).

 

Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount emphasizes the importance of being a true disciple and not a religious Pharisee. But how do we discern between these two groups? Is it important that such a distinction is made? These two fundamental questions are addressed in this last part of the Sermon on the Mount.

 

To Judge Or Not To Judge

 

In the opening verses of Matthew 7 Jesus tells the disciples to “Judge not,” but later He speaks of not giving what is holy to dogs or casting your pearls before pigs (7:6), of entering by the narrow gate (7:13-14), bewaring of false prophets (7:15-20), that not everyone who calls Him Lord is will enter the Kingdom of heaven (7:21-23), and the two builders. All of these last teachings seem to require some sort of judgment. Is there a contradiction here? There are no contradictions in this chapter but what there is, is a right and wrong way to judge, a proper and improper heart attitude in judging. Let’s see what Jesus says about this extremely important area.

 

Wrong Judgment - Don’t Play God!

 

Matthew 7:1 - “Judge not, that you be not judged.”  [1]

The word “judge” in Matthew 7:1 is translated from the Greek term KRINO (Strong’s #2919) meaning, “to try, condemn, punish: avenge, conclude, condemn, damn, decree, determine . . . judge, . . .” [2] The prohibition of Jesus being made here is that we should not judge to condemn. This is because only God has the authority to judge a person to condemn them. The Bible tells us:

 

  • Psalm 75:7 – “But God is the Judge: He puts down one, And exalts another.”  [3]
  • Psalm 96:10,13 – “Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns; The world also is firmly established, It shall not be moved; He shall judge the peoples righteously.” . . . 13 For He is coming, for He is coming to judge the earth. He shall judge the world with righteousness, And the peoples with His truth.”  [4]
  • John 5:22,30 - “For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, . . . 30 “I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.”  [5]
  • Acts 10:42 - “And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He [i.e. Jesus] who was ordained by God  to be Judge of the living and the dead.”  [6]

When we begin to judge people in a condemnatory way, we overstep our bounds and put ourselves in the place that rightfully only belongs to God. When we judge others to condemn them, we in effect are trying to usurp the throne of God and as a result are headed for being judged by the Judge ourselves.

Only God Can Judge The Heart

Why doesn’t God want us to “judge” people in this way? Because only God can judge the heart. The Bible tells us that God judges the heart of people: 

  • Romans 2:16 – “in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.”  [7]
  • Hebrews 4:13 – “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”  [8]

Where are these “secrets,” and that which is “hidden,” but in the heart of people. God has the capacity to search the hearts and motives of people, we do not. Read what the Bible says about God’s ability to judge the heart:

  • Psalm 7:9 – “Oh, let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end, But establish the just; For the righteous God tests the hearts and minds.”  [9]
  • Proverbs 15:11 – “Hell and Destruction are before the Lord; So how much more the hearts of the sons of men.”  [10]

When Samuel was looking for a replacement for king Saul the Lord gave him some counsel that we need to be mindful of here. God said to Samuel:

  • 1 Samuel 16:7 – “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”  [11]

When David was giving his final instructions to his son Solomon he told him:

  • 1 Chronicles 28:9 - “As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind; for the Lord searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever.”  [12]

When Solomon was praying at the dedication of the Temple he said:

  • 1 Kings 8:39 - “then hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and forgive, and act, and give to everyone according to all his ways, whose heart You know (for You alone know the hearts of all the sons of men),”  [13]

God alone can search a person’s heart, we cannot. This wisdom is presented in Proverbs:

  • Proverbs 16:2 – “All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, But the Lord weighs the spirits.”  [14]

Jeremiah echoes this truth when he is inspired to write:

  • Jeremiah 17:9-10 - “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?10 I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings.”  [15]

When we try to judge to condemn a person we do so with inadequate information. Right judgment requires the capacity to get to the heart of the matter and only God can do that. Therefore, we are not to judge condemningly the intents or motives of a person’s heart. We are not to write people off or cut them out of favor. That is improper judgment for the disciple or any person and forbidden by Jesus.

Pastor Chuck Smith makes the following comment on this area:

      “There are certain things that I cannot judge that I am often prone to want to judge and that is, I cannot judge a person’s heart, I cannot judge their motives. I am not to be hypercritical and condemning. And that is a judgment that we are often guilty of. “Did you see the way he looked? You know he’s up to no good.” “Well, how do you know that?” And, “He only did that because…,” as though we know what’s in his heart, as though we know the motive.

      If we hear of someone who has sinned and we hear that they have repented of that sin, and we say, Oh, I don’t believe he really has repented. Wait a minute, how do you know? You see, that is a judgment that I am not allowed--to judge a man’s heart, to judge a man’s motive, and yet, we are prone to do that. It may be that he hasn’t truly repented, it may be that he has. But if a brother repents or declares, “I repent, forgive me,” then it is my obligation to forgive. Whether or not it is a true repentance in his heart or not, I don’t know. But I am to forgive. I’m not to judge what is going on in his heart.

      I can judge by the fruits of a person’s life. I can observe their life and the things that they are doing. And if the things that they are doing are contrary to the plain, clear teaching of the scripture, I can judge by what I see going on in their lives. What I can’t judge is what I can’t see and that is what is going on in their heart.

      Now many times, we are in a position where a person has asked for forgiveness, has declared their repentance, and I am not certain whether or not they have truly, fully repented; but because I can’t judge that, I have to accept them, I have to receive them. And I have learned through the years that not all who say I repent have truly repented. And I have been burned by forgiving those who said that they had repented. And I, no doubt, will be burned again. But I would rather, if I err, err on the side of mercy and grace and forgiveness than err on the side of wrong judgment. If I err on the side of grace and mercy, God’s going to forgive me. If I err on the side of judgment, then I’m going to have to answer to God because that is a sin. So judge not, that is, in a hypercritical condemning way as though I know the heart and the motive of that person.”  [16]

 

There is a judgment that is inappropriate and that is to judge a person’s heart to condemn them. 

Right Judgment  - We Are To Judge Rightly

Matthew 7:2 - “For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.”  [17]

While we are not to judge in a condemnatory way, there is a judgment that we are to do. But that judgment needs to be right because the judgment we use will be the same judgment that we are judged by. What is the right way to judge?

First, Right Judgment Starts With SELF-EXAMINATION

Matthew 7:3-5 - “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?4 “Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye?5 “Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”  [18]

You are not qualified or justified in assessing the problems of others until you have first done some self-examination. The “speck” Jesus speaks of here refers to a piece of sawdust and the “plank” refers to a cross beam in a building. He is of course speaking metaphorically. Before we look to point out the faults in others, we need to examine our own walk with the Lord. When a woman caught in adultery was brought before Jesus, He knew that the law stipulated that such a one should be stoned, but what did He say?

  • John 8:7-9 – “So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”8 And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.9 Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.”  [19]

Perhaps the accusers left one by one because they knew they were guilty of the same or worse crimes. One by one the Spirit convicted them of their sin and hypocrisy and their authority to judge was removed. If a person runs to judgment prematurely, they may suffer the same embarrassing fate of those who brought this woman before Jesus.

The apostle Paul was accused and condemned often by Judaizers and religious Pharisees. Paul spoke of the responsibilities to expose false teaching in the power of the Spirit (see the letter to the Galatians). But lest the people overstep their bounds in judging false teaching, he said that self-examination was necessary to keep one from stumbling into pride. The apostle Paul wrote about this first step when he said:

  • Galatians 6:3-4 – “For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.4 But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.”  [20]

People tend to exalt themselves above others by pointing out faults and using them as a stepping-stone to a sense of superiority. Such is the height of proud conduct. In Proverbs it states:

 

  • Proverbs 26:12 – “Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.”  [21]

Self-examination keeps us humble and is the first step in right judgment.

 

Second, Right Judgment is Necessary  For IDENTIFICATION of  Falsehoods and Fakery

 

Matthew 7:6 - “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.”  [22]

While some err on the side of wrong judgment, others err on the side of not making judgments at all. Here Jesus is saying it is necessary to judge rightly. Right judgment serves a purpose. Right judgment identifies falsehoods and fakery. Jesus will go into this in greater detail further on into the chapter but suffice it to say that the Bible is filled with exhortations to discern and guard against false teaching and false teachers. Such Bible verses would include:

  • Acts 20:28-31 - “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.29 “For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.30 “Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.31 “Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.”  [23]
  • Ephesians 5:5-17 – “For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.7 Therefore do not be partakers with them. 8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light9 (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth),10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.12 For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret.13 But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light.14 Therefore He says: 1 “Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.”15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise,16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil.17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”  [24]
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:21 – “Test all things; hold fast what is good.” [25]
  • 1 Timothy 4:1-2 – “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons,2 speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron,”  [26]
  • Jude 3-4 – “Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.4 For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.”  [27]

These are only a small sampling of verses that could be cited which exhort the disciple to “expose” falsehoods and fakery and “contend earnestly for the faith.” Judgment is necessary to preserve the doctrinal purity of the church as well as to protect the flock of God from those who would prey on the sheep.

Third, Right Judgment PRAYERFULLY Depends on DIVINE REVELATION

Matthew 7:7-11 - “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.8 “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.9 “Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?10 “Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent?11 “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”  [28]

These verses are often lifted out of their context and used in various ways, but it is important to note that based on the context, these verses refer primarily to the promise that God will divinely reveal the path of right judgment. How do we know how to judge? We know how to judge by God’s guidance and divine revelation. And all we need to do to secure direction is to seek God prayerfully.  But more generally, unless we depend on God in faith through prayer, we can never hope to have the discernment or power to rightly judge. If we are to apply what Jesus is teaching here, we need to, “ask, . . . seek, . . . knock, . . .” and He promises that if we do, we will receive , find and have opened to us that which is needed to rightly judge.

As we pray and depend upon God we are also guided into all truth by the Spirit and the most tangible and reliable source of truth in matters of right judgment is God’s word.  “Divine revelation,” refers to a dependence upon the word of God. Peter pointed this out to his readership when he was inspired to wrote:

  • 2 Peter 3:1-3,14-18 – “Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder),2 that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior,3 knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, . . . 14 Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless;15 and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you,16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.17 You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked;18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.”  [29]

Right judgment is based on God’s divine revelation in His word as it is communicated by His Holy spirit (see 1 Corinthians 2:10-16; 2 Timothy 2:15; 3:16-17). Judgment is right and authoritative only to the extent and degree to which it depends upon God’s divine revelation in His word.

Fourth, Right Judgment Always Looks to RESTORATION

Matthew 7:12 -  “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”  [30]

It’s interesting how we are so often so hard on the sins we see in others while those same sins are so common in ourselves. Jesus exhorts disciples to aim at restoration. Disciples are to be agents of grace. Wrong condemnatory judgment seeks to cut off and outcast forever. Right judgment is always open to repentance and restoration.

The apostle Paul was inspired to write:

  • Galatians 6:1 – “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.”  [31]

On one occasion the apostle Paul advised those in the Corinthian church to expel a person claiming to be a Christian and involved in immoral activity. Paul was inspired to write:

  • 1 Corinthians 5:1-2,11 – “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles—that a man has his father’s wife!2 And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you. . . . 11 But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person.”  [32]

This may at first seem harsh, but we have to see the desired end. When we get to Paul’s second epistle to the Corinthians we see that Paul wastes no time in his second letter urging the church to restore the repentant person. Paul writes:

  • 2 Corinthians 2:6-11 – “This punishment which was inflicted by the majority is sufficient for such a man,7 so that, on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow.8 Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him.9 For to this end I also wrote, that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things.10 Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ,11 lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.”  [33]

Right judgment aims at restoration, it is gracious and grace offering.

Fifth, Right Judgment Is Based On The TRUTH WITHOUT EXCEPTION

Matthew 7:13-14 - “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.14 “Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” [34]

While we are to judge in grace, we are never to interpret that to mean we bend or ignore the truth. We are never to compromise God’s truth for the sake of restoration or conciliation. Any restoration that is based on a compromise of God’s truth is false and futile, it will not last. The philosophy of this world is broadening by the day under the proclamation of toleration, toleration. Those who follow Jesus by the divinely inspired word of God will increasingly be accused of being “narrow.” So be it! That is the command of Jesus, and that is the path we must follow. Therefore, it is important to understand that right judgment is based on God’s truth without exception. Where do we find this truth of God?

The Word of God is Truth

The Bible, the God–breathed, Spirit-breathed, inspired word of God tells us that God’s word is our standard of truth:

  • Psalm 119:142-160 – “Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, And Your law is truth.143 Trouble and anguish have overtaken me, Yet Your commandments are my delights.144 The righteousness of Your testimonies is everlasting; Give me understanding, and I shall live.145 I cry out with my whole heart; Hear me, O Lord! I will keep Your statutes.146 I cry out to You; Save me, and I will keep Your testimonies.147 I rise before the dawning of the morning, And cry for help; I hope in Your word.148 My eyes are awake through the night watches, That I may meditate on Your word.149 Hear my voice according to Your lovingkindness; O Lord, revive me according to Your justice.150 They draw near who follow after wickedness; They are far from Your law.151 You are near, O Lord, And all Your commandments are truth.152 Concerning Your testimonies, I have known of old that You have founded them forever.153 Consider my affliction and deliver me, For I do not forget Your law.154 Plead my cause and redeem me; Revive me according to Your word.155 Salvation is far from the wicked, For they do not seek Your statutes.156 Great are Your tender mercies, O Lord; Revive me according to Your judgments.157 Many are my persecutors and my enemies, Yet I do not turn from Your testimonies.158 I see the treacherous, and am disgusted, Because they do not keep Your word.159 Consider how I love Your precepts; Revive me, O Lord, according to Your lovingkindness.160 The entirety of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever.”  [35]
  • John 17:17,19 - “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.19 “And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.”  [36]

God’s word is our standard of truth and as we in faith, by the enabling of the Spirit apply God’s word of truth to our lives is sanctifies or cleanses us from that which would hinder God’s use of us in His redemptive plan.

Jesus, the way, the truth, and the life.

In the gospel of John Jesus makes a statement about truth, which is:

  • John 14:6 – “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”  [37]

What does this statement by Jesus mean? This is an  “I am” statement of Jesus, (by using the phrase “I am” Jesus is associating Himself with the most holy names of God, “I am” which is the way God told Moses He wanted to be referred to in Exodus 3:13-14. By using this name in regards to Himself Jesus was identifying Himself as God). This statement is understood to mean that Jesus is the exclusive way to heaven, the destination and crux of all truth, and the only One who can give life. In regards to truth, Jesus is the final destination to which God’s truth points. If you want to know the “truth” about life and the universes, the truth about meaning, Jesus is the end and conclusion of such truth. If you follow the truth God has revealed, it will end at the feet of Jesus. This is why Jesus told His disciples:

  • John 8:31-32 – “Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.32 “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”  [38]

All true judgment is based on and follows the truth of Jesus. When a judgment is made as to God’s truth, the question that is of paramount importance is, “What does this say about Jesus? Where do these people stand on Jesus? Do they agree with what God’s word says about Jesus?” Jesus is the bottom line, the end-all of all God ordained truth.

Jesus is “the truth” That Must Not Be Compromised.

In the book of Acts Peter and John went up to the temple to pray and came across a man who was lame from birth. All the people probably knew him there, as he was a regular who begged for alms. When the man asked Peter and John for a donation, the two apostles looked at him and in the name of Jesus were used by God to heal the man (Acts 3:1-26). Now when the Jewish religious leaders heard the stir that this miracle and the apostle’s teaching of Christ had created, they took the two apostles into custody (Acts 4:1-4). The next day Peter and John were brought before the Sanhedrin for judgment. What Peter and John say to the assembly reveals the fact that true judgment is based on the truth in Christ without exception. In Acts it states:

  • Acts 4:5-12 – “And it came to pass, on the next day, that their rulers, elders, and scribes,6 as well as Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the family of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem.7 And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, “By what power or by what name have you done this?”8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders of Israel:9 “If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well,10 “let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole.11 “This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’12 “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”[39]

Peter and John were unwilling to compromise the truth found in Jesus Christ in the face of judgment. What God had done through the name of Jesus was undeniable and left the religious leaders helpless.

Why is Jesus the ONLY Way, The Only Truth? 

Why is Jesus the only way? Isn’t God being narrow minded by saying that salvation is exclusively in Jesus? Simply put, God has ordained that there is only one way to salvation and eternal life so that there could be no mistaking the right path. God’s singular and simple solitary way in Jesus Christ is unmistakable, unless one chooses to rebel against it. God did not make many ways that could be confused with the right way; He made one clear, concise and gracious way to join Him in heaven. God doesn’t want anyone to get lost on the way to heaven so He makes the map crystal clear. Anyone who takes another route than Jesus does so because of his or her conscious decision to rebel against God’s truth in Christ, not because the truth was not clearly presented by God to humankind.

The clearest evidence that salvation is only in Jesus and His atoning sacrifice on the cross is the account of Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane. In the Garden of Gethsemane the night before Jesus went to the cross it says He prayed accordingly:

  • Matthew 26:36-46 – “Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.”37 And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed.38 Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.”39 He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”40 Then He came to the disciples and found them asleep, and said to Peter, “What? Could you not watch with Me one hour?41 “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”42 Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.”43 And He came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy.44 So He left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.45 Then He came to His disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners.46 “Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand.”  [40]

In this passage of scripture we are told that Jesus prayed, “let this cup pass from Me,” three times (Matthew 26:39,42,44). Each time the Father was silent confirming the absolute necessity of Jesus going to the cross. It is undeniable that the atoning sacrifice of Jesus on the cross was the will of the Father. It is also undeniable that if there was another way to save the world that certainly God the Father would have used it to spare the life of the only begotten Son of God. This is truth and there is no exception to this truth.

Bible teacher Jon Courson makes the following comment on these verses:

“If, indeed, there are many paths to God, and many routes to eternal life, then the sacrifice that God made in becoming a man - Slaughtered before the foundation of the world,  Plunging into hell, Suffering in ways we will never comprehend, - was all unnecessary, and God was a fool.

 

If you say, ‘Well let’s be open-minded about the way to heaven, ‘you discount the provision of what God did on your behalf.

 

Mohammed didn’t die for you. Buddha wouldn’t die for you. Only Jesus gave everything to save you from your sins.

 

Mohammed came on the scene and said, ‘Do not look at me. My teachings are my essence.’

 

Buddha never claimed to be anything of a godly man at all. In fact, his religion or philosophy is basically atheistic.

 

Hinduism is pantheistic.

 

Jesus alone says, ‘It’s Me. I am the Way.’

 

“You will hear over and over again that, ‘Spirituality is a journey up a holy mountain, and no matter which route you take, when you get to the top you will find God. So just wander wherever you feel inclined and embrace the other pilgrims on their paths. Don’t try and convert them, for every route leads to the top of the mount and they will find God just as you will.’

 

“Bunk. The analogy is all wrong. You see, it is not any mountain upon which God sits and man meanders. It is El Capitan -  a sheer face, a stone where there are no hand-holds, and no toe-holds, a rock which is insurmountable and unclimbable.

 

God is holy, folks. He is not some sort of portly gentleman sitting on top of a hill saying, ‘Any Buddha or guru that can find me is wonderful.’ Rather He is high and holy on the top of a sheer face, and, although man is sinful, God in His love reaches down to him. It is not man meandering up to God. It is  God reaching down to man saying, ‘I will elevate you and save you if you grab hold of Me through the Person of Jesus Christ.’”[41]

Seven Ways the Truth of God is Used in Right Judgment

 

There are seven ways the Bible tells us we are to use God’s truth in rightly judging: 

 

First, to rightly judge we are to come to the truth of God through His Son Jesus. This is God’s desire, that all people come to a knowledge of His truth through faith in His Son. God’s truth is the narrow way through which a person can enter into eternal life. Paul writes to young pastor Timothy about this when he is inspired to write:

 

  • 1 Timothy 2:3-7 – “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus,6 who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time,7 for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle—I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying—a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.”  [42]

Second, to rightly judge we need to believe and know the truth. The Spirit states in His word that in the last days there will be a perversion of God’s truth and so we need to make sure that we believe it and know it. :

  • 1 Timothy 4:1-3 – “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons,2 speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron,3 forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.”  [43]

It is in the inspired word of God that the Spirit “expressly says,” or warns disciples about the deviation from the truth of God that will come in the end times. To judge rightly the disciple must believe and know God’s truth in His word.

Third, once we have come to the truth, believed it and come to know it, we need to walk in the truth. To judge rightly, the truth of God must be applied. The apostle John wrote that when disciples walk in the truth it was a source of great joy for him.

  • 3 John 3-4 – “For I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth.4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”  [44]

Fourth ,to rightly judge we need to be established or built up in the truth. Peter thought it wise to remind his readers to be established and built up in the truth of the word He had taught them. Right judgment is built on the foundation of God’s truth in Christ.

  • 2 Peter 1:12 – “For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth.”  [45]

Fifth, to rightly judge we need to be established in the truth by obeying the truth. Peter spoke of obeying the truth of God’s gospel word in order for it to take root in the disciple. Right judgment is based on an obedience to God’s truth.

  • 1 Peter 1:22-25 – “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart,23 having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever,24 because  “All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, And its flower falls away,25 But the word of the Lord endures forever.” Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.”  [46]

Sixth, to rightly judge we need to handle God’s truth accurately and therefore we need to study it so that the truth we pass on is God’s truth not a watered down or perverted version of the truth. Paul instructed Timothy to this effect when he said:

  • 2 Timothy 2:14-18 – “Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers.15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.16 But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness.17 And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort,18 who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some.”  [47]

Seventh, to rightly judge we need to worship the Lord in His truth, which means we live a life of right judgment based on His truth. Jesus told the woman at the well that God is searching for those who worship Him in His truth. Jesus said:

  • John 4:23-24 -  “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.24 “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”  [48]

This means that any worship offered to God needs to be according to His word or it is not worship acceptable to Him. The assembly of the righteous who seek to offer praise to Him must do so according to the way God has prescribed it to be offered.

The Truth About Worship

At the risk of getting off on a bit of a tangent here, we need to comment here about a gross misconception of what worship is. Worship is not primarily to get the heart of the worshiper ready to receive God’s word. Worship is not just an introduction into the really important stuff in the church service. Worship is ministering to the Lord! Worship is a way of life more than just songs sung at the beginning of a church service. The first century church, (our true model for what a church is supposed to be) ministered to the Lord when they worshipped.

  • Acts 13:2-3 – “As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”3 Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.”  [49]

What does this mean? It means worship is ministering to the Lord, it is a service we provide to the Lord primarily. When you come to worship do you look to use worship to get your heart ready for the teaching? If so you have missed the point and purpose of what true worship is all about. This is nothing more than self-worship. Worship is not primarily to get your heart ready, (your heart should be ready when you come to church), worship is to bless the Lord. Any blessing we receive by worshipping the Lord is only residue of what true worship is. And look, it was as a result of and through this true worship that the Holy Spirit spoke and guided the disciples. Could it be that the reason why we so often do not know what God wants us to do, is that we have failed to comprehend what true worship is, that it is ministering to the Lord, not ourselves? Perhaps the reason why God connects worship with truth is that it is in worship that God reveals us His truth.  If we are ever to know the truth of God and the direction in which He desires us to go, we need to worship Him in truth. If we are ever to judge rightly, we need to worship God in spirit and truth and He will guide us in the way we are to go.  

As we mentioned in an earlier part of the Sermon on the Mount, (see Matthew 6:33), our prime purpose is to praise and worship God, to seek Him first and bring glory to Him. Our purpose in life is to minister to the Lord, to bring Him praise and worship Him. Just to reiterate, a few verses that make this clear are:

  • Psalm 21:13 – “Be exalted, O Lord, in Your own strength! We will sing and praise Your power.”  [50]
  • Psalm 89:5 – “And the heavens will praise Your wonders, O Lord; Your faithfulness also in the assembly of the saints.”  [51]
  • Psalm 138:2 – “I will worship toward Your holy temple, And praise Your name For Your lovingkindness and Your truth; For You have magnified Your word above all Your name.”  [52]
  • Psalm 139:14 – “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.”  [53]
  • Psalm 145:4 – “One generation shall praise Your works to another, And shall declare Your mighty acts.”  [54]
  • Psalm 146:2 – “While I live I will praise the Lord; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.”  [55]
  • Philippians 2:13 – “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”  [56]
  • Revelation 4:11 – “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” [57]

What Effect Should Right Judgment According to God’s Truth in Christ Have on a Person?

 

In the book Jesus Freaks, an account from the late Richard Wurmbrand about the effect of God’s truth on the believer is worth mentioning here. Richard Wurmbrand spent over 14 years of his life imprisoned in Romania for his faith. He gives the following account as included in Jesus Freaks:

 

“Christianity has become dramatic with us,’ wrote Pastor Richard Wurmbrand, a leader of the underground church in Communist Romania. ‘When Christians in free countries win a soul for Christ, the new believer may become a member of a quietly living church. But when those in captive nations win someone, we know that he may have to go to prison and that his children may become orphans. The joy of having brought someone to Christ is always mixed with this feeling that there is a price that must be paid.

 

When I was still living behind the Iron Curtain, I had met a Russian captain. He loved God, he longed after God, but he had never seen a Bible. He had never attended religious services. He had no religious education, but he loved God without the slightest knowledge of Him.

 

I read to him the Sermon on the Mount and the parables of Jesus After hearing them, he danced around the room in rapturous joy, proclaiming, ‘What a wonderful beauty! How could I live without knowing this Christ?’ It was the first time that I saw someone jubilating in Christ.

 

Then I made a mistake. I read to him the passion and crucifixion of Christ, without having prepared him for this. He had no expected it. When he heard how Christ was beaten, how He was crucified, and that in the end He died, he fell in an armchair and began to weep bitterly. He had believed in a Savior and now his Savior was dead!

 

I looked at him and was ashamed that I had called myself a Christian and a pastor, a teacher of others. I had never shared the sufferings of Christ as this Russian officer now shared them. Looking at him was, for me, like seeing Mary Magdalene weeping at the foot of the cross or at the empty tomb.

 

Then I read to him the story of the resurrection. When he heard this wonderful news, that the Savior arose from the tomb, he slapped his knees, and shouted for joy: ‘He is alive! He is alive!’ Again he danced around the room, overwhelmed with happiness!

 

I said to him, ‘Let us pray!’

 

He fell on his knees together with me. He did not know our holy phrases. His words of prayer were, ‘O God, what a fine chap You are! If I were You and You were me, I would never have forgiven You Your sins. But You are really a very nice chap! I love You with all my heart.’

 

I think that all the angels in heaven stopped what they were doing to listen to this sublime prayer from this Russian officer. When this man received Christ, he knew he would immediately lose his position as an officer, that prison and perhaps death in jail would almost surely follow. He gladly paid the price. He was ready to lose everything.” [58]

 

Right judgment does not ignore or bend the truth that there is only one way to heaven and that is through faith alone in Christ alone by God’s grace alone. Right judgment adheres to the truth. The truth of God is revealed in His word and needs to become a part of our lives. We need to worship the Lord in truth; we need to minister to the Lord because of His eternal truth, no matter the cost.

 

Sixth, Right Judgment is Based On FRUIT INSPECTION

 

Matthew 7:15-20 - “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.16 “You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles?17 “Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.18 “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.19 “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.20 “Therefore by their fruits you will know them.”  [59]

While we cannot know the thoughts and intents, the motives of people’s hearts, we can inspect the fruit they bear, we can observe their actions, the lives they live. Jesus likens false prophets to “ravenous wolves.” He says, “you will know them by their fruit,” or what they produce. When a person looks like a sheep but growls like a wolf, snarls like a wolf, has fur like a wolf, and you catch them eating sheep like a wolf, understand, that’s not a sheep, that’s a wolf! Jesus compares false teachers with ravenous wolves because they are devouring, they feed on the flock of God.

Jesus uses the metaphor of “fruit” to explain how false prophets are discoverable. Let’s look at the significance of this metaphor.

Fruit – A Sign of Life

First, we need to understand that a dead tree produces no fruit at all. People can talk all they want about what they are and what they believe, but if there is no spiritual fruit born in their lives, they are spiritually dead. There are some who are satisfied to live like “good” people with no apparent care for spiritual things. These are like dead trees that will eventually cast into the fire of the Lord. Jesus said:

  • John 15:6 -  “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.”  [60]

But there are those who disguise themselves as religious people; they are hypocrites who present themselves as great “spiritual” giants but who are in reality, looking to fleece the flock of God for their own benefit. The proof of the identity of a person is in the fruit they bear.

The Proof Is In The Fruit

An apple tree doesn’t bear oranges; an orange tree doesn’t bear apples. You know the identity of a tree by the fruit it bears. A good tree bears good fruit, a bad tree bears bad fruit, whatever the tree, its fruit will surface eventually. Jesus emphasized the need for a disciple to be fruitful. We see this in chapter 15 of John’s gospel where Jesus states:

  • John 15:1-8,16 - “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.2 “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.3 “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.4 “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.6 “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.7 “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.8 “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples. . . . 16 “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.”   [61]

Fruit is a sign of life, of God working in a life. Therefore, the person who “abides” or trusts in Jesus, who has a saving living personal relationship with Him, that person will produce fruit. But what is the fruit that Jesus is referring to, what does it look like?

The Fourfold Fruit of a Disciple

The Bible uses “fruit” to describe four things that a healthy child of God produces if God is at work in them and they have truly experienced spiritual life.

First, the fruit of repentance, measurable life change. Earlier in the gospel of Matthew John the Baptist spoke of the fruit of repentance when he said:

  • Matthew 3:8-10 - “Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance,9 “and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.10 “And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”  [62]

The fruit of repentance is measurable change. John the Baptist warned the religious leaders who came out to check out his ministry he told them that relying on the national identity would not save them. They needed to show true change in their lives, not just say the right words or look religious. The fruit of repentance is sincere change that indicates a true heart change has taken place on the inside of a person. Today we would say, “don’t think that by simply reciting a prayer or coming forth at a crusade or standing in a church that you are saved; there needs to be tangible evidence of a change in a person’s life. You can’t accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior and remain the same. Repentance means change and without repentance, there can be no salvation.

Second, the fruit of evangelism, sharing your faith with others. In Proverbs it states:

  • Proverbs 11:30 – “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, And he who wins souls is wise.”  [63]

If God has gotten through to a person and that person understands the reality of the need to choose between heaven and hell, between salvation, and sin, between Satan and a Savior Jesus Christ. When a person understands what’s on the line and that an eternal destiny depends upon such a decision, that person will bear the fruit of desiring to share their faith. When a person experiences the joy of a personal saving relationship with Almighty God in Christ, that person will want to share what they have found with others. Those who experience newness of life in Christ naturally have a desire to share that new life with others who are dead in their sin (Romans 6).

Third, the fruit of the Spirit, love. When a person accepts Christ as Lord and Savior the Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit comes into that person’s heart and begins a transformation process. We see this in the following verses:

  • Romans 8:9-11 – “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”  [64]
  • 1 Corinthians 3:16 – “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”  [65]
  • Ephesians 5:18 – “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,”  [66]
  • Titus 3:4-6 – “But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared,5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior,”  [67]

The indwelling of the Spirit results in an ongoing work of the Spirit in the life of the believer as attested to by the following verses:

  • Galatians 5:16,25 – “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. . . . 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”  [68]

The primary evidence or fruit of this regenerative work of the Spirit in a person, is love. The nature of this love is described in the following verses:

  • Galatians 5:22-23 – “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”  [69]

That the fruit of the Spirit is primarily love and not the entire list given above is evidenced by the fact that Paul is inspired to write “fruit” in the singular (KARPOS – Strong’s # 2590 – nominative/singular/masculine). Therefore it is likely that the primary fruit or evidence of the presence and work of the Spirit in a person’s life is “love” (AGAPE – Strong’s # 25), a selfless, self-sacrificing and giving love that is characterized by “joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” A true disciple will have the love of God working in and through them.

Fourth, the fruit of spiritual growth, a progressing, maturing faith in God. We see this in the following verses:

  • Philippians 1:9-11 – “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment,10 that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ,11 being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”  [70]

Paul speaks of a love that “may abound more and more in knowledge and discernment,” and then associates such spiritual growth with “the fruits of righteousness.” Jesus wants us to grow in our faith; He wants us to bear the fruit of spiritual growth.

These are the four basic fruit of true disciples, of true children of God. But there is fruit born by false brethren and false prophets as well. This is what we turn to now.

The Fruit of False Prophets

There are two pieces of fruit that the false prophet bears. This is also produced in the heart of the religious pharisaical person who is more a fake than a truly faithful child of God.

 

First, false prophets bear the bad fruit of drawing people to themselves. False prophets draw attention to themselves; they subtly make themselves the center of attention. When Paul gave his farewell to the Ephesians he warned them by saying:

  • Acts 20:29-30 - “For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.30 “Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.”  [71]

When people draw people to themselves, a right judgment needs to be made and such people need to be exposed for what they are, ravenous religious Pharisees!

Second, false prophets bear the bad fruit of looking to profit from the flock of God. The second characteristic of false prophets is that they fleece the flock. In Peter’s second epistle he writes the following about false teachers:

  • 2 Peter 2:1-3 – “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.2 And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed.3 By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.”  [72]

Not only do foals prophets deny Jesus, they usually are focused on money; the almighty dollar is the bottom line, (and if it isn’t money the prophet is focused on then it is usually power, influence or being the center of attention). Jehovah’s Witnesses plug their magazines and materials when they come to your door. Moonies or those from the Unification Church, stand on street corners selling roses or candy to support their cultic church. And this is the practice of so many of the cults.

 

God is not poor. He is not hurting for money or income. But to listen to some of those who beg for money to support their ministry would have you believe otherwise. We need to understand and keep in mind that where God guides God provides. Any ministry that is supported and directed by God will not die unless God wants it to die. God’s ministers do not have to go begging for support. If God is in something there will be support to make it happen. Begging for money misrepresents God as needy and poor. This is borderline blasphemy and it happens all to often even in the true church of God!  It is only false teachers who look to manipulate and fleece the flock of God, in such cases there needs to be judgment and the false needs to be exposed. Because of this many churches have decided to demonstrate the provision of God by not taking an offering in their services but simply having a tithe and offering box in the church and trust in the Lord to put it on the hearts of the people to give.

 

Right judgment is based on fruit inspection and is essential to the health of the body of Christ. One bad apple if thrown into a basket with good apples, will lead to the rotting of the entire basket of apples. In the same way, it only takes one false teacher or false prophet to divide, distract and divert attention from God and to destroy the body of Christ. It is extremely important to be a fruit inspector. But there is another related area that is also important and it is to this area that we turn now.

               

Seventh, Right Judgment is Based on TRUE CONVERSION

Matthew 7:21-23 - “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.22 “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”  [73]

These statements of Jesus follow on the heels of His instruction regarding false prophets. What Jesus says is true of false prophets is also true of false brethren who follow in the footsteps of false teachers. There are people who say, “Lord, Lord,” and who will not enter the kingdom of heaven. There are those who say religious sounding words, but who are not truly converted to Christ or saved. Who are these people?

In What Cases Can Someone say, “Lord, Lord,” and Not Enter the Kingdom of Heaven?

Think of it, there are those who address God as, “Lord, Lord,” and may even use the name of Jesus, but who will not enter the kingdom of heaven. How can this be? In these three verses are five cases in which people can address God as, “Lord, Lord,” and not be saved, not “enter the kingdom of heaven.” These verses are critically important to our eternal destiny. A good teacher not only informs but also warns. Jesus is our supreme example in this. He has informed the disciples about their need to exceed religious pharisaism and now warns them about what the consequence will be should they or anyone else settle for a religious pursuit of God.  What are the five cases in which someone can use the words, “Lord, Lord,” in regards to God and still not enter heaven? Let’s see.

Case #1 – Those Who Disregard God’s True Revelation of Himself Will Not Enter Heaven

Jesus states, ““Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven,” (7:21a). There are those who address God as, “Lord, Lord,” but don’t get through to Him because their view of God is inadequate.  The Bible is God’s revelation of Himself to humankind and if humankind is to approach God, he or she must do so on the basis of Who God has revealed Himself to be in His word. The God of the Bible is Triune; God is one substance consisting of three distinct Persons (The Father, The Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit) who are coeternal, coequal, and co-powerful. God ceases to be God if any of the three Persons are removed from

Each of the three Persons’ of the Triune Godhead are stated as having divine attributes in the Bible.  The Bible calls the Father God (Philippians 1:2), Jesus is called God (John 1:1,14; Colossians 2:9), and the Holy Spirit is referred to as God (Acts 5:3-4). The Father is referred to as the Creator (Isaiah 64:8; 44:24), Jesus is referred to as the Creator (John 1:3; Colossians 1:15-17), and the Holy Spirit is referred to as Creator (Job 33:4; 26:13). The Father is omnipresent (1 Kings 8:27), as is the Son Jesus (Matthew 28:20), and the Holy Spirit Psalm 139:7-10). The Father is eternal (Psalm 90:2), as is Jesus (Micah 5:1-2, and the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:11). There are many other divine attributes shared by the three Persons of the triune Godhead.

Further evidence that God is triune is found in a number of passages in the Bible. For instance, in the opening chapters of the Bible when God creates Adam, He refers to Himself in the plural when He states, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness,” (Genesis 1:26).

Another evidence of this is found in the Shema, or Deuteronomy 6:4, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!” Now you might respond, “Wait a minute pastor, that verse says God is one, not three-in-one! That verse seems to contradict what you are saying.” At first glance one might think this, but when you look at the inspired and chosen words of God for this verse you will think differently. You see in the Hebrew language there are two words translated “one” in our English. One Hebrew word translated “one” in English is YACHIYD, which means literally, “one and only one; solitary one.” If this was the word used in Deuteronomy 6:4 the doctrine of the Trinity would be contradicted. However this is not the word used in this verse. Instead, the word translated “one,” in Deuteronomy 6:4 is EKH-AWD, which means, “to collect together, to unify,” and refers to a compound unity. Ekh-hawd is the same word translated one in Genesis 2:24 where God institutes marriage by saying, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh.”

If we are going to approach God successfully, we need to approach Him on the basis of who He says He is, not on a convoluted or false view of who we or others say He is. This is where the cults err. For instance, Mormons believe that God was once a man and indeed teach, “As man is, God once was, as God is man shall become.” Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe in the Triune God but rather teach that God is “Jehovah,” and Jesus is His first created being. Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that the Holy Spirit is a force, not a Person. The Unification Church teaches that the universe is God’s body, that God does not know the future, is suffering and needs a man to make Him happy, which just so happens to be Sun Myung Moon. Christian Science teaches that God is impersonal, a “Principal of Life, truth, love, intelligence, and spirit.” Scientology (Dianetics) does not define God but rejects the biblical view of God. The New Age “god” is “everything and everyone.” Buddhism teaches that there is no personal God and is atheistic. B’hai World Faith teaches that God is an unknowable divine being who has revealed Himself through “nine manifestations” including Moses, Buddha, Confucius, Jesus, Muhammad, and Baha’u’llah. Islam teaches that God is one and is referred to as Allah, (who is in truth a god traceable to a pagan Moon god rooted in the polytheistic religions of Ur of the Chaldeas). [74]

The Attack On Jesus’ Nature

The most common deviation from the Triune Godhead is the disregard and denial that Jesus is God. Any “gospel” that does not hold to the deity of Jesus Christ is a false gospel. John wrote in his second epistle:

  • 2 John 7-11 – “For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.8 Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward.9 Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son.10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him;11 for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.”  [75]

As you can see, denying the deity of Jesus Christ is nothing new and more importantly, you cannot be saved without the correct view of who Jesus is, that is, that He is God in the flesh. The Bible teaches that Jesus is fully God and fully Man. Jesus is not half man and half God, He is fully God and fully Man. Jesus is the God-Man. The Bible reveals these two natures of Jesus in that He is worshipped (Matthew 2:2,11; 14:33; 28:9) and He worships (John 17). Jesus is prayed to (Acts 7:59; 1 Corinthians 1:1-2) and He prayed to the Father (John 17:1). Jesus is called God (John 20:28; Hebrews 1:8) and He was called “Man” (Mark 15:39; John 19:5). He was called “Son of God” (Mark 1:1) and “Son of Man” (John 9:35-37). He remained sinless, (1 Peter 2:22; Hebrews 4:15) even though He was tempted (Matthew 4:1-11). He knew all things (John 21:17), yet He grew in wisdom (Luke 2:52). He is described as the giver of eternal life (John 10:28) and yet Himself died on the cross (Romans 5:8). The fullness of deity dwells in Him (Colossians 2:9), yet He has a body of flesh and bones (Luke 24:39). Jesus is the God-Man, the perfect second Person of the Trinity, the One Perfect Mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5).

In the days of John an aberrant teaching known as Gnosticism was infiltrating the church, which was rooted in the philosophical view of dualism. Dualism views all matter as evil and therefore did not accept the incarnation of Jesus as Man but said that He only appeared as a Man (Docetism). This false belief undermines the plan of God to redeem humankind in that if Jesus was only a  spirit and not an actual Man, He could not have died on the cross to atone for all mankind. That Jesus is God in the flesh is testified to and affirmed in the following verses:

  • John 1:1-2,14 – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.2 He was in the beginning with God.14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”  [76]
  • 2 Corinthians 5:18-19,21 – “Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation,19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. . . . 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”  [77]
  • Colossians 1:19 – “For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell,”  [78]

These are only a select few of the many verses and portions of scripture which attest to the deity of Jesus Christ.

Mormons teach that Jesus is a god, the created son of Elohim, and the brother of Lucifer. Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that Jesus is not God, but is Michael the archangel. The New Age movement, and Hinduism teaches that Jesus is an avatar, a guru, and “ascended master. B’hai teaches that Jesus is just one of many manifestations of God. All of these views are inadequate and because of this faulty view of Jesus these groups are not the way to heaven.

Why Is The Deity Of Jesus So Important?

Salvation depends on the deity of Jesus. The apostle John was inspired to write:

  • 1 John 4:2-3 – “By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God,3 and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.”  [79]

If you don’t believe in the incarnation of Jesus Christ as God in the flesh, you aren’t “of God.” If you deny the incarnation of Jesus, you are of, “the spirit of Antichrist.” Therefore, whom you think and believe Jesus to be is very important.

Jesus stated that accepting Him as God would make the difference between being saved from your sins or dying in your sins. In John’s gospel it states:

  • John 8:24 - “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”  [80]

In this verse the italicized “He” has been inserted by the translators. Jesus therefore said, “If you do not believe that I am, you will die in your sins.” Why is this significant? Because later in John 8 Jesus again refers to Himself by saying, “before Abraham was, I am.” (John 8:58). This is a clear association by Jesus of Himself with the Divine title of God found in Exodus 3:14 where God tells Moses His name is “I AM.” That this association with the Divine title was being made by Jesus is attested to by the fact that those who heard Him say this sought to stone Him for blasphemy and that Jesus is quoting directly from the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament). So if you don’t believe that Jesus is God in the flesh, “you will die in your sins.” It is important that you understand and believe that Jesus is God. (See also John 5:18 and context).

So you see, it is important that when you use the words, “Lord, Lord,” you know the “Lord” you are speaking about because the “Lord” that some are referring to is nothing like the Lord of the Bible.

Case #2 – Those Who Disregard God’s Will, Will Not Enter Heaven

Jesus identified those who would enter the kingdom of heaven by saying they were, “he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” (7:21b). What is implied therefore is that those who do not do God’s will, will not enter heaven. Those who try to enter heaven on their own terms rather than by God’s terms, will not enter heaven. This would include those who simply put on a religious façade to mask a life lived according to the person’s own will and selfish desires. These are the people in whom no real life-changing work of God has taken place.

The KJV Bible Commentary makes the following comment on this verse:

“ Not everyone professing Christ is genuinely saved. Even the outward verbal acknowledgment of His lordship is in itself not enough to save the unbeliever apart from true repentance and faith. A genuinely saved person is one that doeth the will of my Father, the Greek present tense meaning that he is continually living in obedience to the will of God as the normal course of his life. He may fail at times, but his general course of consistency is to obey the will of the Father. It is tragic to note that many will proclaim in that day, Lord, Lord and yet will be lost.” [81] (Emphasis added.)

Doing God’s will or obeying Him, is an important indicator of spiritual life.  Jesus taught His disciples:

  • John 14:21 -  “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”  [82]

Love is evidenced by obedience. This was mentioned above in our discussion of false prophets who show no fruit of repentance in their lives, no measurable change or evidence of a new birth in their lives. Obedience and saving faith go hand in hand. If you are saved and have put your faith in Jesus, then that faith working in and through you will lead you to desire and do the will of God. This is not works-righteousness. Rather, it is God working in and through a person for His good pleasure. As Paul was inspired to write:

  • Philippians 2:13 – “for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”  [83]

We are not saved by works, but the faith that saves  works! James was inspired to write in this regard:

  • James 2:17-20 – “Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?”  [84]

Even demons assent to the existence of God, yet they tremble! We need to understand, saving faith is not mere assent, it is heart and life-impacting trust. WHAT COUNTS IS REAL SERVICE, NOT LIP-SERVICE. Those who pay God lip-service without real service will be in for a sad realization of their spiritual poverty on judgment day.

The Importance of God’s Word

God’s will is revealed in His word. Therefore, those who disregard God’s word and live according to their own set of rules or ways, will not likely enter heaven. There are those who by manipulation of God’s word, or misuse of God’s word, or even supplementing of God’s word, try to use God’s word for their own ends. Liberal scholars disregard the authority of God’s word and attempt to destroy it by putting themselves in a position of authority to judge what parts of it are authentic and truly from God (e.g. The Jesus Seminar). Cults take verses from God’s word out of context, or simply ignore or rationalize away verses in God’s word that contradict and refute their aberrant teachings. Some like Mormons add their own additional books to God’s word (e.g. Pearl of Great Price; Book of Mormon). Jehovah’s Witnesses mistranslate God’s word to support their heretical doctrines. The result is a twisted malaise of labyrinthine lawlessness. And in this confused state, the cultists, the prophets of profit, prey on their victims and use them for their own gain.

God has breathed out (i.e. inspired) a revelation of Himself and His truth and the only way to gain access to heaven is to take His word to heart. No other book is like the Bible. No other book has as much supporting evidence. No other book is as perfect, as prophetic, as powerful, as the book we call the Bible. To disregard God’s word is to become “lawless.” To disregard God’s word is to cut the ropes that keep your ship tethered to God’s dock and then to drift off into a sea of eternal darkness and despair. God’s word says:

  • Psalm 19:7-11 – “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;8 The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;9 The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.10 More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.11 Moreover by them Your servant is warned, And in keeping them there is great reward.”  [85]
  • 2 Timothy 3:16-17 – “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  [86]

Those who disregard God's word (which contains all that God wants us to know about Himself and His salvation plan in Christ) put themselves in a dark room where they will grope and find it hard to escape. Those who reject God’s word or abuse it will not likely be able to see their way to heaven. When people disregard God’s word and approach God on their own terms rather than God’s revealed terms, they will not enter heaven.

Case #3 – Those Who Rely On Their Own Works and Disregard the Sufficiency of Christ’s Work, Will Not Enter Heaven

Jesus went on to say, “Many will say to Me in that day, (7:22a). Notice first that Jesus says, “many.” Therefore, what follows is a serious and common falsehood with those who seek to be right before God. Disciple, take this to heart, don’t get caught up in it.

Jesus continues, “‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ (7:22b). Those who depend on their works to make them righteous before God will fall short of God’s requirement to enter heaven.  Not only this, but those who depend on their works to make them righteous before God, in effect, disregard the sufficiency of Christ’s work on the cross. If you view Christ’s work on the cross as sufficient for salvation, then you won’t want to add anything to it. The concept of purgatory where sin has to be expiated, is first not supportable by Scripture, and more importantly, an affront to the atonement of Christ and the sufficiency thereof to cleans from sin.

The Bible says the righteousness of man is like a filthy rag to God. Isaiah was inspired to write:

  • Isaiah 64:6 – “But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.”  [87]

Paul quotes the Old Testament very clearly on this point when he is inspired to write:

  • Romans 3:10-18,23 – “As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one;11 There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God.12 They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.”13 “Their throat is an open tomb; With their tongues they have practiced deceit”; “The poison of asps is under their lips”;14 “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.”15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;16 Destruction and misery are in their ways;17 And the way of peace they have not known.”18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”  [88]

There is no way a person will be able to come before God and justify him or her self. On our own, we are no better than a filthy rag before God. If you are trying to justify yourself before God by your own works or accomplishments, you will fall far short of your objective.

How Are We Justified Before God?

If we can’t be justified before God or righteous before Him because of anything we do, then how can we become and then live righteously before God? In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians he writes:

  • 2 Corinthians 5:21 – “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”  [89]

Notice what that verse says, we become righteous “in Him.” This verse is the fulfillment of what God inspired the prophet Isaiah to write in the Old Testament when he wrote:

  • Isaiah 61:10 – “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, My soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”  [90]

We are righteous only by wrapping the robe of His righteousness around us. The only way we can be righteous before our Holy God, is to wrap ourselves up in the righteousness of Christ. In other words, we cover ourselves with Christ; we rely on Him and His cross-work entirely to make us righteous. Paul writes about this in Romans:

  • Romans 5:1 – “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”  ,[91]
  • Romans 13:14 – “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.”  [92]

These verses tell us the truth about our righteousness; it comes through faith in Christ, not by anything we do. When God looks at us, all we want Him to see is Jesus covering us with His righteousness. Any righteous standing we have before God is because of what Jesus has done, not because of anything we must do. How do we “put on the Lord Jesus Christ”? By faith! We trust in Christ and that trust relies entirely upon what He has done on the cross to make us righteous before God. When we put our faith in Jesus, we are trusting in Him and His work on the cross to be totally sufficient to meet all the requirements of our Holy Heavenly Father in terms of paying the penalty for our sin.

Does this mean we can go out and sin without impunity? No, because if we have been saved and truly been made righteous in Christ, we won’t want to sin. Sin is what put our blessed Savior on the cross. He died that we might be freed from sin’s shackles (Romans 6). But those who rely on their own inadequate works to justify themselves before God will fall far short of what God requires to cross over the chasm that leads from death to life in Christ.

The standard of righteousness to enter heaven is Jesus. If you want to make it to heaven in your own strength, you will have to be as righteous as Jesus. No person is able to do that. And no lesser standard is acceptable to our Holy God in heaven. The Spirit convict s the world of this truth and anyone who disregards the sufficiency of Christ’s cross alone as the means of salvation, will find that they are barred from entrance to heaven (John 16:8-11).

The Sufficiency of Christ’s Atoning Work

Once you have put your faith in Jesus Christ and received His gift of justification and forgiveness for your sins, you don’t have to add anything to that work of Jesus Christ. In fact, the Bible tells us that we are given a completely fresh start (2 Corinthians 5:17). Someone had coined a definition of justification as meaning we are put in a position before God just-as-if-I-had-never-sinned. The Bible teaches that the sacrificial substitutionary atonement of Jesus is totally sufficient to cleanse a person from  ALL their sin. We see this in the following verses:

  • Colossians 2:13-14 – “And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses,14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”  [93]
  • 1 John 1:7 – “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”  [94]
  • 1 John 1:9 – “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  [95]

You can’t add to the work of Christ, now or after you die, it is finished (John 19:30). To live in this life with the fear of purgatory hanging over your head is not what the gospel is all about. To live in this life with the false hope that pretty much everyone will get into heaven but some will spend more time in purgatory than others, is a fatal flaw in one’s belief that could have eternal consequences. No, the atonement of Christ on the cross is totally sufficient to deal with ALL our sins.

If We Aren’t Made Righteous By What We Do, Then Why Should We Do Any Good Work?

If we aren’t going to be any more or less righteous because of our good works, then why do anything, why serve or minister? We serve because we are compelled by His love, not because we add to our righteousness. Paul wrote:

  • 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 – “For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died;15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.”  [96]

Don’t serve because you think it will get you into a better standing with God or make Him love you more. God couldn’t love you more; He loved and loves you so much that He sent His Son to die on the cross for you (Romans 5:8). But we are to serve and give and minister because of what He has done, out of loving appreciation for God. That is why we serve and work and give ourselves for God.

God desires so much for His people than mere religion. He wants us to personally relate to Him.

Case #4 – Those Who Disregard The Need For a Personal Relationship With God in Christ, Will Not Enter Heaven

Those who do not “know” Jesus, will not enter His kingdom. Jesus states this clearly when He says, “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me” (7:23a). There are those who are satisfied to entrust their eternal destiny to a pat set of religious rituals that they can do conveniently in a short amount of time and then move on to do their own thing. There are those who scoff at the idea of having a “personal” relationship with God. Such people however, will find themselves separated from heaven because Jesus will tell them, “I never knew you.” This brings us to a truth of central import. 

It’s Not What You Know as Much As It is Who You Know That Determines True Conversion.

It is possible for a person to say all the right things, such as “Lord, Lord” and yet not give their hearts to Jesus. It’s possible that a person knows all the doctrines and has them all down pat, and still not be saved! Head knowledge without heart decision does not save. This is true because, knowledge about God can be like any other knowledge and tend to puff a person up. Paul was inspired to write:

  • 1 Corinthians 8:1b – “We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies.”  [97]

It is possible to put your faith in your knowledge, to become all puffed up with what you know and completely miss out on the Person  that knowledge is pointing you to know. It is possible to say all the right things and still not be saved! To be truly saved you have to give God your heart.

Those who confess, “Lord, Lord,” and have not entered into a personal saving relationship with Jesus by faith in the true gospel, are unknown by Jesus. It is possible to have a religious way of relating to God where you repeat liturgy established by tradition, where you repeat all the right words but have not experienced the personal saving relationship with Jesus. You have to give your heart to God and personally invite Him in to take up residence within you.

The apostle Paul at the end of his life wrote in his last letter to Timothy the following words:

  • 2 Timothy 1:12 – “For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.”  [98]

Paul was a very well educated and studied individual (see Philippians 3), but in his final words he did not rely on his academic achievements or the accumulated knowledge about Jesus for his salvation, he relied on his personal relationship with Jesus for his salvation. Does Jesus know you? Do you know Him? Your salvation hangs in the balance according to the answer to those questions.

Case #5 – Those Whose Lives Deny the Life-changing Reality of the Gospel Will Not Enter Heaven

Jesus concludes, “depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (7:23b).  Notice, Jesus did not say, “depart from Me, you who ever commit a sin!” Jesus is not talking about sinless perfection here. Even after the believer is saved they will sin because of their humanness and fallen state. Only Jesus is sinless. In John’s first epistle he is inspired to write:

  • 1 John 1:6-10 – “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.”  [99]

These verses should make it clear that to claim sinless perfection at any point in one’s walk with the Lord is to be self-deceived and to call God a liar. Christians, disciples do sin. John calls this, “sin not leading to death.”

Sin Not Leading To Death

Later in John’s first epistle he speaks of a sin that doesn’t lead to death. He writes:

  • 1 John 5:16-17 – “If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that.17 All unrighteousness is sin, and there is sin not leading to death.”  [100]

There are sins which the believer struggles with for a time before they gain victory over them. This is not due to a lack of power on God’s part, but more on a lack of the believer appropriating God’s power and applying it to their lives. There is never a valid excuse for entering into sin. God has promised to give us a way of escape so that we can resist and stand up under the temptation as Paul states to the Corinthians:

  • 1 Corinthians 10:13 – “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”  [101]

However, the truth and balanced view of reality is that believers do sin on occasion. Those sins which the believer enters into because of occasional weakness or their flesh, if confessed, do not lead to eternal death. There will be a negative spiritual consequence as there always is with sin, but if the sinner repents, God will forgive and cleanse and the believer can get on with their walk with the Lord.

The Dark Truth About Practicing Sin

Jesus did not say if anyone ever sinned they would not enter heaven. But He did say those who “practice lawlessness,” would not enter heaven. There is a vast difference between those who “practice” sin and those who fall into an occasional sin. No self-proclaimed Christian who practices, or lives in sin, will enter heaven. This is because no true believer will want to continue on in his or her sin. A true and authentically saved believer does not continue in their life of sin. Salvation is from sin and therefore no one who genuinely accepts Christ as Savior will want to continue on in sin. This is what John writes in his first epistle:

  • 1 John 3:7-9 – “Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous.8 He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.9 Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.”  [102]

Upon first glance it may appear to the reader that John is saying that anyone who is “born of God” never sins. But this would be a misinterpretation of the text. To grasp the sense of what John is saying you have to take in to account the tense of the words  in the original Greek language. The tense of  the word “sin” in the phrase, “he cannot sin,” is a present tense which implies a continuous action. In other words John is speaking about a lifestyle, or ongoing living in sin. A truly converted person will not live on in sin, they may struggle at times, but they won’t live on in sin as they were before they professed their salvation in Christ. Indeed John says they “cannot,” which means to do so invalidates their profession. Living a lifestyle that contradicts God and His word is mutually exclusive from being truly converted and saved from your sin.

Therefore, when Jesus is saying that those who “practice lawlessness,” should “depart from Me,” and will not enter heaven, He is speaking about those who make false professions of faith for whatever reason. The religious seek fire insurance from eternal fire by doing just enough to save them from the flames. Some profess Christ to please others. Any profession of faith in Christ, any acceptance of Christ as Savior which is not sincerely focused on being reconciled to God and being forgiven for sin, any profession that is made without a desire to leave one’s life of sin, is inadequate.

A Religious Show Doesn’t Impress God

Notice too that some of those who did not know Jesus were involved in religious activity. They “prophesied” and “cast out demons,” and “did many wonders” all in Jesus’ name. But the bottom line is that Jesus didn’t know them and they apparently did not know Jesus. You see they may have been claiming the name of Jesus and doing a lot of religious stuff without knowing the Lord. But was what they were doing in accordance with “the will of My Father”? (7:21). Were they just doing a lot of religious stuff to draw attention to themselves like the religious Pharisees? God is not impressed with religious activity, or religious showiness. Remember how Jesus opened chapter six:

  • Matthew 6:1 - “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven.”  [103]

Religious Pharisees look very religious on the surface, but inside they are dirty vessels and like tombs with dead bones in them (Matthew 23:23-36). Right judgment is based on obedience to the word of God and true confession from the heart. Right judgment should be done to the extent that such a condition can be judged from the fruit born.

Eighth, Right Judgment is Based on the FIRM FOUNDATION of Jesus and His Word

Matthew 7:24-27 - “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock:25 “and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.26 “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand:27 “and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”   [104]

Again we see Jesus connecting what precedes to what follows with the word, “therefore.” What is “therefore” there for? Jesus has spoken of a narrow gate (7:13-14), that lets us into His yard. Make sure you enter His domain by going through His prescribed “narrow gate,” otherwise you may find yourself lost in someone else’s yard and if you try to hop the fence into Jesus’ yard, you’ll be a trespasser (John 10:1-10).  He then speaks of fruitfulness (7:15-20), and building on the firm foundation of His word (7:24-27). The foundation is the most important part of any structure. You want to make sure your foundational footing is solid, or when the inevitable storms of life come, you’ll be blown away. The only way you can have a firm and reliable foundation for your life is to build on the rock of Jesus Christ according to the word of God.

Jesus Is The Rock of Our Spiritual Foundation

What is the foundation of our spiritual life? Jesus is the rock foundation, the solid and reliable foundation of spiritual life. The apostle Paul referred to Jesus as this rock when he was inspired to quote from the Old Testament (Psalm 118:22) and write:

  • Romans 9:33 – “As it is written: “Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense, And whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”  [105]

Later in his letter to the Corinthians he speaks of the preservation of God’s people by God in the wilderness and points to Jesus “the rock” as the one who sustained them:

  • 1 Corinthians 10:1-4 – “Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea,2 all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea,3 all ate the same spiritual food,4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.”  [106]

Indeed the Bible teaches that no other foundation is acceptable for spiritual life other than the foundation of Jesus Christ. Paul again writes to Corinthians:

  • 1 Corinthians 3:9-11 – “For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building.10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it.11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”  [107]

If Jesus is the only reliable and acceptable foundation that meets God’s holy building code, then how do we have that foundation laid for us and then build upon it?

Laying the Foundation of Christ With True Conversion By The True Gospel

In Matthew 7:21-23 Jesus has just taught that not everyone who calls Him, “Lord, Lord,” will enter heaven. Why is that? Because God has clearly and simply revealed a narrow, unmistakable way to eternal life and those who disregard it do so to their own peril (Matthew 7:13-14). Those who address Jesus as “lord, Lord,” and who will not be received into heaven are those who have sought to build on a foundation other than Jesus Christ. In other words, those who seek to gain access to heaven by  a false gospel will not enter heaven. The true Biblical gospel is the means God has provided to lay the foundation of Jesus Christ in life. How important is this?

 The apostle Paul was inspired to write to the Galatians:

  • Galatians 1:6-9 – “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel,7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.”  [108]

It is extremely important, absolutely essential that a person knows the true biblical gospel if they are to be saved. What is the gospel?

The True Gospel

What is the gospel? According to the New Testament the gospel is laid out for us in the following passage: 

  • 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 – “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand,2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,”  [109]
  • Ephesians 2:1-10 – “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins,2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience,3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”  [110]

The gospel (or good news) is that sinners hopelessly lost in their sin, (because in their own strength and effort they are unable to pay off their debt of sin in a way acceptable to God – Romans 3:23) can be saved from the death penalty that sin entails (Romans 6:23), by receiving by faith, the substitutionary death of Christ on the cross and that Jesus was raised form the dead which verifies that His atoning death on the cross was acceptable to God. Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for the sins of every person every created. He died in our place on the cross (2 Corinthians 5:14-21).

Appropriating the True Gospel In Your Life By Faith

It is by faith that the work of Christ on the cross is put to our account. No effort or “work” of ours can secure God’s forgiveness for our debt of sin. God simply makes the provision of Jesus Christ available for us to receive by faith. God’s act of providing salvation through the work of His Son Jesus Christ is called an act of grace. Grace is unmerited or undeserved favor and that is exactly what God has provided for us in His Son Jesus Christ. This is expressed in the following verses:

  • John 1:12 – “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name”   [111]
  • John 3:16 -  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”  [112]
  • Galatians 2:16 - “knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.”  [113]

We receive Jesus and what He has done for us on the cross, by faith, that is what saves us. Faith is simply a trusting reliance, a dependence on Jesus. Someone has aptly defined saving faith in the following acronym.  Saving faith is, Forsaking-All- I-Trust-Him.

“Faith” Alone Does Not Save Us, ONLY Faith In Jesus Saves

We are not saved by “faith.” In today’s worldview faith itself is idolized. In the media faith in it’s most generic sense is presented as the key to spiritual life. But we need to recognize, it is not simply “faith” that saves us, it is faith in Jesus Christ that saves a person. The object of your faith is as important as your faith. There are many sincere and faithful Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Mary worshipers, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, et.al. who have plenty of faith, but because they do not put their faith in the Biblical Jesus, their faith will not gain them entrance into heaven. This is made abundantly clear in the following verses:

  • John 3:36 -  “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”  [114]
  • Acts 4:12 – ““Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”  [115]
  • Romans 5:1 – “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,”  [116]

Jesus Christ is the only acceptable object of our faith and the only One who can save us from our sin.

The Power of The Gospel

When by faith we receive Jesus Christ as our Savior by faith in Him, a powerful work is unleashed in our lives. Paul puts it this way:  

  • Romans 1:16-17 – “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”  [117]

The true gospel consists of accepting Christ alone by faith alone provided by the grace alone of God.

What Makes a False Gospel False?

The reason a “gospel” is false is because they have a faulty view of salvation. False gospels are false because their plan of salvation is based on the works of people not the grace of God. Any so-called “gospel” that does not depend on faith alone in Christ alone by God’s grace alone, is a false gospel. The reason for this is that since all human efforts to atone for or deal with sin are futile and fall short of what God finds acceptable, then any and all “gospels” that rely on human efforts or works are futile and fall short. Such false “gospels” are really no gospel at all for they fall short of saving a person from their sins, they are not only false by they are futile and doomed to failure.

Here is where the religious Pharisaism comes in and all who would try to gain access to heaven based on their own works or efforts. Salvation is not based on the works of people, but on the work of Jesus Christ. When a person comes to see that they are sinners and admit it, when they agree that Jesus is the only way to solve their sin problem, and they accept by faith the free gift of salvation by faith in Christ, then and only then will they be able to advance and ultimately enter heaven.

You Cannot Be Saved By Your Works

That salvation is based on the work of Christ and God’s grace (gift) and not a person’s works or efforts is seen clearly in the following verses:

  • Titus 3:3-7 – “For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.4 But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared,5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior,7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”  [118]

Mormons say salvation is based on the works of faithfulness to Mormon leaders, Mormon baptism, tithing, etc. The works of baptism as a Jehovah’s Witness and door-to-door witnessing saves Jehovah’s Witnesses. And there are others who rely on there own ability to “keep the Ten commandments,” or “be a good person,” “do good deeds.” But no work is adequate to justify a person before God other than the work of Jesus Christ on the cross and that can only be received by faith it cannot be worked for.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that a person can call out ,”Lord, Lord,” all they want, but if they are doing so on their own terms, and not by,” the will of My Father,” or on God’s terms, then they will not enter heaven no matter what they say or do. When we come to God we come on His terms as prescribed in His revelation the Bible and the gospel of Jesus Christ which it reveals. No other way is acceptable, no other way is true. That is the bottom line. But what is true conversion? How can I know if I am truly saved?

What is True Conversion?

What is “True Conversion”? True conversion is a work God does in the heart of a person when that person by faith turns form their sin to put their faith in Christ and receive from God forgiveness for their sins and the indwelling, new life giving Holy Spirit into their lives. Let’s take a moment to consider true conversion and what it entails.

True Conversion Involves the Heart

True conversion, (salvation)  is a matter of the heart. Paul was inspired to write:

  • Romans 10:8-10 – “But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach):9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”  [119]

Right judgment is based on a true conversion. A true conversion is one that is from the heart. We’re back to the central issue of the Sermon on the Mount, the heart. True disciples are those who have given God their heart, they have invited God to rule in their hearts, they exceed the outward religious way of Pharisees (Matthew 5:20). It’s all a matter of the heart. It’s not what you know but Who you know that counts.

Building On The Firm Foundation Of Jesus Christ

Jesus said, ““Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock” (7:24). To build on the firm foundation of Jesus Christ, (once that foundation has been laid by accepting the gospel of Jesus Christ by faith) the disciple must rely on the Spirit by faith to have God implement His word in their life.  To grow and build on the spiritual bedrock of Jesus, you seek to apply God’s word to your life in the power of the Holy Spirit. This is the clear teaching of the Bible which emphasizes this in the following verses:

  • Colossians 2:6-10 – “As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,7 rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.8 Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily;10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.”  [120]
  • 1 Peter 2:4-5 – “Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious,5 you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”  [121]

Building on The Rock of Jesus Involves Building By His Book

The Bible is the word of God. In an earlier part of the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said:

  • Matthew 5:17-19 - “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.18 “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.19 “Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”  [122]

Jesus came to “fulfill,” “the Law and the Prophets,” He came to fulfill the word of God. He said that the key to greatness in His kingdom was, “whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

In the passage we are considering now Jesus says, “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock.” (7:24). If you want to build on the rock of Jesus, you have to here and do His word.

Later in Matthew Jesus states the eternal nature of His word when He states:

  • Matthew 24:35 - “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.”  [123]

In light of these statements by Jesus, it is clear that to build on the rock of Jesus is to build by His book.

Why study the Bible? The Bible gives us many reasons for studying it, but here are a just three:

First, new believers need a steady diet of God’s word to grow in their faith. The apostle Peter was inspired to write:

  • 1 Peter 2:2 – “as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby,” [124]

God’s word is filled with all of the spiritual nutrients necessary for spiritual nurture and growth. The new believer needs to study God’s word so that they know what and why they believe and have been born again. Feeding on God’s word equips the believer to move in to a life of discipleship where they share God’s word with others. Therefore, God’s word is essential to spiritual growth from the onset of life in Christ to the sunset of life on earth.

Second, studying God’s word gives the disciple skill and discernment in ministry. As the disciple studies God’s word he or she becomes equipped to minister and be used by God to further His kingdom plan. The Bible instructs us that the disciple should not only familiarize themselves with the entry-level truths of repentance, faith, salvation, etc., but that the disciple should broaden their understanding of God’s will by feeding on the full counsel of God’s word.

When Paul was saying farewell to the Ephesians church he reminded them of how he had taught them the “whole counsel of God”:

  • Acts 20:26-28 -  “Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men.27 “For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.28 “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.”  [125]

Paul, in his letter to pastor Timothy expressed the importance of being an ongoing student of God’s word when he was inspired to state:

  • 2 Timothy 2:15 – “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”  [126]
  • 2 Timothy 3:16-17 – “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  [127]

The Bible is a manual for life. God made humankind and gave us an instruction manual so that we would know how to get the most out of life on earth as well as be prepared to live life eternally. God’s word equips us for life. God’s word tells us what is really important in life, what the purpose of life is. In Hebrews the full study of God’s word is likened to moving from milk to the meat of God’s word and is the means by which the disciple is prepared and equipped to guard against falsehoods:

  • Hebrews 5:12-14 – “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe.14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”  [128]

The implication here is that if the recipients, to which the letter of Hebrews was written, had studied and taken to heart God’s word, they would be better prepared and skilled, “exercised,” for ministry. This leads us to the final statement about why we should study God’s word.

Third, studying the Word of God prepares the disciple against falsehoods, fallacies, and fakeries. In Paul’s inspired letter to the Colossians he warns them against heretical teachings that diminish the deity of Jesus Christ and that rely on human tradition and worldly philosophy as their foundation. In this letter Paul exhorts believers to grow in their relationship with Jesus and one of the primary means this is accomplished is by the application of God’s word by the Spirit to their lives. Paul states:

  • Colossians 3:16 – “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”  [129]

If we are to grow in our relationship with Jesus and be protected against the evil influence of aberrant teachings, we need to be students of God’s word.

Where Do You Stand?

Are you standing on the rock of Jesus Christ, building on the firm foundation of Jesus? In Matthew 7 Jesus is explaining the distinction between those who simply pay lip-service to Him as opposed to those who do His word from the heart. Those who take His word to heart build their spiritual lives on a solid foundation. Those who merely play with His word and put on a show will be blown away in the stormy end. The former group are said to be wise, the later, foolish. Which are you? Wise or foolish? What is the true judgment concerning you? Listen to the some of the last words spoken by the apostle Paul in this regard:

  • 2 Timothy 2:19-21 – “Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor.21 Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.”  [130]

Disciple, how are you building?[131]

Is True Judgment Important To You?

 

You may be thinking that all this talk of true judgment is just asking for pain, it’s bound to ruffle some feathers and cause some disruption to your life. But read this paragraph by C.S. Lewis, in his book entitled Mere Christianity:

“When I was a child I often had a toothache. And I knew that if I went to my mother, she would give me something that would deaden the pain for that night and let me go to sleep. But I did not go to my mother, at least not until the pain became unbearably bad. And the reason I did not go was this: I did not doubt she would give me the aspirin, but I knew she would also do something else. I knew she would take me to the dentist the next morning. I could not get what I wanted out of her without getting something more, which I did not want. I wanted immediate relief from the pain, but I could not get it without having my teeth set permanently right. And I know those dentists! I knew they started fiddling about with all sorts of other teeth, which had not yet begun to ache. They would not let sleeping dogs lie.”

 

You or someone else may be living in a state of pain, but you have decided that the pain is bearable, for the moment. There may be an area of your life which you haven’t turned over to Jesus for true judgment. You know, you’ve been putting off addressing the situation much the same as a person puts off going to the dentist. But sooner or later, that pain is going to become a full-blown cavity and if you let it go, you’re headed for root canal! You may even have to lose that tooth. And if you continue in that pattern you may end up losing all your teeth and have to settle for dentures! Your natural smile will be gone. It would be much wiser to bring God’s true judgment to bear on the pain and deal with the problem before it becomes much worse. The reward of applying true judgment to areas of life is freedom from the guilt and sin that ungodly ways lead to. Maybe you’ve been fooling yourself about where you stand with Christ. Maybe you’ve been living a lie. Maybe you’ve been bearing bad fruit but in a state of denial. Maybe you’ve not been bearing fruit at all but have been rationalizing it all away. Are you judging rightly? Have you been pointing out the speck in the eye of someone else when you have a cross beam of your own in sight? Have you entered Christ’s narrow gate? What kind of fruit are you bearing? Is what you say in line with what you do? Are you following Jesus from the heart? How are you building friend, how are you building? All of these questions are of critical and immediate importance for us all. But there is an additional reason why true and right judgment is important.

True Judgment is Important in the End Times

True judgment is especially important for those of us living in the End Times, (and I believe we are all living in the end times right now). This chapter on true judgment (chapter 7) is critically important. Why is the judgment spoken of in Matthew 7 so important? Read what Paul writes in his last letter to Timothy:

  • 2 Timothy 3:1-17 – “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come:2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good,4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!6 For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts,7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.8 Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith;9 but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was. 10 But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance,11 persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra—what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me.12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.13 But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them,15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  [132]

Paul’s inspired words inform us of the characteristics of people in the “last days.” People will put themselves first; they will love themselves and money and boast proudly about their monetary gains (2 Timothy 3:2). They will be characterized by a lack of love and self-exaltation, but worst of all, they will have “a form of godliness” that is impotent and a poor imitation of the real thing. In other words, there will be a great hoard of religious pharisaism in the world (3:5). Those who want to live as godly disciples will be persecuted (3:12). There will be “evil men and imposters” who will only get worse; hypocrisy will be on the rise (3:13). But Paul exhorts Timothy and all true disciples to continue in and rely on God’s inspired word, His God-breathed word that comes from His heart to ours by the Spirit. The word of God is what we need and what needs to be applied to life, that is God’s call to the true disciple (3:14-16). In reality, life and all that is in it needs to be rightly judged, scrutinized through the lens of God’s word of truth and Jesus who is “the truth.” That is a very big part of the call to true disciples to exceed religion.

 

Conclusion

Matthew 7:28-29 – “And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching,29 for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.”  [133]

Jesus taught like no other. Pharisees and religious teachers were always afraid of being nailed down so to speak; they didn’t want to say something that they might be held accountable for at a later date. Therefore, they would quote other authorities and speak in vague ways. They spoke much the same as politicians do today who are afraid of saying something that would offend a constituency of voters. Jesus spoke differently, He didn’t even say, “thus says the Lord,” He simply and clearly said, “But I say,” because He is the LORD! Jesus spoke in a way that was clear and to the point. You couldn’t sit and listen to Jesus without being challenged to make a decision one way or the other concerning Him. That is just as true today. Jesus teaching demands a decision from the listener. Even no decision is a decision as far as Jesus is concerned (Matthew 12:30). The Sermon on the Mount and the authority with which Jesus delivered it, was like no other teaching in human history. And that is to be expected since Jesus, God in the flesh, came face to face with people to tell them the truth about life.

 

The Sermon on the Mount is indeed an “astonishing” teaching. Only true disciples can comprehend such a teaching. Jesus taught with authority and we need to hear and apply by the Spirit the authoritative teaching of Jesus.

 

So disciple, how is your heart? Where is your heart in all of this? Are you building on the rock of Christ and His word? Or are you simply paying lip-service to Jesus? Are you walking in regular personal intimacy with God in prayer? Do you do what you do from your heart for Him, or do you do what you do for show and to play before people? Disciple, do you exceed religion, or are you simply fooling those around you? You may be able to fool people, but you can’t fool God, He knows your heart.

In the town of Lubec, Germany there is a Cathedral and on a wall in the cathedral are wise and challenging words that every disciple should consider. These words challenge us to make a decision and warn of the consequence of indecision. The words state:

Ye call Me “Master” and obey Me not.

Ye call Me “Light” and see Me not.

Ye call Me “Way” and walk Me not.

Ye call Me “Life” and choose Me not.

Ye call Me “Wise” and follow Me not.

Ye call Me “Fair” and love Me not.

Ye call Me “Rich” and ask Me not.

Ye call Me “Eternal” and seek Me not.

Ye call Me “Noble” and serve Me not.

Ye call Me “Gracious” and trust Me not.

Ye call Me Might” and honor Me not.

Ye call Me “Just” and fear Me not.

If I condemn you, blame Me not.

 

Leave the religious pharisaism behind. Give God your heart and stop playing games. Be a true disciple. Disciple, exceed religion.

 

 



[1]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[2]James Strong, New Strong’s dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[3]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[4]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[5]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[6]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[7]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[8]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[9]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[10]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[11]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[12]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[13]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[14]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[15]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[16] Chuck Smith, Word For Today audiotape #8006 (P.O. box 8000, Costa Mesa, CA)

[17]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[18]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[19]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[20]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[21]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[22]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[23]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[24]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[25]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[26]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[27]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[28]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[29]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[30]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[31]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[32]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[33]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[34]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[35]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[36]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[37]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[38]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[39]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[40]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[41] Jon Courson in Tree of Life Bible Commentary - Matthew 1-13, p. 162-163

[42]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[43]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[44]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[45]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[46]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[47]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[48]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[49]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[50]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[51]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[52]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[53]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[54]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[55]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[56]The King James Version, (Cambridge: Cambridge) 1769.

[57]The King James Version, (Cambridge: Cambridge) 1769.

[58] DcTalk Jesus Freaks, (Tulsa, OK: Asbury Pub.) 1999. pgs. 202-203

[59]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[60]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[61]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[62]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[63]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[64]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[65]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[66]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[67]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[68]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[69]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[70]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[71]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[72]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[73]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[74] Christianity, Cults &Religions, Tract.  (Torrence, CA: Rose Pub.) 1996

[75]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[76]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[77]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[78]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[79]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[80]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[81]Jerry Falwell, executive editor; Edward E. Hinson and Michael Kroll Woodrow, general editors, KJV Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1994.

[82]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[83]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[84]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[85]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[86]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[87]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[88]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[89]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[90]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[91]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[92]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[93]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[94]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[95]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[96]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[97]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[98]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[99]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[100]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[101]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[102]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[103]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[104]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[105]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[106]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[107]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[108]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[109]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[110]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[111]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[112]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[113]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[114]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[115]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[116]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[117]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[118]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[119]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[120]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[121]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[122]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[123]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[124]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[125]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[126]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[127]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[128]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[129]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[130]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[131] For an in debt study on how to build your spiritual life see How Firm Is Your Foundation? and Building On A Firm Foundation, two studies by this author. God to: http://www.calvarychapel.org./hope/study.html.

[132]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[133]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.