Tonight we conclude our survey of Jesus’s Sermon on the mount with verses 15-29 of Matthew 7. There are three ideas to explore tonight and they are each important to us in a different way.
The first has to do with recognizing false prophets and liars. How can you spot a liar? Look at the outcome of their previous efforts, at their track record. What have they previously accomplished? Do their current claims match the pattern of their life? If things do not add up, it is right to be suspicious and judge using righteous judgment. Although we can apply verses 15-20 to spotting liars, Jesus primary intention is to educate us on spotting false prophets. This means people that come teaching God and spiritual matters that do not have a foundation in truth. In Jesus’s time and in the years after His death, there were many men that professed to speak the word and will of God. But unless they spoke exactly the facts as Jesus and the apostles, they were false prophets:
““Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. “Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” Matthew 24:23-27
Even today it is very important that we listen with honest ears. Men and women continue to change and pervert the word of God today. Some bend it so that it suits their own ideas. Some want something from the listener other than their belief in Jesus. Some want money or an alignment of spiritual matters with their politics. God’s word is holy and true and if something that someone is teaching cannot be found in or supported by the Bible, then it has no place in our spiritual lives and should in fact be rejected.
We can trust Jesus’s words because He is the Son of God sent to earth to do God’s will. We can trust the apostles because they spoke as the Holy Spirit gave them the words to do so.
“However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.” John 16:13
We can wholly trust God’s Word as absolute truth. We can have full confidence that the words and ideas we read in the Bible are meant for us, God’s direct communication to us. What a comfort!
Tonight’s second idea is in verses 21-23 and is a progression of the idea of false prophets. Jesus tells us that many people will say that they know God, that they are working for God and that they are doing His will. But unless they are truly doing God’s will, God will deny them. How would they know whether they are doing God’s will? By making sure it matches what is in the Bible.
It is a good thing for a person to say they love God. It is a great thing when someone reads the Bible and is baptized and saved. But it is a very sad thing when someone thinks they are on the right path but have not given the proper consideration to what God expects from them as His child. In this case, ignorance brings a penalty: “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?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” Matthew 7:22-23
These two verses have in them such a sad loneliness and desolation of spirit that they should spur us to take every word of God’s book with absolute seriousness. It’s true that we do not see many people prophesying or casting out demons, but the intent of the teaching stands: whatever is done in the name of God should be done with full knowledge of the truth.
The third and final idea in tonight’s study and the last in Jesus’s mountain sermon in Matthew is found in verses 24-29 and has to do with thoughtfulness and wise action. If we build our life and behaviors on God’s holy word, there is no storm of life that we cannot handle. God’s word provides us with strength, hope and fortitude.
But if we build our lives on empty ideas and false beliefs, we are easily defeated. Without God’s truth and surety, we have no backbone to withstand the trials of life and temptations of Satan.
Looking at these three ideas tonight, you can see how one flows into the next and how they build upon each other:
1. Beware false teaching because it will corrupt your understanding of God’s will and will lead you away from God
2. Those who teach and do things apart from God’s will have an eternal penalty
3. Make sure that when you believe and act on God’s instruction, you are doing so with the right understanding of what His will is
May you always seek the true will of God. May God bless you. Seek Him and everything else will fall into place.