The Sermon on the Mount (Continued)
1. A command. God not only requests but definitely commands us, that we should not judge one another. There is probably no sin quite as common among Christian people, as the sin of judging others. There are, indeed, few sins that have as much evil effect upon others, as does this sin.
The Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 4:2 : "It is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful." That is true, but it is not for us to judge whether another person is faithful in his stewardship. Remember how Paul adds, "With me it is a small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but He that judgeth me is the Lord."
In other words, the Lord is our Master, and we are His stewards, answerable unto Him, and not unto each other. The Bible definitely teaches that churches, as a body, should discipline the sins of their people; yet under no circumstances should an individual judge another individual. This great sin is common, and is producing great tragedies among God's people. Let us never condemn the child of God, whom the Lord Jesus Christ loved, and for whom he even died..
2. A boomerang. Christ said that as we judge another, we shall be judged. How true this is! As surely as you point out the faults of another; in self-defense, he will seek to find some who can afford to judge others, because "There is none righteous, no, not one." Evil men sought to find fault in the Lord Jesus Christ. They could not do so, for He was very God in flesh, and was sinless.
3. A query. Christ asks, "Why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye?" Did you ever stop to answer this question? What advantage is there in finding fault? Has criticism ever done anybody any good? Has it helped the critic? Certainly it does not help the one criticized. Is there anyone living who likes to be criticized? Then why do it?
4. A prelude. "First cast out the beam out of thine own eye." Can you visualize the man described here by our Lord? He has a board, a big "two by four," comparatively speaking in his own eye, and is trying to remove a wee splinter from another man's eye. His clumsy fingers are causing more damage than good! If he is not careful he will put his brother's eye entirely out of commission. Even so, the critic who criticizes another, is often a greater sinner himself than the one whom he criticizes. He, doubtless, will do unrepairable damage.
Let us be careful that our own lives are perfect in the sight of others, and in the sight of God, before we attempt to be presumptuous enough to place ourselves in the position that Christ holds, as Judge over His people. Judge not!
5. An admonition. Those who would criticize are really and truly casting pearls before swine. A pig cannot and does not appreciate the value of a beautiful pearl. Then why give him pearls? Likewise, if criticism is not appreciated by those who are criticized, why waste your efforts in criticizing?
I. STEPS IN PRAYER (Matthew 7:7-10 )
1. A call. Ask, and it shall be given you a petition. James 4:2 says, "Ye have not, because ye ask not." How true that is today. How many people there are who are in poverty, because they have not learned to present their petitions before God. But some one will inquire, Does not Isaiah say that, "Before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear"? "If the Lord knows all of our needs, and the very desires of our hearts, why then should we pray, and present our petition?"
The answer to this question is found in John 16:24, "Ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full." The Lord likes to be asked. As our Heavenly Father enjoys giving to His children, when they ask Him to give. The greatest joy that comes in our lives is that joy of fellowship which is ours, when we talk to God, and tell Him the desires of our heart. Let us ask that our joy may be full. The Lord Himself, who was God in flesh, began His ministry in prayer. He never attempted any great task until He spent much time in prayer.
"Seek, and ye shall find." Daniel prayed for twenty-one days for a revelation from God before the answer came. Satan hindered the answer. Christ prayed all night before He went to the Cross. James tells us that "the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." Are we really as persistent in seeking the face of God in prayer as we should be, when we consider the above three examples of continued and fervent prayer?
"Knock, and it shall be opened" implies that we should have faith in our prayers. It is logical that, when we pray in faith, we should thank God for the answer when the request is made and before the answer is received. Prayer without faith is worthless.
2. A promise. The Lord states that if we will ask, we shall receive. We may be sure of receiving according to our needs, before we actually possess them. We may be so certain we will receive that we will, when we ask, actually praise God for the answer. God cannot go back on His promises.
3. A safeguard. Many times we ask God for things that are not good for us. We are like the little child who wants to play with a knife. The mother refuses him his request, lest he bring harm upon himself. Even so our Heavenly Father will not give a serpent to His child when he needs fish, nor a stone, when he needs bread. He safeguards us against that which is not good for us.
II. THE GIVER OF GOOD GIFTS (Matthew 7:11 )
1. The evil, give good gifts. " It is more blessed to give than to receive." The surest path to happiness is that of liberality. If we who are evil, receive so much pleasure in giving to others, do you not think our Heavenly Father enjoys the privilege of giving to us? Certainly He does. He delights in doing good things for us.
2. The Father will much more give. The number of gifts that we give one to another are limited because our source of supply is limited. Our Heavenly Father possesses all things and has promised to supply all of our needs "according to His riches in glory."
The supply of Heaven is unlimited we cannot ask for too much. Dr. H. A. Ironside told the beautiful story of a poor man, who was constantly in need, and who in answer to prayer received many packages from the Heavenly Post Office every day, while his wealthy neighbor, next door, was extremely jealous because he never received any gifts.
The wealthy man dreamed that he was translated to Heaven. While there, he was shown the glories of Heaven. He was taken into God's Post Office which was filled with packages. The angels were busily engaged sending the parcels to men on earth; The wealthy man inquired, "To whom are these packages going?" To his dismay, he discovered that they were being sent to his poor neighbor. When he inquired why his neighbor received so many, while he, himself had never received any; he was shown a vast pile of packages that were wrapped and ready for him. He had not received them, however, because he had never asked for them.
3. The Holy Ghost, God's Greatest Gift. The Lord told the disciples that if they would only ask, He would give unto them the Holy Spirit. At Pentecost the Holy Spirit was given in answer to prayer. What a marvelous gift! That gift by far surpasses all other gifts, temporal and spiritual.
What a blessed thing it is to have God, in the person of the Holy Spirit, as your very own, dwelling within your heart, guiding you each step of the way, comforting you in time of sorrow, giving you courage and power in time of need.
III. THE TOP NOTCH OF HUMAN GOODNESS (Matthew 7:12 )
1. Based on self-action. Do you like to receive beautiful gifts? Then give beautiful gifts. Do you like to have many friends? Then be friendly. Would you like to be treated kindly? Then be kind unto others. Would you have justice shown you? Then be just in all of your dealings. Do you want others to show mercy unto you? Then show mercy to others. As you do unto others even so they will do unto you.
2. Based on similarity of action. It is not hard to know how we should treat others. Always ask yourself the question, "How do I like to be treated?"
If you like to be loved by others then you may be sure that the whole world is sick for just a little bit of love. This rule applies not only to things that we should not do, but also to things that we should do. Many of us are content not to offend. Let us go a step further and try to do for others what we want done for ourselves.
You cannot expect others to treat you kindly unless you treat them kindly. The "golden rule" must be put into action if we ourselves ate to live. If we are not willing to obey this law, then there will be no safety for others, or, for ourselves, as well.
IV. A COMPARISON OF WAYS (Matthew 7:13-14 )
There are two trains that leave the Union Station of Chicago at about the same time of day. They follow each other side by side until they reach a suburb of Chicago. After running parallel for a few miles they suddenly separate, one veering to the left and the other to the right. One eventually arrives in New York, and the other in Los Angeles. Likewise, many lives parallel in the days of youth, until they meet the point of decision for Christ at which time they divide asunder, one choosing the pathway that leads to Heaven, and the other the pathway that leads to destruction.
1. The way to destruction begins with a wide gate. It is easy to enter. A man in a boat on a stream need do nothing to go down stream. It requires labor to go up stream. A man needs to do nothing to be lost. There is a wide gate waiting to receive him on the path to hell. He is lost in sin, and inactivity will eventually mean death.
The broad way has many attractions. The devil has placed many brilliant lights and beautiful and entertaining pleasures upon its way. No money has been spared. No human interest or desire has been neglected. Satan is offering all that the wicked human heart cries for while on earth. He is begging men to sell their souls for the things that pass away. Only a short time and the broad way will lead to destruction. Pleasure for the present, but eternal sorrow for tomorrow. Oh, sinner, beware! Broad is the way.
Many are the people that go this way. It is the popular way. If you would be popular, and meet the plaudits of the crowd you will choose this way. If you think that the majority opinion is right, you will follow this way. But the end thereof is death. Beware! Popular opinion does not make this way right.
2. The way to life is through a straight gate. Christ is that Gate and no man entereth into Heaven through any other door. He who tries to do so would enter as a thief and a robber. There will be no robbers in Heaven. You must come the way of the Cross or else stay out.
The way to life is narrow. There is no room for your sins. The man who says he is a child of God and continues to live in sin belies his statement. When we believe in Christ we become new creatures, children of God. Our life must and does change.
The way is narrow and filled with thorns and roses. You will meet many sorrows and difficulties on the way, but God will place many roses among the thorns. People will call you narrow, but it pays to be narrow. The end of the road is life everlasting. It is the Blood-stained Road of Calvary. It pays to enter the narrow Gate.
V. A COMPARISON OF THE TRUE AND FALSE PROPHETS (Matthew 7:15-20 )
1. False prophets are, inwardly, ravening wolves, and without they are attired in sheep's clothing. The Indian trapper, who formerly hunted on this continent used to take a sharp knife and cover it with grease. He would then place it upon the snow near the runway of an ermine. The ermine would come and lick the grease from the knife, cutting his tongue, and bleed to death. The knife was so sharp and the grease so deceiving that the ermine brought death upon himself.
Likewise false prophets are deceiving. They come in the Name of the Lord. They use smooth words. They quote Scripture. They have beautiful ethics. Their religious cloaks appear Christian. They use Christian names, but they are servants of Satan.
2. The test of the true and false prophet is in the fruit that he produces. Notice he produces fruit just as does the good prophet. But his fruit is not good. The grapes are sour. They set the teeth on edge; The fruit is beautiful to behold, but it is poisonous. Religion that does not produce the love of Jesus Christ in the heart, is sour fruit.
3. The end of the false prophets is destruction. It is better never to serve God at all, than to serve Him falsely. The religious hoax is the worst hoax of all. He is guilty of damning men's souls! The quack doctor only damns men's bodies. Destruction is the just desert of false prophets.
VI. A COMPARISON OF TRUE AND FALSE PROFESSIONS (Matthew 7:21-23 )
1. The false may imitate the true by saying "Lord, Lord." This mere recitation of the lips is worse than useless unless the heart is back of the words of the lips. "For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation" (Romans 10:10 ). It would be better never to profess to believe in Christ with the mouth if the heart does not believe. You deceive yourself into eternity without Christ.
2. The false may imitate the true in many mighty works. They may pray, and even preach. They may go so far as to teach Sunday School. Works will not make saints. A girl came to me and said that she had never been saved. She was a church member and a splendid worker. She read her Bible and prayed. Her life was beautiful. But she had never believed. I was amazed. She admitted her need of a Saviour and was saved.
A Sunday School teacher also came to me and said she was not saved. Thank God she is saved today! She had taught a Sunday School class twenty-two years, and professed to be a Christian, nevertheless, all that did not save her. She had to come to Calvary's Cross and there take Christ as her Saviour.
3. The day will declare it. When we face the Lord in the judgment, all of these things will come to light. He will know whether we really believed in our hearts that Jesus Christ died in our stead, and has forgiven our sins. False profession will do you no good when you face the Lord. Be sure that you are saved. It does not matter what people think and what the appearances may be. Make sure of your salvation.
VII. A COMPARISON OF TWO FOUNDATIONS (Matthew 7:24-29 )
1. Building on the sand. We are all builders. We are building our hope on something. A building is just as good as the foundation it is builded upon and no better. If the foundation is insecure then the building will fall. We may build, but we cannot make the foundation. The foundation has already been laid, and we merely build upon it.
There is the foundation of sand. There are millions of people who are building their eternal hope on the sands of false belief. They are building on the sands of good works as a hope of Heaven. They are building on the sands of ritualism as a basis of eternal life. They are building on the sands of church attendance, church membership, and church ordinances. They are building on the sands of false religions. Many think that if they do the best they can they will get to Heaven. How sad it is that so many people are more interested in the building than they are interested in the foundation; They have utterly neglected Jesus Christ and gone ahead with the building, without a Saviour. The building cannot stand. When the storms of sorrow and trials come they will see their house fall. When they face the judgment seat of God they will find that they have built on sand and the entire structure of good works will crumble. We are saved by grace, through faith, apart from works. Works are a good thing to build with, but they are not a foundation upon which to build. They are sand.
2. The Rock is Christ Jesus. In 1 Corinthians 3:11 we read that "Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ." We build upon Him. Oh, friends, be sure that your hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' Blood and righteousness.
Christ would not have died for you, if you could have been saved any other way. He is "the Way, the Truth, and the Life." No man cometh unto the Father but by Him. He is the only Door. Do not build on the sands, but come to Jesus, He is the Foundation. You cannot build a house until you have a foundation. Do not try to build a life until you have first taken Christ as your Saviour. Otherwise the sand will undermine all your hopes.
3. The results of building will be made known when the storms come. You are certain to have storms in life and you are certain of the judgment. Then build on the Rock Christ Jesus.
Prayer and quiet resting in God will help things.
I am not a critic of the fine points in art but I have always felt that among the world's greatest paintings Raphael's "Transfiguration" is the masterpiece of them all. It holds for me at least a tremendous fascination. The exquisite coloring, the sublime majesty of the glorified Christ mingled with the infinite compassion for the world's need as pictured below, fixes the art-lover's gaze upon the canvas as if nothing could ever take it away.
No wonder Raphael, the artist, as he conceived what his canvas must hold before it could speak to the world as it has, trembled as he thought of his task: No wonder he became depressed at times with the thought that this concept was more than he could ever accomplish. Patiently he toiled; years passed and still this wonderwork of the world stood before him incomplete. It is said that one day he was cast down by unusual discouragement and, in the midst of his tears, exclaimed, "I am not a painter; I cannot complete it!" And then the marvelous painter slipped away to his couch for rest, and God kissed his eyes to sleep and gave quiet to his nerves and rest to his hand; when he awoke he took his palette and stood once more before the canvas, and with his heart inspired again as before and the vision clear in his brain he went on and gave at last to the World the painting which has been its marvel ever since, Oh, child of God, you have sometimes been discouraged as Raphael was discouraged. The work has been hard and unpromising, the road has been rough, the burden has not been light, and the struggle has been seemingly going against you. But has the Father in Heaven not said, "My grace is sufficient for thee," and have you never found Him proving this to you when it seemed as if you could go no further? Why not then rest happy in the sweet assurance that
"No matter what may be the test,
God will take care of you." W. E. B.
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Matthew 7". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany