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Bible Commentaries

William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament
Matthew 7

 

 

Verses 1-29

CHAPTER 20

CRITICISM

Luke 6:37; Matthew 7:1. “Criticize not, in order that you may not be criticized; for with whatsoever criticism you criticize, you shall be criticized; and with whatsoever measure ye measure, it shall be measured unto you.” Luke says: “Criticize not, and ye can not be criticized; condemn not, and ye can not be condemned.” Lord, help us to profit by these plain, practical truths and solemn warnings! The critic's cap, manufactured in hell and dispensed by the devil, is not at all becoming a saint of the Lord. Loke says if you do not criticize others you can not be criticized. Well, it has been said that curses, like chickens, will come home to roost. If you criticize no one, you will find no trouble by the criticism of others; if they undertake it, it will prove a failure, rebounding on their own heads. A critical spirit is incompatible with deep piety, and if indulged will sap the foundation of a Christian experience, and retrogress sweet, perfect love back into sour godliness, which is Satan's counterfeit holiness. Lord, save us from a critical and condemnatory disposition!

GOOD MEASURE

Luke 6:38. “Forgive, and you shall be forgiven; give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, heaped up, shaken together, running over, will they give into your bosom. For with the same measure you measure, it shall be measured unto you.” This day in Jerusalem all travelers are astonished at the striking fulfillment of this commandment. Go through the bazaars, and you will see them fill the vessel, shake it down, and run it over. The old Quaker, measuring his wheat and doing just as Jesus commanded, filling, shaking down, and running over, when asked why he gave so bountiful measure, said: “I never can travel this road any more; so I am determined to make everything right as I go along this time.”

BLIND LEADERS

“And He spoke a parable to them, Whether is the blind able to lead the blind? Will they not both fall into the ditch?” No wonder our Savior forbade His own apostles to go out preaching the gospel until they had received the sanctifying baptism of the Holy Ghost and fire. The departure of the Church from that Divine precept has filled the world with blind leaders. The only available remedy in this case is the sanctification of the ministry and the official members.

OUR SAVIOR’S STEWARD OF PERFECTION

“The disciple is not above his Teacher; but every one who has been made perfect shall be like his Teacher.” Jesus is the only unfallen Son of humanity. Perfection is from facio, “to make,” and per, “complete.” Hence it means “made complete.” Jesus, who was always free from depravity, is our only Paragon. Now, He says that “every disciple who has been made perfect shall be as his Teacher.” When He eliminates original sin out of the heart in the glorious work of entire sanctification, in so doing He makes us perfect, and in that respect like Himself; not that we have the perfection of His Divinity, which is absolute and peculiar to God only, but when we get rid of all sin, we have the perfection of His humanity, with the exception of our infirmities, which are the after-effects of sin, and will inhere so long as we are in these mortal tenements, but which He never had, from the simple fact that He was not a personal participant in the fall.

INFIRMITY & INBRED SIN

“Why do you see the mote which is in the eye of your brother, and recognize not the beam which is in your own eye? Or how are you able to say to your brother, Brother, permit me, I will cast out the mote which is in thine eye, thyself considering not the beam which is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam from thine own eye, and then thou shah see clearly to cast out the mote which is in the eye of thy brother.” Mote here symbolizes infirmity, which does not bring any one under condemnation, just as the mote will never seriously injure the eye, much less put it out; while the beam in the eye, if not removed, would destroy it quickly. Now the beam symbolizes inbred sin, a big thing in the heart which will ruin you, world without end, if you don't have it taken away; while you can go right on to the end of life with infirmities, as it is the province of glorification, which you receive when soul and body part, to take that all away, and let you fly into heaven with a shout. So we find people all around criticizing little things, which are of no serious moment, and never would keep anybody out of heaven, while they themselves have evil tempers, unholy passions, and worldly greed, and perhaps other phases of inbred sin, pride. vanity, lust, envy, jealousy, prejudice, bigotry, which they must get rid of if they ever pass through the pearly portal.

DO NOT WASTE YOUR AMMUNITION

“Give not that which is holy to the dogs, neither cast your pearls before the swine; lest they may trample them under their feet, and, turning, tear you to pieces.”

The dog and the hog are prominent in the Bible as unclean animals, symbolic of spiritual impurity; i.e., carnality. This is a profitable warning, much needed, lest in our enthusiasm we preach holiness to carnal people who are utterly incompetent to appreciate it. Therefore it only makes them mad, so they reject us with contempt, and want to do us violence. Much of the Lord's ammunition is thus wasted on dead game. As hogs can not eat gold coins and diamonds, but will only get mad because we did not give them corn, so carnal people can not receive the pure gold of holiness and the dazzling pearls of Christian perfection. Like hogs and dogs, they run over them with contempt, trampling them in the mud, get angry, blaspheme, and persecute. Then, what should we preach to the carnal, worldly Churches? Preach Sinai. They do not need sanctification, and can not receive it in their present attitude. They need conviction. They must see an open hell before they will give up their pride, fall down in the dust, and cry for mercy. So long as you preach sanctification to them, you recognize their justification, perpetuate their awful delusion, under which they are fast going down to hell. They need the terrors of the law, the doom of the lost, and the duration of eternity held up before them till they get their eyes open, see their awful condition, and cry for mercy.

THE HOLY SPIRIT CLIMAXES ALL BLESSINGS

“Ask, and it shall be given unto you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. What man is there of you whom his son may ask bread, whether would he give him a stone? If he may ask a, fish, whether will he give him a serpent? If then ye, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father, who is in the heavens, give good things to them asking Him?” God never gives us anything useless — e.g., a stone; nor any thing injurious — e.g., a serpent. This explains the reason why so frequently our petitions are not answered. How many pray for riches, which, if granted, would prove a mill-stone round their necks, dragging them down to hell! The child cries for the razor. The father, in love, withholds it, and lets it cry on. Our Savior's illustration, contrasting us fallen beings with our evil natures, and still so delighted to give good gifts to our children, with the pure and unadulterated parental affection of our loving Heavenly Father, who is certainly infinitely more anxious to bestow on His children all things appertaining to their good in this world and that which is to come. As it is impossible for Him to be unkind, do wrong, or even make a mistake, such should be our perfect confidence in His Fatherly kindness and our unconditioned resignation to His will, that we would offer our petitions and leave the answer with Him, at His own discretion, to answer them at His own time and in His own way. We should be so lost in His will that our perfect rest will not be affected in case that He withholdeth the answer altogether, so far as we know.

THE LAW OF RECIPROCITY

“Therefore all things, so many as you may wish that men may do unto you, do ye even so unto them; for this is the law and the prophets.” Here you see that the gospel dispensation, instead of abrogating the law and the prophets, indorses, adopts, and perpetuates them, as a substratum of that universal kingdom which the apostles were commanded to preach to all nations, girdling the globe with salvation and holiness to the Lord, and thus bringing the blessings of the Old Testament Theocracy, which was restricted to the Jews, into every home, blessing every family on the earth with the hallowed truth, glorious light, and heavenly benignity which reigned in the homes of the patriarchs and prophets, thus gathering all nations into one universal fraternity, making every man beneath the skies your neighbor, brother, friend, doing away with all animosities, alienations, and conflicts obliterating the spirit of belligerence from the face of the earth, consolidating Father Adam's family in one universal brotherhood.

THE GATE & THE WAY

“Enter in through the narrow gate; because wide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there are going in through it. Because narrow is the gate and contracted the way which leadeth into life, and few there are finding it.”

“Broad is the road that leads to death, And thousands walk together there; while wisdom shows a narrow path, With here and there a traveler.”

This gate stands at the hither terminus of the King's highway of holiness which leads up to heaven. The gate is so narrow and difficult of entrance that nothing but the immortal soul can make the ingress; all sin, the pomp, pageantry, pride, riches, emoluments, and aggrandizement of the world, must be left behind. This is the reason why so few pass through the narrow gate of regeneration. They hold to many things they can not take with them. Tethlimmene, which qualifies the way we must all travel to heaven, is a perfect passive participle, from thlibo, “to contract,” “squeeze together;” hence it means having been compressed, drawn together, and rendered very narrow and difficult of passage, illustrating the utter impossibility for an encumbered traveler to pass over it. While we are here assured that very few ever find the narrow way, how sad to know that so many of those few, having found it, fail to walk in it to the end! Some are quickly deflected; others hold on a good while, and are then derailed; while not a few comparatively, having long walked in the way, are sidetracked by the enemy; while others have gone on till the bright hills of glory are actually visible, by the eye of faith, from the summits of the Delectable Mountains, and even after this grand proficiency in the Divine life, make shipwreck.

FALSE PROPHETS

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, and within are rapacious wolves. By their fruits ye shall know them. Do they gather the grape bunch from thorns or figs from brambles? So every good tree produces beautiful fruits, and the corrupt tree produces evil fruits. The good tree is not able to produce evil fruits, neither does a corrupt tree produce beautiful fruits. Every tree not producing good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire. Therefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” Luke: “For out of the abundance of the heart, his mouth speaketh.” This beautiful paragraph is our Savior's exegesis of the gate and the way which lead to death. While the narrow way is but an air-line, narrow as to principle, but broad as to capacity, amply capacious for all the people in the world to walk along it abreast till they enter the pearly gate of the New Jerusalem, the broad way is wide as the world, permitting you to go any way you please except the way of holiness, conferring on you the largest liberty to take your choice among the three hundred and sixty points of the mariner’s compass, and go any way you will. You observe this terrible warning to “beware of false prophets.” Do you see the connection? It is plain and simple. The false prophet is the counterfeit preacher. How are we to know him? By the differentia which Jesus here specifies: a. He broadens the way; i.e., gives his people large liberties, so they can commend him as a “high-toned, level-headed, broad-minded, cultured gentleman.” Therefore he is popular, and they will keep him a long time. Now do not forget that this follows as a legitimate sequence that the false prophet does not preach this narrow gate and contracted way, so difficult to find and walk in, but he is liberal-minded, and preaches a broad-gauge gospel. b. You are to know him by his fruit. You see where the E.V. reads “good fruits,” you have “beautiful fruit,” the literal translation of the Savior's word. What does it mean? Why, the beauty of holiness; and as Luke says, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh,” the true prophet not only exhibits the beauty of holiness, but he is full of it. Whenever he opens his mouth, it pours out.

“Having been made free from sin, we have our fruit unto sanctification, and the end everlasting life.” (Romans 6:22.)

Regeneration is the flower, and sanctification the fruit. Now what is the evil fruit against which our Savior warns us? It is anything and everything except holiness.

AWFUL DISAPPOINTMENT

“Not every one saying to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of the heavens; but the one doing the will of My Father who is in the heavens. Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name, and in Thy name cast out demons, and in Thy name done many mighty works? And I will confess unto them, That I never knew you; depart from Me, ye who work iniquity.” This paragraph describes the false prophets above, in the judgment-day, coming up with their grand and glowing reports of demons cast out — i.e., many souls converted; and many mighty works — i.e., great, fine churches built, powerful sermons preached, and wonderful official triumphs. But do you not see our Savior rejects them altogether? The truth of the matter is, they have never been His preachers at all. The devil, robed as an angel of light, played off on them in the beginning, calling and sending them. So they have been preaching Satan's counterfeit gospel all their lives, counting many converts and doing many mighty works, helping the devil to delude the people and lead them to hell in solid columns. What is the remedy for these awful troubles in the end? Be sure you pass the narrow gate, so difficult of entrance that it will try your flint and steel, and test your stamina to the very bottom. Then be sure that you travel the self-denial way of “holiness to the Lord.”


Verse 28

AUTHORITY OF OUR SAVIOR’S TEACHING

“And it came to pass, when Jesus finished these discourses, the multitudes were astonished at His teaching; for He was teaching them as One having authority, and not as the scribes.” The scribes were the pastors of the Churches and exponents of the Scripture. So decisive was the contrast between their teaching and that of Jesus that the multitudes were overwhelmed with astonishment. Why was this? From the time Jesus was filled with the Holy Ghost at the Jordan, He constantly preached “with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven;” while the scribes simply delivered their discourses, orthodox, nice, and eloquent; but without the Spirit and the power. Hence they had the thunder without the lightning, and consequently no efficiency attended their preaching. We have the same contrast at the present day-pulpits filled with orthodox, eloquent, popular preachers, but the lightning and earthquake of the Holy Ghost are absent, consequently no salvation accompanies their efforts. They suit the people who want to save their scalps, and are unwilling to have a preacher who would hurt anybody. One of these preachers once tried the experiment of reading to his audience a sermon written by Dr. C.G. Finney, when, to his surprise, some of the people broke down and wept bitterly. After adjournment, he went to them personally with an apology, saying: “Please pardon me, if I wounded your feelings, for I did not aim to do so;” thus showing his utter ignorance of the Spirit's work. All gospel preachers should be sure that they are in the track of Jesus, and in that case, they must preach with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven.

 


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Bibliography Information
Godbey, William. "Commentary on Matthew 7:4". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ges/matthew-7.html.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, May 29th, 2020
the Seventh Week after Easter
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