Matthew 7:15-23- Jesus Shows the Way 😎
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Matthew 7:15-23- Jesus Shows the Way 😎

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Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions. Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’

The foundation of the Kingdom of God is an unshakable JOY that GROWS from the bottom up.

Overall Commentary: 🌎

As Jesus finishes his sermon, He talks about what it looks like to "walk out" the message. It's a narrow road. This road leads to life but is challenging to stay on. As He continues the theme today, we will see why it is difficult to stay on this road... there be monsters. Jesus will tell us about two big "potholes" on the road of life: wrong turns and wrong motives.

Jesus doesn't merely say there are wrong turns but tells us one of the main ways these wrong turns are taken. Unfortunately is by being led that way. He will start there but then keep us on the hook, too. We must check ourselves as well.

Jesus says unshakable joy grows when we realize the narrow road is difficult, but JESUS SHOWS THE WAY.

When you think about it, it is such a blessing that Jesus talks about such things. He helps us open our eyes to possible roadblocks and lets us know where to be extra careful. Let's look at these two potential pitfalls and learn how to stay free on this narrow road.

Verse 15-20: Jesus shows us how to recognize the difference between SHEEP and WOLVES.

The first of the two pitfalls Jesus discusses is being deceived by those who claim to be with us but are against us. This is especially dangerous when they are supposed to be our spiritual leaders.

Let's get extremely clear and get this out of the way. This text scares me and frustrates me very much. This is because, as a spiritual leader, I don't ever want to be this, and I am furious when I find out someone else is. No one "hates" a bad pastor worse than someone trying to be a "good" pastor.

Jesus said they would look innocent like Sheep but be a wolf in disguise. After walking with pastors for years (and being one myself), I have noticed three types of pastors: wolves in Sheep's clothing, sheep in wolves clothing, and weird-looking sheep.

  • Wolves in Sheep's Clothing- these are false teachers. They should be avoided at all costs.
  • Sheep in Wolves clothing- These are good guys who say dumb stuff.
  • Weird ones- Harmless but not perfect.

The majority fill in the final section, but you never really know. All can appear the same when they are trying to fulfill the mission Paul gave a young preacher when he said,

(‭‭2 Timothy‬ ‭4‬:‭1‬-‭4‬) I solemnly urge you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who will someday judge the living and the dead when he comes to set up his Kingdom: Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching. For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths.

Here is the best test for judging the fruit on the trees, as Jesus said to do. The way to tell is by the fruit of their LIVES and the fruit of their MESSAGE.

  • Fruit in their lives- We can speculate, but it can be tough to read the life of someone from a distance. It's too easy to hide things for long seasons.

Here are three questions you could ask:
1- How does He treat His wife and kids?
2- Do those who know him best love and respect him the most?
3- What do those who have known him for a long time say?

  • Fruit of their message- What is the focus of their message, and what do they teach? This does not mean they will get it right all the time. However, what is the consistent message from their heart?

Taken from the verses above, their preaching should...
1- Primarily focus on the Bible.
2-Primarily teach what is true, not convenient.
3- Primarily teach what is challenging, just not entertaining.
4- Primarily offer hope.

What do we not do? Go on a "witch-hunt." Remember that 99% of the pastors you come in contact with are good men who are doing the best they can. In the end, God knows their hearts. Remember what Jesus said. We do unto them as we would like them to do unto us.

Look at the second half of the verse above. Part of the responsibility for why false teachers can thrive in our culture today is... The Bible says we will amass for ourselves teachers who say the things we want to hear. So, the best way to deal with false teaching is not to search for what feels good but what is good.

What do we do?
1. Know God's Word for yourself. Knowing God's Word for yourself is the best way not to be deceived. You need to read God's Word for yourself daily and grow in your relationship with God. That way, you will know the truth of God's Word, and that truth will set you free. You will also be able to hear God's Word with confidence and joy.

2. Pray for your leaders. Once again, almost every pastor you come in contact with is a flawed person who is doing the best they can. They have the same stresses in their world as you do. So, pray for them. Commit to your local church. If you hear something that sounds off, pray for them. You likely have only a few facts, so talk with them if something bothers you. But, whatever you do, don't stop praying.

3. Trust God's timing. Let's say you are dealing with a false teacher and don't know why God doesn't expose them. Only God knows. Trust the Lord's timing. When the time is right, God always does what is right. In the end, put only some of your trust in people. Trust the Lord.

Verse 21-23: Jesus shows us how to recognize the difference between BELIEF IN and TRUST ON.

Jesus has another type of person to talk to in today's text: us. This might be the scariest text in all of the New Testament. Jesus says there will be people who say they believe Jesus to be Lord and even did great things for Him but will not be allowed into the Kingdom of Heaven. He gives the reason by saying He never knew them. This is a sobering thought. Jesus points to the difference between having a "belief in" God and a "Trust on" God.

  • Belief in- This is a head knowledge of God. This is someone who rationally understands God as Truly God and Jesus Christ as the Son of God. This is good, but more is needed. The Bible says even the demons believe this and tremble. The unfortunate people in Jesus' example claimed God to be authentic and even claimed to be able to do all the "God-things." However, their belief in God did not go further than that.
    Jesus said something different was required of His followers.
  • Trust on- This is believing everything as "belief in" but then staking your life on it and allowing that truth to govern your life. It is a truth that changes your life.

Jesus said this:

(‭‭Luke‬ ‭9‬:‭23‬-‭24‬) Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.

Following and "trusting" Jesus is what He is talking about. Do you serve God, or do you date God? Is He your Lord, and does He govern your life?

How do I know if I am truly following Jesus?

  1. Did it cost you anything? YES/NO.
  2. Did it change your life? YES/NO.
  3. If God never did anything else for you, would you still serve Him? YES/NO.

Make sure you understand what Jesus is saying. We are saved by grace alone. However, after we receive grace, we shouldn't stay alone. That grace should begin to immediately change us as we have passed from darkness to light.

Jesus is saying that in His kingdom, there should be a desire in you to draw closer to Him and closer to His goodness. It doesn't mean you are perfect. It means you stay close to Him every day and never need to get reacquainted. If this is not you, there's excellent news.

(‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭5‬:‭16‬b-‭17‬) At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

The greatest news ever is you are loved more than you can imagine. The Great King of all is guiding us down the narrow road. The answer to both these massive possible potholes is to know Him more.

Joy grows daily when I make KNOWING and GROWING in God’s Kingdom a way of life.


Questions/Journal Prompts for reflection:

  1. Have you thought about how to “test” teaching in the Body of Christ?
  2. Do you read God’s Word daily to know God for yourself?
  3. Have you ever thought about following Jesus as a lifestyle?
  4. What next step do you need to make?  

Resources For Further Study