TEACHING ABOUT CRITICISM
v.1-2. Rash, unjust judgment in the sense of condemning is forbidden [Rom.2:1; Lu.6:37]
- Judgment according to justice is lawful and necessary as in a magistrate passing a sentence.
- Forming an opinion is not condemned. We all form opinions of conduct we know is evil.
- A habit of forming a judgment hastily, harshly – and a call to express what we consider to be discerning, private judgment without knowing the real circumstances – is condemned.
- The traits that bother us in other people, are often the bad habits that we dislike in ourselves.
v.2. If you censure others for some deed they have done, you will be dealt with in the same way.
v.3. “Mote” – small piece of chaff; “Beam” – squared off timber. Do not be quicker to judge small offences in others than the large ones in ourselves.
v.4. This person is unfit to show what is right to others, when he is walking in darkness himself.
v.5. The hypocrite professes what he is not. Deal with your own faults first and then you can be consistent in dealing with the small things that obscure your brother’s vision – making allowance for his imperfection and human frailty.
v.6. It is wrong to entrust unholy people with holy teaching. They will only ignore and/or tear apart what you say. A pearl is something precious. To give doctrinal teaching to debased people who do not appreciate it, is wasting our time.
TEACHING ABOUT THE PURSUIT OF GOD
v.7-8. There are three ways of seeking the things we need from God:
- “Ask” – earnestness, humility; “seek” – diligence, sincerity; “knock” – perseverance: no half-hearted efforts
- Things God has promised that would be best for us and His kingdom: God is willing to forgive sins; provide for us; save our souls; be with us in trials; comfort us in death; extend the Gospel world-wide
- There is nothing higher than this that we can ask and be assured that He is willing to grant
v.9-12. When our children ask for something to eat, would we give them something that would hurt them, even though it may look the same? A fish may resemble a serpent in some way, but no parent would attempt to deceive his/her child with something that could injure the child.
- When we ask in faith and according to God’s will, He gives what He knows is best. God is not selfish, begrudging or stingy. We don’t have to beg or grovel when we come to Him with requests.
- He is our Father. He understands, cares for and comforts His children. How great the contrast is even when compared to an earthly parent who is fallible.
- By stating what is known as “The Golden Rule” in a positive way, the Lord Jesus made it more significant. It is not hard to refrain from harming others. It is much more difficult to take the initiative in doing something good for others. This is what God is like.
TEACHING ABOUT THE WAY TO HEAVEN
v.13-14. The way to heaven is not the great highway that men walk. It is the narrow way through the “wicket” (see Pilgrim’s Progress), a little door in a larger gate literally. On this narrow way, people walk a solitary walk often. This requires personal diligence and determination to enter into this way where we walk alone. It requires effort and thought to enter in through the strait gate. The gate is nearly obscured by all the activity on the highway the majority of people are on having entered through the wide gate. There is very little thought given to entering in through the wide gate onto the broad way because that is what everyone seems to want to do. The strait gate has to be looked for.
TEACHING ABOUT FRUIT IN LIFE
v.15-20. False prophets are those who claim to be able to foretell future events. Perhaps in this place it means religious instructors. Whichever of the two it means here: a false prophet is teaching incorrect doctrine, and making claims that are not from God.
- They seem like sincere, innocent and harmless sheep outwardly but inwardly they are evil like dangerous wolves on the prowl. Their nature is evil and their objective is dangerous.
- The proper test of the character of a tree is not by what the bark or leaves look like, or even the blossoms it might bear. The value of a tree is determined by the fruit. Pretensions may look good, but true conduct determines the principles we live by.
- A good tree (or person) cannot help but produce something of profit. A corrupt tree (or person) produces nothing beneficial.
- Love to God and man is from the root (new nature) from which the fruit of righteousness and of the Spirit abounds.
- The end of every false and deceptive teacher who is motivated by money, fame or power – is the fire.
- There is going to be evidence one way or another as to whether a teacher is false or true. Look at the results of one’s life and efforts to determine what is of God and what is not of God. Examine (try the “spirits’) what is being taught and what is being lived by those who teach.
TEACHING ABOUT RESPONSE TO GOD’S WORD
V.21-29. The Lord is more concerned about our walk than our talks. He wants us to do what is right, not just say the right words. Our life will only withstand the difficulties if we do what we know is right. What I believe and what I do cannot be separated.
- To just say religious things but not to obey the Lord, indicates likely there is no relationship with the Lord at all.
- Just knowing and saying what is right does not mean a person has eternal life. Faith in Christ alone is the only thing that matters as far as eternal life is concerned.
- “That day” is when final reckoning of all accounts is settled before God. Miracles are an act of God displaying His own power through another person or agency. It doesn’t have to do with the moral character of a person or the legitimacy of his claims.
- Many who had never been true followers but had done miracles, will be revealed as those who are not true Christians. This is not teaching the falling away doctrine but rather the opposite.
- Under the pressures of life and calamities in life, obedience to God’s Word sustains and protects us. Trials of afflictions, passions and attacks of Satan, cannot undermine the power of God’s Word.
- To read or hear God’s Word and not do what it says, it the greatest self-deception a person can make. Such a person is lost.
- The people of Jesus’ day were astonished to hear God’s truth defined in such a way. His authority from God was not at all like the self-created man-made messages they were used to hearing.
Authority that is sound, rational, convicting and irresistible is far superior to the trifling, frivolous words that do not reach the conscience and the heart.