Matthew 7 Questions and Answers, Judgement and Good Fruit
1. Read Matthew 7:1-2. What does it mean to judge? What kind of judging is Jesus talking about in these verses?
- To judge is to form an opinion or conclusion
- E-sword definition: Properly to distinguish, that is, decide (mentally or judicially); by implication to try, condemn, punish: - avenge, conclude, condemn, decree, determine, esteem, judge, go to (sue at the) law, ordain, call in question, sentence to, think.
- The Pharisees were so proud and so self-righteous and so smug and so convinced of their own superiority that one of the natural results of that was that they became totally condemning, critical and judgmental of everybody else.
- They weren't criticizing people because of sin. They were criticizing them because of their personality, their character, their weaknesses, their frailties, perhaps the way they looked or the way they dressed or the fact that they didn't do the things the way they did them. They were criticizing their motives, which they couldn't see or perceive anyway in their humanness. You don't know why a person does what he does.
- What the Lord here is forbidding is for individuals to do official, hasty, unwarranted, unjust, unmerciful condemnation that comes from self-righteous pride. (the Laws are to do the official judging)
2. Why does Jesus say we shouldn't judge? Is there ever a time when it is okay to judge?
- It is almost impossible for anyone to be totally impartial in his judgment.
- No one is good enough to judge another person. Only a faultless person has any right to look for faults in others.
- Jesus declares that the person judging will be judged (v. 1) because the final judgment belongs to God alone, and those who seek to judge others now will answer then for taking over God's position.
- We as people are not the final court. We are not God. The sin of judging other people, their motives and so forth, is that we are playing God. Every time we sit in judgment on someone, every time we criticize their motives, or every time we think we have a right to make an evaluation, we're playing God. Let God make the evaluation. Every time we carry out vengeance or a vendetta or we get even on our own, we are playing God. Every time we pass sentence on someone arbitrarily, we're playing God.
- We're going to be judged by the Lord on the same basis that we're judging everybody else
- The Rabbis had a saying, "He who judges his neighbour favourably, will be judged favourably by God." They said there were 6 great works which brought a man credit in this world and profit in the world to come - study, visiting the sick, hospitality, devotion in prayer, the education of children in the Law, and thinking the best of other people. The Jew knew that kindliness in judgment was a sacred duty.
3. We make all kinds of judgements - decisions every day. We have to determine what is good or bad. Is it wrong to look at a person's lifestyle and see what is damaging so we do not make the same mistakes? How can we deal with personal blind spots? Are we open to change or criticism from others? (Matthew 7:15-23)
- Matthew 7:15 we are told to watch out for false prophets so it is important to be discerning.
- Jesus warns us not to assume God's prerogative to condemn the guilty; however, he is warning us to discern truth from error (Matthew 7:15-23).
- Jesus does not oppose offering correction, but we are not to offer correction in the wrong spirit (Matthew 7:5; Matthew 18:15-17; Galatians 6:1-5). We are told to confront and restore a sinning "brother" with gentleness. (not in anger, pride, or self-righteousness)
- All throughout the Bible we are commanded to discern, to try the spirits, to have our senses exercised to know the difference between good and evil, says Hebrews 5:14. We must discern. We must discriminate. We must evaluate. There are things we must judge.
4. What kind of setting should we be in to talk to people about things that might need change in their life?
- Those who have a pure life need to talk to the person one on one, lovingly and with gentleness bring up the idea. If he listens, wonderful. If not, then bring 2 or 3 other godly people to talk to the person.
- Do not attack a person but talk about behaviours which are wrong
- Seek to be encouraging, never be malicious, angry, or demeaning, but affirming and willing to help
5. Read Matthew 7:3-5. What is the speck of sawdust and the plank in the eye referring to?
- We have enough to correct in our own lives (plank) without looking to correct the lives of others (speck of sawdust).
- It would be better if we concentrated on our own faults and leave the faults of others to God.
- One major problem in relationships is that of noticing others personality flaws to the exclusion of our own weakness. The approach of true humility recognizes and begins work on our own faults first.
- The plank is self-righteousness. As long as a person is self-righteous, and spiritually proud, and as long as they set themselves up as a judge, they can't help anybody out with any sin. They're blind. It is the sin of subtle, self-righteous criticism.
6. What is the key word in Matthew 7:5 that Jesus uses in this section to describe these people? How can we keep from being that kind of person?
- Jesus calls people hypocrites who try to correct other people's faults but don't work on correcting their own flaws first.
- Humility recognizes and works on our own faults first and leaves the faults of others to God.
- God is merciful to us, so we should be merciful to others and not quick to condemn.
7. According to Matthew 7:5 when is it OK to go and help your brother or sister in Christ?
- Once you have resolved and corrected the faults and flaws in our own life, then we can see clearly and have the potential of helping others.
8. What is the meaning of Matthew 7:6? What/who do the dogs and pigs refer to? How would you describe the character of these kinds of people? What is sacred? What do pearls refer to? What kind of people are we not to share precious truths with? ( Proverbs 23:9)
- There are some people who cannot receive Christian truth. Perhaps their minds are shut, or their minds have been clouded by sin and cannot see the truth. They may be mockers of everything that is holy, or we have nothing in common with them which we can discuss. It seems like when we talk about Christ we meet an impenetrable barrier. When talk doesn't work, we need to show what it means to follow & obey Christ.
- Matthew 7:6 was probably simply a wisdom saying like Proverbs 23:9: "Do not speak to a fool, for he will scorn the wisdom of your words"
- Dogs may refer to the wicked or oppressors; pigs were unclean and also proverbially lacked appreciation of value.
- Clearly these are people who do not recognize the value of our message - what we have to offer them. These are the people we are not to share precious truths with. If we do this may cause persecution unnecessarily.
9. At first reading, Matthew 7:6 almost seems out of place. Why did Matthew include this saying here? ( Proverbs 9:8; 23:9)
- Most likely verse 6 provides a transition between the preceding and following contexts. Correcting those who will not receive correction is futile (Prov 9:8; 23:9); we should discerningly continue to offer wisdom (or the gift of the kingdom) only to those willing to receive what we offer, just as God does (Mt 7:7-11). If verse 6 means something along these lines, it does not allow us to prejudge who may receive our message ( Matthew 13:3-23 - sower and the seed), but does forbid us to try to force it on those who show no inclination to accept it ( Matthew 10:13-16 - if people do not welcome you or your word shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town).
10. Read Matthew 7:7-12. What 3 commands did Jesus give with promises with regard to praying? To whom would these promises apply? Have you experienced these promises? Is this a blank check that you can receive whatever you want?
- Go on asking for you will receive, go on seeking for you will find, and go on knocking for the door will be opened. Prayer tests our sincerity and desire. He is telling us to persist in prayer, and never be discouraged.
- Jesus promises extraordinary power from God to those who are: God's children, living in obedience (otherwise your prayers will be hindered - I John 3:22), have a totally selfless motive in asking (we ask and don't receive because we ask with the wrong motive to fulfill your own desires - James 4:3), who have totally submitted to His will so that God may be glorified (John 5:14-15). This is not a blank check - you have to fulfill the conditions first.
- These promises would not apply to a person praying for something contrary to God's Word or for our own personal status. This promise is addressed only to people of God who will seek the things God would have them to seek for, for the good of his kingdom and their basic needs (Matthew 6:11, 19-34)
11. What kind of prayers would Jesus be talking about? What should we ask for? What should we seek for? What are we knocking for?
- This passage's context suggests the kinds of prayers that righteous people offer. They seek first in prayer the purposes of God's kingdom (Matthew 6:9-10, 31-33), and also request that God meet their own basic needs (Matthew 6:11).
- The specific examples Jesus gives that children would request are basic staples in the Palestinian diet-bread and fish; and Jesus has already promised his hearers the basics (Matthew 6:25-34). Jesus later provided bread and fish for his followers ( Matthew 14:19-20; 15:36-37), encouraging us that he will also hear our requests for provision today. While such basics do not include status symbols or other objects of fleshly appetites, they do include whatever is ultimately for God's kingdom-anything necessary for us to fulfill what God has called us to do.
- Eg. Of things to seek for: the truth, the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, godly leaders, people who are looking for answers to eternal life, ways to help others, where God is working and where I could join Him.
- Eg. Of knocking: for opportunities to serve, for people who would like to meet a need, on heaven's door to ask God for salvation or blessing
12. Who is God likened to? Who are we likened to?
- God is like a father and we are God's child
13. What kind of things does the Father give to his children?
- Things that are needs that are requested of by the child
- Good things
14. Do you think that we lack God's blessings because we do not obey these verses?
- Sometimes we try to do things in our own strength without asking God or seeking Him. Then we miss seeing God's power and that this was something God wanted to give to us to enjoy.
15. What do you think you should be asking for that you have not yet asked for because you have not applied this principle?
- Ask for food, needs, anything that would advance God's kingdom, or bring glory to God - expect to receive what we asked for.
16. How do you respond to a child who asks you for something? How does God respond to us when we ask for something?
- We love to give our children and grandchildren good gifts - things that are good for them and even more than they ask for sometimes.
- We ask for things and God gives it to us in His way of perfect wisdom and perfect love. God knows which of our prayers if answered the way we initially desired would ruin us, so He answers in wisdom and love.
- God who gives good gifts to children may not give everything every child asks, but he will not withhold his gifts from those who desire and seek what is right ( Ps 37:4; 84:11). Our Father will give appropriate consideration to each request his children makes, watching out for their true needs (Mt 6:8 - He knows what we need even before we ask).
17. Read Matthew 7:12. This is a very popular saying that Jesus put in the positive but most other religions and philosophers use this saying in the negative. Eg. Confucius said, "What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others." What's the difference?
- The negative rule keeps me from doing hurtful or harmful things that I don't want people to do to me.
- The positive rule has me doing helpful, kind, loving and thoughtful things because I would like others to treat me that way.
- Living by the positive rule is what makes life so beautiful. Only the person who can even begin to satisfy the positive form of the rule is the person who has the love of Christ in his heart. He will try to forgive as he wishes to be forgiven, help as he wishes to be helped, to praise as he would wish to be praised, and to understand as he would wish to be understood.
- To live by Jesus' rule, we must do good to people in advance of their doing good to us, trusting God to reward us later.
18. Read Matthew 7:13-14. What is the narrow gate - the broad gate? How do we enter the narrow gate - the broad gate? Where does it lead to? Why do you think so few people enter the narrow gate?
- This could have been the inspiration for Robert Frost's poem. "The Road Not Taken" (He took the road less travelled and that made all the difference)
- Greek, Roman and Jewish writers often used the image of the two paths in life, and those particularly concerned with the future judgment especially used the image of the two ways, the narrow one leading to life and the broad one to destruction.
- Some people's assurance of salvation is a delusion. They think they are on the way to heaven automatically because they were born into a religious home and are doing more good things than bad things. But to enter the narrow gate of the kingdom we must knock, that is, request that God make us citizens of his kingdom (Matthew 7-8).
- One of the reasons why so few people find this gate is because it includes repentance, and Jesus' way is often difficult because it includes both persecution (5:10-12) and living by what Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount, which is not automatic for our sinful nature. The narrow gate is the entrance to a disciplined, hard and long way that is not taken by the crowds. The only way to get our values right is to focus, not on the beginning of our walk with God but the end of the way and to see things not in the light of our time here on earth but in the light of eternity.
- Most people look for the easy, glamorous and popular life-style. They want to be someone great, but greatness in God's eyes comes from humility and service. That is not the kind of greatness that most people are looking for. These people who are self-focused would be on the broad road that leads to destruction.
- Whoever has not consciously repented of their sin and chosen to obey Jesus' teachings have automatically entered the broad gate and are automatically on the broad road.
- Jesus here declares that most people are lost. That would have been a shock then because most first-century Jewish people believed they were saved by virtue of being a descendant of Abraham (Matthew 3:9). Today too the majority would think they will make it somehow to heaven. Yet Jesus regards the assumption of salvation as a deception; most of his contemporaries were unsaved because they had not repented or truly obeyed Jesus teaching (Matthew 7: 24-27).Many professing but not obedient servants of Jesus will find themselves banished from God's presence in the judgment (Matthew 7:21-23). These verses challenge "cultural Christians," those following only Christian tradition rather than Christ himself, to realize that they need conversion.'
- This goes to show that the majority isn't always right. Following the crowd isn't always the best way to go. Following Christ is counter-culture and goes against the grain of the majority.
19. Read Matthew 7:15-20. How can we detect a false prophet or if the preacher/leader is telling the truth? How can we discern people's motives?
- The Jews knew all about false prophets for the prophets in the Old Testament and even Paul warns of false prophets. Jesus said he was sending his disciples out as sheep among the wolves (Matthew 10:16) but that He was the Good Shepherd that protected his sheep from the wolves with his own life. (John 10:12) False prophets were dangerous like wolves.
- When a shepherd took care of his sheep, he wore sheepskin with the skin outside and the fleece inside. However, Jesus is saying that a person could wear a shepherds clothing but not be a shepherd. In the same way, prophets would wear a particular garb that would show that he was a prophet. But sometimes that garb was worn by those who had no right to wear it. They wore it to deceive.
- In contrast, one who is telling the truth will be transparent - will have nothing to hide. Willing to reveal things like benefits, income ministry expenses, calendar schedule. No hidden agendas or motives.
- By a person's fruit or practice you can tell if someone is sincerely a true follower of Jesus or a false prophet. Unfortunately, that may take a number of years to be revealed for fruit takes months to develop. In the long term, a false prophet does not produce good fruit (may do good deeds to deceive).
- False prophets may have an opulent lifestyle - drive expensive cars, have big houses, live a lavish lifestyle.
- False prophets are like wolves destroying lives to get dishonest gain. ( Ezekiel 22:27)
- False prophets do not obey God's instructions ( Zephaniah 3:3-4).
- A false prophet will treat the church like a business, with him acting like a CEO.
- A false prophet is more interested in numbers than ministering to the hearts of people.
- A false prophet would be one who would use his office to gain prestige - He would teach to show how clever he was. However, no one can at the same time show how clever they are and how wonderful Christ is.
- A false teacher is interested in self-display - wanting to always be in the limelight.
- The Didache, the first order book of the Christian church talks about wandering prophets. A true prophet was to be held in the highest honour; he was to be welcomed; his word must never be disregarded and his freedom was never to be curtailed. He can stay for one or two days if necessary but if he stays for 3 he is a false prophet. He must never ask for anything except bread. If he asks for money or a meal he is a false prophet. If he says one thing and does another he is a false prophet. If a prophet wants to settle among you, if he has a trade let him work and eat. If he has no trade and is not willing to work, he is a trafficker in Christ. Beware of such a person.
- The true shepherd cares more about his flock than himself. A false prophet is more interested in satisfying his own desires and greed - to make a profit for himself. He teaches, not for what he can give to others, but for what he can get for himself. He takes advantage of people's generosity and so lives a comfortable and even pampered life of idleness.
- False prophets are willing to play politics to improve their status and in the Pharisee's case, to crucify Jesus.
- False prophets are more interested in popularity than in truth; reading the latest trends and incorporating them into his ministry.
- They do not seek the Lord's direction or a word from the Spirit, but rely on what others have deemed as important or successful for a congregation.
20. How can you tell if a teaching is false? What kind of fruit would a false prophet produce?
- Would lure us away from the narrow gate
- It produces a religion which consists solely or mainly in the observance of externals. That was what the Sadducees and Pharisees did. It is easy to confuse relationship with Jesus with religious practices. A person may go to church, tithe, read the Bible but still be far from being a Christian for being a Christian is an inner attitude of the heart and relationship towards God and others.
- It is based on a series of "thou shalt not". That would make becoming a Christian simply by not doing certain things - which would probably be easier than what Jesus taught. Being Christ's follower does not consist in "not doing things" but obeying what Jesus taught.
- If the teaching is culturally based instead of being counter-culture as Christ taught.
- It produces an easy religion. Eg. It's ok if you sin because God will forgive. The cross is not important or central. There will be no judgment or it will be no big deal, be no hell because a loving God wouldn't send people to hell.
- The teaching removes us from life and activity of the world. Jesus didn't pray that God would take us out of the world but that He would keep us from the evil one (John 17:15). We cannot be a good soldier of Jesus Christ by running away.
- It produces arrogance and separatism. If a person is encouraged to withdraw into a narrow sect and regard the rest of the world as sinners it is false teaching. We are to love each other, not drive others away.
- A false prophet won't speak the truth ( Jeremiah 6:14) but teaches his own version of the truth or what they think people want to hear. They want to become rich, famous and well liked by people. A true prophet listens to God before he speaks to people so he can speak God's truth.
21. What is the significance of Jesus talking about grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles?
- The buckthorn had little black berries which closely resembled little grapes.
- There is a thistle that has a flower which at a distance might be taken for a fig.
- The point is that there may be a superficial resemblance between the true and false prophet. The false prophet may wear the right clothes and use the right language, but our soul can never be sustained and nourished by the food which the false prophet offers. It is not good fruit. The real test of any teaching is: does it strengthen me when I am faced with difficulties, and help me to cling to Jesus and keep walking in His way.
22. What happens to a tree that does not bear good fruit?
- It is cut down and thrown into the fire.
23. What kind of fruit are you producing? Are you bearing good fruit? Eg. Galatians 5:22, 23 (the fruit of the Spirit), Doing God's will? (Matthew 7:21)
- Eg. Galatians 5:22 (the fruit of the Spirit), Doing God's will? (Matthew 7:21)
24. Read Matthew 7:21-23. What kind of things will MANY have done but that will be told to depart from Christ in the judgement?
- Call Jesus "Lord"
- Prophesied in His name
- Used Jesus' name to drive out demons
- Performed many miracles like healing, etc.
- Jesus didn't know them and will call them evil doers because they hadn't been doing God's will
- They didn't love God because they weren't obeying Him. It's impossible to love without obedience.
- The day will come when their real motives, pretences and disguises will be exposed and they will be banished from the presence of God. We can deceive others with our words but we can't deceive God.
25. Read Matthew 7:24-27. What is necessary to do with Jesus teachings?
- If I want to be wise, I need to listen to Christ's teachings and then do them. If we hear and do, that would be to obey them, and put into practice what I have heard. That is what Jesus demands of us.
- It is Jesus' claim that obedience to Him is the only sure foundation for life
26. How do we build on a solid foundation? How can we be sure we are building on Christ's foundation? Is it possible to deceive ourselves?
- Our foundation needs to be on Christ the rock as well as on His Words.
- We are building on Christ's foundation if we hear His words and then do them. We are to be building our life on Christ and around Christ's teachings.
- Building on the rock means we are obeying Christ and doing God's will.
- We can tell if we have built on Christ if when difficult times come, and the storms of life crash around us - we do not cave in, fall apart, or fall away from Christ. We will be able to handle them with Christ.
- According to Matthew 7:21-23 it says that many were deceived into thinking they were on the right track but weren't.
27. How could we be building on sand? What would be the consequence?
- Accept the world's philosophies.
- Spend more time in pleasure than in God's ministry.
- Live materialistic lifestyle.
- Live for self - be self focused instead of a servant.
- Living our life around things that do not count for eternity
- Having a religion of externals like the Pharisees did is building on sand - eg. Giving, praying and fasting without concern for inner qualities of purity of heart, or integrity of behavior, or obedience to God
- Building on sand is coming with your bodies to church but not your souls, worshiping with your mouth but not your heart.
- The broad road is all sand.
- The sand represents: Human will, human opinion, human attitudes, and the shifting sands of human philosophy.
- If we do not build on Christ and His teachings, we may look good on the outside but when the storms of life come, it will show what a mess our life is in.
- It could be that from all outward appearance both the wise and foolish man's life would look similar to the average person, but the difference would be the foundation.
- Foolish people are superficial people and want to do things the easy way without a lot of time needed to get the work done, so building on the sand would be appealing to them. Spiritually, a person building on the sand is one who doesn't want to dig into God's Word and find out what God wants from them and how they are to live.
28. What are you building your life on? How do you know that is what you are building on?
- I desire to obey God and His Words - then I am building on the rock.
- I enjoy digging to find out what God wants to teach me and what His Words means to me personally.
29. Read Matthew 7:28, 29. What was the response to Jesus' teaching?
- The people were amazed at his teaching because He taught as one who had authority and not as their teachers of the law.
30. What is your response to Jesus' teaching from Matthew 5 - 7?
- Amazing, wise, rich, deep, so different from what this world teaches, not necessarily easy but right
- Need to stay true to what Jesus taught and that will take effort and courage.