1.  “Judge not, that you be not judged.

This is rapidly becoming the best-known verse in the Bible to the younger generation.  In the past it was always John 3:16, but now it seems that tolerance is more important than salvation!  And this verse is usually made to mean that we can’t say for certain that what anyone is doing is wrong or condemn him for doing it.  Most commonly, it is used to justify those who are committing ungodly sexual practices.  Yet is this a correct application of this verse?

If we took this way of looking at the verse to its logical conclusion, we would realize how ridiculous a claim this really is.  If we really cannot frown upon anyone for doing wrong, then I have no right to tell my 16-year-old daughter not to date a convicted rapist because that would be judging him.  I cannot tell my young son not to take candy from strangers because that would be judging them.  I cannot refuse to loan my money to someone I know is a thief because that would be judging him.  This sort of behavior would be reckless in the extreme, and anyone acting in this way would soon find their lives totally in ruins.  The fact is that people who claim that this is what this verse means are ultimately hypocrites.  They themselves judge people constantly every day.  Everyone does it…we must, or we could not have any social interaction.  But those who try to use this verse to say we cannot condemn people are selective in how they apply it.  They only apply it to sins they wish to justify, and so they prove themselves to be hypocrites.  And, interestingly enough, hypocrisy is exactly what Christ is condemning in this verse!

Christ was not telling His disciples not to condemn sin, or that we don’t have a right to say that certain sexual practices are wrong.  Christ was not saying that the disciples could not condemn others for doing wrong.  Rather, He was telling them not to condemn wrong things when they were doing the same things or even worse!  The subject of this statement was not condemning evil, but rather hypocrisy.  What right would an adulterer have to condemn a couple for living together?  First he should stop his adultery, and then help correct the couple living together!  This is not saying that we cannot condemn wrong.  Rather it is a warning against doing it hypocritically.

2.  “For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the same measure you use, it will be measured back to you.

I can honestly say that I would want people to condemn me for doing wrong.  I firmly believe that living together before marriage is wrong.  And if I were to go off and start living with someone, I would want the believers around me to condemn me for doing so.  I would want them to love me enough to tell me that what I was doing was wrong, and to try to help me get back on track and do what is right.  But if I refused, I would want them to hold me responsible for my actions and to bring against me any sort of censure that was appropriate.  I would certainly want my church to remove me from all positions of leadership.  I would want my parents to draw a line in the sand and hold me accountable before them.  I would not want everyone to ignore it and treat me like what I was doing was okay.  I would want them to treat me like it was wrong!  I want the same measure used on myself that I use on others.  But this does not preclude me from condemning wrongdoing, for I want to be held to the same standard myself!

Although these verses apply very well to many of us today, we need to remember when reading this that ultimately these things were spoken not to us but to Christ’s disciples.  They were not to seek to set others in order for their sins, nor will people be allowed to do this in God’s future kingdom.  All judgment will be reserved for God in the kingdom.  Anyone who dares make his own judgment will in turn be judged by the same standard wherewith he judged.  It is impossible for us not to judge today.  If we went around refusing to make any judgment about anyone, we would just constantly be in total trouble.  We must judge others on their trustworthiness and so forth, or we would just end up being foolish.  This is a law that will be in place in the kingdom of heaven.

3.  “And why do you look at a speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?
4.  “Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck out of your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye?
5.  “Hypocrite!  First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother’s eye.

This applies just as well today as it will in the kingdom.  We need to be very careful what we accuse others of.  It is somewhat of a natural thing to want to blame others for their sins in order to appease our consciences concerning ours.  But this is hypocritical, and we should not do it.

Ultimately again Christ’s words apply very well to the Pharisees and religious leaders of His day.  They were constantly looking for things to condemn in others, but in God’s sight their hearts were proud and puffed up and they were far worse than those they condemned.  This statement of Christ’s also applies well to His disciple who didn’t take these words to heart, Judas Iscariot.  We read in John 12:4-8 that he condemned Mary for wasting money by anointing Jesus’ feet when really all he wanted was to take some of the money for himself.  Judas was an excellent example among Christ’s own disciples of this sort of hypocritical person.

6.  “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.

The things of God should not be given to those who are unworthy of them.  Do not try to share the deep and precious truths of God with those who are not even saved.  They will think them of no value and will trample them under their feet, and then turn upon you who presented them to them.  But we should also be careful which believers we present them to.  Some believers just have no love for God and His Word, and so have little regard for His truth.  Presenting His glorious truths to them may be just casting pearls before swine, sad as that may be.  God’s truths are precious, and we should always treat them so.  We do not just run them up the flagpole to see who will salute them.  Rather, we attempt to share them with others who love and worship Him as well.

7.  “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
8.  “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

Many jump in here and proclaim that God will give us anything we ask.  That sounds great, but the fact is that anyone who has asked God for much of anything has found out that this simply isn’t true.  None of us have received everything from God that we have asked for.  So then those who make this claim start to make lame excuses, like if we don’t get what we ask it means we didn’t have enough faith, or we only get what we ask if we ask according to God’s will, whatever that means.  But the fact is that the premise is wrong to begin with.  Christ was not saying that we would receive everything we ask for.  We read specifically in chapter 5 that these things were spoken to His disciples.  We have no right to claim for ourselves any and every privilege offered to them.  This is foolish and wrong.  God offered them many, many things that He has never offered to us.  It is simply foolishness to take this statement and try to apply it to us today.  It is even more foolish to try to make excuses when we do this and then see that it didn’t work.  We need to realize that God never made this promise to us, and so He is under no obligation to fulfill it for us.  That is like saying that making the marriage vows to one woman means I have to fulfill them to every woman on earth!  No one is under obligation to keep a promise to anyone but the person he made it to.  For us to expect God to keep this promise to us that He made to His disciples is unreasonable and even outright childish.

9.  “Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?
10.  “Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent?
11.  “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father Who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!

Although this was a wonderful promise that Christ gave His disciples, we need to understand that even to them this was not a blank check that applied to anything they might wish to ask for.  Food is a necessity, and any good father would give it to his child, even though a good father might not give his child any and every toy he might ask for.  In the same way Christ is telling His disciples that the Father will give them the things that are necessary for them to live.  Remember, they were more or less Christ’s employees at this time, and Christ was assuring them that as long as they worked for Him they would never go hungry!  This was a promise that anyone might expect of his employer, and Christ was not such a bad Master as not to make it and to fulfill it to His disciples as He should have.

Yet we learn from other gospels that this applies to more than mere food.  The good things spoken of here apply also to the things of the Holy Spirit, as we read in Luke 11:13.  These men had but to ask for these things and they would receive them.  We know very well that this is not the case today.

12.  “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

This is the so-called “golden rule.”  It is a rule most worthy of being followed, both in the future kingdom of heaven as well as today.

13.  “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.
14.  “Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

Do not try to enter life by the broad gate of human philosophy and religion.  The only way to life is through the narrow gate of the cross.  Unfortunately, there are few who find it.

15.  “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.
16.  “You will know them by their fruits.  Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles?
17.  “Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.
18.  “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.
19.  “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
20.  “Therefore by their fruits you will know them.

Those who claim to speak for God but really speak for themselves are known by their fruit.  Those who speak for God bring forth righteous fruit, but those who speak only for themselves bring forth fruit out of the wickedness of their hearts.  This is something that Christ wanted His disciples to beware of, as He knew they would face men like this.  This is also true today, as sometimes it seems we are constantly surrounded by men who make claims like this that are untrue.  And this will likewise be true in the kingdom, particularly in the time of revolt against the kingdom that we read about in the book of Revelation.

21.  “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,” shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.
22.  “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’
23.  “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

Many claim to work in the Lord’s name who do not really do so.  I shudder to think how many atrocities have been done against the innocent in Christ’s name.  Yet there are many who are deceived into thinking that anyone who claims to speak for God actually does so.  Even those who themselves falsely use the Lord’s name often do not realize that they themselves are lost!  Yet those who do such things will never enter into the kingdom of heaven.

24.  “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock:
25.  “and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.
26.  “Now everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand:
27.  “and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell.  And great was its fall.”

Many wrongly suppose that Christ is the rock spoken of here.  Yet verse 24 makes it clear that this is not the case.  The rock is not Christ, but rather His sayings.  Christ was promising His disciples that they would be kept in whatever troublous situation might arise if they would only build their lives on His words.  Many of His disciples did this and found His promise to be true.  At least one though, Judas Iscariot, did not, and his fall was indeed great!

This story illustrates a truth that is as true now as it will be in the kingdom.  Building your life upon Christ’s teachings is the only way to ensure that it will stand firm in times of trouble.  Building your life on the shifting sands of anything but Christ’s teachings means sure collapse in the time of trouble.  Let each one of us build our own lives on the only Rock that is sure to stand!

28.  And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching,
29.  for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

Jesus ends His teaching concerning the kingdom.  The people are astonished because He teaches with authority.  The scribes were always teaching in the manner of “This man taught and believed this, but this other man taught this, and a third viewpoint is this.”  In other words, there was no authority in what they said, but only the stating of different men’s opinions.  Christ, however, taught with authority.  Every statement was a sure statement of truth, and not the wobbly opinions of a man.  How refreshing a thing this must have been to all who longed for truth!

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