“Do not judge so that you will not be judged.
(a) Do not judge or condemn people because that sort of judgment misrepresents God’s merciful character (Luke 6:36-37).
There is a time and place for righteous judgment (see entry for John 7:24), but in context Jesus is saying, “Do not judge people according to the law.” (He’s speaking to people born under law.)
Someone who hammers others with the law is acting contrary to the gracious heart of the Father. Since the law empowers sin, a judgmental type will excite the very sin they are condemning. Judgment and condemnation do not bring freedom. Only the grace of God can empower us to live godly lives (Tit, 2:11–12).
(b) You will not be judged. We reap what we sow (Rom 2:1). If we criticize and condemn others, we will come under condemnation ourselves. Our consciences will condemn us (1 John 3:20, John 8:9), the accuser will condemn us (Rev 12:10), and when our faults become known, others will condemn us as hypocrites.
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
Ask. Manmade religion says, “Don’t ask questions,” but Jesus said, “Ask and you shall receive.” Asking questions is how we grow, but we can distinguish good and bad questions. A good question leads you to good places, while a bad question produces quarrels and strife (2 Tim. 2:23).
A bad question is one that causes you to draw on your own finite understanding instead of trusting in God and his unlimited understanding (Jer. 17:5-8). When the serpent asked, “Did God really say?” he was asking a bad question that took Adam and Eve to a bad place (Gen. 3:1).
A bad question points you away from Wisdom, distracts you from Truth, and keeps you from finding the Answer. Sometimes bad questions are sold with the line “they make you think.” But they don’t make you think, they make you doubt. They replace faith with uncertainty and distract you from Jesus. Have nothing to do with such questions and discussions.
God made us innately curious because he knew our curiosity will ultimately lead us to him. We are defined by the questions we ask so ask good questions. And don’t be afraid to take your questions to the Holy Spirit.
Further reading: “Questions ain’t questions”
“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 what is good to those who ask Him!
(a) Being evil. Jesus is not making a comment about human depravity as much as he is elevating the goodness of God. Even bad fathers love and bless their children; how much more does a good God desire to love and bless us.
(b) Your Father; see entry for Matthew 5:16.
(c) Give. The God Jesus revealed is a giving Father (Luke 11:13, 12:32).
(d) What is good. God gives “good things” which chiefly refers to Jesus himself. Jesus is the Good Thing foretold in the prophets and queried by Nathanael. “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46). See also the entry for Heb. 10:1.
“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
The Law refers to the Law of Moses, the commandments, ordinances, punishments, and ceremonial observances given to the nation of Israel through Moses (Jos. 8:31). This law is sometimes referred to as the law of commandments (Eph. 2:15) or the law of the Jews (Acts 25:8). See entry for The Law.
“For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.
Life. Two kinds of life are described in the Bible; the psuche- or soul life we inherited from Adam and the zoe- or spirit life that comes from God (John 5:26). It’s the second kind of life that is described here. See entry for New Life.
“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.
Ravenous wolves. The word for ravenous can be translated as rapacious or extortioner. False prophets are religious gangsters who make their living by frightening those whom God loves and threatening the sheep. “God is mad at you. His sword is hanging over this city. Judgment’s coming. You are standing on the precipice. Beware astronomical omens. Stay away from grace – it’ll send you to hell.”
A false prophet uses threats of punishment to extract money and service from the sheep. “Sow into my ministry and save yourself from the flames.” He lives off stolen property and “makes himself wealthy by extortion” (see Hab. 2:4-7). These fearmongers claim to serve in the name of Lord, but they are servants of fear and darkness.
Further reading: “Religious gangsters”
“So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit.
This verse is sometimes used to suggest that humanity is a bad tree with bad fruit. “Just look at all the sin in the world.” But if you were to judge the tree of humanity by its fruit, you would have to conclude that there are all kinds of people, both good and evil.
In this passage Jesus is referring to false prophets. “By their fruit you will recognize them.” Good fruit means a good tree; bad fruit means a bad tree. But what makes a tree good or bad in the first place? Augustine, the Bishop of Hippo, said all trees are born bad, but Jesus said some trees are made bad. “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad (Matt. 12:33). If you can be made bad, you could not have been born bad. By the same token, if you can be made good, you could not have been born good. A young child that does not know right from wrong cannot be judged good or bad. They become good or bad as a result of the choices they make as they grow.
“A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit.
False prophets are ravenous wolves (see verse 15) and liars to boot. They may put on a good show, but it’s all smoke and mirrors. They may look good on their social media page, but in private they are different people. They are bad trees with bad fruit and Jesus doesn’t know them (see verse 23).
“Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
(a) Cut down. Just as John warned the Pharisees and the Sadducees about the axe at the root (Matt. 3:10), Jesus warned the nation of Israel that unbelief has consequences. To reject the Author of life is to cut yourself off from life itself (Rom. 11:20, Gal. 5:4).
(b) Fire. The ungodly and all those things that are opposed to God’s reign will be destroyed by fire (Matt. 13:41, 2 Pet. 2:6, 3:7).
Fire is Old Testament image associated with divine judgment (Is. 66:15–16, Oba. 1:18, Zeph. 3:8, Mal. 4:1). Jesus often spoke of fire in connection with Judgment Day (Matt. 5:22, 13:42, 50, 18:9, 25:41, Mark 9:43, Luke 17:29–30, John 15:6). He did not dread this fire but he looked forward to it knowing that it would spell the end of sin and usher in eternity (see entry for Luke 12:49).
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.
(a) Lord, Lord; see next verse.
(b) The will of My Father is that we build on the rock. It’s hearing the words of Jesus and putting them into practice. In short, the will, the work, and the commandment of God is to trust in Jesus (John 6:29, 1 John 3:23).
(c) My Father; see entry for Matthew 5:16.
“Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’
(a) On that day. Judgment Day, when Jesus separates the sheep from the goats.
(b) Lord, Lord. These are not believers who have called on the name of the Lord, but wolves in sheep’s clothing. Jesus does not know them (see next verse).
On three occasions Jesus spoke about people who would cry out “Lord, Lord” yet not be received into his kingdom (Matt: 7-21-22, 25:11, Luke 6:46). On each occasion he was talking about people who did not know him.
(c) Did we not? These people are self-righteous. They do not know Jesus (see next verse) but believe they will be accepted on account of their accomplishments. “We did all these things for you.” They are basically saying, “Jesus, you died for nothing. I stand on my own merits.”
Further reading: “What about those who cry ‘Lord, Lord’?”
“And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’
(a) I never knew you. Jesus is not speaking to Christians who have missed the mark; he is talking to self-righteous people he doesn’t know. The Good Shepherd knows his sheep (John 10:27); these aren’t his sheep. He does not say, “I used to know you,” but “I never knew you.”
We may not be 100 percent faithful but Jesus is. If you are his you can rest assured that he will never let you go (John 10:28-29). God does not break his promises and unchild his children. If you have been born again you can’t be unborn. What God has joined together, no man can separate.
(b) Depart from me. The self-righteous cannot coexist with the Righteous One.
(c) You who practice lawlessness. “You who habitually sin.” They are a lawless in the sense that they live contrary to God’s good will.
In the new covenant, faith is described as a rest (Rom. 4:5, Heb. 4:3), while unbelief is described in terms of actions and verbs like practicing lawlessness.
Unbelief is resisting the Holy Spirit and clinging to worthless idols (Acts 7:51, 14:15). Unbelief is rejecting Jesus (John 3:36) and denying the Lord (Jude 1:4). It’s thrusting away the word of God and judging yourself unworthy of life (Acts 13:46). It’s suppressing the truth (Rom. 1:18) and delighting in wickedness (2 Th. 2:12). It’s turning away (Heb. 12:25), going astray (2 Pet. 2:15), and trampling the Son of God underfoot (Heb. 10:29).
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock.
(a) These words of Mine. Jesus does not give us a long list instructions for pleasing God. The key words are found in verse 21. “He who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter the kingdom of heaven.” The will and work of God is to trust in Jesus (John 6:29, 40).
(b) A wise man builds on Jesus the Righteous Rock. A foolish man builds on the shifting sands of his own self-righteousness.
“Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.
(a) These words of Mine; see entry for Matthew 7:24.
(b) Does not act on them. It’s not enough to hear the good news that Jesus brings; you need to believe it. Faith in God (such as the Jews had) is dead unless accompanied by believing in the One he sent (see entry for Jas. 2:14).
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- Matthew 7:1
- Matthew 7:7
- Matthew 7:11
- Matthew 7:12
- Matthew 7:14
- Matthew 7:15
- Matthew 7:17
- Matthew 7:19
- Matthew 7:21
- Matthew 7:22
- Matthew 7:23
- Matthew 7:24
- Matthew 7:26