Summary: Right believing leads to right living. Right believing starts on the inside. Right believing is a relationship.
RECAP – Matt 23:23-28 – the Pharisees made the mistakes of replacing a RELATIONSHIP with Jesus with a RELIGION, and making the OUTWARD more important than the INWARD.
No life change can take place without a relationship with Jesus Christ. The Pharisees got the wrong target.
• Today we want to look at another group of people – the false prophets.
• They thought they were in, but they were not. It looked like they were true believers, but they turned out to be false prophets, propagating untruth.
Let’s read the warnings of Jesus in Matthew 7:15-23
Jesus was preaching to the crowd. It started in chapter 5. He has come to the last part of His sermon.
• As He was wrapping up, He gave this warning: “Beware of the false prophets.”
• They look like believers but they are wolves in sheep’s clothing. They preach falsehood and lies, camouflaged as the truth.
• Jesus says in Matt 24:11 that in the last days, “many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.”
Jesus said “Watch out for them”, lest we are deceived and misled by them.
• We are called to be DISCERNING – to reject the false and heed the truth.
• And then Jesus said immediately after this: “You will recognise them.” How comforting. If we watch out for them, we will recognise them.
• How? By their fruit. They may be dressed in sheep’s clothing, but ultimately their lives will tell.
Jesus uses the metaphor of a tree and its fruit.
• A wolf can disguise itself, but a tree cannot. A good tree will bear good fruit. A bad tree will bear bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.
• It is the natural outcome of what is on the inside. You cannot hide it. You cannot produce what you do not have. Eventually it will show.
Which also means a good tree will bear good fruit! If you have Christ in your life and His truth in your heart, you will bear ‘good fruit’. It will come. You cannot hide it.
• God changes us from the inside-out. It is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. If you have the life of Christ, then that life will show.
Right Believing Leads to Right Living
Life change can only take place when you believe right. Your life will reflect what you really believe.
• If you are trust Christ, you can expect change. If you are trust self, that’s all you have.
Jesus went on to describe to us, in practical terms, what these GOOD FRUIT are.
• We will probably think of what we SAY and DO, because that’s the easiest way to tell whether a person is spiritual or not, don’t you think?
• But Jesus shocked us with a different and difficult verdict:
• V.21 - not everyone who SAYS to me, “Lord, Lord, will enter into the kingdom of heaven” It sounded so right.
• V.22 – not even those who have DONE great feats like prophesying, casting out demons, and performing many miracles. He said, “I do not know you!”
The first time I read this, I was taken by surprise. They are really impressive. Many of us don’t even come close to matching these feats.
• I thought these were good signs of a spiritual person, don’t you think?
• Yet Jesus rejected them. It was not going to be what they SAY or DO. He has a different yardstick.
• A bad tree can never produce good fruit. You can’t get grapes from thorn-bushes, or figs from thistles.
It is what’s on the INSIDE that really matters. Their faith is not in Jesus. They have a different belief. They have no relationship with Him.
• Focusing on right living will not bring about a change of life. It is the same mistake the Pharisees made.
• We need to focus on believing right – believe what the Lord has said, believe the truth of God’s Word, believe in the promises He has given us.
Right Believing Starts on the Inside
Life change starts on the INSIDE. A good tree will surely bring forth good fruit, never bad fruit.
• Ponder more about our motivations and our motives. Rather than what we say or do. Think about WHO we are becoming on the INSIDE.
• Because when you get the INSIDE right, the OUTSIDE will show. But if you make the OUTSIDE looks right, it does not change the INSIDE.
Jesus spent the great part of this Sermon of the Mount addressing this.
• He started off in Matt 5 talking about the beatitudes – the conditions of the heart.
• And He talks about being salt and light of the world, about murder (that if you are angry with someone, you are equally judged); adultery (look at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery); loving your enemies…