Our passage today, Matthew Chapter 7 verses 15 to 23 contain a warning from Jesus to His followers, as well as a surprising if not damning assessment from Him over the spiritual status of certain religious people. Perhaps these tough words fit well after similarly challenging words yesterday about the narrow gate and the narrow road which leads to life.
So first the warning (vs.15-20) about watching out for false prophets, those who seem innocent and harmless (in sheep’s clothing), but actually behind the facade are actually ferocious wolves, because they can endanger and devour us spiritually speaking.So such people seem to be attractive and friendly, and yet they have the capacity to lead us and other Christians away from the truth of God’s Word and the Gospel, and ultimately away from spiritual LIFE with Christ. And Jesus says the key to recognising whether they are true or false, is the fruit in their lives, whether the result of their spiritual lives is good or bad. And I suppose this might be shown in a couple of ways, firstly in how they are as a person, that they are displaying the good things of the fruit of the Holy Spirit, as expressed by the apostle Paul in his wonderful list in Galatians Chapter 5 verses 22-23, and secondly whether they have a good and godly influence on other people, that they too might grow spiritually.
And then Jesus’ shocking words (vs.21-23) that some of those who might say the right words “Lord, Lord”, who might do spectacular things from our human perspective in driving out demons or performing miracles, will not enter the kingdom of heaven because they haven’t done the will of His Father who is in heaven. And chillingly Jesus says to them plainly, ‘I never knew you’.
It is a strong warning for us that pious words or even spectacular actions are nothing compared to obedience to our Creator and heavenly Father, to a humble and prayerful attitude and a complete trust and reliance on the person and work of Christ. Lord have mercy…
In our prayers today, let us take a moment to examine ourselves afresh, and in the words of the old hymn writer pray this,’Not the labour of my hands can fulfil Thy law’s demands;could my zeal no respite know, could my tears for ever flow,all for sin could not atone: Thou must save, and Thou alone.Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling;naked come to Thee for dress; helpless, look to Thee for grace;foul, I to the fountain fly: wash me, Saviour, or I die.‘
The full lyrics of the hymn, Rock of ages can be found here.