by Dr. Samuel Lee   04/15/2000     0 reads



(The Sermon on the Mount III)

Matthew 7:1-29

Key Verse: 7:24

"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts

  them into practice is like a wise man who built his house

  on the rock."


1. Read verses 1-6. What command and warning does Jesus give? Why are

people not qualified to judge others? What should we do instead of

judging or criticizing? What is Jesus' example?

2. Read verses 7-11. What can we learn here about how to pray? What

does Jesus' promise mean to you? What assurance does Jesus give that

God answers prayer? What should we ask for? How does verse 12

summarize Jesus' teachings?

3. Read verses 13,14. What does it mean to enter the narrow gate? Why

should we? Why do only a few find it? In what way is Jesus himself

the narrow gate?

4. Read verses 15-20. What warning does Jesus give? How can one

recognize a false prophet and a truly great man? Read verses 21-23.

Why must we know Jesus and become like him? How can we do this?

5. What did the two builders have in common? Which one was wise and

which was foolish? Why? How does Jesus apply this parable? Think of

some examples of wise and foolish men. How can we be wise Bible





(The Sermon on the Mount III)

Matthew 7:1-29

Key Verse: 7:24

"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts

  them into practice is like a wise man who built his house

  on the rock."

  We have studied the Sermon on the Mount, part I, with the title,

"Blessed are the poor in spirit" (5:1-48), and part II, "But seek first

his kingdom" (6:1-34).  Today we study the Sermon on the Mount part

III, "House on the Rock" (7:1-29).  As a whole, Chapter 7 teaches us

mainly two things: first, ask God in prayer (1-12); second, be a wise

man (13-29). The Bible teaches us that those who neither listen to the

words of God nor practice them become tragic: They are like people who

build their houses on sand. On the other hand, those who listen to the

words of Jesus and practice them are like people who build their houses

on the rock.

I.  Ask God in prayer (1-12)

Verses 1-12 speak of two things: (i) do not judge others (1-6); (ii)

ask God in prayer (7-12). These two narratives do not seem to

correlate. But when we meditate on them, we learn that they are

progressively correlated.

First, do not judge others (1-6). Look at verse 1. "Do not judge, or

you too will be judged." We should not judge others. It is because we

are brothers and sisters in Jesus. Furthermore, we have no authority to

judge others. What then can we do for those who deserve judgment? We

must pray for them so that God can help them. We must embrace with the

grace of our Lord Jesus Christ those who deserve judgment. This is the

mind of Jesus. This is the compassion of Jesus. This is the heart of

God. Isaiah 11:3b says, "He will not judge by what he sees with his

eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears..." If God judged by

what he sees with his eyes, no one would be left on earth. If God

judged by what he hears with his ears, all people on earth would be

condemned. We remember how Jesus earnestly prayed for God's sheep

instead of judging them.

  A judgmental attitude is the sign of an immature Christian. One

young man studied the Bible several times. Then he became very

self-righteous. So he visited his family and condemned and judged his

mother for her waywardness. Then he condemned and judged his father for

his stinginess. And then he condemned and judged one of his friends.

After condemning and judging them, the young man strangely felt he was

condemned. Obviously, the devil channeled in through his

self-righteousness and began to torment and condemn him. After this, he

began to suffer from a habit of overeating, hysteria, and insomnia. For

an immature Christian, it is easy to judge others instead of embracing

the weak with God's grace. Here we learn that judging is like striking

others with a baseball bat, only to be beaten with a sledgehammer in

return. If we judge others we cannot please God. We only become

hypocritical Pharisees.

  Practically, judging means that a person sees others' weaknesses

and criticizes them, not realizing that he is the same sinner. Look at

verse 3. "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye

and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?" "Speck" can be

compared to moral failures or doctrinal defects. "Plank" can be

compared to a man who has no God in his heart. If we harshly criticize

others while condoning our own injustice, we are hypocrites and godless


  How can we avoid this terrible sin of judging others? Look at verse

5. "You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then

you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." We

must be strict toward ourselves before God, repenting all our sins

moment by moment. But we must be very prayerful about others' sins. The

best way to avoid the sin of judging others is to remember what God has

done for us. God, in his great mercy, did not pour out his wrath and

anger on us when we sinned against him; instead, God sent his one and

only Son to die for our sins. Paul, when he was Saul, condemned and

judged others. But after Jesus came into his heart, he shepherded God's

flock. In Acts 20:19 he says, "I served the Lord with great humility

and with tears, although I was severely tested by the plots of the

Jews." Paul did so because he remembered God's grace--that he was a

terrible sinner and that by the grace of God he became a child of God.

He wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:9,10a, "For I am the least of the apostles

and do not even deserve to be called an apostle...But by the grace of

God I am what I am." Paul knew that he was a forgiven sinner. Paul knew

he had no right to judge others. Paul knew only God is the Judge (2 Cor


Second, ask God in prayer (7-12). Look at verse 7. "Ask and it will be

given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be

opened to you." This verse teaches us that we must pray to God

wholeheartedly while living in this real world.  In prayer,

earnestness is most important. If, after asking in prayer, our request

is not granted, then we must not give up; we must seek God in prayer

until we find him. If our request is still not granted, then we must

knock until the door is opened. Those who do not pray are full of

anger and crooked ideas. But for those who pray earnestly, God is

their help.

  What should we ask God for? When we have to live as God's people we

need too many things. But one thing we have to ask God for is the power

of faith.  Without the power of faith, we are too weak to seek first

his kingdom and righteousness. When we have no power of faith we cannot

fight against the enemy of God, the devil. Without the power of faith,

we cannot work hard for the glory of God. Jesus' disciples wanted to do

something great. But they were powerless to do anything. Jesus said to

them in Mark 11:22,23, "Have faith in God...I tell you the truth, if

anyone says to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and

does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen,

it will be done for him."

  The power of faith is not enough. We need God's wisdom to live in

this world. Once James was a politically ambitious man. But after Jesus

came into his heart he became a man of prayer and wisdom. So we call

the book of James "the New Testament Proverbs." James teaches us what

to pray for first. He teaches us to ask God's wisdom from above. James

1:5 says, "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives

generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him."

We are the children of God. We need much wisdom to live in this real

world. But our wisdom is greatly limited. So we must ask God to give us

wisdom from above. Those who ask God for wisdom can be truly wise men

of God.

  God answers all our prayers in the best way, though sometimes we

feel as if our prayers have not been answered. In verse 9 Jesus says,

"Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?" Jesus

promises that he will give good gifts to those who ask him (10,11).

Look at Luke 11:13b. "...how much more will your Father in heaven give

the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" Here we learn we must ask God to

give us the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit is the best gift to

each individual person. Without the Holy Spirit we cannot but be filled

with evil spirits.

  Look at verse 12. "So in everything, do to others what you would

have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets." If we

love one another in Christ, we are fulfilling God's will. But if we

hate one another like godless men, we are not fulfilling God's will.

Once, a peculiar religious group and a professor criticized each other

in a newspaper for several years. The religious group could not beat up

the professor verbally. But their contention stopped when several young

men from the religious group poured a drum full of urine on the

professor from the ceiling, while he was criticizing their group in a

meeting. Since then the professor stopped criticizing them because he

did not want to invite another urine baptism. Childish people are quick

to criticize but never know how to pray to build up others. Jesus'

people must not criticize others, pointing the finger sharply at

others' weaknesses. Instead we must pray that God may help them,

because criticism breaks up, but prayer heals.

II.  A truly great man (13-23)

This part teaches us three things that make us great in the sight

of God.

First, the wise choose the narrow gate (13-14). Who are the wise men?

Wise men are those who follow Jesus. Wise men are those who follow the

way of the cross of Jesus. Wise men are those who live for the glory of

God. Wise men are those who take care of God's sheep. Wise men are

those who have a living hope in the kingdom of God. Wise men are those

who go through the narrow gate of Jesus. Read verse 14. "But small is

the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find


  The narrow gate indicates Jesus himself. In John 10:9 Jesus said,

"I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come

in and go out, and find pasture." Those who choose the narrow gate are

those who overcome their ever-growing worldly desires and decide to

follow the way of the Lord Jesus.  Jesus says in John 14:6, "I am the

way...." Wise men can enter the glorious kingdom of God through Jesus.

  Still, there are only a few who want to follow Jesus. Here, the

wide gate and broad road refer to the worldly way. There are many who

seek wealth, honor, pleasures, political power and scholarly

achievement in the world. But worldly achievements cannot lead man to

the kingdom of God. Fallen men usually think, "I am a little better

than that person," or, "I am righteous; but that other person is

wretchedly unrighteous." These men think that their choice is best, and

others' choices are foolish. But these fallen men do not listen to

God's words, saying, "You are too naive." As a result, they choose the

way to destruction. Their choices, in the long run, influence their

descendants to live ungodly lives. Read verse 13. "Enter through the

narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to

destruction, and many enter through it."

Second, a great man has the image of Jesus (15-20). In this part, Jesus

pinpoints that those who bear good fruit are truly great men. How can

we bear good fruit?  The best way is to imitate Jesus. Doctrinal

statements or ritualistic conduct or finger motions cannot be the

measure of one's greatness.

  What, then, is the measure of one's greatness? Man's true greatness

rests on the degree to which he can imitate Jesus. Paul is a great man

because he was willing to do anything for the sake of Jesus' name.

Philippians 1:21 says, "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is

gain." Paul was a good influence to those who were wandering without a

clear life direction, for he encouraged them to follow Jesus as a

matter of life and death. When he did so, he bore much spiritual

fruit.  Paul was already a great servant of God. But he longed to

imitate Jesus and to grow in his image. He said in Philippians 3:10, "I

want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the

fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his

death...." Peter was a great man because he was willing to participate

in the suffering of Jesus. 1 Peter 4:13,14 says, "But rejoice that you

participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed

when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of

Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on

you." Peter bore immeasurable spiritual fruit with his good influence.

But in light of Bible teaching, true greatness does not rest even on

one's merits.

  Truly great men have the image of Jesus through the imitation of

Jesus.  Truly great men continue to make a strenuous effort to grow in

the image of Jesus. One American missionary was very beautiful when she

was young. But her student evangelism grew so much that she had no time

to take care of herself.  During the course of teaching the Bible to

students she was so busy that she had to sacrifice her marriage. When

she did so, she formed the image of Jesus in her heart, particularly in

Jesus' selflessness. Because she did not marry, she was frequently very

sorrowful and lonely. But we cannot find a hint of self-pity in her

life of faith.

  There is a saying, "He is like his father." Likewise, each of us

can be like Jesus by having a personal relationship with Jesus. The

result of being like Jesus is indeed great. If one has the image of

Jesus, he can be a blessing to people around him. He can be a good

influence. He can lead people to God. In short, he can bear much good

fruit. This is what God wants most.

Third, a great man bears good fruit (21-23). Jesus' people are often

compared to a fruit tree. John 15:5 says, "I am the vine; you are the

branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit;

apart from me you can do nothing." God wants us to bear good fruit. As

we studied, in order to bear good fruit, we must listen to Jesus' words

absolutely, as God's words, and practice them. There are many people

who prophesy and drive out demons and perform many miracles. Yet, they

do not listen to Jesus' words and do not put them into practice at all.

Despite their acclamation, they do not belong to God's people. Read

verses 22,23. "Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not

prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform

many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away

from me, you evildoers!'" In conclusion, Jesus says in verse 21, "Not

everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of

heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven."

Here we learn that to do the will of God is to bear much fruit.

III.  The wise men and the foolish men (24-29)

First, the wise men (24-25). This part is the conclusion of the Sermon

on the Mount. It closes with a story about a wise and a foolish

builder. It teaches us how to be a wise man. Who are the wise men? Look

at verse 24. "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts

them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock."

Wise men are those who "hear his words." In this verse, "hear his

words" is different from our conversation through talking and

listening. "Hear his words" is the same as the royal subjects who hear

their king's decree with the attitude of obeying it absolutely. If we

hear his words relatively we cannot be wise men. We can be like Lot and

his two daughters. They heard God's words relatively. As a result, they

became the most foolish people in the world (Ge 19:33). Lot's

daughters' boyfriends heard God's words through the angels as if they

were a joke, and they became men of jokes in history (Ge 19:15). Still,

there are many who have heard God's words and built their houses on the

rock.  Abraham heard the words, "You will be a blessing," from his

heart. He became a blessing. David heard, "I will establish the throne

of your kingdom forever," from his heart. He became a man after God's

own heart. Peter heard, "I will make you fishers of men" (Mk 1:17), and

kept these words in his heart. He became the greatest teacher of all

mankind regarding the kingdom of God. Jesus heard from above, "This is

my Son, whom I love..." (Mt 3:17). We also must hear one divine word

from God.

  Hearing is not enough. We must put God's words into practice. Jesus

demands our implicit obedience. When we obey God's words absolutely,

God is pleased and we are blessed in return. When we obey God's words

absolutely, we can extend the territory of the kingdom of God and we

are called faithful servants.  At the beginning of UBF ministry there

were all kinds of persecutions. Mostly people persecuted UBF, saying,

"They are presumptuous. They want to obey Jesus' world mission command

when they have no money. World mission is possible only for rich

Americans and Canadians." Because of persecution many students ran

away. But Dr. John Jun said, "I want to obey the world mission command.

Even if the top leaders of UBF run away, I will not run away. And

that's that." Those who obey God's words can lay a firm foundation for

their lives. Those who listen to his words and put them into practice

are stable. Read verse 25. "The rain came down, the streams rose, and

the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall,

because it had its foundation on the rock."

Second, the foolish men (26-29). Who are the foolish men? They are

those who hear his words and do not put them into practice. They are

like foolish builders who build their houses on sand. Basically the

foolish people are lazy people.  They don't want to bother to dig down

to the shelf or rock below. They superficially obey God's words, mainly

because of their laziness. They don't care about the fact that disaster

lies ahead. Read verse 27. "The rain came down, the streams rose, and

the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great

crash." Wise men are men of vision and prophecy. Wise men have a sense

of God's history. But foolish men are petty men with narrow vision and


  Communists promised happiness through material prosperity. But it

has only made people godless. Leaders from democratic countries

promised happiness through unlimited freedom. But it has only made

people immoral and violent. Now it's the time we have to hear Jesus'

words and put them into practice.