Sermon on the Mount -11- Apples and Oranges

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Reading Matthew 7:15-23

18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

Matthew 7:18-20 (NIV)

I.    How Predators Prey

      A.  Dressed to Kill

            1.   How do you tell whether someone is telling the truth?

                   a.   Not by how they look!

                   b.   Not by their smooth talking, nor by their suave mannerisms.

                         (1)       The most abusive people can have the most charming personalities.

                         (2)       If you watched Marshal Applewhite, he talked like a nice guy.

            2.   Effective liars dress up their lies to look like the truth.

            3.   Effective liars dress themselves up to look like truth tellers.

      B.  The Fruit of Leadership

            1.   So how do you tell? Look at what their leadership produces.

                   a.   Where the fruit of leadership is wholesome and honorable, then the tree is a good kind of tree.

                   b.   Where the fruit of leadership is that people are devoured, that’s a bad sort of tree.

            2.   Notice that it’s not the fruit that needs changing - certain kinds of fruit just come from certain kinds of trees.

                   a.   Nor are we talking about rotten fruit, or lower quality fruit.

                         (1)       We’re talking about produce which isn’t edible or nutritious fruit at all.

                         (2)       Maybe it isn’t even fruit (thistles and thorns don’t yield grapes or figs).

            3.   Jesus says, if the fruit you see is bad, find a different tree.

      C.  God Deals with free-lancers

            1.   v.19 says that folks who use God’s name to teach folks their own private version of the truth are in danger of eternal punishment

                   a.   But God can forgive anything! (Whew!)

II.   Tree Recognition

      A.  In the Pokies

            1.   When Jesus talks about wolves in sheep’s clothing he’s talking about abuse of power.

Good Fruit Bad Fruit
People empowered to follow Jesus People follow the leader
People encouraged to follow God’s calling on their lives People plugged into programs
People are maturing in their faith and knowledge of the Lord People become dependent on the leader to tell them what’s right and wrong

            2.   Read Ephesians 4:12-13

11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, someto be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare Gods peoplefor works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith andin the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed backand forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in allthings grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and heldtogether by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. Ephesians 4:11-16 (NIV)

            3.   God does appoint leaders in the church, but their job is not to attract people to themselves, but to God.

                   a.   Not to make folks dependent on them but to help them grow up in the Faith so that they can tell the truth from a lie.

      B.  Good Fruit means a Good Tree

            1.   To figure out what kind of tree you’ve got, check out its fruit.

            2.   Mirror time: All of us are producing fruit — Good or bad.

                   a.   Last week we talked about the gate and the path. This is the path part.

                   b.   Remember you only get to the path by going through the gate — you only produce good fruit if you’ve already been changed into a good tree.

      C.  What Can’t be done

            1.   Bad trees can’t produce good fruit.

                   a.   Without the change God does to our hearts, we are incapable of producing good fruit.

                   b.   We need God to change us, else even our best still falls short

            2.   Good trees can’t produce bad fruit

                   a.   With the change that God does in us, what we do does become acceptable to God.

                   b.   We are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works (Eph.2:10)

III.  New Lingo and a new Heart

      A.  All the right Words

            1.   For some folks it seems that Christianity is simply a matter of proper lingo.

                   a.   We have our “behooving” and “dearly beloveds” in our forms and a long list of lingo on our lips — and it seems to some that it’s more important to get the lingo right than to change one’s way of life.

            2.   We learn, through schools (public and private) that it’s more important to give the answer the teacher wants to hear, than to talk about what’s really going on in our hearts.

      B.  Going through the Motions

            1.   But it’s more than words, we actually do Christian-looking stuff.

            2.   But just because we do stuff that looks Christian on the outside (even the really jazzy stuff like prophecying and kicking out demons and doing miracles), doesn’t mean we’re the real thing.

            3.   Hypocrites are just those sorts of folks. They have all the religious jargon and religious motions down. But they’re all wrapping and no present. All tree but no fruit.

      C.  Following God

            1.   What Jesus says to everyone in this room is that being on that path, being the sort of tree that produces good fruit means doing God’s will.

            2.   This is more than a matter of following rules. It’s a matter of being completely sold-out to God and running your life by His owners manual.

                   a.   That’s what it means to do the will of God.

                   b.   It’s not about the rules, but neither is it “anything goes.”

            3.   But it also means letting God do the changing

                   a.   Christianity is not a boot-strap, do it yourself religion.

The Bottom Line:

God Wants to make you a tree that can only produce Good fruit. Let Him do it!


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