Matthew 7 is a true gem of a passage from Scripture. It is a masterful work on confronting sin, amongst other things. And it can be applied towards sin that is within oneself as well as confronting the sin of another.
“Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.”(v.1-2)
The chapter opens up with a warning: “Judge not…” We are not to condemn. We have no power to condemn, lest we fool ourselves and end up condemning ourselves before God. Jesus warns us in verse two that judging to condemnation WILL backfire on us.
Verses 3 three through 5 tell us to be careful, tread lightly, and be humble:
3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.(v.3-5)
Jesus admonishes us to deal with our own sin before we attempt to deal with someone else’s sin. It would be like having a drunk alcoholic attempt to tell a drug user that he is sinning be taking drugs. Or, a pastor rebuking a man for sexual impurity all the while, statistically speaking, that pastor is dealing with the same sexual impurity to a varying degree. However, if it’s a recovering alcoholic or a pastor that has suffered and dealt with that sin in his life and, through God’s strength, has overcome it, the rebukes and correction will go much further.
6 “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.(v.6)
You’re a Christian. They know(or should know) that you’re a Christian. Don’t compromise. Don’t throw out the valuable resources with confronting sin(or doing anything): Prayer, God’s Word the Bible, more prayer, and more of God’s Word. Even the countless books in which pastors of ages past have expounded on Scripture for our benefit, that we may understand it and equip ourselves with it more soundly. Don’t treat all these resources flippantly. If you do so, it will come back and bite you in the butt.
In verses 7 through 11, we are reminded to ask, seek and knock:
7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!(v.7-11)
Here, Jesus reminds us that we need to ask, seek and knock. We need to ask for forgiveness; ask for help; ask for discernment; ask for wisdom. And I am sure there is much more we could ask for as well. We need to ask God to forgive us our sins, and for his divine help to repent from those sins. And we need to ask God to give us the discernment and wisdom we need as we go forth to confront sin.
As we are doing this, we also need to seek our God in prayer and in His word, The Bible. Jesus, who is giving us this reminder, IS the very Word of God itself!(John 1:1,14). We need to seek out God and what He says about particular subjects and situations. And, believe me, God covers it all in His Word, even going to the bathroom(Deuteronomy 23:12-13). And, as we seek with faith, we will find it. And the same goes for knocking. Seek out God and knock, asking for help, and God will open that door and hear you. But, just as James wrote in James 1:6, we need to do this all in faith. So, before we go to confront sin, we need to truly seek out God in the matter. Remember, pray and meditate in His Word. About this passage, John Calvin penned the following words, “Nothing is better adapted to excite us to prayer than a full conviction that we shall be heard.”(Calvin’s Commentaries, Mat 7:7-12).
12 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”(v.12)
The Golden Rule. I think it is safe to say that many, if not most, of us have heard this rule before we ever knew it was in the Bible(I know my wife did). This is just a way to say think before you act and speak. Is this how I want someone else to approach me about my sin? I know, from my own experiences in ministry that when someone approaches me in a crass, uncompassionate, inconsiderate manner, I tell myself that I am going to do the same to then when their time comes. However, I think the same exact thought about doing it right to those who confront me in a thoughtful, considerate and compassionate manner. And this leads us into verses 13 and 14:
13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”(v.13-14)
Take the high road, do it the right way. No low blows. Here, Jesus is talking about doing God’s will in heaven while we are here on earth. God’s will, not man’s. “There is a way that seems right to a man, but it’s end is the way to death.” (Proverbs 14:12). Now, when you go to confront someone about their sin, know that the way you may want to do it will not necessarily help or edify. How God would have you do it, however, will.
15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”(v.15)
DISCERNMENT! Pray for it. Seek it. Ask for it. Knock for it. It is vital. While remembering that only two people truly know about one’s salvation, God and that person, ask yourself this question in preparation: Is the person I am going to confront about their sin a true, good-fruit bearing Christian? Go and read Galatians 5, paying close attention to THE ENTIRE CHAPTER, but especially verses 16-23. And then continue on reading this post:
16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.(v.16-20)
Jesus is talking about false teachers here, those who spew vomitous lies, potentially bringing people to hell. And, however, every man who professes to be a Christian is also professing to be a teacher to some degree(Ephesians 5:22-24; 1 Corinthians 11:3). And we all need to be held accountable. Look at what you know and see about this person: Are they living a life worthy of the gospel of Christ? Are they seeking to Glorify God in all they do?(1 Corinthians 10:31). Or are they living a hypocritical life of Christianese on Sundays and worldese every other day? Are they bearing good fruit?(Galatians 5:22-23) or are bad fruit?(Galtians 5:19-21)…Remember, don’t judge, just keep these observations you make in the back of the forefront of your mind to help you better pray for this person and to help better mentally, emotionally and spiritually prepare for your confronting them.
Now, with all that in mind, remember what Jesus said next:
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you;depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”(v.21-23)
If the person you are confronting the sin of is a “professing” Christian,and they are resistant in your coming to them about their sin, bring it around to Jesus. Actually, always bring it around to Gospel of Jesus, even if it’s going super well! And pray that if they do, in fact, profess faith, that it is true God given faith(Romans 12:3). And if they aren’t saved, pray, Lord willing, that they hear what you have to say and that God changes their hearts(Ezekiel 37:26-27), bringing them to salvation. Famous Las Vegas magician, and atheist, Penn Jillette(of Penn and Teller), said this about proselytizing(evangelizing), “How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?
I mean, if I believed, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that a truck was coming at you, and you didn’t believe that truck was bearing down on you, there is a certain point where I tackle you. And this is more important than that.”(Click here to read a blog post and video).
Bring it all around to Jesus. Always. Every time.
When it comes to our foundation, we need to make sure that it is founded on our Lord Jesus Christ, and not some selfish means of personal gain.
24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”(v24-27)
When a person we confront has their home build on sand, it will fall apart. Every argument they make to try to justify, in the sight of God, their sin, will be taken captive and destroyed by the Word of God. It will not weather the storms that it brings upon itself. If their house IS build upon the Rock of Jesus Christ, they will survive and be better for it.
On the same note, however, we need to check ourselves and our personal foundations with Jesus and our personal motivations for confronting the person’s sin. Is it on the Rock that is Jesus, being carried out in faith and in love? If not, stop it. Don’t do it. Check yourself before you wreck yourself. “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”(Psalm 139:23-24).
Finally, go forth with confidence!
28 “And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, 29 for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.”(v28-29)
Jesus has God, Jesus IS God. He has authority. And, as Christians, so do we. We have God the Spirit, aka the Holy Spirit, living within us. We have the Bible, the God-breathed Word(2 Timothy 3:16-17). We have authority. We have confidence. Show it.
I wrote this in response to some of the questions in my Sunday School class’s material, from the Gospel Project, as well as in response to a friend. She asked about confronting someone who lives according to the flesh but professes faith in Christianity(note I didn’t say in Christ), and shuts down when asked about it. I told me friend to recommend to them to read all of Galatians 5(below). I told her to also pray for discernment and wisdom for their friend. And that I would be praying for them both, as well.
Christ Has Set Us Free
5 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
2 Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. 3 I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. 4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.
7 You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? 8 This persuasion is not from him who calls you. 9 A little leaven leavens the whole lump. 10 I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is. 11 But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. 12 I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!
13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.
Keep in Step with the Spirit
16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience,kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.