True and False

Jesus Teaches Us How To Discern Between A True and False Teacher.

Dan Franklin
Jul 9, 2023    47m
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus teaches us what to look for when discerning whether someone is a true or false teacher. He tells us that true teachers aren't caught up in legalism, and the true teachers aren't caught up in license, instead, true teachers are a lot like Jesus. Video recorded at Upland, California.

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Life Bible - True and False
Intro: [00:00:00] Hey there. Thanks so much for checking out one of our messages here at Life Bible Fellowship Church. And we know there are two great ways you can connect with us. You can visit our website at to learn more about all of our ministries and what we believe. And also, you can subscribe to us on YouTube to make sure that you don't miss one of our future videos.

George Fillinger: [00:00:19] Hey everybody, my name is George Fillinger. I have the honor of serving in Life Kids with the kindergartners, teaching them about the Bible, and Duck, Duck, Goose. And I also try to serve in the new Commandment Ministry, trying to help out single women and widows with maintenance and repairs around the house. Today we have Matthew 7 verses 15 through 23, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. 21“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and, in your name, perform many miracles?’ 23Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’" This is God's word.

Dan Franklin: [00:01:43] Amen. You can grab a seat. So, in December of 2020, I got a text message, and the text message was from somebody who's a part of this church. I'm not going to say the name, but they're in there right now, which may play in funny later in the story. And it was December, so it was kind of close to Christmas time. And I was a little bit surprised to get the text because it was somebody that I definitely knew but didn't know super well, so her name wasn't in my phone, but she identified herself and we started engaging in text and she was texting me because she wanted a favor. So it was December of 2020, and so she said, I have Covid, I'm okay, I'm going to be all right, but I can't leave the house and I still didn't get all the Christmas shopping done that I need to get done for some members of my family. So I wonder if you could help me out. I was sort of like, okay. And she said, I really need some gift cards for the younger members of my family, so if you can go out and get the gift cards and then if you can message me the information about the gift cards so that I can access them online, I will make sure to pay you back. Now, I kind of paused in all of this because I thought it was one of those, it's funny talking about it now, it seems really obviously a scam, but at the time it was one of those that was sort of in between. It was sort of like there's a little bit that makes me think that this is real, but there's also something that makes me think that it's not. I remember going and showing it to Karina, if you're laughing at me now because it seems like an obvious scam, everything was weird in 2020, so I didn't know what was going on. And so I was in this in-between mode where I said, all right, there's actually some fallout based on what I do here. And the fallout is this, if I call this out, if I text back, and say, you are not who you're saying you are, this is obviously a scam, and if it turns out to be real, I could really hurt the feelings of someone. Like I could really cause a relational conflict with somebody that I care about. If, on the other hand, this is fake and I go ahead and spend the money on this, I'm out a couple of hundred dollars and I don't want that either. I was in between the mode where you're not quite sure what's true and what's false, not quite sure what's real and what's fake. Thankfully, I had a way of finding out, the way I had of finding out is that we have a database for our church. And so I went in, put in the name of the person who supposedly had texted me, found out her real phone number, and found out that it didn't match the phone number that I was getting texted from. I gave her a call and asked her about it. She said, nope, you're not the first, lots of people have been getting this, that is not me, that's a scam. And I said, all right, that's what I thought. By the way, this is important for the story, but after I found out it was fake, I engaged the scammer for a while in text messages, which was really fun because I kind of flipped the script. I said, hey, I'm going to go out and I'm going to get the gift cards right now, but I want to deliver them in person because I want to make sure that they get to you. They said, no, no, just text me the info. And I said, no, where can I bring them? She said, no, I'm sick, I don't want to get you sick. I was like, I'm willing to risk it, I really care about you. You know, you've won when the scammer ends the interaction, when they're like, stop texting me.

Dan Franklin: [00:05:15] So anyway, it's a side note, that's not the point of the story. The point of the story is that sometimes we find ourselves in those situations where we're not sure what's true and false, where we're not sure what's real and what's fake. And the reason that this matters is that we face massive dangers if we don't know what's true, if we don't know what's real. And one of the things that we're going to get to see in the passage that we're going through today that you heard George read just a few moments ago, is that Jesus, King Jesus, wants us to know what's real and what's fake, wants us to know what's true and what's false. And in a lot of ways, you can say, well, well, that's obvious, obviously, we would want to do that, but in our culture today, it's not quite that obvious. When we're regularly using phrases like speak your truth and live your truth, we've crossed over into a mode where we're not universally acknowledging that there is something solid, that there is a reality that we bump up against. There are definitely things that we debate about and that we argue about, we all know there's a difference between sort of opinion and fact.

Dan Franklin: [00:06:28] Like, I'll give an illustration, if I say I love baseball, and if I said Shohei Ohtani is the best player in baseball, that would be an opinion. You could say, well, you can't necessarily prove that, and some of you are like, no, it's a fact. But all right, it would be an opinion. If, on the other hand, I said the Dodgers beat the Angels the last two nights, that would just be a fact. So it's just an example, don't take too much from it, but what we see is there is a lot in life that we can say, all right, we have different opinions about how we approach different things, but we believe that there is actually a solid truth that we run into. And when we run into that truth, there are massive dangers if we don't know it's there. If we run into the brick wall of truth, we get hurt. Just in the same way that, in that story, if I would have blown off somebody who was a real friend, that would have had consequences; and if I would have indulged in the scam, that would have had consequences. But Jesus is concerned for us to lose a lot more than a couple hundred dollars in a scam, he's concerned with our spiritual reality.

Dan Franklin: [00:07:35] And so throughout this passage, he's going to talk about two areas where we're going to face the question of what's true and what's false. And in each of them, he's going to talk about a significant danger that we face. He's going to talk about true and false teachers and the danger that we face when we're not sure who to listen to. And then he's going to talk about true and false believers and the danger that we face when we're not quite sure where we stand. And throughout this, we're going to keep coming back to the fact that we are playing with real bullets here, that this is of deep importance. Remember, we are in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus doesn't bury this passage deep in some obscure teaching, this is the key teaching, the longest extended teaching of Jesus in the New Testament, and he chooses to spend nine verses talking about making sure we have some sense of being able to tell what's true and what's false, what's real and what's fake. So we'll go through these two sections, we'll talk about true and false teachers, and we'll talk about true and false believers.

Dan Franklin: [00:08:46] So verses 15 through 20 are where we talk about true and false teachers, and it starts like this, "Watch out for false prophets." And some of you will notice immediately, well, Dan, you have false teachers up there, but he says false prophets. A lot of times when we think of a prophet, we think only of somebody who predicts the future, who says this is going to happen. And, well, if you read the Old Testament, the prophets definitely do that, they do say at different times this is what's going to happen, but that's a very small percentage of what they do. Most of what they do is they say, thus says the Lord, most of what they say is not a prediction, it's telling this is what God says. Prophets are people who say this is what God says. And so in many ways, we can broaden this out to say it's not just somebody who would call themselves a prophet, although there are people today who would call themselves prophets, this can broaden out to teachers, to influencers. Throughout this time, I'm going to be challenging you even to think about who are the voices, who are the influencers in your life, because it might be people who you see in the flesh and blood, it might be pastors or teachers that you listen to, it might be podcasts, it might be YouTube, it might be influencers, it might even be friends. You've said, all right, I've started to take my cues from these friends, these are the voices in my life. And at least for some of them, they're saying, I'm telling you this because this is what God wants you to do. He says, watch out, be aware, not everybody who is claiming to speak for God is really speaking for God. And then he furthers the warning by saying, "They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves."

Dan Franklin: [00:10:38] And here's the really important thing Jesus wants to warn us about. If we were to take the idea of a false teacher as being just anyone who says something that's not true, that would be a very, very broad category, and so we should be careful. But Jesus, I think, is recognizing, all right, you should be able to recognize a wolf in wolf's clothing. In other words, you should be able to be cautious when you're listening to anybody who is not even claiming to speak for God, who is not even claiming the name of Jesus, who's not even claiming that the Bible is important to them. It doesn't mean they'll never say anything untrue, but I think Jesus is sort of assuming, you know, to be skeptical at that point, right? If you're listening to somebody who is an ardent atheist, you should be skeptical that everything they're going to be saying is true. But if you're listening to somebody who looks like a sheep, and looking like a sheep in this context means part of Jesus's flock because he talks about himself as the Good Shepherd, so this is somebody that has at least some appearance of being one of us. They're probably talking about Jesus, they're probably calling themselves a Christian, and they're probably quoting from the Bible. So it's not as simple as just saying, well, unless they claim to be a Christian, or unless they read from the Bible, we're going to need something more. Jesus recognizes that there's a danger of us being taken in by people who look like sheep but are not.

Dan Franklin: [00:12:11] And so here's the first danger that he's going to warn us about, and this will unfold in the following verses, he's going to warn us about the danger of ungodly imitation. And here's why I say ungodly imitation, you will become like the teachers you listen to. In fact, this is true not just for teachers, you will become like the people that you spend the most time with. And have you ever seen the pictures of those things where they show husbands and wives who have been married for like 60 years and you're like, they look alike, and they didn't use to like something weird happens. The people that you hang out with, you start to sort of morph into.

Dan Franklin: [00:12:54] In fact, one of the things that I noticed happening. My brother and I obviously grew up in the same home, but once we became adults, we were rarely in the same city, so we didn't see each other as often. When I would see my brother, when he would visit, or when I would visit, after about an hour of hanging out with him, I would notice that I was talking faster than I usually talk because he talks faster than he usually talks, and he gets really excited. And when he's talking about something exciting, he gets going really fast and he starts talking about the things that he's excited about books and movies and stuff, and I would find myself, it was like we were competing with each other in this really fast talk, and then as soon as I was back home, I wouldn't do it. We become like the people that we're around. We become like the people that we listen to.

Dan Franklin: [00:13:42] So the teachers, the influencers, the voices in your life right now that you are letting in, you will end up imitating them. And Jesus is warning us that sometimes that could be great, but sometimes that's going to be terrible. He shows us the danger of ungodly imitation, but he also shows us a way to discern true and false teachers starting in verse 16, "By their fruit you will recognize them." We're going to see this come up again in verse 20, but this is the main recognition tool he's given us. You will recognize true and false teachers by their fruit, and so he goes into an extended analogy about trees and fruits. He says, "Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles?" No, good job, that's what he's driving at. He's asking, well, obviously, no, you pick grapes from a grape vine, you don't pick them from thorn bushes.

Dan Franklin: [00:14:43] He goes on starting in verse 17, and he says, "Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit." As a quick aside, also in this, when Jesus uses the word bad here, for bad tree and bad fruit, he's actually using two different words for bad, some of you, if you have a different translation, it'll kind of recognize that. Where the word for bad fruit is just kind of the normal word for bad, but the word for the bad tree is more like the word rotten or diseased. There's a problem in the tree, so there's a problem in the fruit. He goes on in verses 19 and 20 and he says, "Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire." Which is an indication that there is a judge in the end who's going to sort all this out, even though in the meantime, we don't always know. But he ends with that repetition, "Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them."

Dan Franklin: [00:15:25] Now, let's talk about what he means by fruit because the most simple way of putting this is fruit is results, the fruit is the result that comes from the tree. And the fact is, some of you have probably experienced this where you've bought a home and there are some trees, but they're not bearing fruit and you have to wait, and you only find out what kind of tree it is once it starts bearing fruit. The fruit is the result of the tree, and so the fruits of the teacher are the results of their teaching. Now, in some sense, we could say, well, maybe the fruit is what's going on in the personal life of the teacher, and I think that is part of it. If you're looking at a certain teacher or an influencer, somebody who's whose voice you're listening to, and their life is just a disaster, you're sort of like they're claiming to know a lot, but they're going through like their third divorce, and there's this constant relational strain and there are accusations of inappropriate use of finances, and there's always just chaos surrounding them, that's an indication that this is not somebody that you should be listening to.

Dan Franklin: [00:17:02] Now, we can't always know that, we can't always know that because people keep secrets. And also, we can't always know that because sometimes you're just listening to somebody online and you're like, I don't know his wife, I don't know his kids, I don't know what's going on. But there's at least something to this to say, all right, but in part, we're looking at what's going on in the person's life because if the way that they're teaching is not even bearing fruit in their own life, that's a major problem. But I think even more broadly, what he's talking about when he's talking about fruit is what are the results in the disciples of the teacher? What are the results in those who are listening to this teacher? Is it good fruit or is it bad fruit?

Dan Franklin: [00:17:47] Now here at LBF church, we don't spend a lot of time from up front sort of itemizing here are the false teachers of our day. Even though there is some usefulness to this, sometimes there's a teacher going around or somebody on YouTube and it's like, hey, we just need to warn everybody about this person because a lot of people are reading this book and a lot of people are listening. So I'm not saying there's no usefulness to that, but false teachers are like, did you ever play that whack-a-mole game? Yeah, all right, that's good. Hey, enthusiasm is always welcome, don't feel bad. Man, when I was a kid, I remember the whack-a-mole game, it's fun, and it's also infuriating because just when you've whacked a mole, what happens? Another 1, another 2, or 3 pop up just when you think you're winning, there's always another one popping up. And that's a little bit like what happens with false teachers. So we could do this, as a church, we could be like, hey, each week we're going to itemize like the three false teachers of our day, and we're going to talk a lot about them. But then a month later, there would be somebody else that we'd need to be like him too, or her too, like, stay away from these people. And so it's not that there's never a time for us to do that from up front, but our goal has been to say instead of itemizing false teachers, we're going to try to get at the heart of what our trends in false teaching so that we can recognize them however, the mole pops up, however this happens.

Dan Franklin: [00:19:11] And here's the interesting thing when you read the Bible, somebody could challenge me on this if you feel like there's something I'm not seeing with this, but I think when you read the Bible, there are two broad categories for false teaching that most false teaching falls into, two broad categories. One of those categories is legalism. And legalism means basically you're trying to get to God by following the rules, you're trying to get to heaven by following the rules, and you're trying to get status with God for following the rules. They could be the literal rules in the Bible, or they could just be rules that are made up or that somebody else has. So legalism is saying, we're trying to approach God based on the rules. And the other major false teaching that shows up is what you might call license. They both start with L just to keep them straight, legalism and license, and license is really the flip side to legalism because license gives us license, gives us permission to do whatever we want. So this is the kind of teaching that just leads us to all sorts of indulgence. Maybe tells us, hey, God loves us anyway. God forgives us anyway, don't worry about what you're doing. You see, both in the Bible, and you see the authors of the Bible warning about legalism and also warning about license.

Dan Franklin: [00:20:22] I think today we still see almost every false teaching, if not every false teaching sort of fall into these categories of legalism and license. And so let me spend a little bit of time on this with legalism, what is the fruit of legalism? What is the result of legalism? It is death. I think there are two marks. Yeah, somebody just said them, one of them is pride, or specifically superiority to other people, and the other one is anger. When you're listening to a legalistic teacher, you start to get really angry at all the people who aren't following the rules, at all the people who aren't doing what's right. And maybe even you're correct, that they're not doing what's right, but the anger starts to boil. And there's something inside of us, you know, nobody wants to be like an angry person, but anger can feel good, right? And anger can feel really good, and it can really make you feel like you're better than the people that you're angry with. So if you are listening to teachers, if you are having influences, and you're finding the fruit in my life is I'm really angry, and I'm really contentious, like, I'm getting into more fights than I used to and more scuffles with people than I used to, and I'm constantly thinking about how glad I am that I'm not like other people.

Dan Franklin: [00:21:52] Remember the parable that Jesus told about the Pharisees and the tax collector? It's in Luke 18 if you want to look it up later, but I'll kind of sum it up. Jesus paints a picture of how each of them prays, and the Pharisee prays by saying, God, I thank you so much that I'm not like all of them. If you find yourself in your prayers or in your thoughts starting to say, God, thank you that I am not like them, that's probably the fruit of you listening to too many legalistic voices. And the interesting thing is this can come from the right and the left, and it's not necessarily one or the other, but if you start finding yourself angry, if you're like the fruit of listening to these people is anger and superiority, that is bad fruit from a rotten tree.

Dan Franklin: [00:22:45] Let's go the other way, what is the fruit of license? Well, the fruit of license is probably, to put it simply, disobedient behavior. It's where we start to find our lives disordered because we're just sort of doing whatever we want because we've bought into the idea that my actions don't matter. In fact, if you read the Bible, they're constantly warning about Gnostic heresies, that in some form is still around today. Just sort of like the spirit, the invisible is all that matters, the physical doesn't really matter. Who cares what we do with our bodies, whether it's drink or sex or drugs, who cares about that stuff? You start to find your life disordered and self-indulgent. In fact, if you're over on the side of license, you will always find an excuse for everything that you do.

Dan Franklin: [00:23:34] Are you aware that there are teachers and books out there that will make sure that no matter what happens, you will always be told it's not your fault? You had a reason, it's because of what somebody else did long ago, it's because of this other thing, it's because of dysfunction, it's about society, it's never your fault. If you have a friend or a teacher or a leader or an influence in your life and there never is any sense where you are called to repentance, where you are called to self-examination and say, I'm wrong about this and I need to change about this, that is the fruit of a false teacher.

Dan Franklin: [00:24:12] And so I think Jesus has given us some help here because you might say, well, I don't know what's going on in people's lives. A lot of you might even say, Dan, I don't even totally know what's going on in your life. I'd say, fair enough, here's what you can look for. You can look for what the fruit of the teaching is in your life and in the other people that are taking it seriously. And if you are taking something in that is leading to bad fruit, you've got to look at the tree and you've got to look for new trees. Jesus says there are true prophets and there are false prophets, there are true teachers and there are false teachers. And the true teachers aren't caught up in legalism, and the true teachers aren't caught up in license, the true teachers are a lot like Jesus. And Jesus, according to John, was full of grace and truth. Have you ever read the Bible and feel sometimes like Jesus is a bit of an enigma, like nobody was harder on sin than Jesus, and yet nobody was more welcoming to sinners than Jesus? We get this weird mix where if we're being discipled by Jesus, we will be more kind and charitable to people who are wrong than we ever would have been through license, and yet we will be more devoted to heartfelt obedience than we ever would be under legalism. When we're listening to people who are like Jesus, we find ourselves being formed into humble, obedient, trustful followers of Jesus. So Jesus says, watch out, but you can recognize them by their fruit. That's the false teachers.

Dan Franklin: [00:25:51] Now, Jesus is going to talk about true and false believers. And I think there's some carryover into this, in fact, some people think that he still is talking about the teachers here, but it seems to me that he's broadening this out beyond just the teachers here. When he says in verse 21, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." So fair warning if verses 15 through 20 are heavy, verses 21 through 23 are very heavy. Because here's what Jesus is saying here, not everyone who thinks they're a Christian is a Christian. Jesus says, not everybody who calls me Lord, Lord, and calling Jesus, Lord is what you're supposed to call him. The earliest church creed was Jesus is Lord, and that's what we still proclaim today. Every week we get together, and we proclaim Jesus is Lord. He is the risen Savior. He is the eternal Son of God. He's the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. And Jesus says not everyone who says that enters into the kingdom of Heaven. So part of why this is heavy is because, between the three services that we'll do today, according to the words of Jesus, it seems likely that there are going to be people or that right now there are people in this room who think that they're Christians but aren't. Jesus says not everyone who prayed a prayer one time, not everybody who raised their hand one time, not everybody who walked an aisle one time, not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter into the kingdom of heaven. So if the first danger Jesus was warning us about with the teachers was ungodly imitation, that we would become like ungodly people here, what he's warning us against is false assurance. The idea that we would think that we're on solid ground, but that we would end up finding out that we're not.

Dan Franklin: [00:27:56] I can't remember if I've told this story in this context before, but a quick story about the first time that my son Matt beat me at Chess, he's 18 now, this was a long time ago, just so you know. But as a really young kid, he liked playing chess. And so I just knew how all the pieces worked, didn't know any deep strategy, so we would play chess. And most of the time I would sort of let him hang in there for a while, and then I would beat him because I wanted him to know that when he really beat me, he had really beat me. So I didn't let him win, you can talk to me later if you think I'm a bad dad for that. I let him win at other things sometimes, but I didn't let him win at chess because I knew that the day was coming when he would beat me. But the day that he beat me did not seem to be that day, we were playing chess. I was way ahead on pieces, and I was getting ready for I suppose it's the end game, he could tell you what was going on, but I was kind of heading in that direction, I was way ahead. Suddenly he made one move, just one move, and then looked at the board and said checkmate. Although it was almost like a question, he was like, Checkmate? Like he thought he had me, but he wasn't 100% sure. And I scoured the board and realized that I had no way out, he had suddenly beat me. By the way, in case you're wondering, he was like seven when this happened. So this, you know, when I was letting him hang around and beating him, he was like five. So anyway, so he beat me, and part of what I realized, part of it was that he was literally reading a book called How to Beat Your Dad at Chess, and it worked. But part of it was that I was far enough ahead that I wasn't being careful, I knew I had the game, I was way ahead on pieces, I was definitely going to win. When you are overconfident, you are vulnerable.

Dan Franklin: [00:29:49] And Jesus here is saying there are people who are overconfident, there are people that think that because they raise their hand at some event, they walked the aisle sometime at a church service, that they said the words I believe, that are in, and he says that's not the case. He wants to warn us against false assurance. In fact, it gets even a little bit heavier in verse 22, he says, many will say to me on that day, Jesus doesn't just say that there are some people who think they're Christians but aren't, he says there are many, many will say to me on that day. This should chill us, this should make us pause and say, I don't want to move forward in false assurance because Jesus says many.

Dan Franklin: [00:30:36] Now I want you to notice something else that we might miss in here, Jesus says, Many will say to me, "Many will say to me on that day." Now, on that day, we're like, what day? You didn't say what day. That's terminology that clearly is pointing toward the final judgment, so I want you just not to miss the audacious nature of what Jesus is saying here. Jesus is saying one day there will be a final judgment, he depicts it later on in the Gospel of Matthew of the Sheep and the goats being separated from each other. One day there will be a final judgment and on the final judgment, you know who people are going to be coming up to talk to? To me. He doesn't say many will say to God on that day, he says many will say to me on that day. Jesus depicts himself as the final judge who is determining who is part of the family and who is not part of the family. I've asked this question in the Sermon on the Mount before, but I want to ask it again, who in the world does this guy think he is? All right, some of you are getting it. When I say who in the world does this guy think he is? We respond, he is the King; he is the King, he is the Judge. He's saying people are going to be coming up to me on the last day, I am going to be the determiner.

Dan Franklin: [00:31:53] So before we go any further, just make sure that you get this, at the center of Jesus' Teaching is Jesus. At the center of the Gospel of Jesus is Jesus. Not just an idea, not a bunch of rules that we follow, at the center of our faith, is not an idea, it's a person, and it's Jesus. "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 in your name perform many miracles?". Three times in your name in your name, in your name. We did this in Jesus' name, we had very religious associations with our lives. And in verse 23, we see his response, he says, "Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!" This is, once again, frightening words from Jesus, I never knew you, you're not part of the family, you're not a part of my flock, you never were. I never knew you away from me, you evildoers.

Dan Franklin: [00:33:01] Now I want to spend some time trying to make sure we really understand what Jesus is saying here because it can be misunderstood. And here's one of the ways I think that it can be misunderstood. It can be misunderstood with us saying, here's what Jesus is saying, Jesus is saying, you can be doing all the right things, but if your heart isn't in it, it just doesn't matter. Whether or not that statement is even true is up for debate, but that's definitely not what Jesus is saying here. Jesus is not here saying you can be doing all the right things, but if your heart isn't in it, then it doesn't really matter, and there are some clear indications that that's not what he's saying. The first one is right here in verse 23, look at how he ends, he doesn't say away from me all you people who did all the right things, but your heart wasn't in it. He says, "Away from me, you evildoers!" Now this goes right along with something that he said back in verse 21 when he said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom." So not everybody who just says the words will enter in, "But only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven."

Dan Franklin: [00:34:04] So Jesus is implying two pretty clear ideas, he's saying these people who were doing some religious things, they were prophesying in Jesus' name, they were driving out demons in his name, they were doing miraculous signs in his name. They were doing some things, but he still says that they were not doing the will of his Father in heaven, and he still calls them evildoers in the end. Jesus is not depicting a bunch of people who are doing all the right things, it’s always struck me as weird when we're like, you can be doing all the right things. Has anybody ever done all the right things? Like anybody ever had like an hour where you did all the right things? Like, this is a crazy thing that we say, we're like, you could be doing all the right things. No, you can't, you never do, none of us are doing all the right things. These guys clearly are not doing all the right things because Jesus calls them evildoers and says they're not doing the will of the Father in heaven. Much more likely what's probably going on is that these are people who are doing some form of religious activity, they have an association with the church, they have an association with Jesus, they would call themselves Christians, and they even are participating to some degree, but if you were actually to look at their day to day lives, they would not at all look like disciples of Jesus, obedience is not going on. Maybe it is in some showy ways, but they're evildoers and they're people who aren't doing the will of the Father in heaven.

Dan Franklin: [00:35:35] And I know that there's a danger in this, I want to be clear, I don't want to move over onto the legalistic side here where we say we approach God based on our obedience. We approach God based on his grace, none of us stands except by the grace of God poured out through the death and resurrection of Jesus. But do you know the main mark of a disciple of Jesus? It's obedience, obedience specifically to the command of love. The main sign that somebody belongs to Jesus is that they're obeying Jesus.

Dan Franklin: [00:36:08] In fact, Jesus thinks that this is so important that next week when we finish up the Sermon on the Mount, he's going to say the determiner of whether you are a wise or a foolish person is whether or not you listen to my words and put them into practice. Do you know what that is? That's obedience. At the very end of the Gospel of Matthew and the Great Commission, when Jesus says Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded. Jesus is not shrugging his shoulders about obedience, he's saying, here are these guys, and yeah, they're doing some stuff, their lives are not marked by obedience.

Dan Franklin: [00:36:47] I think this is what's going on, and I'll put up an idea here. If you've ever heard me do a wedding or if you've ever heard even other members of our pastoral staff do a wedding, you may have heard us talk about the whole idea of covenant versus contract, and we'll talk about this at a wedding. In fact, if you're married, this will be good for you. If you're going to be married someday or hope to be married someday or have ever heard of marriage, this will be good for you, too. So this is for everybody. But in marriage, sometimes we can get into the idea of marriage being a contract, and that means it's like I do this for you and then you do this for me; and because I do this for you, you do this for me. So I will be an attentive husband as long as you are a responsive wife, or I will be a loving wife as long as you are a caring husband, kind of a contract idea. And if you don't hold up your end of the contract, I don't hold up my end of the contract. But we talk about how a marriage is not about a contract, marriage is about a covenant. Which means that you say, I will love you in the way that God has called me to love you as a husband, even if you're not making it easy for me. And I will respect you, as God has called me to respect you as your wife, even if you're not being very respectable. There's a difference between a contract and a covenant. In a contract, you're always looking to do the minimum and to find the way out. And these people that Jesus is describing, they're looking to do the minimum and to find the way out. These are the kinds of people that might say God gets 10% and I get all the rest and feel really good about themselves. God gets Sunday morning, and the rest of the week is mine. God gets obedience in these different areas, but in the rest of it, I do whatever I want. They're looking to do just enough to meet the requirements of the contract so that God then holds up his end of the contract and they get into heaven at the end. And you know what Jesus says to those people? He says, I never knew you. Now, that's covenant language, that's the idea of Jesus talking about a relationship that's going on where we belong to him, where we're not just trying to get him to hold up his end of the contract. Faith enters us into a covenant with God, where we belong to him. So when Jesus says, I never knew you, he's not saying I don't know who you are, he knows who everyone is, he's saying we've never been in a covenant relationship with each other. Because when you're in a covenant relationship with Jesus, you're not looking to do the minimum and then get let off the hook. You're looking to follow Jesus in every area of your life because you trust Jesus with every area of your life, and you believe that he's the wisest and most loving and the best person that you can possibly follow.

Dan Franklin: [00:39:47] In fact, I believe that both legalism and license, they seem very different, but they both are contract ideas. Where on the one hand, over here with legalism, you're saying, I know I'm good with God because I fulfilled my end of the contract. And over here with license, you're basically like, Hey, God made the contract with me, so it doesn't matter what I do, I'm still in. We're always looking to do the minimum that's required. If you love Jesus, you're not looking to do the minimum, you're trusting them with every area of your life. You're saying, How can my life be marked by loving and trusting Jesus more and more in my family life, with my finances, with the words that I say, with the money that I use, with the friendships that I have, with the way that I spend time with my girlfriend or my boyfriend, with the way that I spend my leisure time. How can everything be marked by discipleship with Jesus? Because it's not just that it's a requirement, it's that life is found in Him. When Jesus says, I never knew you, it's for people who wanted to use him for a contract and then get away as soon as possible. In fact, it's probably people who would have been fine with heaven if Jesus wasn't even there because all they wanted was the payoff. The Gospel of Jesus is ultimately about Jesus, and so this is a passage that's heavy.

Dan Franklin: [00:41:08] I'll return to this in a minute, but I'll say, first of all, for some of you, your main takeaway from today is going to be that you've got to really examine your input. You've got to think about the voices that you're taking in, and whether it's certain friends that you need to say, I think I need to limit at least how closely I listen to them and maybe even how much time I spend with them. For some of you, you're going to say unsubscribe to a podcast, you're going to say no longer with this YouTube channel, you're going to stop. Because you're going to say, all right, even though this person isn't spouting heresy, this person is leading me to anger, they're leading me to indulgence, I'm done with it. Some of you, you really need to examine your input. But for some of you, you need to examine yourself. The tough thing about those last three verses, those chilling verses that are verses 21 through 23, is that too often the kind of person that needs to take it seriously, the kind of person that needs to be scared by those verses often isn't, and the kinds of people who are scared by it often don't need to be. And so it's tricky, because some of you right now you're like, I am terrified. Like, legitimately, you're like, I don't want Jesus to say that to me. So I want to say this, first of all, this isn't 100%, but if those verses scare you, that's actually a positive sign of a good conscience, that's actually a positive sign of not overconfidence that you're listening to that and you're like, well, gosh, I don't want to presume, I know myself, I know my imperfections, and I don't want to presume. So if you are struck by that, I want to say that that's actually a positive sign.

Dan Franklin: [00:42:39] And then I want to say this, if you're then in that mode where you're saying, well, how do I know? How do I know that I'm really a part of the family? I want to encourage you not to rely on thinking about the time that you became a Christian, I'm not saying that's nothing, but if your response is to say, hey, I know that I'm in, I raised my hand; I know that I'm in, I walked the aisle. So did the people in verses 21 through 23, the true test is not necessarily that something happened or that you remember something from long ago, it's that you can look at your life right now and say, does my life reflect somebody who loves and trusts Jesus? Does my life reflect somebody who's far from perfect, but that I'm actually looking to live an obedient life to Jesus? And not just because I think that that's my ticket to heaven, but because I've come to trust him above all else.

Dan Franklin: [00:43:34] But if some of you are looking at this and you're like, I think I've kind of been in a contract, like I think maybe I grew up in the church and I'm just like, yeah, I'll enter into the contract with Jesus. Or you just decided at some point I want religion in my life, and I'll just enter into the contract with Jesus, I'll do my part and then he'll do his part. Jesus. You might be in the category of somebody that Jesus would say, I never knew you. And if you are in that category, here's the really good news, unlike the people in this passage, there's still time for you, we're not at that day yet. So Jesus never says to the people, I never knew you and I never wanted to, he simply says, I never knew you. And Jesus invites all of us to place our faith in him, not to go through a series of quests, but to place our faith in him. To say that there is no way I can earn my way into favor with God, but I can trust the one who did. I can trust the one who lived the life I should have lived, died the death I deserved to die, and rose so that I can have the eternal life that he won for me. You're invited to place your faith in Jesus.

Dan Franklin: [00:44:46] In fact, after the service, there are going to be some of us pastors, elders, and prayer team members on either side of the stage. You're invited to come up for any prayer need, or anything that you need, but especially if you're out here and you're saying, I'm not sure. I came in here being like 100%. I'm a Christian, and then I heard this passage and I'm like, maybe I'm not, maybe I'm just in a contract that isn't going to amount to anything. It's better to have a conversation, it's better to move toward that doubt than to brush off what may be the conviction of the Holy Spirit in your life. And if you're on the other end and you're like, I am terrified, I need some reassurance, please come up. Because once again, like I said, the danger of this passage is that the wrong people take it seriously and the wrong people don't take it seriously. So we want everybody to walk out of here based on the truth of where we really are. Jesus doesn't want us walking around in darkness, Jesus doesn't want us confused, he wants us to live in the perfect clarity of his light.

Dan Franklin: [00:45:48] So let me pray for us right now. Father, thank you so much that you have given us the gift of Jesus. Thank you that you have not called us to live perfect lives because we fail to do that. And thank you that you haven't just entered into a contract with us because that would be impersonal. Thank you that the greatest gift you give us is yourself, real life is found in you. And forgive us for the times that we just want to use you to get a contract, instead of walking with you in the joy that only you can offer. Father, I pray that you reassure those who need to be reassured. And, Father, I pray that you destabilize the people who need to be destabilized. Not so that their lives would be chaos, but so that they would come to you for the stability that only you give. Lead us to walk as people of truth. We pray all of this in the name of Jesus. Amen. Amen. God bless you. Have a wonderful rest of your Sunday.

Recorded in Upland, California.
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Life Bible Fellowship Church
2426 N Euclid Ave
Upland, California 91786
(909) 981-4848