Jason Helopoulos / Oct 6, 2019 / Matthew 12:33-37
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Sermon Summary / Transcript
Spiritual warfare (as we saw Sunday before last) can be hard to see, but there are visible things too. In last Sunday’s sermon, Jason took us through Matthew 12:33-37 and Jesus’ warning that what is true about us internally can be seen externally by our fruit, particularly our words.
1 Clear theology is always needed. We are all theologians, and while child-like faith is good, we’re not to go on subsisting on milk but on solid food. Jesus’s illustration drives this home. He has just pointed to his own good fruit as testimony to who he really is, and now he points to the bad fruit of the pharisees to show who they really are. They can only do bad because their root is bad.
The Fourfold state of man is helpful in this: 1) In the garden, pre-Fall, we were able both to sin and to not sin; 2) As fallen people, we can only sin; 3) As regenerate people, we have changed hearts through unity with Christ and are now able not to sin (though while in these bodies we still do); and 4) We will someday be perfected, glorified, and unable to sin.
In this passage, Jesus is correcting the error of the pharisees by bringing theology to bear. In order to bear good fruit, we must be united to Christ. We must be made new, and only Jesus can bring us from the 2nd to the 3rd state.
2 Hard words are sometimes required. Jesus calls the pharisees a “brood of vipers.” He uses such harsh language so for two reasons: 1) because they are hypocrites and must be jolted out of their complacency; and 2) because they are guilty of leading others astray, and so must be handled severely. And while hard words should be used with the intention of changing hard hearts, we must be clear and honest with ourselves about our motives. We must also be clear in our theology if it’s to work.
3 Our words are always evidence of the state of our hearts. Our worst words belong to us. They are not forced upon us or planted there by someone else. They are ours. What is inside of us will come out, and what comes out reflects what is inside.
Jesus here is also letting us know the weight of this as he argues from the lesser to the greater: If we must give account for every idle word, how much more will be accountable for our thoughtful, deliberate words? But wait. As believers, aren’t we in a justified state? Yes, and if we are truly justified our words will reflect it. Our words will corroborate the reality of our hearts.
1 Examine your life by examining your tongue. Words are a monitor for the heart. If there is not evidence there of spiritual life, run to God for grace. If your words are evidence of a changed heart, praise God for it.
2 Fill your heart and mind with what we want it to dwell on. And ask a better question than “What am I allowed to do?” Ask, “What is beneficial for me?” Afterall, we still sin. We are not in the 4th state yet!
3 Remember what the tongue is for and the power it has. It can both give life and take it away, and so we are commanded to use it to build one another up. It is given to us to express love for others and for God, and using it that way is good preparation for what it will do for all of eternity.