May 30, 2021 Who Enters the Kingdom? Part 19

Who Enters the Kingdom

Part Nineteen

(Building our House)


Read Matthew 7:24-27.


We should be reminded that the Sermon on the Mount is for his disciples. The “everyone” is applicable to every human being, but it is of particular application to those who claim to follow Jesus. After all, those who don’t follow Jesus seldom hear (or read) his words to begin with.


The word, “therefore,” is in verse 24 (“then” in ESV). This links verses 24 through 27 to the previous section about those who say “Lord, Lord” but do not do what he says.


Among God’s own people it is observed that there may be some who do not hear the words of our Lord very often. They neither attend church regularly nor do they apply themselves to learning his words in the gospels. I think that many who claim to follow Christ but seldom seek his words have never been born again. They are false believers. I say this because following Christ means to actually follow Christ, not just to believe some facts about him. A false gospel has gone out for many decades now, even among Baptists, that says we only need to believe certain facts about Jesus to be saved. That is not the gospel. Receiving the gospel means we have Jesus as our Lord and Savior in reality, not just in words.


Yet, it is also possible for genuine believers to fall into this kind of habit (not attending the meetings of the church regularly and not reading the words of Jesus), either from working too much, laziness, or some other reason. So, the first thing we must do is apply ourselves to hear the words of Jesus and hear them often.


Hearing, though, is not enough. Those who hear his words but do not act upon them he calls foolish. Those who hear his words and do act upon them he calls wise.


We are all building our lives as we would build a house. But every house must be built upon a foundation. There are two foundations upon which to build. The foundation of rock represents the words of Jesus. The foundation of sand represents anything other than the words of Jesus. Most often this foundation of sand turns out to be our own opinions or our own desires. The sand can also be, though, the so-called wisdom of anyone else besides Jesus, whether a religious leader, a motivational speaker (e.g., Tony Robbins), a philosopher, a self-help author, etc. These kinds of leaders have many good things to say (otherwise, no one would listen to them). Much of what they teach may be good, practical advice. It isn’t the right things they say that will misguide us. It is the wrong things that they teach that will cause our downfall. The words of Jesus must be our foundation.


The house is our life. The foundation is the word. The action of building is what we do with what we hear. There are Christians who hear the words of Jesus, like the words of Jesus, enjoy sermons (which, if faithful, present the words of Jesus, the apostles, or the prophets), maybe even read their Bibles often, but never do anything with them other than enjoy them! Their lives stay the same year after year. Little sins never go away.[1] Lazy habits are never overcome. Jesus is teaching here that we must allow his words to truly change us. Luke reveals something more about this.


47 Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: 48 he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.[2]


Luke adds one thing to the parable. The man building the house “dug deep.” Robert Govett comments:


“It is the work with pickaxe and spade that is so laborious. It is far easier to lay mortar on bricks, and to add brick to brick, than to dig and delve: for the deeper we go, the harder is the resistance, till we come to the solid rock. The foundation is the least visible part of the house, but it is the most important.”[3]


This digging deep represents both the labor needed to fully understand Jesus’ words as well as the intense effort needed to deny self.  At times, we must dig deep in order to get to the meaning of Jesus’ words.  Are you willing to dig? Or, are you too lazy? If you are too lazy, you may not be building upon the foundation.  “I don’t dig. But my pastor digs for me.” This might be true. But often, those who don’t dig themselves may be exposed to the true meaning of Jesus’ words through a preacher or teacher, yet they are the same ones who hear but don’t build! If you are too lazy to dig, your house may be the one that is destroyed by the water when it comes.


Are you willing to deny self? Or are you one who lives by his/her appetites?


Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.[4]


Being a Christian is not just believing a set of facts about Jesus. It means following him. It means digging deep.


Build upon the foundation!


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


The rain, floods, and winds represent the temptations and adversities of life. Even in this life our lives can be ruined by sin, by the opposition of others, and by the opposition of ourselves! (being double-minded: “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” [5]) Those who build their lives on the foundation of Jesus’ words will experience these things, but their house will stand!


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.” [6]


The fall of the house means the ruination of our life. As stated above, this may mean the ruin of our lives even now. But, by beginning this passage with “therefore” (vs. 24), it is linked to the previous passage. That passage was about entering the kingdom and Jesus excluded some. Thus, the fall of the foolish person’s house has more to do with being judged at the Lord’s return and not being permitted to enter the kingdom! That is a worse ruination than one in this life. Would you rather have a cozy life now, even to the end? Never having any major upsets, but then being rejected from the kingdom? Or, would you rather have a ruination now – maybe you lose  the physical house you live in, maybe you lose your husband or wife, you lose your job, everything turns south – but, at the Judgment Seat, the Lord says to you, “Enter into the kingdom prepared for you from before the foundation of the  world, thou good and faithful servant”?


If we build our house upon the foundation of rock then our house will neither fall in this life nor at the Judgment.


Build upon the foundation!


This brings us to an important question. How do we build? The simplest answer is found in our Lord’s words in verse 24. According to Jesus, we must only do two things: we must hear his words and we must do them.


It is true! These are the only two things that we must do. But, it may also be asked, “How do I hear?” And, “How do I do them?” Allow me to answer these questions.


How do we hear? When Jesus spoke these words, the majority of the populace was illiterate. Not only so, but because there were no printing presses, books were rare. Therefore, the way that 99% of the people received the teachings of Christ, and the apostles after him, was audibly. Of course, this way is still available to us. The New Testament is available to be heard through CDs and other electronic means.


If a preacher or teacher is accurately holding forth Christ’s words then we can also hear them through the local church. It is important to attend a local church for this reason: the words of Christ are being heard there!


But, although this is an important means to hear the words of Christ, it is not adequate. By attending the meetings of the church you will only hear the words of Christ one or two hours per week. There are 168 hours in the week. Even if we attend all the meetings of the church faithfully and pay close attention, we are only hearing the words of Christ 1% of the time!


We must receive the words of Christ more than 1% of our time! We are blessed in this age to be able to read and write. Therefore, we can read and we must read the New Testament in our homes and with others if the opportunity to do so is available.


We should be able to say, along with King David, “I delight in the words of Christ. And in his law I meditate day and night.” (Psalm 1:2) Can you say that in truthfulness?


When Jesus says, “Everyone who hears,” by implication he means both hears and understands. Why? Because we cannot do what Jesus says unless we understand what he says! Therefore, we must understand what Jesus taught. There are many tools available to assist us in understanding. There are concordances, Bible Dictionaries, Study Bibles, and like study aids. However, the easiest thing to do is simply to read the Lord’s words in context. Always pray for understanding. The Lord will open your eyes. If you do come across a word that you do not understand, a Bible Dictionary is an excellent resource to give you understanding.


If a would-be follower of Christ does not take the time to read and understand the Lords words, I must ask: How can they do them? How can you do what Jesus says if you do not know what he says? You cannot! We must spend time in the Lord’s words!


In order to spend time in the word you cannot just wait for it to happen. You must schedule the time. If you do not, you will seldom do it. Hasn’t this been your experience? There must be a certain time of the day when you refuse to do anything else except being with the Lord in the word. If you are not accustomed to doing this daily then I recommend just beginning with 30 minutes. After a few weeks you can expand your time to one, two, or even three hours per day.


“I delight in the words of Christ. And in his law I meditate day and night.”


Then comes the second question. How do we do what Jesus says?


Some will give a long answer to this question. They may give four or five steps. I don’t doubt that the recommendations that some give in order to carry out what Jesus directs are all good and helpful. However, I want to make my answer as simple as possible. Simple, yet effective! Actually, if we do not do this one thing, then all the other good things that others tell us to do will not help much. We could memorize Scripture, pray, fast, and do all manner of good, spiritual things. But, if we do not do this one thing, we will fail to do what Jesus says.


This “one thing” is essential! It is to walk by the spirit. That means to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit who dwells within our human spirit.


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.[7]


For the apostle Paul to tell the Galatians to walk by the Spirit certainly implies that they may not do so. Otherwise, he would not need to tell them to do it! In verse 19 he lists the desires of the flesh. Some of these are: sensuality, strife, jealousy, and envy. Now, let me ask you: Do you know some Christians who are sensual? That is, they live according to their senses rather than the spiritual realities that God has revealed? Do you know some Christians who strive against other Christians? Do you know Christians who are jealous? Do you know Christians who are envious? You know at least one, don’t you? Who is the Christian that you know that does these things sometimes? It is you!! Most of us fall into one of these at one time or another. This shows that we are not always walking in the spirit.


I tell you, our default condition is the flesh. If we just wake up, eat breakfast, and plod through the day without turning to our spirit, we will be in the flesh. Sadly, there are many genuine Christians like this. Even though they have a desire to live by God’s law, they are in the flesh.


But Paul, in Romans, tells us:


For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.[8]


We must live according to the spirit, then our minds will be centered upon godly, spiritual things and the fruit of the Spirit will be lived out.


We do this first by recognizing that we have a human spirit where the Spirit has come to dwell if we belong to Christ. He is one with our spirit! Then, we simply turn inwardly. Some have found that by simply saying, “Lord Jesus, I love you,” or, “Lord Jesus, you are my everything,” they are immediately in the spirit. A short, sincere, heart-felt prayer will enliven you! As I have encouraged you a hundred time before, calling on the Lord also gets one in the spirit.


How will you know that you are in the spirit? You will sense it! Look at the very next verse:


For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.[9]


If we do not sense life and peace then we just need to keep saying “Lord Jesus, I love you, or, call upon him, until we do! Once we are in the spirit any temptation that confronts us is overcome. Once we are in the spirit, we love our husband or wife and their annoying habits annoy us no longer!


Once we are in the spirit we can do all that the Lord has told us to do!


Once we are in the spirit we can build our house!


This is how we build! Not by will power. Not by memorization alone. Not by fasting alone (as good as that is…and we should be fasting).  We build by being in spirit!


Turn to your spirit and live! Then the storms will not destroy your house.


[1] Little sins accumulating over time can be almost as destructive as big sins done once or twice. “Little foxes spoil the vine.” (SS 2:15) For example, gluttony practiced for many years will lead to cardiovascular disease as well as a weakening of our human will (we become accustomed to satisfying ourselves). Gossip practiced over time will result in people, even our friends, avoiding us and then, loneliness. Laziness, once entrenched, spills over into our spiritual disciplines and will make us more susceptible to temptation of other sins.

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Lk 6:47–48). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[3] Govett, 358.

[4] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 16:24–25). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[5] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Jas 1:6–8). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[6] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 7:26–27). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[7] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ga 5:16–17). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[8] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ro 8:3–5). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[9] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ro 8:6). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.