The Sermon on the Mount: Day 25

Entering the Kingdom

by

Today's Text: Matthew 7:13-23, Psalm 16:7-11, Matthew 22:1-14, John 10:11-15, John 14:1-6, Romans 2:12-13

Scripture Reading: Matthew 7:13-23, Psalm 16:7-11, Matthew 22:1-14, John 10:11-15, John 14:1-6, Romans 2:12-13

I was once the proud owner of my very own pair of scratch ‘n sniff pants. Every time I bring this up, I receive looks as if I’ve been the victim of an unfortunate crime and then asked, “What was the scent? Sweat? Soap? Linen?” (Incidentally, I do think this was a missed opportunity in the ‘90s for laundry detergent companies.) But no, they were purple and smelled like grapes, of course.

As you can imagine, I was sitting high and walking tall in those bad boys. My friends marveled at the way they really did smell like grapes, and I loved letting people in on the secret. Purple pants were one thing, but grape-scented purple pants gave me a real edge in the fashion world. But it only lasted for so long. It turns out that the fruity fragrance was only guaranteed to last for the first ten washes. And since I wanted to maximize the appearance of my newfound style sense, those ten washes came and went pretty fast.

So there I was, boasting about the scratch ‘n sniff goodness, only for it to be gone. The worst part? No one believed I ever owned scratch ‘n sniff pants in the first place, and there’s little point to owning purple pants if they don’t smell like grapes. Just smelling like a fruit wasn’t enough; it wasn’t long-lasting, and it definitely wasn’t genuine.

Matthew 7 talks about two kinds of fruits: good and bad. It says once we see a piece of fruit, we’ll know exactly which tree it came from. “A good tree can’t produce bad fruit; neither can a bad tree produce good fruit” (v.18).

But what if it smells good but looks bad? What if the person putting the sticker on the fruit uses the wrong one? Or, questions we more commonly ask:

What if I sometimes sin and sometimes do the right thing?
What if I repent after I do something wrong?
What if I look like I have it all together from the outside, but I’m a mess on the inside?

All of these questions are rooted in fear:

What will God do with me then?
Will I still get into heaven?
Am I enough?

Friends, I love a good gray area as much as a pair of purple pants, but nothing about a gray area is eternal. There’s nothing—and no one—standing in “the undecided middle” that will not one day be sorted into good or bad. It will not be enough to just smell or taste like good fruit; we must be fruit grown from the love of God.

But let’s not be so foolish as to take this passage from the Sermon on the Mount, this lack of middle ground, as a scare tactic. May we always remember that the work has already been done. God separated the world into darkness and light, and Jesus grabbed us by the hand and took us to His side. It is the truest grace that we do not have to live in a gray area. Thanks be to God; we have already entered into the kingdom if we are in Christ Jesus.

May we smell like His fruit, and serve like His hands, just as we are remembered by His love. Amen.

SRT-SOTM-Instagram-25

  • Justine Pedro

    Having a hard time with this passage. A few verses before this, Jesus was telling them not to judge others. Now he is saying ‘you will recognize people by their fruit.’ To me, it almost if there is a fine line between JUDGING others and RECOGNIZING fruit. Maybe someone can explain the difference in further detail.

  • Justine Pedro

    Having a hard time with this passage. A few verses before this, Jesus was telling them not to judge others. Now he is saying you will recognize people by their fruit. To me, it almost fe there is a fine line between JUDGING others and RECOGNIZING fruit. Maybe someone can explain the difference in further detail.

  • This doesn’t encourage me…it confuses me. “For the gate is narrow and the way is hard” Matthew 7:13. I thought God’s burden was easy and his yoke is light. Also the casting out demons and healing in the Lord’s name…how could that possibly be contrary to the will of God? But it says…I will say to them depart from me I never knew you. Why? Why is that not the will of God. Why would any of that happen apart from God causing it to happen in agreement to their prayers? Help. This entire passage Matthew 7:13-7:23 makes it seem like making it to heaven is nearly impossible.

    • Heather

      So much of the sermon on the Mount is about the heart, our motives and not doing things to gain approval of others. I think people can “cast out demons” in Jesus name and then take the credit. Desire more of the spotlight. Perhaps Jesus saying he doesn’t know them is in line with the idea that they’ve already received their reward. Perhaps few enter through the narrow gates because they don’t put God’s will above their own?

      • Andrea

        Ok, I think that makes sense..we must have a personal relationship with Jesus to be saved…but it blows my mind that someone can pray to Jesus for miracles without faith or personal relationship with him and have his prayers answers in such miraculous ways. I would take these answered prayers as demonstrations of good fruit a the fact they are going out there doing these things are good fruit…but that’s according to our eyes because we don’t know their motivations. Then how do we really know them by their fruits? If the professing Christian is praying and things are happening on the outside it looks like good fruit to me. Thanks for your response as I work this out!

        • Heather

          I know, it’s so hard to tell by others fruits. My dad was the praise & worship leader in our church while I was growing up. On the outside, my family looked really fruitful. Mission trips, caring for others, leading others in worship. My dad had 7 affairs with various women during that time & no one knew. Eventually his life fell apart, but looking at his “fruit” with human eyes-no one knew. But God did.

    • Allison Joy

      I think Heather made some good points about doing things for our own glory, and motivation. But let me try to address some of the rest of what you said. I am NOT a Biblical scholar, by any means, but here are some of my thoughts.

      First of all, you’re right. Making it to heaven IS nearly impossible… on our own. It is only through Christ. Once you have found Christ and made a personal commitment to Him, you’ve already found the narrow gate. The problem is that many do things in Christ’s name without having a personal relationship with him… They are Christians in name only and have not made a personal profession of faith. (Note: We cannot judge this! Only God can.) I think that is what Jesus is talking about in this passage.

      As far as the way being hard, yes, it can certainly be hard, and Jesus even says that we should expect persecution. God’s burden is easy and light, but only with His help. And it still may not be “easy and light” from our perspective here on earth. People often say “But I thought God said he wouldn’t give us more than we can bear.” That verse, I Cor. 10:13, is specifically about temptation. It also says that God will give us a way out. Not us, but God. So while I do think that verse can be applied a bit more generally to “giving us more than we can bear” we must remember that it is only with God that we are able to endure.

      • Andrea

        Thanks Allison Joy…so I’ve found the narrow gate but this passage still causes me to think hard. I have doubts in my walk with God. I don’t feel him, I feel alone, I wonder if I’m praying in vain..etc…I struggle with what God’s Will truly is. I have these thoughts and I ask for forgiveness for my unbelief, more faith, and keep going. Sometimes the thought that their is no God at all breaks me down and I think there has to be or I wouldn’t feel so awful thinking there’s not. I consider myself a Christian, but am I really with all these doubts? Does a true Christian doubt as frequently as I do?

        • Sara

          You aren’t alone. Doubt has been apart of everyone’s walk. Doubt comes from the enemy. Pray against it. That has helped me <3

      • Kristen Clegs

        Jacob wrestled with God. At a moment when circumstances were beyond his control, when all that he loved was at risk, when all that he could see was mess, he demanded that God show him good. And God showed him Himself. So Jacob named the place of wrestling “The Place Where I Have Seen God.”
        Doubt is where we glue ourselves to God’s character in spite of circumstances, knowing that He has given Himself and He is our blessing, our exceeding great reward. But it is wrestling.

  • I cannot begin to tell you how this effects me right now, I am so insecure with so many things, the most important my walk with God, I get so scared thinking I am not good enough, don’t do enough and cannot be worthy of a place in Heaven. Maybe I am, I just need to remember God loves me, thru it all and He has the answers I seek.

    • Karen From Virginia

      Praying for peace for you. I understand I wanted to be more and not being good enough etc. but that The truth is is that we are not good enough. The liberating truth is that we don’t have to be good enough. If we are his then we are adopted by our loving father. This is by faith and sometimes based on our own struggles it could be a challenge but it’s the truth. I pray that the Lord would reveal his heart to you. It is one of the light and of love. You don’t have to be worthy on your own because Jesus was worthy. He took care of all of your sin and your shortcomings. Look to him more and less at yourself. It’s not always easy but that is where I found freedom. Many times I will say that is why I need a Savior because I can’t do it on my own and I don’t have to because he took care of it. Living a godly life is a lifelong journey. I’m not where I want to be but not where I was. When you’re feeling afraid I just encourage you to run to Jesus and not hide. His arms are open wide.

  • This is the first time I’ve read those verses in Matthew and haven’t had fear strike me to the core. Usually, they terrify me- I know the motives of my heart and they can be dark and sinful. It’s easy to read this passage and question your salvation.

    But thinking these verses are to scare us or prove some point of extreme judgement would be to go against the very nature of our gracious, loving, compassionate God. I love how these verses were paired with Psalm 16:10 -“For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.”

    We are called holy, because he is holy (Hebrews 10:10), and He (who literally breathed life into us, who dreams for us, who knows us truly and deeply) won’t let us see corruption. Our failures and hidden motives don’t disqualify us from his love.

    For those moments when you question your salvation, remember the very nature of God. Yes, he is strong and powerful, and the forces of hell cannot stand against him- but regarding you and me, there’s nothing but love. He longs for us to draw near to Him, in fact that is the very thing we were made for. The fruits we will be known by? These Fruits of the Spirit can’t be forced, but are grown over time as we lean deeper into him, pursuing him more. We have nothing in common with our God, but because of his great love he gently changes our hearts from the inside out. Not by fear, not by force. The only requirement is to choose Him and daily fight to draw closer.

    Yes, we will fail- he will not abandon you.

    Yes, we will doubt- he will not abandon you.

    Yes, we will turn away and make mistakes and misuse the grace he continues to extend, but STILL he will not abandon you.

    I don’t understand everything in the Bible, and sometimes we know less the more we seek. But a great place to start when we question and feel afraid is His always forgiving, ever patient, forever love.

  • Hi SRT friends!
    I always feel a bit weird about asking for prayer but could really use some extra prayers and wisdom! I have been dating my boyfriend for 6 months and love him so very deeply. However, after 4 months, he became much more critical and up/down. I feel so uneasy about our relationship now but desperately want it to work. I have prayed for the last month for clarity and I feel like my prayers have been more, “give me the strength and courage to trust and obey your will even if I don’t like it”, rather than “what should I do”. I’m afraid I know the answer but I just don’t like it. I agreed to give it more time but now I’m doubting my decision and feeling incredibly anxious. This is the first man I have ever fallen in love with and the first 4 months were better than I could have ever dreamed! Prayers for clarity and trust would be so appreciated!!!!

    • Emily

      Praying, friend! Thanks for reaching out. I know it’s hard.

    • Jennifer

      Hi there, I would encourage you to desperately chase after the will of your Father in this and then trust and obey the Holy Spirit as he leads you. Don’t alow yourself to second guess what he’s saying. Good wants good things for you and knows so much better what is good for you and this man. If God is allowing you to see things in this man’s character then listen! Marriage is hard when we don’t listen and try to force God’s will. You will never have to force what is right. God will open doors, you don’t have to kick them in. Be hungry with yourself about what you are seeing I’m this mans character. Don’t explain things away.Rest and trust, friend. Your heavenly Father will take care you, even in the discontentment of relationships not working out.

      • Jennifer

        Oh my word,, the typos! Let me try again…
        Hi there, I would encourage you to desperately chase after the will of your Father in this and then trust and obey the Holy Spirit as he leads you. Don’t allow yourself to second guess what he’s saying. God wants good things for you and knows so much better what is good for you and this man. If God is allowing you to see things in this man’s character then listen! Marriage is hard when we don’t listen and try to force God’s will. You will never have to force what is right. God will open doors, you don’t have to kick them in. Be honest with yourself about what you are seeing in this man’s character. Don’t explain things away.Rest and trust, friend. Your heavenly Father will take care you, even in the disappointment of relationships not working out.

    • SRT Friend

      Chelsea, you are speaking truth to yourself and this is good. Good you dated long enough to see he is not producing good fruit. Yes breaking it off will hurt and lonlyness will come but the alternative of a destructive marriage is worse. Your not even living with him and you see his critical spirit. Do not spend anymore energy trying to fix him so you and he can be happy. I’m sure you’ve voiced your concerns. Has he seemed counseling or pastor advice? If no this shows he thinks he’s fine and your th one with issues. Leslie Vernick, josh Holcolm and many others have books U Tubes and blogs helping many women to get out of destructive marriages or set boundaries for a healthy marriage. Thank Jesus you see truth. BTW he probably won’t understand your view and may challenge or blame you. Stand firm in the evidence you don’t want for your future. Yes there are worse men but truly single serving Jesus is a better place. Trust and Obey. Praying for wisdom and strength and for you to speak truth.

    • Karen From Virginia

      I have been there. Keep praying for wisdom and pray a prayer my friend taught me – Lord change my heart to match your will. The Lord understands and I am believing that he will change your heart to show you what is best for you.

    • aprilinsydney

      Hi Chelsea, I agree with Jennifer’s wise words. I’d add the perspective that it’s only been six months — of course the first few months are amazing, but if there are serious cracks now, these are red flags you need to pay attention to. And you’re lucky you’re seeing these now, when you can walk away. I know sweetheart that it’s difficult, and painful when we want something yet know it’s not for us (I’ve been there so many times!), BUT it is far far less painful than an unhappy marriage and a bitter divorce, and all the pain, regret and sadness that follows.
      When I was 23, I married despite knowing better. We were both christians. I saw red flags and cracks in our relationship and felt deep within me like I should break off the engagement (talk about pressure) so I sought advice from one of tHe leaders in our church. She said what I felt was normal, that we loved God and God loved us, and it would all work out. I was naive and listened. BOY was she WRONG, and me wrong for listening to her. Within 18 months we were separated, divorced a year later. It was a relief on one hand, because I was free. BUT, I’m now the woman in the reading on divorce I don’t like to read, and feel condemned as an adulterer (I remarried). I have to live the rest of my life knowing that I didn’t take the right decision, that I didn’t listen to God because I was afraid and to be honest, because I was young, thought I was in love and this was my only chance, desperately wanted to be married and all my friends at church and in our social circle were getting married!
      Our situations are not the same, Chelsea. No two people’s are. You will have to seek God and Listen to him carefully. From someone who’s been there, my advice would be to seek him, listen and follow. The gate is narrow, the gate may be painful momentarily, but it is better than disregarding what we know to be true by following the crowd and going through the wide gate. Will pray for you today. X

  • Marcia Kloese

    This is amazing because my Bible study covered this last night. I am confused about my missionary parents who produced a lot of bad fruit, but I guess their story is done. They are in heaven or hell. God has brought me to a place where my only security is Him. I am at the end of myself and disgusted with myself. I have turned ‘a new leaf,” like I have tried so many times, only to fail. This time I must do so in relationship with the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

  • Tochi Heredia

    Kaitlin (and all the SRT team), I just want to say how grateful I am for your ministry. Thank you for always pointing us to Jesus and His work on the cross with your insight, vulnerability and testimonies.

    I read today’s Scriptures and I started feeling some anxiety-induced fear and despair for always falling too short. How insanely wonderful it is that He IS enough and He never stops advocating on our behalf ❤

  • I love this! I believe it’s no coincidence that right after “A tree and its fruit” Jesus emphasizes the difference between doing works that we think are right and slapping God’s name on them, versus actively following God and doing everything as a result of seeking His will.

    Being in the kingdom of heaven is not about producing fruit — it’s not about the works themselves. It’s about accepting salvation and following Christ. Submitting to God’s will — a scary unknown, over running around in circles chasing our own.

  • Diane Huntsman

    The older I get the more aware I become of how much I’m not and I repeat NOT like Jesus in so many ways.. the older I get that past good deeds I’ve diligently done have exposed motives.. I was busy about my Fathers business to earn His favor, to showcase to others my spiritual maturity, to be what I was told I needed to be.. the truth.. it’s being exposed one Birthday after another.. I’m learning my burden for the lost is almost non existent and I’m questioning my own reserved spot in heaven.. do I even have one? The fruit examiner of my life is sniffing out rotten fruit I fear.. so passages like the one I just read does breath fear in me.. I do wonder about me fitting into the the group of the “few that find” their way to an eternal heaven.. so I go back to the basics.. do I know I am a sinner.. you betcha! Do I know that Jesus is the savior and my only means of access to heaven.. oh yes I do! Do I recognize my daily need for His strength to manifest itself in my utter weakness.. no doubt, I do!! Do I experience conviction and in turn confess my wrongs and attempt to truly repent.. yes.. daily. I also see the multitude of ways I am so far from being like Christ.. and quite honestly I can’t imagine ever truly exemplifying Him as He so rightly should be shown in and through me.. but I won’t stop trying.. I won’t stop asking Him to make the transformation in me.. I’ll probably always struggle with doubt, doubt that I’m truly a recipient of eternal life and heaven.. but I’ll keep on doing what I know to do and keep trying to believe that the God of heaven and earth sees me, chose me, and deems me worthy of His love and sees me perfect due to the righteous act of His Son on the cross… I’ll never look just like Jesus.. but I won’t stop trying either. Oh Lord Jesus, help all we doubting Thomas’ to believe without doubting.. to walk in solid faith even when we fail to be all we know we should be.

    • Karen From Virginia

      With you! My heart is ugly and I’m grateful I have a Savior that forgives and cleanses me from all unrighteousness. Over and over again. The longer I walk with Jesus the longer and more I am aware that it is all him. Sometimes I think I’m cute, but the Lord knows my heart and He convicts me out of love. My hope is in Him.

    • SuzD

      Diane, your words went right to my heart right after they went right to my gut. I am right there with you my friend. May we hold tight to the Hand that guides us.

  • “Jesus grabbed us by the hand and took us to His side.” I love this picture in my mind so, so much.

  • Thank you for the reminder that, even when I don’t “feel” it, God is right here with me, holding my hand.
    Have a blessed day sisters.

  • I love this truth and you girls : )

  • I’m TOTALLY jealous about the pants…If I were in your class, we would have become besties the first time you wore them!!
    I however disagree…even if they don’t smell, purple pants are the best!!!

    May God give you a special lift today.

  • I found some scratch and sniff pants on line if anyone is interested….. Seriously though, this was a perfect devotional for today. I am so happy I caught up. I joined late but wanted to be on the same day as all of these sweet and encouraging sisters. At His right hand are indeed all the true pleasures and, from an earlier study , He is the shade on my right hand. His left hand holds me securely while His right hand defends and blesses me. The thought is too much for me to take in. He pulled me out and cleansed me and here I am in His robe of righteousness. Wow. It is my prayer to reflect the goodness of Christ to all I meet today. My job can be very demanding and busy but is a limitless opportunity to show Christ , or the opposite which is what I hope to avoid.

    • Brandi

      ❤️

    • Caitlin

      I love your perspective on this. My job is the same way! I am a teacher and it’s so easy to let stress and negativity take over. But then I remember that I see over 100 kids a day. That’s 100 chances to love those souls like Christ loves me. Praying that we can radiate His goodness, much like those purple pants radiated 90s fashion! ;)

    • Kaitlin Wernet

      So funny that you found them!! I’ll have to look for some. Praying for your good work today, friend.

  • churchmouse

    I’ve noticed something about myself over the years. When I’m feeling down in the dumps, confused, restless, unsure (any of a number of adjective like that), I will wear gray – as in my fleece sweatshirt and sweatpants. Nondescript. Boring. Bland. It’s as if I want to go about my day unnoticed, not wanting to draw any attention to myself.. It reflects how I feel about myself that particular day. But if, on that same day, you asked me my favorite color, I wouldn’t say gray. I’d say “robin’s egg blue” or “confident yellow.” (yes, I have the paint cans labeled just that). On any given day, I might be unsure, questioning, even confused about some things about faith and living out the Christian life. I might have a furrowed brow. But if you asked me what I didn’t doubt, it would be my salvation through Jesus, my eternal destiny. Regardless of whether I’m walking in gray, pondering some things in my head, I know I am really robed in white and holding Jesus’ hand. (I like to think I have a belt of confident yellow too). Or, really, He’s holding my hand. And He’s not letting go. So even on my gray days, I’m really ok. Not to worry. I probably just need to spend more time talking and listening to Jesus. And when I do, the gray mood lifts. Praying for those today who may be feeling gray but need reminded they are robed in white. Go ahead, squeeze His hand tight.

    • Jeanna

      Great reflection, Churchmouse! Wearing my robe of white today, holding tight to His hand and preparing my heart for the day ahead! ( I might even put on a pop of color!) Blessings~

    • PursuedByHim

      Churchmouse, this is so true! We were discussing just last night (hmmm God is trying to tell me something) how to get through the parts of the day, week, or life happenings when we feel “gray” or alone or don’t have that close feeling to God at that moment. This devotion, and your post, reminded me of our conclusion last night…you just have to keep believing no matter how you “feel.” It’s not about feelings, it’s about trusting, knowing, God has you in the palm of his hand…always!

      Thank You, Father, for always keeping us close to you even when we don’t “feel” it.

    • Nads

      Yet again, a post that really spoke to me. Thanks Churchmouse. God bless

    • Veronica

      Beautifully said. ❤️

Further Reading...