Sermon on the Mount Bible Study

The Sermon on the Mount ~ Lesson 12

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11,

Matthew 7:15-23

Questions to Consider

1. Briefly review the “middle parts” (ex: merciful, poor in spirit) of the Beatitudes, the “salt and light” passage, and the “heart of the law” passage in Matthew 5:1-12, 13-16, 14-20. Now read 7:15-23 in light of those passages.

2. In the Beatitudes, Jesus lists the traits that define Christian character. In much of the rest of the Sermon on the Mount He fleshes out what many of these character traits look like when walked out in “real life”. Which of the traits (the “middle parts” – there could be several) listed in the Beatitudes is Jesus expanding on in today’s passage?

How do false teachers and false converts bland the saltiness of the church? (5:13-16) How do doctrinally sound teachers and genuinely regenerated Believers make the church saltier and brighter? Is it even possible for an individual false teacher or false convert to be true salt and light?

3. Review from our previous lessons (links above) the idea that the Sermon on the Mount is to the New Testament / new covenant what the Ten Commandments were to the Old Testament / old covenant.

Though they are not specifically mentioned in the Ten Commandments (false teachers/prophets are addressed elsewhere in the law), which of the Ten Commandments could be connected to false teachers and false converts?

Despite having dropped the “You have heard it said…but I say to you…” framing of His teaching in chapter 6, how is Jesus still shifting the people’s focus from outward obedience to the letter of the law to zeroing in on the attitude of their hearts and the spirit of the law? How must being a genuinely regenerated Believer and/or being a doctrinally sound teacher be at the heart of our obedience to God’s laws?

4. Think back to Jesus’ emphasis on hypocrisy in 7:1-5, and in the first part of chapter 6 (lesson 9, link above). How is being a false convert or a false teacher the ultimate hypocrisy? How does this demonstrate why hypocrisy is such a big deal to Jesus? Which attributes of God does hypocrisy contrast with?

5. Review 7:1-5, recalling that some people believe this passage to mean no one is to judge anyone, ever. How would you explain 1-5 to someone in light of 15-20, and 15-20 in light of 1-5?

6. Recall that when Scripture was originally written, there were no chapter and verse markings. The whole text was one continuous flow. How does 7:13-14 flow into or introduce 15-23?

7. In 15-20, who or what are represented by the imagery of…

  • sheep
  • wolves
  • fruits
  • grapes
  • thorn bushes
  • figs
  • thistles
  • healthy trees
  • good fruit
  • diseased trees
  • bad fruit
  • fire

Explain the contrast between…

  • sheep and wolves
  • grapes and thorn bushes
  • figs and thistles
  • healthy trees with good fruit and diseased trees with bad fruit

8. Who or what is the fruit of a false teacher’s ministry? (16-20) Many of the Pharisees considered Jesus to be a false prophet. Think about Jesus’ ministry in light of what he is saying in this passage. What has been the fruit of Jesus’ ministry, from the beginning of His earthly ministry until now? What should be the fruit of a doctrinally sound teacher’s ministry?

Notice how Jesus says in 16 and 20 “you will recognize them by their fruits” and how that statement bookends this passage of instruction. Then, as now, teachers use repetition for emphasis- to stress the importance of what are they teaching. Why is it so important to Jesus that we recognize false teachers?

Also notice that he doesn’t say “sometimes you will recognize them,” or “you might be able to recognize them”. He says unequivocally, not once but twice, “you will recognize them”. How is this not only a statement of the clear recognizability of false teachers, but also an implicit command? (i.e. not just “you will be able to recognize them,“ but “you are to proactively look for, mark, and avoid them“.)

9. According to verse 19, what is the eternal destiny of a false teacher who does not repent? What does this tell us about the spiritual condition of unrepentant false teachers – are they saved, or lost?

Many evangelicals are reluctant to say that a false teacher who claims to be a Christian is lost. Explain how 15-20 gives us not only the right, but the responsibility, to treat a false teacher as an unbeliever and why this does not conflict with 7:1-5. Why is it important, for the sake of the false teacher’s own spiritual condition (19, 21-23) to regard him or her as an unbeliever?

10. What is the difference between “saying ‘Lord, Lord‘” and doing God’s will? (21)

How does 21-23 refute the common misconceptions that..

  • if someone says she’s a Christian, and even outwardly acts like a Christian, she is a Christian?
  • being a “good person” will get you to heaven?

What does Jesus call these people at the end of verse 23? Compare the phrase “workers of lawlessness” with the “many mighty works” in verse 22 and the Scriptures linked above (in the first sentence of question 10). Explore the concept of a slave of the devil working for her master, versus a slave of Christ working for her Master.

Reflect on the word “many” in verse 22 along with your previous thoughts about false teachers and false converts. Had you previously thought false teachers and false converts were rare?

What does it mean for Christ to “know” us? (23)


Homework

  • Are you hesitant to think of a false teacher as unsaved when she claims to be a Christian? Do we have to know whether or not a certain teacher is definitely a Christian before we can deal with her biblically (such as warning others against her)? Examine what the Scriptures say in my article Can a False Teacher Be a Christian?
  • A false convert is someone who either a) (rarely) knows she’s not saved but is trying to fool others, or b) (much more commonly) thinks she’s saved, but – you can tell by her “bad fruit” and/or the things she says she believes – isn’t. These people are just as lost as any other lost person. How do you witness to someone who thinks she’s already saved?
    • Be in constant prayer for her.
    • Make sure she has heard a clear presentation of the biblical gospel.
    • Discuss the biblical gospel with her if, and whenever, she’s willing.
    • If she isn’t willing, and she continues to bear bad fruit while claiming to be saved, continue to pray for her, and set a godly example.

Often, doing these things leaves us feeling like we’re not doing enough. We so desperately want that person to be saved that it can be tempting to try to nag or argue her into “making a decision” for Christ. That’s not how evangelism and salvation work. Our job is to pray, present the gospel, and trust God with the results. God’s job is to use that gospel we’ve presented in His timing and for His purposes.

Do you know someone who’s a false convert? Apply the above to that person (especially praying for her) this week.


Suggested Memory Verse

Sermon on the Mount Bible Study

The Sermon on the Mount ~ Catch Up Week

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 678910

I’m out of pocket this week, so you get a catch up week!

Catch up on any lessons you might be behind on, go back and do any of the homework you may not have had time for, review your memory verses, or if you’re already caught up, you could even read ahead in the Sermon on the Mount a little. It’s your week to use as you see fit. Happy studying!

Sermon on the Mount Bible Study

The Sermon on the Mount ~ Lesson 11

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10,

Matthew 7:1-14

Questions to Consider

1. Briefly review the “middle parts” (ex: merciful, poor in spirit) of the Beatitudes, the “salt and light” passage, and the “heart of the law” passage in Matthew 5:1-12, 13-16, 14-20. Now read 7:1-14 in light of those passages.

Make a list of the topics Jesus deals with in this passage. Is there an obvious common theme connecting all of them, or is this more like a laundry list of assorted topics? How does one section (1-5, 6, 7-11, 12, 13-14) connect to the next? How does each section fit under the umbrella of the common theme?

2. In the Beatitudes, Jesus lists the traits that define Christian character. In much of the rest of the Sermon on the Mount He fleshes out what many of these character traits look like when walked out in “real life”. Which of the traits (the “middle parts” – there could be several) listed in the Beatitudes is Jesus expanding on in each section (1-5, 6, 7-11, 12, 13-14) of today’s passage?

How does “wide gate behavior” like hypocrisy and failing to treat others as you want them to treat you bland your saltiness? (5:13-16) How can “narrow gate behavior” like being good to others as God has been to you make you saltier and brighter?

3. Review from our previous lessons (links above) the idea that the Sermon on the Mount is to the New Testament / new covenant what the Ten Commandments were to the Old Testament / old covenant.

Though they are not specifically mentioned in the Ten Commandments, which of the Ten Commandments could be connected to hypocritical judgment, God’s goodness and care for His children, treating others the way you want to be treated, and the way to destruction vs. the way to life?

Despite having dropped the “You have heard it said…but I say to you…” framing of His teaching in chapter 6, how is Jesus still shifting the people’s focus from outward obedience to the letter of the law to zeroing in on the attitude of their hearts and the spirit of the law? How should pursuing a “narrow gate” heart and behavior be at the heart of our obedience to God’s laws?

4. Read verses 1-5. What does “Judge not,” mean? (Did you realize that in answering that question you are judging verse 1 to mean one thing and not another?) Does verse 1 mean we are never to make judgments of any sort, or, considering verse 1 in the context of verses 2-5, does it mean we are not to judge in a certain way? Compare 1-5 to these passages for clarity. List all the instances in 1-20 in which judgment is necessary, assumed, or instructed by Jesus. (Ex.: 6 – How do you determine whether someone is a dog/pig or not a dog/pig?) Is Jesus contradicting Himself or being hypocritical by saying “Don’t judge,” and then assuming we will make judgments or instructing us to make judgments? How do you know?

According to verses 1-2, what is the reason we are not to judge improperly or hypocritically? “That you be not judged” by whom? How does judging rightly, according to Scripture, and without hypocrisy reflect God’s attribute of perfect justice? How is judging others in a godly way one way of carrying out the “golden rule” (12)?

Think back to Jesus’ emphasis on hypocrisy in the first part of chapter 6 (lesson 9, link above) and compare it with His emphasis on hypocrisy in 3-5. Why is hypocrisy such a big deal to Jesus? Which attributes of God does hypocrisy contrast with?

5. Examine verses 7-11. What do these verses teach us about God’s goodness toward His children (Believers)? What do these verses teach us about prayer – the way we should ask and the way God answers?

Think about the analogy of God giving good things to His children the way earthly parents give good things to their children (11) as you answer the following questions: Does this passage teach us that God will give us whatever we want whenever we want it? Could discipline and suffering be good gifts from God? What did the son ask for in verses 9 & 10? Were these bad things or good things? Was he being selfish and greedy? Was he asking for luxuries or basic provision? How does the son asking the father for provision demonstrate trust in and dependence on his father?

Meditate on God’s goodness to you in all of these ways as we move into considering verse 12.

6. Summarize verse 12 in your own words. How do you want other people to treat you? Considering God’s goodness to you from the previous section, if you had a choice, wouldn’t you want other people to treat you with the same goodness with which God treats you? Does verse 12 preclude things like justly firing an employee, disciplining your children, or sitting on a jury and rendering a guilty verdict? Why or why not? Compare verse 12 with the second greatest commandment. How are they similar?

7. Christianity is both inclusive (ex: “whosoever will may come” – people from any walk of life, ethnicity, background, etc.) and exclusive. What do verses 13-14 teach us about the exclusivity of the gospel? Can you believe or behave any way you like and still be saved? According to this passage, are genuinely regenerated Christians the majority or the minority of the world’s population? How might this passage speak to the number of false converts (people who think they’re saved but have never been truly born again) in the church?


Homework

Many people think that making biblical judgments, such as…

  • saying a certain behavior is a sin
  • sharing the gospel with someone and calling her to repent for her sin
  • warning against false teachers
  • exercising church discipline
  • distancing oneself from professing Christians living in unrepentant sin

…is failing to “be like Jesus.” Make the argument -from rightly handled Scripture- that exercising biblical judgment is a) Christlike, and b) obedient to God’s commands.

Carefully examine verse 6. What does it mean for someone to be a pig or dog? Is it possible to argue someone into embracing biblical truth without God supernaturally opening her eyes to see it? How do you know a) when you’re dealing with a dog/pig, and b) when it’s time to gather up your pearls and get out of the pig pen? Pray that, this week, when an unbeliever is arguing against biblical truth – in real life or online – God will help you discern whether or not to engage that person in the first place, and, if you do engage, when is the appropriate time to apply Matthew 7:6.


Suggested Memory Verse

Sermon on the Mount Bible Study

The Sermon on the Mount ~ Lesson 10

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Matthew 6:19-34

Questions to Consider

1. Briefly review the “middle parts” (ex: merciful, poor in spirit) of the Beatitudes, the “salt and light” passage, and the “heart of the law” passage in Matthew 5:1-12, 13-16, 14-20. Now read 6:19-34 in light of those passages.

What is the main theme of both 19-24 and 25-34? Is there one verse that could serve as a theme verse for the entire passage? Which one, and why?

2. In the Beatitudes, Jesus lists the traits that define Christian character. In much of the rest of the Sermon on the Mount He fleshes out what many of these character traits look like when walked out in “real life”. Which of the traits (the “middle parts” – there could be several) listed in the Beatitudes is Jesus expanding on in 19-34? How does 6:33 echo 5:6?

How could anxiety-driven greed bland your saltiness? (5:13-16) How can contentment and trusting in God to provide make you saltier and brighter?

3. Review from our previous lessons (links above) the idea that the Sermon on the Mount is to the New Testament / new covenant what the Ten Commandments were to the Old Testament / old covenant.

Though they are not specifically mentioned in the Ten Commandments, which of the Ten Commandments could be connected to worry, anxiety, and storing up earthly treasures?

Despite having dropped the “You have heard it said…but I say to you…” framing of His teaching in chapter 6, how is Jesus still shifting the people’s focus from outward obedience to the letter of the law to zeroing in on the attitude of their hearts and the spirit of the law? How should treasuring Christ above all else and trusting His care for us be at the heart of our obedience to God’s laws?

4. Are verses 19-24 specifically and/or exclusively talking about money? How does this passage apply to treasuring riches? What are some ways it could apply to treasuring things other than money?

Think back to the spring of 2020 and the beginning of COVID when everyone was stockpiling and hoarding toilet paper. What does this passage have to say to that situation (or others you can think of) about treasuring our own strength and provision over God’s? How can worry and anxiety (25-34) drive us to trust in our own provision over trusting God to provide?

What is the connection between your treasure and your heart? (21) Why do our hearts follow our treasure?

5. Verses 19-21 and 24 focus on not loving money and not putting your heart into your treasure. How do verses 22–23 connect those two passages? What would a healthy eye and a bad eye be in this context? Is this a form of “lusting” after treasure? Pessimism versus optimism? Connect 22–23 to 5:29. Where is your focus?

6. Think about verse 24 in literal terms of serving God in a position of church ministry or in a business that deals in Christian products. Can you think of a real life example in which an individual, a ministry, or a Christian business attempted to serve God and money at the same time? Which one won out, God or money? If God, what hard decisions or sacrifices had to be made in order to keep Him first and rightly handle and obey His Word? How did God bless that obedience to Him? If money won out, how did the person, ministry, or business eventually succumb to false doctrine or sin?

7. Where is the line between being prepared and trusting God in today’s passage? Is verse 34 saying we shouldn’t plan ahead or work diligently? Compare 19-34 to these passages. How should we balance hard work with trusting God to provide, and how does the posture of our heart figure in to that equation?

8. How many times does Jesus say, “Do not be anxious,“ in 25-34? Can we consider this a command? Is there a difference between terms “anxious,” or “worry,” in this passage and “fret,” or having a fearful / troubled heart in other passages? Think of all the biblical passages you know of that deal with fear, worry, anxiety, or fretting. Why does God have to deal with us about this so often in Scripture?

Which two items does Jesus tell His hearers not to worry about in 25-34? How would you classify these items (ex: needs vs. wants, luxuries vs. basic necessities, etc.)? How would you classify the things you most often worry about, compared to the basic necessities of food and clothing? If God promises to take care of our most fundamental needs, what does that tell us about His ability to take care of other, less “life or death” matters?

How are worry and anxiety indicators of “little faith“? (30) How does worrying fundamentally state, “God, I don’t trust you to do what you’ve promised. I’ve got to handle this myself.“? What might the consequences be when we fail to trust God and worry about a situation so much that we take matters into our own hands? In several places, the Bible speaks of “waiting patiently on the Lord”. How can waiting on the Lord tempt us to be anxious but also build our trust in Him?

9. How does trusting God to provide for us separate us from pagans? (32) How does today’s passage speak to hoarding – both hoarding out of greed, and hoarding out of fear?


Homework

  • Compare Philippians 4:4-7 to today’s passage. If you struggle with anxiety, try memorizing this passage and praying through it every time you feel anxious this week.


Suggested Memory Verse

Sermon on the Mount Bible Study

The Sermon on the Mount ~ Lesson 9

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8,

Matthew 6:1-18

Questions to Consider

1. Briefly review the “middle parts” (ex: merciful, poor in spirit) of the Beatitudes, the “salt and light” passage, and the “heart of the law” passage in Matthew 5:1-12, 13-16, 14-20. Now read 6:1-18 in light of those passages.

What is the main theme of 1-4, 5-15, and 16-18? Explain how verse 1 serves as the theme verse for all three sections. Consider what might motivate someone to show off her deeds of righteousness. Would this be someone who genuinely considers herself to be “holier than thou”? Or would it be someone who just wants to fool everyone into thinking she’s holier than they are? Maybe both?

2. In the Beatitudes, Jesus lists the traits that define Christian character. In much of the rest of the Sermon on the Mount He fleshes out what many of these character traits look like when walked out in “real life”. Which of the traits (the “middle parts” – there could be several) listed in the Beatitudes is Jesus expanding on in 1-18?

How does being a prideful show off, especially showing off your righteousness / holiness, bland your saltiness? (5:13-16) How can forsaking self-righteousness and walking in humility make you saltier and brighter?

3. Review from our previous lessons (links above) the idea that the Sermon on the Mount is to the New Testament / new covenant what the Ten Commandments were to the Old Testament / old covenant.

Though pride, self-righteousness, and showing off are not specifically mentioned in the Ten Commandments, which of the Ten Commandments could be connected to showing off your deeds of righteousness? For example: What are you coveting if you’re showing off your righteous deeds to others? How could the praise of man become an idol?

Notice that, for the remainder of the Sermon on the Mount (through the end of chapter 7), Jesus drops the “You have heard it said…but I say to you…” framing of His teaching. Why do you think that is?

Despite dropping this framing, in 1-18 is Jesus still shifting the people’s focus from outward obedience to the letter of the law to zeroing in on the attitude of their hearts and the spirit of the law? Explain how humility and poverty of spirit should be the heart of our obedience to God’s laws.

4. Jesus could have admonished people not to show off their intellect, their wealth, their athleticism, or any number of other things in this passage. Instead, He chooses three practices of holiness: charity, prayer, and fasting. Why? Why is it especially important to God that His people not show off their righteous actions? Read the parable of the Pharisee and the publican. Explain how this story connects to 1-18 and demonstrates the value God places on humility / poverty of spirit.

What does Jesus call show offs throughout this passage? Which words and phrases in this passage describe the earthly reward someone showing off her righteousness is working for? Why should God give someone a heavenly reward if she is working for an earthly reward? If you are working for a heavenly reward, will you get an earthly reward?

5. What is the difference between not showing off in 6:1-18 and letting your light shine before others in 5:14-16? Think about what you post on social media, as well as your conversations with others in light of these passages. How do these passages apply to humblebrags and virtue signaling? “Humblebrag” and “virtue signaling” are worldly terms. What would be the biblical terminology for these unbiblical behaviors?

6. Some people think verses 5-6 mean that no one should ever pray in public or anywhere your prayers might be observed by others. For example: no one should lead a congregational prayer in church, you should not pray before a meal at a restaurant, no prayers before ball games, etc. Are these verses prohibiting that? Why or why not? Was Daniel violating verses five through six when he prayed with his windows open? Could verses 7-8 apply to praying in “tongues” as it is commonly practiced today? What about repetitive formulaic prayers like the Catholic rosary?

7. Do 14-15 mean you will lose your salvation if you refuse to forgive? How do these verses show us how important forgiveness is to God?


Homework

  • Did Jesus intend for The Lord’s Prayer to be recited or to be an example of how we should pray? Is there a difference between reciting the Lords prayer and praying the Lord‘s Prayer? Could reciting the Lords prayer repetitively turn into “heaping up empty phrases“? Write out the Lord’s Prayer using your own words, and check out my article After this Manner, Therefore Pray.
  • Want to learn more about fasting? I found this article – Is Fasting a Command? – very helpful and thorough. Grace to You has several good articles and sermons on fasting. Just go to GTY.org and put “fasting” in the search bar.

Suggested Memory Verse