Good morning, for today’s message I will be speaking to you about a hard line drawn on the floor. Imagine a game of dodge ball so to speak, each team has a line that they cannot pass and when they are hit with a ball they are out. Once out, there is another hard-line they are not supposed to pass, because it separates that players that are still active and winning from the players who failed and were out. However, in dodge ball like many other games, some people pretend to still be active in the game. They wait until no one is looking and they cross the line and pretend to be active. The good “pretenders” often fool all the other active players because of their outward appearances, as in looking tired and full of sweat. However, regardless of how they look, they are simply pretending to still be playing the game. Like a game of dodge ball, Christians are also afflicted by a hard-line drawn on the floor by Jesus. When he tells us to sin no more, He placed a solid line and said to not cross it anymore. However, many people try to pretend that they are still in the game but are truly out. We see exactly that in the third chapter of the book of Matthew and I would like to share with you exactly what I mean and the consequences of pretending to still be in the game.
It is written, “But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 10 The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. 11 “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with[b] the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire,” (Matthew 3:7-12, NIV).
As you can understand, the role of a preacher is to have their hearers apply the truth that they are sharing with them. This was the very purpose of John’s preaching, he wanted to clarify the Word for all to hear and have them act out in obedience to it. He was wanting them to apply God’s message to their hearts and minds. However, here and now, we see that the Pharisees, who were the kings of outward observances or appearances were present. They neglected the maters of the moral law that God has established for humanity and their spiritual meanings. They substituted God’s moral and spiritual teachings with the legalism of there ceremonies. Many were detestable hypocrites who cloaked their sinful nature with a cloak of fake holiness. They simply were out of the game and pretended to still be in it. They were very good pretenders so to speak. The Sadducees were no different, however, they simply denied the existence of spirits and a future kingdom. There was wrath to come because of how much they pretended to be holy men of God. However, God does not delight in destruction so He sends out His messengers and gives us a conscience to try to steer us in the right direction in like and keep us active and playing a proper game.
Now, those who play the game of life properly and honestly repent of their sins are provided with the privilege of salvation through Jesus Christ. You see, everyone is warned but those who take heed to the warning are safe from elimination so to speak. They feel sorry for their sins and are humbled. They are thankful for the least bit of mercy from God and are patient under the greatest affliction. They are watchful for all appearance of sin in their lives. These people are truly the active players in this symbolic game of dodge ball. They are charitable and do not cast judgment upon others because they know their own condition. They are meak in nature and soft-spoken. This is a word of caution for everyone hearing this message. Do not trust outward privileges or entitlements. There is a great deal that our hearts are apt to say to themselves which ends up in us putting aside the convincing and commanding power of God’s word in our lives.
Many rests on honors and advantages of being members of an “outside” church that will come short of heaven. In this Scripture, we are provided a warning and a word of terror to the careless and secure. Our hearts cannot be made to produce good fruits unless they are regenerated by the Spirit of Christ. His Spirit grafts the good word of God into each of us who are truly His servants. In every tree, regardless of how big and prosperous they seem from the outside, that is green and beautiful, will be evaluated. Their outward professions and performances will not matter. What will matter is their fruits. Are their fruits made through repentance and godly living or are they simply pretending? If a tree does not bear good fruits they are to be cast down in the fire of God’s wrath because that is the only place for them to be. It is the fittest place for barren trees, what else are they good for other than fuel for a fire?
In this Scripture, John shows us the intention of Christ’s appearance. He was illuminating to the people that no outward forms of worship can make us clean on the inside. No ordinances by whoever administered through can supply what the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the fire of God could provide. The purifying and cleansing power of the Holy Spirit can alone produce that purity of heart required to produce good fruits. These good fruits are accompanied by the salvation of the person, and they are fueled by the Holy Spirit. We see this in Acts 2:4 when the apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit and were enabled by Him. This is the grace and comfort that comes from living purely and having the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of us. In other words, the prize for those who play the game the way it is intended to be played.
Please take note that the outward church is Christ’s floor. True believers are the wheat, as they are useful and valuable. The hypocrites are the chaff. They are light, empty, and ultimately useless. The chaff is carried around about every wind and are mixed in with the wheat. We are all mixed both good and bad in the same place of communion. However, there will be a day coming that the wheat and the chaff will be separated. The final judge will separate the saints from the sinners and they will no longer be scattered together. Those who lived holy lives and produced good fruits will be without their corrupted neighbors and they will no longer have to play with those who cross the line.
Hell is the unquenchable fire that is fair for the punishment of hypocrites and unbelievers. Here and now, good and evil are set before us. This is according to how we are playing the game and being obedient to the line on the floor. I am not saying that our faith is a game, I am simply relating it in a manner that is easy to digest the truth of our inward salvation and not our outward appearances. At the end of the day, you can be the best at pretending that you are playing the game when you are truly out, however, you are only truly fooling yourself. So I pray that every one that is hearing this message can reflect on their hearts and their motives. Is your life producing good fruits in which more trees can be planted because of your fruits or are you living a baren life that is worthless to the Lord? Only you can honestly figure that out within yourself and then repent of your sins and start to move forward. Our time is finite and Christ drew the hard line on the floor for a reason. We are either saved or not. Living a life of righteousness or not. No matter how much you outwardly try to pretend and go through the motions and look good like the Pharisees did, there will be a separation and I pray that you choose to be on the right side of the line.
So I pray, Father, please bring illumination into all of our hearts and minds to know our true motives and intentions in life. Let us all choose a life pleasing to the sacrifice of your Son that is lead by your Spirit. May those who still need to repent and turn their inward hearts to you do so before it is too late. May we come humbly at the foot of the cross and live a life that is fruitful instead of one that is baren. Let us not be pretenders but lovers of all things good in Christ. In Jesus’ name, we pray, Amen!
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Please enjoy this short sermon about the "Hard Line" by Pastor Ramon. It is based from the third chapter of the Gospel of Matthew.