Sheep and goats: our churches are full of both. On the outside they often look the same, but one day, the “Heart-Knower” will separate the two. The sheep to everlasting glory. The goats to everlasting punishment.
We will all live forever—somewhere! Do you know for certain where you will spend eternity? And what about other people you know? Are there some who profess to be Christians, yet whose lives haven’t changed?
Exodus 31 & 32
Sheep & Goats
The “Heart-Knower” Will Separate the Two
32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:
Sheep and goats: our churches are full of both. On the outside they often look the same, but Jesus said they’re not.
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
Notice in verse 22, “Many will say …” Yet, these people were doing “Christian” things. They were sitting in our pews, part of our small groups, serving in ministry … but Jesus will say, “I never knew you …”
How is it possible that people can sit in churches week after week, attend Bible studies, even serve in ministry and not know God? How would we know if that’s us? And, if we want to truly love and serve others, are there red flags that we should look for in their lives?
Lest you think, I’m talking about becoming overly focused on what others are doing or doing it in a harsh or unloving way, please hear me out. But, too often, we’ve been taught that we are never to judge others based on Matthew 7.1. Certainly, we have to be careful. We can’t know anyone else’s heart. We barely know our own (Jer. 17.9).
But in Luke 6 Jesus also said:
43 “For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44 For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush.45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
You can’t read the gospels and Jesus’ interactions with the Scribes and Pharisees without realizing this “good fruit” isn’t so much outward or religious acts in themselves. The good fruit talked about here must come from a changed heart.
A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things (Matt. 12.35).
A person with a changed heart will sometimes fall short. As Christians we sin, sometimes in grievous ways. But, as genuine believers, we should be convicted when confronted with the truth about sin (1 Jn. 3.9-10). As new creations in Christ, we should have a desire for God’s Word and to live in ways that are pleasing to Him (2 Cor. 5.9). And there will be fruit, in varying degrees, but a changed heart produces changed desires and a changed life.
So, we have a dilemma. First, is it even loving to look at the fruit in someone else’s life? Some would say, “no.” And, if we can’t know someone else’s heart, what would we judge when looking for “good fruit”?
Let me address the question of whether or not it’s loving. Continue reading