Secure And Insecure Foundations
“And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch? The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother’s eye. For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh. And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.” —Luke 6:39–49
In accordance with our Lord’s customary method of instruction, He reverts to parabolic teaching in closing this great discourse. How vivid is the picture brought before our eyes as we hear him say, “Can the blind lead the blind? Shall they not both fall into the ditch?” Could one more aptly set forth the sad results of following unenlightened human teachers instead of being guided by the plain Word of the Lord? It is noticeable that in the First Epistle to Timothy, the sixth chapter, the apostle Paul stresses the importance of taking heed to the words of our Lord Jesus Christ which set forth the teaching that is according to godliness. These words are found in the four Gospels, where we hear the Lord Himself speaking to His disciples. Yet frequently we are told that this instruction is no longer binding upon Christians today, since the fuller revelation of the mystery of the one body has come in. The sad results of accepting such views are soon seen. Those who set them forth prove to be in very truth blind leaders and those who accept them blind disciples, and both alike stumble and fall into the ditch of Antinomianism on the one hand or of hard legality on the other. It is well to weigh carefully these words of the apostle, which I quote in full:
“If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. But godliness with contentment is great gain.” —1 Timothy 6:3–6
As the Master, our blessed Lord, has laid down principles upon which His disciples should order their lives, if we would attain to spiritual perfection we can not afford to ignore what He has thus set before us. Verses 41 and 42 are almost humorous in the way they ridicule the folly of one attempting to set his brother right, who is himself far from walking in paths of rectitude. “Why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” In the Koine, as set forth in the recently discovered records in Egypt, this very word is used by a young man who writes to his mother, speaking of the suffering he has endured because of a beam having gotten under his thumbnail. It is clear that by beam he really means a splinter, but this splinter seemed so large that he used the term beam to describe it. Undoubtedly, this is what our Lord has in mind. Who with a splinter in his own eye can properly discern the condition of a brother’s eye? If I am under the power of sin myself I am in no condition to reprove another. What I need to do is to get right myself and then I can help an erring brother. To take the other attitude is to brand oneself a hypocrite—professing one thing and living another. And so the Lord insists that the beam be cast out first from one’s own eye and then he will be able to see clearly to take the mote out of the brother’s eye.
In many places, man, in Scripture, is pictured as a tree. In the Psalms, the righteous is seen as a palm tree or an olive, beautiful and verdant; whereas the wicked are set forth under the picture of an evil tree, eventually to be cast into the fire. The Lord uses the same figures in the next two verses: a good tree brings forth good fruit; a corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit. In other words, an apple tree is not such because it bears apples. It produces apples because it is an apple tree. A bramblebush is not such because it bears thorns. It produces thorns because it is in its nature so to do. A man is not a sinner because he sins. He sins because he is a sinner. When one is born of God, sin becomes hateful to him and he seeks to order his life in righteousness. So he brings forth fruit unto God. In this way every tree is known by its own fruit. Men do not expect to gather figs from thorn trees, nor grapes from bramblebushes. Each bears according to its kind. The man who is yielded to the Lord and seeks to walk in accordance with His Word will bring forth out of the good treasure of his heart that which is good, to the glory of God and the blessing of mankind; while a man inherently evil, who has never been regenerated, will out of the evil treasure of his heart bring forth that which is evil. It is the heart that makes the man. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” To profess allegiance to Christ and to call Him Lord while walking in disobedience to His Word, is both folly and hypocrisy. We sing sometimes, and rightly:
“If He is not Lord of all,
He is not Lord at all.”
How we need to remember this. His Word should dominate and control in every aspect of our lives.
We are all familiar with the parable with which our Lord closes this discourse. He likens the man who hears His Word and obeys it to the one who undertook to build a house, and in order that it might be secure, he digged deep and laid the foundation on a rock. Christ Himself is that Rock. It is only as we build on Him that we are secure. Graphically, the Lord pictures the house built on such a foundation as weathering the most violent storm. He says that when the flood arose, the stream beat violently on that house and could not shake it because it was founded on a rock. So it will be with everyone who has trusted Christ as Saviour and then seeks to walk in obedience in His revealed will.
The disobedient, self-centered man, who hears the Word of Christ, but does not yield his heart to the Saviour, does not trust and obey him, is likened to a man who, without laying any foundation, built his house upon the earth. When the storm arose and the stream beat violently upon it, it fell and the ruin of that house was great because it had no secure foundation. The parable explains itself. It needs to illumination of the Spirit of God to make the meaning clear. All that is required is an active conscience and a desire to be right with God. May this be true of all to whom this message comes.