Matthew Bible Study (The Gospel of the King and the Kingdom of Heaven)

Matthew 12:22-37, Fruitful


“I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:36–37 ESV)

This is quite a teaching from Jesus. It is a startling teaching when you think about it for a moment. People will give an account for every careless word spoken. This is how Jesus ends this section of teaching. How did Jesus get to this conclusion? Why would we be judged by the words we have spoken? After coming off of a weekend of thanksgiving, I look forward to showing us how thanksgiving is a key component what Jesus is looking for in our lives.

A Ridiculous Accusation (12:22-24)

Jesus has expressed that he has to come heal bruised reeds and restore burning wicks. At this time people brings a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute. We are simply told in Matthew 12:22 that Jesus healed this man so that he saw and spoke. The people who saw this were amazed and begin considering Jesus is the Son of David. This is a title for the Christ, the Messiah that the scriptures prophesied would come to save the world. They are thinking that this could very well be the Christ that they have been waiting for. Unfortunately, the healing becomes a side point to the account. This paragraph is not about the healing. Rather, the Pharisees interject which is what becomes the point of the account. Notice what the Pharisees say when they hear the people considering that Jesus is the Christ in verse 24. They say Jesus casts out demons by the power of the prince of demons, Beelzebul. This might be one of the more ridiculous lines of reasoning you could possibly consider. Jesus is casting out demons by the power of Satan. It is completely illogical.

But this is an important point for our consideration before we move forward. People do not reject Jesus based on logical arguments. Sometimes we can think that if we can just put together another logical argument or have some winning piece of evidence that this will cause all people to fall down and become worshipers of God. Jesus just healed a person who was blind and mute. He also just healed a man with a withered hand (12:13). The response is that Jesus must be doing this by Satan’s power. So Jesus is going to show that this is a ridiculous point of view that is truly revealing the hearts of these religious leaders.

Fruit Says Something (12:25-29)

Jesus is going to make the point that fruit says something. Jesus is doing work that is clearly against Satan. Jesus cannot be doing his work by Satan’s power because then Satan’s kingdom would be divided. A kingdom cannot stand if it is fighting against itself. This is probably a good reminder for our nation and culture today. A house, a city, nor a nation cannot fight against itself and remain standing. But Jesus is making the point that fruit says something. Fruit makes a statement. We even have a saying in our culture to that effect. We say, “Actions speak louder than words.” We say this because actions make a statement.

Now I want you to notice what Jesus’ actions proclaim. Look at verse 28. Jesus casting out demons means that the kingdom of God has come upon you. Now Jesus is going to show how this is true in verse 29. You cannot plunder a strong man’s house until you first bind the strong man. Therefore, if Jesus is casting out demons (in essence, plundering Satan’s house/power), then he has bound Satan. Jesus and the arrival of his kingdom means that he has dealt a blow to the power of Satan. This important truth was observable in the fact that Jesus could cast out any demon and heal any person. Here is how the New Testament writers fully explained this idea.

The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. (1 John 3:8 ESV)

Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. (Hebrews 2:14–15 ESV)

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:56–57 ESV)

We need to hear this message from Jesus. Jesus has come, bound Satan, and plundered his house. Friends, the kingdom of God has come and with Jesus on our side, we have no need to fear the power of sin or the power of Satan. Jesus appeared to destroy the works of the devil. Jesus has destroyed the power of death. Jesus has destroyed the fear of death. Jesus has come and gives us victory over sin through his death and resurrection.

Do you see the point? Fruit says something. Jesus casting out demons says something. Jesus healing people says something. The fruit says that Jesus is victorious over Satan and his power and we share that victory when we are healed by Jesus.

Interlude: Warning (12:30-32)

Now I want us to see where Jesus takes his teaching at this point. In verses 30-32 Jesus is now going to give a warning. Jesus first makes a simple statement. Whoever is not with Jesus is against Jesus. Either you are working with Jesus or you are working against Jesus. There is no neutral ground. There is no sitting on the fence. There is no in-between. You are either with Jesus and working for Jesus or you are against Jesus and working against Jesus. This leads to what Jesus says in verses 31-32.

Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come. (Matthew 12:31–32 ESV)

Now this scripture has scared a lot of people. I get questions through the church website and I have people asked, “Have I committed the unforgivable sin?” What is this unforgivable sin? How do you sin against the Spirit so that you cannot be forgiven? To answer these questions we need to connect back to our context and consider what just happened. Here is the good news: Jesus has come to forgive sins. Jesus can even forgive the sin of speaking against him. Jesus came to forgive every sin and every blasphemy (12:31). Please let those words sink in. Jesus will forgive every sin. Jesus has come to forgive sins without loopholes. Jesus has done the work. He has conquered Satan, bound him up, and exerted his power so that you can no longer have fear but forgiveness.

So when can’t sins be forgiven? When you have a heart so closed that you attribute the work of God to being demonic and Satanic. The explanation that the Pharisees gave made a statement. We noted that fruit says something. Their fruit proclaimed that they had an unrepentant heart. Their fruit revealed that they were so closed off to the work of God that they could not be forgiven.

If you are asking the question if you have committed the unforgivable sin, my answer is that you have not because you have a heart that cares for God and his teachings. It is when we no longer care about what God says and no longer care about God’s work that our fruit is saying something.

But the Pharisees are committing the unforgivable sin. They have a heart that is so closed that they will not listen. They have a heart so closed that they will not consider what Jesus is doing. They have a heart so closed that they are attributing good works to Satan’s power. They have a heart so closed that they refuse to see Jesus as the Son of David. The work of the Spirit was to restore, renew, redeem, replenish, and return the people to God. But the Pharisees are speaking against the Spirit by seeing these restoration works as evil and from Satan.

Now you might wonder who would ever do that today. But a lot of people do. Many people take the good works of God and the good laws of God and proclaim them to be evil. Our culture is moving more and more this way. Their eyes and hearts are closing to seeing God’s good works and God’s good laws. But more importantly, we need to make sure that this is not true about us. Notice how Jesus returns to this in verses 33-37.

Fruit Says Something (12:33-37)

Jesus returns to this important truth: fruit says something. Look at verse 33. Make the tree good and its fruit good or make the tree bad and its fruit bad because a tree is known by its fruit. Again, fruit makes a statement. Listen to verse 34. Whatever is in your heart is what comes out of your mouth. The mouth pours out what is in the heart. To put this to the fruit imagery that Jesus is using, our words are the fruit coming from the treasure of our hearts. Our words reveal our hearts.

This is why Jesus says in verses 36-37 that we will give an account for every word we say and our words will justify us or condemn us. Why will our words justify us or condemn us? Why will we be accountable for the words we say? Because our words reveal our hearts. The mouth speaks what is the overflow of the heart. The good person from his good treasure brings forth good and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil (12:35).

Words are the fruit coming from the treasure. This is why the Pharisees are doomed. They are saying that Jesus’ works are from Satan. Those words reveal their hearts. Speaking words against God, against what God is doing, or against his laws shows an evil heart. A heart this dark is not going to turn to Jesus to be forgiven. It was one thing to reject Jesus. It was another thing to call the good he did as coming from Satan. That is some next level darkness on display.


Our fruit says something. Our words reveal what is inside of us. So the goal is not to clean up our words but to clean up our hearts. If we see that we have angry words, then we have a heart problem that needs to be worked on. If we see that we have malicious words, then we have a heart problem that needs to be addressed. If we have words that reveal a lack of self-control, a lack of gentleness, a lack of peacefulness, a lack of joy, a lack of love, a lack of kindness, a lack of goodness, or a lack of faithfulness, then we are seeing that we have a heart problem. What I did is I listed characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit. Our words are the fruit that shows if we have these characteristics in our lives.

While these are important I think there is one particular characteristic that Jesus is focusing on with these Pharisees. What should the Pharisees have done when they saw Jesus heal this demon-possessed man? What should the Pharisees have done when they heard that Jesus had bound Satan and plundered his house? What should have been their response? Their response should have been thanksgiving and glory to God.

This was the thrust of the problem. The Pharisees were taking the good that was being done and attributing it to anything else or anyone else but Jesus. Even worse, the Pharisees took this good and attributed it to the work of Satan. They did not take the good that God was working through Jesus in front of their very eyes and attribute it to God, giving him glory and giving him thanks. A life that does not give glory to God for the good that it is one’s life reveals the heart. A heart that takes the blessings that God is doing and attributes them to ourselves is shocking arrogance and reveals a dark heart. James 1:17 says that everything that is good comes from God.

Be thankful to God for your family, broken and messed up that it may be. Be thankful to God for your place that you live. God is providing for you. Be thankful to God for your wealth, as little as it may be because God is giving you what you need. Be thankful to God for all the small things in your life, because even those are God’s blessing to you. Be thankful to God that hope is in Jesus and that he can restore your life and put you on the path to eternity. Fruit says something. What are we saying? What are we showing our hearts to be filled with?

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