Sermon: Our Words Expose the True Condition of Our Hearts Matthew 12:33-37

Truth Taught- Our true nature is revealed by what we say.


According to recent research done in the UK, Working men average 2000-3000 words per day, females from 10,000-20000. However, both average about 500-700 words of actual value (i.e. words which have intent to communicate to another person an item of importance to both).

I’m not going to make any comments on this data except to say we all probably speak to much especially in light of the fact that we are going to give an account of every careless word we say.

The passage before us today, comes as a result of the words the Pharisees used to smear Jesus’ good image with the people.  Our Lord tells them very truthfully that their speech against the Holy Spirit would never be forgiven.  These were some of the absolute worst evil words a human could utter.  

They saw the miracle of the demon possessed man being healed (something they could not do) and credited a wonderful work of mercy to Satan telling the crowd that Jesus does His mighty works by the power of Beelzebul.  They would later receive the woe curses and forever be lost.

Now, if we are to understand today’s passage then we must see something.  There words did not sentence them to hell.  Their words exposed a person who was already bound for hell.  The charge that Jesus was really doing these miracles by the power of Satan shows what sort of blasphemers these people really were.  The Holy Spirit was working through the ministry of Jesus and they were blaspheming His work. 

This brings us to our text for this morning.  Jesus wants us to see something.  You can tell something about a person by the words they say when they communicate with others.  

There are some people who are gossips.  I’m not referring to the person who has gossiped.  We have probably all been guilty of that.  I’m speaking about a person whose communication is consistent with gossip.  Their speech is the speech of a gossip…have you heard?  Do you know so and so?  I can’t believe that’s true.  They are in the know when it comes to the latest news concerning local scandals and they want to make sure you know they are in the know.  If you’re around them much they will tell you the same gossip over again because they tell everyone they’re with and they can’t remember if they’ve told you or not.  

A gossip has no real friends because everyone who is astute at all doesn’t want to be around them much because when push comes to shove and they don’t have anything to spread, you become their topic.  If they can’t tell people some juicy morsel then the gossip will make up stuff about you in order to be able to talk with others.  

Another trick of the gossip is to tell just enough to slander another person but not enough for you to go to them to straighten things out.  They keep secrets when the secrets protect them but never to protect anyone else.

That’s how it works for gossips.

Then there are the people who just cannot tell the truth.  They cannot just say what they think because they are so afraid of looking bad or being the bad guy.  They never tell you the truth outright.  They always beat around the bush.  I know people like this.  They will tell a half-truth or an outright lie even if the truth works better.  

Be very cautious when you’re around people like this.  You will become the brunt of their words.  

Jesus tells us some very sobering words today in our passage.  He tells us that we are going to give an account to God for all our careless words.  So, we must be careful when we speak to others that our words are truthful and thought through.  We must avoid just saying things to look good in front of others but our words should be careful words.

What do you do when telling the truth causes someone to not like as much or maybe not at all?  What do you do when you have the opportunity to slander someone behind their back even if what you’re thinking about telling others is true?  

I have known and do know people like this and you probably do to.  
I wanted to share this to show how careless words work and the caution we must use when we speak to others.  Tell the truth even when the truth will cause you to have fewer friends, get you into trouble, cause people to not like you as much.  Never gossip.  Rather than tell someone about someone else, go the very person you’re about to tell others about and speak to them about their sin or how they’ve sinned against you and perhaps you can be the instrument of reconciliation and not an instrument of Satan. 

Matthew 12:33–37 (ESV) 

33 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. 34 You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. 36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, 37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” 

1.  The Proverb of the Tree and Its Fruit

33 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit.

A tree and its fruit are connected.  The fruit of a tree manifests whether or not the tree is healthy.  A healthy tree getting the right amount of water and sunlight will produce healthy fruit.  Likewise a diseased tree will produce diseased or inferior fruit.  The fruit originates from the tree and manifests the condition of the tree.

Fruit has been used in the Bible to explain the condition of people.

Galatians 5:18–24 (ESV) 

18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 

If one is lost and led by the flesh/natural desires they will chase after the sins listed above.  Those sins are the fruit that their diseased lost heart produces.  On the other hand, the person whose heart has been renewed by the Holy Spirit will chase after and produce righteousness.  

Notice the fleshly list includes things that are in the realm of false joy and manipulation and frustration.  The works of the flesh are constant turmoil and worldly substitutes with real negative consequences.

Also see that the fruit the Holy Spirit manifests are in the realm of peace and things that are real and lasting.  

The dynamic is that doing good things doesn’t make you good, doing good things shows you already are good through the work of the Holy Spirit has made you righteous so the righteous person does righteous things.  The healthy tree produces healthy fruit.

The words of the Pharisees, 

Matthew 12:24 (ESV) 

24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.” 

They were evil on the inside, which produced evil sinful speech.  

2.  For Out of the Abundance of the Heart the Mouth Speaks

34 You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

35 The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil.

Now, what does He mean by this? He means, “You cannot say that I am evil, that I am satanic, if what I am doing is good.” And they recognized what He was doing as good because their own sons, according to verse 27, were casting out demons. And they were recognizing that as a good thing, and of course they would. They represented God, supposedly. And so the Lord is saying, “How can you say, when I cast out demons – which your own disciples also do – how can you say that I am evil, when you acknowledge that that is a good thing to do. If that which I do is good, then the tree is good; but if I am evil, then doing that is evil. And if doing that is evil, then your own disciples are doing evil.” So they were trapped. You see? They were trapped. They had to either say that what their own disciples were doing in their own casting out of demons – which they may or may not have actually been doing, but claimed to have been doing – was either good or evil. And if they said it was good, then Jesus had to be good. If they said it was evil, then they had to be evil. And they had just reversed that, you see. They were good and Jesus was evil.

Our Lord then accurately labels them…34 You brood of vipers!

This is literally offspring of vipers.  They are a chip off the old block.  They are offspring of their father, Satan the serpent of old.  

They represent the Old Serpent himself, that old serpent the Devil and Satan, the original snake in Eden. The one who is the father, if you will, of these other vipers. They descended from the Devil himself. They were filled with the poison of deadly legalism, filled with the poison of self-righteousness, the poison of fatal hypocrisy, the poison of treachery and moral filth, self-righteousness.  This is their venom.  Poison of religion, hypocrisy, and self-righteousness.

They produce the evil that is within them.  For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

You might thing of a spring of water that flows up out of the ground.  It is fresh water or contaminated water based on where the water comes from.  A contaminated spring cannot produce clean clear water.  
These were the offspring of Satan.  They were little vipers, children of the Snake.  It was evident to Jesus by what they said.

As we consider the context and Jesus focused on words and speech showing the true nature of our hearts uses a very interesting Greek word.  Thesaurus.

In Jesus’ day this word meant treasure house or storehouse.  It also has in mind our definition a storehouse of words or a treasure chest of words.
Our Lord is telling us that when we speak its as if we go into our storehouse of words and pick from the treasure chest of words.  The evil person only has evil words to pick from.  Their treasure chest only has evil in it.  Their speech comes from their deposit of words…slander, complaining, gossip, lying, manipulation and deceit.   That’s what they say because that’s all they have.

The righteous person who is born again also has a treasure chest of words.  We speak using words from our thesaurus.  

3.  Judgment and Justification in Accordance With Your Words

36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, 37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” 

The judgment passed upon the person in the final day will be by or in accordance with their words.  Their words and their judgment will run parallel with each other. 

Their words reveal whether they were lost or a believer.  

We realize that salvation is by grace through faith not of works and at the same time our works and our words reveal whether we are saved or lost.  

Every person is responsible for what he says, and if he rejects Jesus Christ, then he is going to be responsible for the result of it, which will be a lifetime of useless, empty, words – evil words. And I really believe primarily, of course, this applies to unbelievers, to the wicked. They will be condemned by their words. And I think the judgment here is primarily the judgment of the Great White Throne – ultimate eternal judgment, and Christians aren’t going to be there. Our sins have already been dealt with; they’ve been cared for at Calvary; they’ve been dismissed at Calvary. Sure, we’ve sinned with our tongues, we’ve sinned with our mouths, but ours are under the covering of Christ. But these others with unbelieving hearts are going to have nothing but evil words, and by those words they will be condemned. They will be condemned then subjectively by their lack of faith in Christ, and objectively by the words of their mouth and the deeds of their life.

37 for by your words you will be justified.

Again we are justified by faith, however, here our words are one criteria that shows whether our salvation is genuine.


We all have words we wish we could get back but, unfortunately we can’t.  They are out there reverberating through space.

We must pause to consider what our words tell about our current condition.  What do they reveal about our hearts?  What does your treasure chest of words look like?  
If your words will condemn you on the Day of Judgment the answer is not to start speaking in a better way.  The answer is not to polish you speaking skills so that you are not a gossip or a liar.  Do you know what the answer is?  Come to Christ for salvation, He will save you and give you a new heart which will also have a new storehouse of words.  Your heart is changed your speech will reflect that newness.

Anyone can use better words.

To the new believer God says…

Ephesians 4:29 (ESV) 

29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 

Colossians 4:6 (ESV) 

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. 

Did you notice how in both passages Paul tells us that our speech should extend God’s grace to others?
Our words must become words of grace.  So, how do we do this?  Unless we have the Holy Spirit working we can’t do it.  If we are believers then the Spirit will work and we must work with Him.
Psalm 19:7–14 (ESV) 

   The law of the Lord is perfect, 

reviving the soul; 

       the testimony of the Lord is sure, 

making wise the simple; 

   the precepts of the Lord are right, 

rejoicing the heart; 

       the commandment of the Lord is pure, 

enlightening the eyes; 

   the fear of the Lord is clean, 

enduring forever; 

       the rules of the Lord are true, 

and righteous altogether. 

10    More to be desired are they than gold, 

even much fine gold; 

       sweeter also than honey 

and drippings of the honeycomb. 

11    Moreover, by them is your servant warned; 

in keeping them there is great reward. 

12    Who can discern his errors? 

Declare me innocent from hidden faults. 

13    Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; 

let them not have dominion over me! 

       Then I shall be blameless, 

and innocent of great transgression. 

14    Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart 

be acceptable in your sight, 

O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. 

Things to think about…
Some people talk too much.  For some reason they think silence is bad.  God tells us to not talk too much because the less we talk the less chance there is to say something we shouldn’t.  Don’t just talk for talking sake.

Ecclesiastes 5:2–3 (ESV) 

 Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few. For a dream comes with much business, and a fool’s voice with many words. 

Proverbs 15:2 (ESV) 

   The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, 

but the mouths of fools pour out folly. 

If we are praying that God would guard our words

If we speak less and think about what we say to others

If we speak grace to others then we are well on our way to develop godly speech. 

*Resources Used:

Matthew by D A Carson in the Expositor’s Bible Commentary

A Theology of Matthew by Charles Quarles

A Gospel of Matthew by France

Matthew by Craig Bloomberg

Matthew by Doriani

Matthew by Charles Price

Matthew by Leon Morris

Blue Letter Bible

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