John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 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.”
Do you know anyone who goes to church who’s a hypocrite? Most likely you do since all who go to church are human. Jesus isn’t a fan of hypocrites, especially those who teach and preach. In Matthew 23, he gives seven woes to teachers of the Law and Pharisees, who are hypocrites. His words aren’t complimentary. Hypocrites in our churches keep many people out of church.
John the Baptist was not mincing words when he started out his first sermon with, “You brood of vipers!” Matthew 3:7 clarifies that John saw the Pharisees and Sadducees watching the baptisms and it was them he addressed as vipers or poisonous snakes. Many times, Jesus refers to the Sadducees as teachers of the Law. So, Jesus refers to both groups as evil, hypocrites, and a brood of vipers (Matthew 12:34, Matthew 23:23). They are hypocrites because they do not practice what they preach (Matthew 23:3). They believe they will go to heaven no matter what they do because they have Abraham as their father. It is possible that’s true, but if they do not produce good fruit, they will be cut down and thrown into the fire.
1 Corinthians 3:11-15 explains we shouldn’t build on the foundation of Jesus using wood, hay, or straw because it will burn up. Judgment Day will bring to light our fruit. Our works will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If our work on earth survives, we will receive a reward. If it is burned up, we will suffer loss but will be saved – only as one escaping through the flames; our lives on earth will be wasted and our Judgment will be painful.