Faithlife Sermons

Clinching the Nail (Matt. 7:24)

Wednesday in the Word  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  34:36
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A brief consideration of Jesus’ “sayings” that wise disciples build a strong life on.

Notes & Transcripts


Matthew 7:24 KJV 1900
Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
Most people are familiar with the illustration of the wise and foolish men who built their houses on rock and shifting sand. Even the youngest children in the Sunday school sing a chorus about it. But how many are familiar with the “sayings” to which Jesus referred? The illustration was like clinching the nail—turning over the end and hammering it flat to stop the nail from working its way out of the two pieces of wood fastened together.
“Never man spake like this man,” said the opponents of Jesus. And perhaps the greatest collection of His sayings is found in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5–7). In chapter 5 there are two outstanding sayings about our personal witness and our perfect walk, and in chapters 6 and 7 several sayings about our prayerful ways:

I. Our Personal Witness: “Let your light so shine …” (Matt. 5:16)

Matthew 5:16 KJV 1900
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
No disciple of Christ is ever meant to be a monk, hermit, or recluse. We are to be bright and burning lights (“Be a lighthouse for Jesus”), shining in the worst of conditions, in storm and fog.
How do we shine best—by what we are or by what we say? By what we do, said Jesus, “that they may see your good works.” We are not saved by good works, as preachers of the social gospel declare, but the saved are to do good works, works that glorify God in heaven, works that express the practical outcome of our faith in Christ.
Remember, we are to shine, not glimmer; our light is to be a steady flame, not a flickering one; we are to be household bulbs, not photographers’ flash bulbs!

II. Our Perfect Walk: “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:48)

Matthew 5:48 KJV 1900
Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
Personal holiness, the believer’s daily sanctification, is often referred to as a “walk” in Scripture (see Eph. 5:1, 2).
Ephesians 5:1–2 KJV 1900
Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.
Sometimes Christians get a kind of spiritual “injection” at a convention for the deepening of the spiritual life, but some weeks later there is no consistent walk in the highway of holiness. As the light must not flicker or fluctuate, so the walk in holiness must be progressively forward, our standard of holiness that of the Father Himself. We must be like the ardent gardener or fruit grower who goes on and on until he has perfected a thornless rose or pipless fruit.
This is not accomplished by an outward copying, as a child copies the habits or mannerisms of father or mother; it is by the indwelling Spirit of God working in us and through us.

III. Our Prayerful Ways: “When thou prayest … when ye pray … after this manner pray ye … ask … seek … knock …” (Matt. 6:5, 6, 7, 9; 7:7)

Matthew 6:5–9 KJV 1900
And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
Matthew 7:7 KJV 1900
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
Note the repetition of “when.” Our Lord assumed that His disciples would be men and women of prayer, so He followed His succession of “whens” with a simple, practical pattern: ask, seek, knock.
Asking means making requests on behalf of self and others. It includes petition, supplication, and intercession. Seeking means contemplation and meditation, listening rather than talking, seeking to know His will and way for us. Knocking means intimate fellowship and communion, admittance into the presence of the King.
This last selection of sayings from the Sermon of the Mount, our prayerful ways, is the most important, for it affects our personal witness and our perfect walk. As we learn to pray aright, so we are given strength to seize God-given opportunities for personal witness. As we pray, so we are led further and further into the way of perfect holiness. The more time we spend in the presence of the Father, the more like the Father we become.


The sayings of Jesus, resembling a clinched nail that gives strength and stability to the Christian’s spiritual life, constitute the “rock” on which the wise Christian builds his spiritual life. Let the Holy Spirit hammer home these sayings well, that they sink deep down into our hearts.
[Eric Hayden, All-Purpose Sermon Outlines, Dollar Sermon Library Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1976), 7–8.]
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