Seven Woes of Man Made Religion Overcome by a Christ Centered Life

Below are the rough draft outline notes for the sermons preached at Ekron Baptist on March 19th and 26th.  An audio of these messages will be available at EkronBaptistChurch.com

Elsa Illinois 2008 167

From Matthew Chapter 23

Mat 23:1-39  Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples,  (2)  “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat,  (3)  so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice.  (4)  They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger.  (5)  They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long,  (6)  and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues  (7)  and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others.  (8)  But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers.  (9)  And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven.  (10)  Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ.  (11)  The greatest among you shall be your servant.  (12)  Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.  (13)  “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.  (15)  Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.  (16)  “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’  (17)  You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred?  (18)  And you say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.’  (19)  You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred?  (20)  So whoever swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it.  (21)  And whoever swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it.  (22)  And whoever swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who sits upon it.  (23)  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.  (24)  You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!  (25)  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.  (26)  You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.  (27)  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness.  (28)  So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.  (29)  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous,  (30)  saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’  (31)  Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets.  (32)  Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers.  (33)  You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?  (34)  Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town,  (35)  so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar.  (36)  Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.  (37)  “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!  (38)  See, your house is left to you desolate.  (39)  For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'”

Jesus dies to establish His church, thus He preaches that we would learn manifestations of false worship and counterfeit Christianity.

 

The Setting

Jesus teaching the crowds and disciples.

  • Sincere in their beliefs
  • Scholarly in studies
  • Missed the point of grace and redemption as they were prideful and concerned with their own power.

Pharisees and Sadducees in Moses seat (authority)- do and observe what they say, but not what they do.

  • Preach and not practice
  • Load heavy burdens hard to bear, lay on people but lift no finger to help
  • Do deeds to be seen by others, love fancy greetings, and titles such as Rabbi.

The idea here is not dealing with never using Rabbi, but rather the pillar placing of men.

Essentially: these were in it for what they could receive, rather than what they could give.

The greatest among you shall be a servant, “Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.

 

The Woes

Woe 1.             “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.

The Pharisees and Sadducees led a religion of pretense.  They did not follow God, but rather a god of their own making.

  • They preach the kingdom, but do not live the Kingdom.
  • Faith for them is intellectual ascent (Mental, systematic, loopholes to obedience), not a matter of the heart (True being)
  • Pride was their underlying motive. It is the subtlest damning poison.  It competes with others in judgment and assessment.  We pride ourselves on being even slightly better than anyone else at some level, not matter how minute it is.
  • They did not love God, but rather the things of God.

 

Overcome: Humbly seek the God of the Bible.  Seek Justification and Sanctification, that is seek not just entering Heaven, but being changed here upon earth to serve Christ. DO not look out for your own dodges and self-appointed systems.  Seek growth and be willing to change according to the scriptures.

 

(Sidebar comments on why verse 14 is not in some translations)

Woe X.            Mat 23:14  [Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive the greater condemnation.]

Footnoted in many translations, this verse is not in many of the better and earlier manuscripts. This is a reiteration of the threefold description above.  They take from widows to exalt their own power.

 

Woe 2.             Mat 23:15  Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.

They present a false view of Christ and make disciples of themselves. They lead people to an ideology, rather than salvation.

So not only are they living a false belief, they push it upon others.  Not knowing the Scriptures (which do come later) that not everyone should aspire to be a teacher, for teachers will receive a stricter judgment.

They love the idea of control or superiority over another.

Example: Jealousy over another’s success, recognition, achievement, or respect.

 

Overcome:  The charge of raising a family, teaching a class, or ministering within a church should never be about us, but ultimately all about Christ.  The focus and center is to be the glory, the all sufficiency of Jesus.  The cross is the power, not some rule of thumb and  7 things for this or 3 for that that guarantee success.  That is salvation by works. We must live, in fear of God, leading others to Him, knowing that we will give an account for the way we invested in lives.

Overcome by keeping everything under subjection to point to Jesus, not ourselves.

 

Woe 3.             Mat 23:16-22  “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’  (17)  You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred?  (18)  And you say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.’  (19)  You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred?  (20)  So whoever swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it.  (21)  And whoever swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it.  (22)  And whoever swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who sits upon it.

The Pharisees and Sadducees operated by traditions that had loopholes to obedience.  This passage essentially points out the dodges to obedience that had been worked in the swearing of oaths. Thus, when hard pressed to do what they did not wish, they would change the rules to suit the needs of the moment.  They would claim to not be bound to certain circumstances.

For example, the promising of their savings to the church rather than helping their parents in old age.

Overcome: Overcome this by love that costs you something.  Obedience is costly. Do not treasure convenience or avoid duty.  Delight in being part of the Kingdom of God rather than building your own kingdom that will perish. Lay your treasures up in Heaven. Pitch in and do the work of an evangelist, have a costly Christianity.  Do not love the things of the world, the things of the flesh.  Demonstrate the love of God to all, and remember the verses about loving your enemies.  They were written for a purpose.

 

Woe 4.             Mat 23:23-24  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.  (24)  You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!

The Hypocrite nitpicks the details but fails in the big picture. They criticize in one area, but limit it to other people.  They are experts at finding excuses.

Example 1: Serving the poor.  They judge that the poor person is simply stupid, or getting what they deserve.  They there is no compassion.  They curtail love in order to serve themselves further.

Example 2: I watched a live stream youth event at Southern Friday night.  In the comments, someone criticized the smoke machine.  This is not a doctrinal issue. It is not immoral.  It was a personal preference coming in and taking away from the bigger picture.  The evening was not built upon entertainment of the focus on a person, other than Christ. They were criticizing to draw attention to their own superiority rather than looking at the depth of Gospel being presented.

Example 3: They nit-pick translations of the Bible but fail to love and seek the actual message of the text.

Overcome: by getting dirty in practical ministry.   Working with people is messy. Do something beyond tithing or putting $10 in the offering place for a special need.  Actually get out and meet people where they are at and disciple them in love.

Love someone of another race.

Feed the hungry regularly with the intention of sharing the gospel, not soothing conscience.

Find someone in the church and walk with them, not just in a time of need but beyond that.

Bare the burdens of someone who cannot, for the long haul.

Bring folks into your home and life as a means of sharing the gospel and being the gospel.

 

Woe 5.            Mat 23:25-26  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.  (26)  You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.

Hypocrites wear a mask, to impress others.  In some way, we are all guilty here. We often are more concerned with what other people think of us than what God sees on the inside.

So, by greed and self-indulgence, were all about themselves.  There is no evidence of refined love for God by loving others. Hypocrites want to appear holy, but are not.

Overcome: By the power of the Holy Spirit, overcome the idolatry of the fear of man and the false appearance of being holy. Do not be rude, for that is not love.  But become ever more concerned with what God sees in your life than what man judges.  Strive for holiness and purity before God. A truly repentant believer will always be more concerned for their own sin than the sin of others (Isaiah, “Woe is me for I am a man of unclean lips.”)  When it comes to the sins of others, they will not harbor judgment, but rather a sense of “I dwell among a people of unclean lips.”

 

Woe 6.            Mat 23:27-28 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness.  (28)  So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

Hypocrites appear beautiful and monumental. Yet, inside they are dead.

The tombs of the area were often washed white, especially during the Passover.  This was to warn people not to come in contact with a dead body, and then become ceremoniously unclean for participation in worship at the Temple.  The Pharisees appeared glorious outside, but inside were dead and unfit.

Overcome: Fight against everything that seeks to bring Spiritual death. Practice the art of abiding in Christ. (Romans 8) Rid your life of sin. Flee the appearance of evil.  Be more concerned with your heart before God and your heart before men will change.

 

Woe 7.            Mat 23:29-36  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous,  (30)  saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’  (31)  Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets.  (32)  Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers.  (33)  You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?  (34)  Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town,  (35)  so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of innocent Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar.  (36)  Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.

The Pharisees harbored disgust at their forefathers for the crimes against God’s prophets and teachers yet they were guilty also.  They swore against such things. And yet, in just days they would lead murder against Jesus, culminating in a far worse rebellion against God Himself.

We are no different.  How often do we praise Christ on Sunday but go back to living like the world on Monday, or even Sunday afternoon?  We condemn things of the past, but make not preparation to live differently in the present and future.

Overcome: Be redemptive and seek to work redemption for others.  A transformed life seeks to expound the glories of what God can do. Break free from traditions and lead a radical authentic missionary life. Seek, by faith, to live out the very teaching of Christ in a way that goes and makes disciples of all nations.  Realize, others are not your enemy, they are the objective.  Muslims, Jews, Black, White, Straight, Gay, or whatever, we are called to be redemptive.  What better way to demonstrate al almighty power of God than to go to the most desperate situations and see radical redemption. Be doers of the word and not hearers only.  Demonstrate the change that can only come by Christ

 

Summation

Mat 23:37-39  “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!  (38)  See, your house is left to you desolate.  (39)  For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'”

The overcoming life is gathered in Jesus.  It is a life that abides in Him, forsaking all its own pretenses. It is always more concerned with its own standing before God rather than rants on Facebook and being better than someone else.  It holds to the standards of God and practices them, even when no one else does.  It is a life centered on Jesus Christ and therefore is Kingdom minds and biblically authoritative. It is a life of the love of God.

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