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Unmasking the Hypocrites

 


13 "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. 

15 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves. 16 "Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, that is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple is obligated.’ 17 You fools and blind men! Which is more important, the gold or the temple that sanctified the gold? 18 And, ‘Whoever swears by the altar, that is nothing, but whoever swears by the offering on it, he is obligated.’ 19 You blind men, which is more important, the offering, or the altar that sanctifies the offering? 20 Therefore, whoever swears by the altar, swears both by the altar and by everything on it. 21 And whoever swears by the temple, swears both by the temple and by Him who dwells within it. 22 And whoever swears by heaven, swears both 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 cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. 24 You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!

25 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also.

27 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

29 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, 30 and say, ‘If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 So you testify against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of the guilt of your fathers. 33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell?"

Good Morning my beloved,
 
We welcome you to worship in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is my honor and great privilege to come together with you for the study of God's Word. I humbly ask you to continue to share the ministry website and social media platforms as you feel lead. God has been blessing your efforts in reaching the lost and the deceived. May God continue to bless our growth together with the knowledge of His Word with all spiritual wisdom and understanding.

I humbly ask you to continue to pray for our brothers and sisters throughout the world, especially those in North Korea, China, Somalia, Yemen, Eritrea, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, Sudan and India. May God raise up Spirit-filled leaders to evangelize the lost and continue to bless their growth together with the knowledge, all spiritual wisdom and understanding, as they faithfully lead those trapped in false religion to Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.  
 
Throughout the years of my service before the Lord Jesus Christ, I have observed an astonishing number of people who claim to be saved, who pretend to be zealous for Christ, in pursuit of the Christian life, while continuing to exhibit behavior that often leaves one wondering what happened.  I believe it's pretty clear that those who are unchanged, who remain in the unbroken bondage of habitual sin without restraint, have no true fellowship with Jesus Christ.
 
What is evident is that many people often appear to be Christians from the outside, are spiritually dead on the inside. Pastors have watered down the message of the Gospel to avoid offending anyone, at the cost of it's veracity and power. Judas Iscariot enjoyed the same privilege and respect as the other eleven disciples, chosen by them to be treasurer, thought he was later exposed as a thief. He untruthfully spoke of his concern for the poor, to love and he appeared to follow Christ, and later delivered Jesus into the hands of those who were seeking to kill Him. Though Judas claimed to follow, he was lost because he was never truly saved. Today, he is only remembered as "the one who betrayed Jesus."
 
John 3:36 says "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him." 
 
Whether you attend church service regularly, or even whether you are a member, has no bearing on your eternal destiny. When a person has an encounter with Christ, yet fails to be transformed by the Spirit of God, that person has jeopardized his soul. In Matthew 11:20-24, Jesus rebuked the cities of Chorazin and Bethsaida, where most of His works had been done, because they did not repent. Jesus does not call us to clean up the former ways we used to live, He demands complete regeneration!
 
Jesus says in Matthew 7, "Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand."  
 
Personal accountability often induces a rather pathetic response from those who are spiritually impoverished, trapped in their sin. Sin, at it's core is rejection of truth and believing the lies. Many who had heard the truth yet have failed to properly respond to it's life saving message. Faith that does not lead to action is no faith at all.
 
Let us pray
 

Heavenly Father,

Father, we humbly thank You for Your Word. Lord, may these strong words of confrontation bear heavily on the hearts of the hearers, that they may not be deceived by the damning lies spiritual frauds. Lord, help us to find the balance between Your compassionate love and Your righteous judgement. Lord, we pray that You would penetrate even the hardest hearts, even those within our own families and the church, who proclaim their faith with their lips but deny You with their lives, calling them to repentance and redeeming this lost generation. Save Your people from the damnable heresies of the day. All for Your glory and for Christ's sake.
In Jesus' name we ask and pray
Amen

Today's Message: Unmasking the Hypocrites
 
All the political and cultural attacks against Christianity are not as dangerous and destructive to the church as to false spiritual leaders. Give those seeking God, who want to feel better about their sin lying spiritual leaders and they'll love it. God condemns false shepherds who trample on His truth, perverting His Word, turning it into a lie.

The Gospel of grace, is to be preached to call sinners to respond in repentance, to invite them to partake of the benefits of the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. From time that Jesus began His public ministry, after His baptism, He called His hearers to repentance, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gives us a vivid picture of what true repentance looks like; they are the privileged recipients of God's Divine favor, the ones to whom the kingdom of heaven belongs. It is not a recommendation, it is an emphatic declaration, that true salvation must begin with repentance.

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the gentle, or the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied."

True repentance includes the personal acknowledgement of your sin, your guilt before the Holy and Righteous God because of your personal violations of His Law.

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
The term “poor,” is speaking about spiritual poverty, not financial or material poverty. There's no intrinsic virtue in poverty itself, unless it is spiritual poverty. Jesus is calling His hearers to recognize that in the light of God‟s Holy character, being sinners, they‟re not worthy, deserving to be in His presence.

Admit it or not, we are all beggars before a Holy God, that's the reality of your spiritual condition apart from God's grace, salvation through saving faith in Jesus Christ.

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."
Repentance is far deeper than an intellectual understanding, it includes an overwhelming sorrow, a heart-felt brokenness. When you‟re truly repentant, you "mourn" over your sinful condition. The term "mourn," describes a deep, inner agony. Truly repentant people are not casual about their sin, they have a deep sorrow over their sin. Because they take it seriously, it literally breaks their hearts, in a sorrow that they can‟t get over, crying out, "God, please be merciful to me, I am a sinner.”

"Blessed are the gentle, or the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied."

Do you hate your sin? Does it stop you in your tracks? Because it‟s not enough to know that you‟re a sinner, to grieve over your sin. True repentance, causes you to look at your sin and say, "This in unacceptable, I can't continue to do this!" True repentance forces you to turn away from your sin. It changes you from an arrogant, self-willed person into a humble, meek person, eager to change your life in exchange for forgiveness.

Until there is an abandonment of your own will, a turning away from your sin, you're not repentant! Unless you have fully surrendered your life to Christ, you are not a Christian. That's why false teaching has always been the most significant issue facing the church!
 
Since this is a rather large portion of Scripture, we aren’t going to finish all of this today, that's ok because there a lot to unpack in these verses and it is very important. So, we'll need to divide it up into several messages. This is Jesus' last public sermon, it's a message against false teachers. It seems as though the more time that passes from Christ's ascension, the further we move away from our Christian foundation and the more religious frauds teaching their damning doctrines are flourishing. These defiled spiritual terrorist are embedded in the church, they’re in our seminaries, they're in Christian schools and colleges, and they turn the grace of God into lustful immorality, licentiousness and lawlessness in the undiscerning, tolerant church environment, causing absolute devastation and confusion and there is nothing being done to restrain them. Confrontation in the church seems to be foreign concept to us today. If you speak against any false teacher, any false doctrine, those holding a warped perspective of the Truth, claim that you don't understand the meaning of graciousness and love, Jesus wouldn't say these things. This is an unbelievable passage, in which Jesus confronts the religious leaders with blunt, very severe warnings. There are the strongest words Jesus ever uttered on this earth. He is definitely not tickling their ears.
 
Open your Bibles to the twenty-third chapter of the gospel of Matthew. Matthew 23:13-33. I invite you to follow along with me, as I read these eleven verses to you. There's a lot of information packed into these verses. So let's get started with the Spirit leading while we open our hearts and minds, and hear what the Spirit of God has to say to each of us today. Matthew 23:13-33.
 
"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. 

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.

"Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, that is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple is obligated.’ You fools and blind men! Which is more important, the gold or the temple that sanctified the gold? And, ‘Whoever swears by the altar, that is nothing, but whoever swears by the offering on it, he is obligated.’ You blind men, which is more important, the offering, or the altar that sanctifies the offering? Therefore, whoever swears by the altar, swears both by the altar and by everything on it. And whoever swears by the temple, swears both by the temple and by Him who dwells within it. And whoever swears by heaven, swears both by the throne of God and by Him who sits upon it.

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also.

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, ‘If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ So you testify against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of the guilt of your fathers. You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell?"

If you look at the older manuscripts, verse 14 wasn't there in the original text, which is evidence that it was added later. Evidently, a well meaning scribe somewhere thought that it fit in, so he took it from Mark 12 and Luke 20. So, I've excluded from our text, and we'll just set it aside for this particular study, since it wasn't in the original manuscripts.

Let's look at verse 13, "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." 
 
This is a scathing rebuke of judgment disassociated from any emotion, yet these words fly from His lips with deadly calm and a crushing power. Yet, there is a sorrowful aching in His heart because of the inevitable judgment coming the people who follow them. This is the fiery righteousness of God. 
 
Notice the word "woe" is a word with many emotions. It conveys lament. It conveys sorrow. But it also conveys wrath and judgment, uttered in grief and denunciation. In the Greek, the word woe "ouai," it means alas! Woe!. An expression of exclamation of grief, the intermingling of cursing and compassion. It's an onomatopoetic word. Jesus is saying an inevitable judgment is coming, but how terribly sad is that inevitable judgment. kThe next word I'd like you to notice, is the word "hypocrite," or "hupokrité," in the Greek. Originally it was a term to describe an actor, one who pretended to be something he wasn't. It later became a word used to describe a deceiver, someone who says one and does another, whose profession does not match their practice. Someone who portrays himself to be outwardly good, but is inwardly evil.
 
Jesus is pronouncing a curse of death and eternal damnation on these false religious leaders. They are condemned by God. I believe we must deal with spiritual frauds in the same way today. We must confront them because they keep people out of the kingdom of God, and we must warn people about what they're doing. They preach some loose moral standards in which to live by, when it fact, they're damned. This must be confronted in the same way Jesus confronted them, warning those who follow them of the inevitable coming judgement. Many false teachers boast they have a revelation, an understanding of the truth of God, that they know His will, and He will approve of sinful behavior. Giving those who hear them a false security they're headed to the kingdom, when in reality they're being led further and further into darkness.
 
Jesus is not only warning His disciples and His hearers about the religious pretenders, but He is also warning the religious pretenders about themselves. The gloves are off so to speak, this is strong indictment, a harsh verbal attack against false teaching! Notice that Jesus reserved the harshest of judgments for the scribes and Pharisees, darkened and foolish in their understanding, hindering people from entering God's Kingdom. Let this be a lesson for us today, regardless of their denomination, in spite of their false claims, not all church leaders are good! Even though they may look the part, though they may dress the part, not everyone is a true spiritual leader. That's the point Jesus is making.
 
Notice He says "You shut off the kingdom of heaven from people?" The kingdom of heaven is the sphere where God rules and God rules over those who belong to Him, His redeemed people. Jesus is saying that they keep people from getting saved, by grace through faith. Their lies are barriers, obstacles, slamming the door in the faces of those who seek to enter, believing they're heading in the right direction. This is a very vivid picture. John the Baptist, the forerunner who came to prepare the hearts of people, getting them ready for the Messiah, said "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." For this is the one referred to by Isaiah the prophet when he said, "The voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make ready the way of the Lord, Make His paths straight!’" 
 
People were confessing their sins and were being baptized. They moving toward the kingdom. Preaching must confront the sin in our lives and calling us to repentance and to obedience. These are the non-negotiable steps that a person who is searching for God must take. By denying people from hearing the Word of God, misinterpreting and perverting the Word of God, they are denying the need for repentance and salvation by grace. Shutting the door to the kingdom in the faces of the people. False teachers damn peoples' souls to hell. This a very serious issue in the church today! I believe it is imperitive to interpret, articulate the Word of God clearly, loudly confronting sin and error with boldness and courage, in love, with compassion, in hopes of restoring those who are lost. Not just wagging our finger at people. The point is, we cannot afford to treat damning teaching with indifference.

Jesus is confronting the scribes and Pharisees because people listen to them, hoping that they will be helped into the Kingdom. Instead, they shut them out.
 
Verse 15, "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves."
 
They pursue converts willing to cross sea and land, sparing no expense, sparing no effort. They made great efforts proselytize Gentiles to Phariseeism, they even gave them a new Jewish name. When they become a disciple, they not only keep them out of true religion, they corrupted them with their false religion. Turning them into a child of hell, twice as much as themselves. They didn't become closer to God, they led them closer to hell. They put up spiritual roadblocks. Often, new converts became more more zealous and aggressive than those raised in Judaism, purification, ceremony, adherence to the Mosaic Law. That's true of almost anything, even Christianity. There's something euphoric about being saved, you want to run out and save the world. So, when false religions convert people, and they become more fanatical, more zealous than those already in the false religious system, they're twice as damned.
 
Don't listen to the Word, neglecting to do what it says, pretending to be somebody you’re not. At some point, people will see through it. Don't be found stifling the work of Christ. Focus on Christ and on these powerful Words He has given those who have ears to hear. 
 
In Closing..
 
It's sad, many Christians today, won't even dare to cross the street to reach someone for Jesus. Instead, they have become more uptight, they get upset because didn't get the parking place or seat they wanted. They get upset about the music, that the message wasn't very good. They become confrontational about which translation of the Bible is better, who should be welcomed in the church, allowed to hear to saving truth, instead of being grateful, thanking God they're in a church where the truth is preached.
 
If you're a Christian, you have a tremendous responsibility,  you have the keys to the kingdom. You need to be sharing the Gospel with people, prioritizing what's most important, calling them out of the darkness, those damning false religious systems. Even if they don't like what you say, you'll plant a seed in their mind. You don't give up because they wouldn't listen, feeling defeated. You pray and leave the results to God. I've done that on several occasions, and many have walked away, then sometimes months or years later, they come back, wanting to know more about Christ.

We must invest ourselves in praying for the lost, asking God to reveal opportunities to us to share the Gospel with those whose hearts He has prepared. To generously bless others, giving Him the glory. We have the keys to the kingdom, we don't want to miss an opportunity to open the door for someone to come in. 

May it be so..
 
And now may the Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make His face shine upon you,

And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

Now and forever, in Jesus' name
Amen

 
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