Thursday, August 4, 2011

WOE TO YOU, TEACHERS AND HYPOCRITES!

SONS OF HELL
A. Brother

          “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!  You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces.  You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.
          Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!  You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.”  --Matt. 23:13-15

          Sons of hell, this is for you.
            I rebuke you for your hypocrisy with these words of Jesus.
            There is a special place reserved in hell for those who make others stumble, and keep others out of the Kingdom of God, through their haughty and prideful religion.  Those who claim to be Christians, and to know the way, and to be a guide to the blind, but instead, are more lost than the ones they claim to guide.
            Better for you to choose a millstone now, or a rope to hang yourself, than to lead another poor soul into hell with you!
            Do you understand the gravity of your situation?  Do you not know that the worst punishment is reserved for those who lead others astray?  That God so cares about even the smallest, the least, of people, that He will judge with special severity those who make them stumble? 
            These teachers of the law and Pharisees were the most highly regarded religious people in their day in Israel.  When Jesus taught, these men would come around and judge what He said.  These were the leaders, the so-called proclaimers of truth to the common people.  They had the Scripture, and stood up and read it every Sabbath in the synagogues.  They were the ones who prayed very fervently on street corners, and led the processions to the house of God.  They were the ones who taught the young, and claimed to be holders of the keys to getting into heaven.  They were the ones who presided over marriages and funerals, and every major occasion of life among God’s people.
            Yet Jesus here rebukes them and tells them they’re not only going to end up in hell, but are taking others with them.  They are keeping men and women and children out of the Kingdom of God, not bringing them into it!
            Does this shake you, brother?  It should. 
            For many in the churches today are as much sons of hell as the teachers of the law and the Pharisees were in Jesus’ day.

            I rebuke in the Name of Jesus those of you who claim to be the keepers of the keys to the Kingdom, yet who yourselves are blind, impotent, sinful, disobedient, and full of deceit.
            I rebuke in the powerful Name of the One who came as Light in the darkness, this spiritual darkness you perpetuate by enslaving men and women to your self-declared leadership. 
            You who seek prominence, and position.  You who seek to stand in front so your egos and your self-worth are fed by the respect of your congregations.  You who speak words pleasing to the ears of your hearers, while letting them be taken to hell with the rest of the world.  You who treat the Word of God as if it is your private reserve of wine, to be doled out in small glasses as you wish to favor those who come to hear you.  You who care more about your programs and your church growth than you do about any individual man, woman or child around you.  You who have found a secure niche in the hierarchy, who favor us with your pronouncements, and your profound opinions, and your carefully-worded press releases.  You who speak from the seats of scholarship, safely dispensing your wisdom while the world dies for lack of knowledge.  You who wear the suits, and make the gestures, and intone the correct phrases, and pray the right prayers.  You who create whole industries around yourselves, and your ministries, and yet who do not speak the plain, simple, hard truths of God’s Word.  You who claim to be leaders, but are followers only—followers of your spreadsheets, and your financial advisors, or your denominational pronouncements, or your boards of directors.  You who claim to be free and claim to lead others to freedom, but who instead are the worst kind of slaves--slaves to pride and rebelliousness, slaves to self, slaves to religious convention and man-made tradition—who lead others into the same enslaving bonds, and sit on your couches in your comfortable homes and offices content and secure while your readers or listeners go to hell with you.
            Jesus would have a Word with you.
            He would like you to stop what you’re doing, and find Him.  To become true disciples before you speak another word in His Name. 
            His greatest condemnation is reserved for those who claim to be what they are not.  His fearsome condemnation sits heavy upon the hypocrites of our day, just as surely as it did when He spoke these Words to the religious leaders of His day.
           
            “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!  You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and self-indulgence.  Blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside will be clean.”  --Matt. 23:25,26

          You must first learn to listen to the Word of God, and to obey it.  You must  bear the fruit of the Spirit in your own life, learning the difficult and costly lessons of the narrow road with Jesus, before others can drink from your cup.  Clean your cup and dish, take the plank out of your own eye, sit in humility and be nobody before the world, and then, perhaps you will be worthy to share this Good News with others.  Then perhaps God will honor you with the great responsibility of speaking His Word to His people.
            Jesus tells us we are not to be called “Rabbi” or “Father” or “Teacher”, and I would extend that in our day to “Pastor” and “Reverend” and “Doctor” and “President”.  Within the Body of Christ, we are all brothers.

            “For you have one Teacher, the Christ.  The greatest among you will be your servant.  For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”  --Matt. 23:8-12

          Repent today of your hypocrisy, sons of hell, before the humbling comes!

           

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