Gospel Wednesday | Matthew 6:1-24

bibleLast week we looked at Jesus’ teaching of the Law as it pertains to how we deal with one another in Matthew 5:31-42, further demonstrating the depth of our depravity and transgression. While many might find this section somewhat less punishing than the first portion, this section was not easy. In Verses 43 through 48, we Jesus transitioning out of the clarification of the Law regarding sins and into more of how we are to serve the Lord (Worship) lawfully. What does it mean to serve God according to the Law. While the Law does reveal sin, it also points us to how we are to serve God. The first point of this transition is in dispelling the notion that we are allowed to hate our enemy or vindicate ourselves for mistreatment. We are to love our neighbors & our enemies. This is still Law, as He made clear in the last verse, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matt 5:48)“. I am not, therefore I am sinful and desperately in need of Salvation. This is the work of the Law, to bring us to repentance. In this life, we will not graduate from this lesson… we must always bear fruit of repentance, until the Day of Christ’s Return. He is Faithful.

Worship in Spirit and in Truth

Matthew 6:1-24 (ESV)

Giving to the Needy

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

“Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Practicing your righteousness is an act of worship to God. God works are done in worship to God, for they are only possible by His Grace through Faith (which He gave you by His Word). God decides how you are to receive your reward. If you’ve determined in your heart that you use the occasion of your worship to draw attention to yourself, then Jesus says quite plainly that you will have no reward from your Father in Heaven. Your reward will be limited to the recognition of men that you sought, and you may not even get that (because man is sinful). In verse 2, Jesus presents giving to the needy as an example, but His first statement covers all practices of righteousness, of good works.

In our day here in the US, those who give to 501(c)(3) Non Profit organizations (among whom Churches are included… for now) get a tax credit for their donation. Are you giving to these organizations as a form of worship to God (for doing good works)? or are you giving so that your donations might be recognized and rewarded by the Government, other organizations, or so that people might regard you (or your organization) with esteem? Is the organization the needy, or do they serve the needy, and if so to what degree is your donation to them serving the needy? I leave these questions between you and God the Holy Spirit to discern for yourselves. We aren’t talking about whether or not you are sinning, that has already been covered, we are talking about the quality of your Worship and Service to God the Father in Heaven. If you’ve done it to be recognized by men, you’ve received your reward. If your worship is for God’s glory, He will reward you as He sees fit… and His rewards are always better. Soli Deo Gloria is an excellent guideline here, too.

But this isn’t just about giving money, or food, or clothing, or shelter, etc… How about extending grace or mercy or forgiveness to your brother or sister in Christ? Neighbor? Enemy? All good works, all practices of righteousness… being ever mindful of our own sin, even in our attempt to practice righteousness. The praise and worship band on Sunday morning… if they are performing so that they might be honored by the congregation, has received the reward for their service. The individual in the Congregation who belts out their best singing hoping to be noticed by those around him/her, has received his/her reward. I’ve been guilty of both errors of worship, so I’m not wildly inventing these examples, nor am I “calling YOU out, specifically”. That was pure confession on my part… though I am confident that we all are tempted in similar ways.

One final example before we move on… if you’ve “taken the high road” in a situation, do so in secret so that your Father in Heaven might reward you. Don’t throw that away by announcing how you decided to “take the high road” in the matter.

Matthew 6 | The Lord’s Prayer

“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from evil.

14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Prayer is an act of Worship. Prayer is a gift from God, one of the means of Grace as recognized in traditional confessions (both Reformed and Wesleyan). Jesus, our Lord and Savior, is teaching us how to pray here. An active Prayer life is essential to Faithful Stewardship of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and it comes up often. I do not pray as often as I should, and repent for my lack of prayer often. If you’d like to read more on this topic, we discussed this lesson in Matthew on Prayer here and here. For our purposes here today, I want to highlight its position within the greater context of prayer as a form of worship, and the humility, repentance, and God honoring focus we are to maintain. Do you have a speech impediment? An odd/weak/distracting voice? Limited Scriptural knowledge? None of these disqualifies you for prayer. You pray, to God the Father, and rest assured by faith that He hears you. Don’t dress up your prayer to impress those who might hear. Don’t use prayer as an occasion to lecture the congregation. When it’s time to pray, pray to God. Teach your little ones to pray. I try to teach my children prayer before and after our family prayer time. I try to avoid interrupting any prayer with teaching… though sometimes a quick rebuke for foolishness in prayer is necessary (they are ages 3 and 5 after all).

Fasting

16 “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Fasting is first and foremost an act of worship. It is a humbling of ourselves before God. It is a proper response to a rebuke and judgement (2 Samuel 12; Jonah 3) as well as a means of supplication for the Lord to intervene (Esther 4:12-17) in a situation. However, fasting is one of those areas where seeking attention for your piety is a major temptation. Our flesh is sinful, and it throws tantrums (you may not remember your behavior as a toddler… ask your parents) when it doesn’t get its way. Breaking your fast, or cheating on your fast aren’t the only pitfalls. Moaning and groaning about your fast is a pitfall, one that Jesus addresses here. Note: fasting isn’t a means of gaining leverage over God, either. God’s sovereignty is immutable. Fasting is a form of worship, not a magic trick to getting your way with God.

Lay Up Treasures in Heaven

19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

Jesus returns to the concept of reward. Yes, we are promised a great reward in Christ Jesus… but you don’t want to trade heavenly reward for temporal ones (I’m looking at you, prosperity preachers). Nowhere are we promised riches and happiness here on earth. Our Promise is kept in Heaven.

1 Peter 1:3-9 (ESV) | Born Again to a Living Hope
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Peter’s introduction in his letter echos Jesus’s statement, “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also“. Now, while Jesus was giving this sermon, they probably didn’t fully get it… but by the time Peter is writing this letter, the Apostles understood and taught it.

Until next week…

We will pick up in Chapter 6 beginning in verse 25 and work through more of Jesus’ teaching of good works. We’ll see more elements of the Gospel being opened up in His sermon here, so I look forward to that. Jesus will continue preaching the Law, but we’ll see Him also offering comfort, the kind that can only be received by faith. Let us close in a word of prayer from the Apostle Paul:

Ephesians 3:14-21 (ESV) | Prayer for Spiritual Strength
14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Gospel Wednesday | Matthew 5:31-48

bibleLast week we looked at the tough teaching of the Law of God delivered by Jesus at the Sermon on the Mount. We noted that while these were new teachings to those present, Jesus wasn’t completely inventing things whole-cloth, that Moses commended his hearers to love the Lord their God with all of their heart, soul, and might. God’s Law was neither being changed nor was it being abolished by Jesus; rather, it was being fully proclaimed in concert with the preaching of Jesus, “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand”. Today, we’ll pick up in verse 31 and cover some of the second table of the Law (sins we commit against God by committing them against our neighbor).

Matthew 5:31-48 (ESV)

Divorce

31 “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

This is a tough passage for our culture, but not nearly as tough as it was in that day. The penalty under the Mosaic Covenant for adultery was death. Leviticus 20:10 (ESV), “If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.” We saw last week that a man is guilty of the sin of Adultery if he looks at woman with lust in his heart. That’s serious. Now we see, though, that the act of divorce sets up the man and woman for adultery. The caveat given is often misapplied to suggest that adultery excuses the sin of divorce. It doesn’t. Jesus is merely saying that the act of adultery is adultery and divorce in that case doesn’t add the sin of adultery, it was already there. How do I know that? First because I followed the language, but also because the last line doesn’t have a caveat. A man who has not known any woman but marries a divorced woman commits adultery because she has been with another man. No caveat of “unless her divorce is approved by means of her ex-husband’s adultery” can be found. Jesus will teach on marriage and divorce again later in Chapter 19. Is there ever a case where divorce isn’t a sin? No. Okay, but it’s a lesser sin if it was the result of infidelity of the spouse, right? Did Jesus present the sin of lustful desires in the heart compared to committing the act? No and no. Remember, Jesus is preaching the Law here… He IS the Gospel in the flesh for He came to fulfill the Law by laying down His life as the last and perfect sacrifice on the cross. Only in Christ can we find the forgiveness of sin… all sin. All sin is death. Only the Death of Jesus Christ on the Cross satisfies the Wrath of God in Just punishment for our sin. That there is forgiveness for sin, does not mean that sin was not committed. Jesus didn’t abolish the Law, He fulfilled it and paid the penalty on our behalf. Here, Jesus was addressing those who thought they were sinless by not physically committing the act of adultery or by securing a certificate of divorce and marrying someone else. They were wrong and they were not sinless. These days, we see some abuse this verse in a different direction, by treating divorce as the unpardonable sin. If there is no forgiveness available for divorce, then there is none available for lustful thoughts in the heart. In Christ, we have the Only forgiveness of our sins… and in Christ there is no condemnation.

Matthew 5 | Oaths

33 “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ 34 But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.

Again, tough. Jesus is tying the breaking of any oath as blasphemous, and blasphemy is punishable by death. Again, we see that all sin leads to death, such is the nature of the Law. The scribes and Pharisees are rebuked harshly later in Chapter 23, because they had added to the Law their own traditions… and they did so falsely. Understand, dear Christian, that our post-modernist relativism doesn’t save us here… we don’t get to wiggle out by redefining what an oath is or a promise or a contract. Jesus breaks it down to, “Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.” Anything beyond yes or no comes from evil. Let’s look at the Law that was given to Moses regarding this.

Leviticus 19:11-12 (ESV) 11 “You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; you shall not lie to one another. 12 You shall not swear by my name falsely, and so profane the name of your God: I am the Lord.

Swearing falsely by God’s name is blasphemy. Please move beyond the elementary understanding of using the Lord’s name as a curse word being blasphemy. It’s so much more than that. If you say, “I swear to God” that such and such is true, and it turns out to be false, you’ve lied AND you’ve blasphemed. If you say, “I swear to God I will do [such and such]” and you don’t do it, you’ve lied AND blasphemed. If you say “The Lord told me” and what you’ve said isn’t of God, you’ve lied AND blasphemed. We’ve minimized blasphemy in our culture, even in the Church, in much the same way we’ve minimized sexual immorality, in that we only seem to take notice when something Obvious has happened (scandal in the media). This is the Law, and its purpose is to identify sin. There is no muting it, or avoiding it. Praise be to God the Father for providing His Son, Jesus Christ as the only Atonement for our sin.

Matthew 5 | Retaliation

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.

So, under the Mosaic Covenant, authority was given to Moses and the Levites to sit as judges over Israel. There are provisions in the Law and guidelines for administering punishment for breaking the Law.

Leviticus 24:17-22 (ESV) | An Eye for an Eye 17 “Whoever takes a human life shall surely be put to death. 18 Whoever takes an animal’s life shall make it good, life for life. 19 If anyone injures his neighbor, as he has done it shall be done to him, 20 fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; whatever injury he has given a person shall be given to him.21 Whoever kills an animal shall make it good, and whoever kills a person shall be put to death. 22 You shall have the same rule for the sojourner and for the native, for I am the Lord your God.”

At His Resurrection, Jesus will be taking up the punitive authority unto Himself, as He is the promised Messiah, the Prophet who was to come to whom all must listen as the ultimate Judge. The Book of Hebrews lays this out very well when it refers to Jesus as the Great High Priest. The world governments maintain their authority granted to them by God (Romans 13:1-7), and Christ establishes His Church on the foundation of His Apostles. Christ holds the keys of Death and Hades (Revelation 1:17-18), so we (the Church) do not have authority to put anyone to death for sin. For now, the world retains that authority and will eventually use it against us, persecuting us in the Tribulation. We who have been granted eternal life by Grace through faith in Christ Jesus dare not exact revenge or retaliate in the temporal against those who sin against us. Rather, we are to forgive others as we have been (and are being) forgiven. We’ll see Jesus expand on this next week when He teaches us how to Pray.

Matthew 5 | Love Your Enemies

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Jesus seems to be returning to Leviticus 19 here, but it seems that He’s addressing a false interpretation of this passage, possibly from the Pharisees. I say that because of the times where Jesus answers the question of the “Greatest Commandment” and when He was asked to define “neighbor”.

Leviticus 19:17-18 (ESV) 17 “You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. 18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.

Again, the commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself” is the Law. We also see here what we covered last week, that Jesus isn’t adding anything to the Law but clarity. Hate is the sin of murder. The Law of the Lord is perfect… and we are all sinners. Apart from Christ, we are nothing and can do nothing. The Law holds everyone equally condemned. The Grace of God is that He sent His son, Jesus to fulfill the Law, live a sinless… SINLESS life and then present Himself as the perfect sacrifice, the pure and spotless Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

Until next week…

We will pick up in Chapter 6 and work through Jesus’ explanation of Worship. Jesus preached the Law, and did so with Authority for He is God. It cuts to the heart of man, and holds us all equally dependent upon His Grace and Mercy. The Law of the Lord humbles us into a right understanding of who we are. Jesus is now transitioning into teaching what proper Worship looks like. I look forward to next week’s study, should the Lord tarry.

Romans 15:5-6 (ESV) 5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

In Christ Jesus, Jorge

Gospel Wednesday | Matthew 5:13-30

bibleLast week we looked at the introduction to Jesus’ sermon on the mount, the portion generally known as the Beatitudes. This week we will start digging into the meat of this sermon. The Sermon on the mount is rich with theology and clarity of the Law. Jesus is preaching repentance here, and He is preaching the Law to convict those present (and us) of our sins. That is the purpose of the Law. Jesus IS the Gospel, He is the Messiah, the Lamb of God sent to take away the sins of the world. Jesus preaches the Law and presents Himself as the remedy, for He will lay His life down to bear the wrath of God in our place, so that by His Blood we might be saved. This sermon is going to take a few weeks for us to work through.

Matthew 5:13-30 (ESV)

Matthew 5:13 (ESV) | Salt

13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.

Matthew 5:14-16 (ESV) | Light

14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

In our culture, we generally hear “experts” telling us that we consume too much salt and how it’s not good for you. That is because we are an over-indulgent society. We would be remiss to view this passage from our secular perspective on salt. Salt is vital for our survival. Check out the intro to this website discussing the History of Salt:

As far back as 6050 BC, salt has been an important and integral part of the world’s history, as it has been interwoven into the daily lives of countless historic civilizations. Used as a part of Egyptian religious offerings and valuable trade between the Phoenicians and their Mediterranean empire, salt and history have been inextricably intertwined for millennia, with great importance placed on salt by many different races and cultures of people. Even today, the history of salt touches our daily lives. The word “salary” was derived from the word “salt.” Salt was highly valued and its production was legally restricted in ancient times, so it was historically used as a method of trade and currency. The word “salad” also originated from “salt,” and began with the early Romans salting their leafy greens and vegetables. Undeniably, the history of salt is both broad ranging and unique, leaving its indelible mark in cultures across the globe.

There is no mistaking salt. Saltiness is one of the 5 flavors or tastes (salt, sweet, sour, bitter, and umami) our tongues were designed to identify. The value of Salt isn’t in its taste; rather, it is in its preservative and medicinal qualities. Salt that has lost its taste isn’t salt… it’s remaining impurities. If you went out to a salt bed (like the Dead Sea) and scooped up a bunch of it in a bucket and filled it with water to overflowing… the salt would dissolve and run out and whatever was left behind wouldn’t be salt. It would be whatever else you scooped up with the salt. It would have no purpose other than being thrown out and trampled under foot. What is it that makes us Salt of the Earth? Faith. For the Jews hearing this sermon, it would have been Faith in the Word of God (Hebrews 11), in His Promise. Israel… Jerusalem… had lost its saltiness. Jesus, we’ll see throughout the Gospel Accounts, holds the Religious leaders, the Chief Priests, Scribes, and Lawyers accountable for their poor stewardship over God’s Chosen Ones, Israel. Now they have a problem… Jesus asked the question, “how shall its saltiness be restored”? There is nothing that the salt can do to regain its own saltiness. There is nothing man can do to make himself right with God. Praise be to Our Lord and Savior that Jesus came to do just that on our behalf… make a way, the only way, for us to be made right with God.

Matthew 5:14-16 (ESV) | Light

14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Here, Jesus is declaring that His audience is the light of the world. As such, they cannot be hidden. The world will see them. Jesus is charging them to shine before others that they might see their good works and in so seeing give glory to God (Soli Deo Gloria). Two things I’d like to highlight here… the first being that good works are to point others to God, not us. Our good works are not of us or by us nor for us; rather, they are by Him, working in us, for His Glory. The second is that similar to the salt analogy, a lamp doesn’t light itself. It required oil and a flame. God provides both. We don’t do anything to make ourselves valuable salt, nor do we light our lamps. To God be the Glory.

Matthew 5:17-20 (ESV) | Christ Came to Fulfill the Law

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Just when the people listening might have expected Jesus to drop the good news (Gospel, Evangel) of why He came, He derails that thought here in verse 17. Jesus didn’t come to abolish the Law. Prophecy pointed to a son of David who would usher in a New Kingdom and a New Covenant. Jesus did all of that, but He didn’t do it by abolishing the Law or the Prophets. He fulfilled them… all of them. So great, God fulfilled God’s law, how is that good news? He laid down His life to bear the full wrath of God as punishment for our sin. He doesn’t get there yet, but that’s where He is headed… it is what the Law requires and what the Prophets recorded of Him. Praise God. Don’t let verse 20 trip you up. Jesus is not indicating that the Pharisees were righteous. They weren’t. They were dead in their sin and trespasses… and they were completely unaware of how desperately they were in need of a Savior. I think it is important to jump ahead a bit to Matthew 23:1-3 (ESV) for some clarity here:

Matthew 23 (ESV) | Seven Woes to the Scribes and Pharisees
1 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…

Here, in Matthew 5, Jesus sets up His teaching of the Law by absolutely destroying what had become a false measure of righteousness. The Pharisees, the scribes, the chief priests, they had all set themselves up as the epitome, the standard of what it means to keep the Law of Moses. They expected the Messiah to arrive and congratulate them for their righteousness… they didn’t expect the rebuke, nor did they humble themselves to repent of their sin… for they did not recognize their sin. Jesus is about to preach the Law in a way that had once been preached long ago… but had not been taught for some time. I’m referring to Deuteronomy 6, the chapter following the reiteration of the 10 Commandments of the Law, where God makes perfectly clear what it the Greatest commandment.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (ESV) 4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

From the time Israel was given the Law, it was to be written on their hearts. It wasn’t only to be physically obeyed/observed, but Israel was to love the Lord with all of their heart, soul, and might. The Pharisees had lost sight of this, and under their blinded guidance had led Israel astray. Sure they had large phylacteries a literally bound the law on their foreheads and hands… but inside they were dead, as were we all before the Grace of God stirred our hearts to saving Faith in Christ Jesus. Jesus wasn’t calling His hearers to greater outward works than the Pharisees… He was calling them to a righteousness they couldn’t do on their own, a righteousness that will only come by His blood. Let us look at how this plays out in the first 2 Laws Jesus preaches.

Matthew 5:21-26 (ESV) | Anger

21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. 23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. 26 Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.

Jesus first tackles anger and the commandment, “You shall not murder”. Clearly, the act of murder is a crime (liable to judgement), but Jesus takes it further to indicate that anger with a brother is also liable to judgement. Our society tries to make some murders even more odious by labeling it a “hate crime”. Interestingly enough, what Jesus is doing here is making Anger a Murderous crime… the sin is in the heart of man, not just in his actions. Jesus also makes it a point for us to make things right with our brothers before presenting ourselves before God. This last portion causes my mind to leap forward to the Lord’s Prayer (forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors) but it also ties back to the Salt and Light introduction we read previously, as well as the beatitude of “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. (Matt 5:9)“.

Matthew 5:27-30 (ESV) | Lust

27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.

There is harm in looking, for lust is the sin of adultery in the heart. Idolatry (idol worship) is also the sin of adultery. Following through with the physical sin was punishable by death… just as murders was, and Jesus here is saying that those who look upon a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery, is equally guilty of the sin by reason of the heart. Quite the blow to those hearing this teaching. Take every sin of sexual immorality listed in Deuteronomy 22:13-30 and apply what Jesus is teaching to them. The sin of lustful intent in the mere looking carries the same weight as the act. Who then is righteous? None but Christ. The Law is hard, and its purpose is to reveal our sinfulness and unrighteousness… how unworthy we are of God.

2 Corinthians 5:20-21 (ESV)
20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Why did Jesus begin with these 2? Jesus will work through all of the major areas of the Law so the “why” of which ones are recorded first here in the Gospel According to Matthew may not be a major issue. However, I do find it interesting that the first account of sin after the Fall is that of Cain murdering Abel, Genesis 4. Notice also, that in the account, Cain’s anger is highlighted and God addresses Cain regarding his anger, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen?  If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it. (Gen 4:6-7 ESV)” Cain goes on to murder his brother, Abel. The “doing well” wasn’t in “not committing murder”, it was in offering an acceptable sacrifice to God.

After this account we get a list of the generations from Adam to Noah in Chapter 5, and in Chapter 6 notice how we are introduced to the wickedness of man.

Genesis 6:1-5 (ESV) | Increasing Corruption on Earth
1 When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. 3 Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” 4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown. 5 The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

There was lust and lawlessness, and every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. The heart of sinful, fallen man is wicked and it is from there that we sin. This is a very hard teaching… the Law kills. That’s its purpose. It is to break us, our will, our self-righteousness so that we might humble ourselves and repent from sin and turn to Christ’s finished work on the cross for our forgiveness, so that His righteousness will be extended toward us in Jesus’ Name.

Until next week…

We will pick up in verse 31 and work through Jesus’ expansion of the social laws. Having decimated our picture of man’s righteousness, Jesus is going to work through how God intends for us to conduct our lives in accordance with the Law, knowing full well that apart from God’s Grace we’d all be liable to judgement and destruction.

Romans 15:5-6 (ESV) 5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

The Pharisee | An honest look at their sin

CTTIt seems these days whenever a Christian exercises Biblical discernment and questions the theology being presented or taught by a Pastor, Teacher, or fellow Christian, the accusation or warning of being Pharisaical is just around the corner. The trendy thing in today’s evangelical circles is to be “above denominations” and to be known as a “Word church”, a “Bible believing” church. What strikes me as odd is that many time such churches teach so very little Scripture, that one wonders exactly whose “word” the church has been built around. If Christ is to be both the Head of the Church and the Cornerstone of the church, then shouldn’t the very Word of God be the sole measure of the Church and its doctrine? Recently, a friend of mine shared that he was reading a book called Pharisectomy, so I decided it was time we stopped throwing around this general pejorative and look at what the sin of the Pharisee truly was in hopes of properly defining what it means to be Pharisaical.

 The Pharisees Rejected Jesus as the Christ, Son of God

I thought I’d start at the most obvious, and eternally condemning sin, the sin of rejecting Jesus as the Son of God. All of Israel was longing for the Messiah (Hebrew for the Anointed One of God) the Christ (Greek for the Anointed One), the Son of David to arrive as prophesied. In Matthew, we see from the beginning that the Pharisees were aware of the prophecies concerning the coming Christ, and they knew well enough to seek out the “one calling in the wilderness”.

Matthew 3:4-12 (ESV) 4 Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, 6 and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 10 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

Wow. John the Baptist wasted no time calling out the Pharisees and Sadducees who came out to investigate John the Baptist. As Matthew records this event, he captures 3 statements (underlined) that serve as prophetic statements. The first is John’s reference to them as a “brood of vipers“. What is interesting to me, is that this will come up again a couple of times when Jesus confronts the Pharisees. The next underlined portion serves as prophetic warning of an argument that the Pharisees will indeed make during a confrontation with Jesus. Finally, the third statement ends up being a recurring theme in Jesus’ teachings regarding trees not bearing fruit. Very exciting. However, before we get to it, I want to hop over to John for the rest of this encounter between John the Baptist and the Pharisees. I can’t say whether or not this happened before the account in Matthew or after it, but it adds to the picture of what is taking place.

John 1:19-28 (ESV) 19 And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20 He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” 21 And they asked him, “What then?Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” 22 So they said to him, “Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” 23 He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.” 24 (Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.) 25 They asked him, “Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” 26 John answered them, “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, 27 even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” 28 These things took place in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

Clearly, the Pharisees were looking for the Christ, Elijah, or the Prophet. There hadn’t been an anointed Prophet of God since Malachi. Many expected Elijah to be the forerunner of the Christ. I find it interesting that John the Baptist denied this, when Jesus later spoke of John the Baptist as Elijah who had already come and was not recognized. I am certain that in his desire to do the will of God, his sole focus was to point to the Christ, the Son of God. Now Jesus performed a great many miracles. These miracles were to serve as a testimony to the fact that Jesus was in-fact, the Christ, the Son of God.

Matthew 11:2-6 (ESV)2 Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples 3 and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” 4 And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5 the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. 6 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.

This was what John the Baptist needed to hear, and all of these signs were performed before people so that they would know who Jesus is and repent. However, there were many who did not repent.

Matthew 11:20-24 (ESV) 20 Then [Jesus] began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. 21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 23 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. 24 But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.”

John 9:24-34 (ESV) 24 So for the second time they called the man who had been blind and said to him, “Give glory to God. We know that this man is a sinner.” 25 He answered, “Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” 26 They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” 27 He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” 28 And they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. 29 We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” 30 The man answered, “Why, this is an amazing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him. 32 Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” 34 They answered him, “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” And they cast him out.

John 8:31-47 (ESV) 31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33 They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?” 34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. 38 I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.” 39 They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, 40 but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. 41 You are doing the works your father did.” They said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father—even God.” 42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. 43 Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. 46 Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? 47 Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”

Now, as for what the Pharisees were looking for in the Christ, Jesus asks them directly toward the end. Granted that by this time, it is clear that the Pharisees had already hardened their hearts against Jesus declaring him a blasphemer, an impostor, even a sinner (for breaking the Sabbath according to their rules) and a demon-possessed man, still the answer is interesting:

Matthew 22:41-46 (ESV) 41 Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question, 42 saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” They said to him, “The son of David.” 43 He said to them, “How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him Lord, saying,
44 “‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at my right hand,
until I put your enemies under your feet”’?
45 If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son?” 46 And no one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.

They set their hearts and minds to kill him, primarily because they rejected Jesus as the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God. Their fate was sealed by their hardened hearts and their unbelief. In His trial, Jesus made it clear to them that He had already said all that needed to be said, and He had done so openly, plainly, and publicly:

John 18:19-24 (ESV) 19 The high priest then questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. 20 Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. 21 Why do you ask me? Ask those who have heard me what I said to them; they know what I said.” 22 When he had said these things, one of the officers standing by struck Jesus with his hand, saying, “Is that how you answer the high priest?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If what I said is wrong, bear witness about the wrong; but if what I said is right, why do you strike me?” 24 Annas then sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

There is a lot more to be said about how these Pharisees ignored Messianic Prophecies and the Law of Moses to feed their greed, defend their pride, and feed their bloodlust against Jesus. They hated Jesus and were lovers of themselves, and their esteemed positions.

The Righteousness of the Pharisee was Purely External

Jesus had a lot to say about the heart issue of the Pharisees. They were neither fulfilling their duties as priests, nor were they serving the people. They were serving themselves. Let’s see how Jesus rebuked them.

Matthew 23:1-7 (ESV) 23 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.

Matthew 23:23-36 (ESV) 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.

I skipped a couple of Woes because the fall more into the next point. Notice here, that Jesus doesn’t say that the Law is bad or wrong. He says plainly that the disciples are not to emulate their works. They preached perfection of the Law and their identity as Levites, Scribes, and Rabbis while hiding greed, self-indulgence, uncleanness, and lawlessness. In Luke 11, Jesus rebukes the Pharisees while dining in one of their homes. The Lawyers jump in, much to their dismay:

Luke 11:45-52 (ESV) 45 One of the lawyers answered him, “Teacher, in saying these things you insult us also.” 46 And he said, “Woe to you lawyers also! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers. 47 Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your fathers killed. 48 So you are witnesses and you consent to the deeds of your fathers, for they killed them, and you build their tombs. 49 Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,’ 50 so that the blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation, 51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be required of this generation. 52 Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.

That last comment is telling. In their refusal to accept Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God, the Pharisees also persecuted the church, in the same way that their fathers killed and persecuted the prophets.

They Did not Understand the Law, and They Abused it to Serve Themselves

Matthew 15:1-9 (ESV) 1 Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, 2 “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.” 3 He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ 5 But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, “What you would have gained from me is given to God,” 6 he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. 7 You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said:
8 “‘This people honors me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me;
9 in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”

Matthew 22:23-33 (ESV)  23 The same day Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection, and they asked him a question, 24 saying, “Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies having no children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother.’ 25 Now there were seven brothers among us. The first married and died, and having no offspring left his wife to his brother. 26 So too the second and third, down to the seventh. 27 After them all, the woman died. 28 In the resurrection, therefore, of the seven, whose wife will she be? For they all had her.” 29 But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 31 And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God: 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living.” 33 And when the crowd heard it, they were astonished at his teaching.

Matthew 23:16-22 (ESV) 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.

Luke 18:9-14 (ESV) 9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Beware the Leaven of the Pharisees

Luke 12 (ESV) 12 In the meantime, when so many thousands of the people had gathered together that they were trampling one another, he began to say to his disciples first, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. 2 Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 3 Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.

Matthew 12:33-37 (ESV) 33 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. 34 You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. 36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, 37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Hypocrisy, twisting of Scripture for their own traditions, self-aggrandizement, and rejection or obfuscation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ are the markings of a Pharisee, or the sin of being Pharisaical. These are strong accusations. The rebukes levied against the Pharisees were of the strongest that Jesus uttered. We should be very careful to flippantly toss out such accusations at a brother or sister who is trying to point to the Word of God. Are there present-day Pharisees? Sure. However, I’d wager that they aren’t the ones commonly being labeled Pharisaical. Someone who preaches himself, or preaches only Law without Gospel, who weighs a man’s tithing before serving as his shepherd… these are the indicators of a Pharisee, not the one who is exercising Biblical discernment, objects to questionable teaching and insists on sound doctrine.

I pray that you walking the Spirit of God, and that you exercise Biblical and Spiritual Discernment. Guard your doctrine, and preach the Word of God rather than the schemes of men.

Jude 1: 24-25 (ESV) Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

May the Lord bless you and keep you,
In Him,
Jorge