“Am I a Pharisee?”

A Little Lessons Series

In this Little Lessons series, David Servant invites readers to examine themselves for any trace of being like the Pharisees. By the end of this series, you might be surprised what you learn about yourself!

Man looking in mirror - "Am I a Pharisee?"

“Am I a Pharisee?”

The following excerpt is taken from a transcript of the video above.

Thank you so much for joining me on this Little Lesson. We’re going to be looking at the Pharisees, and actually more so looking at ourselves to see if we, perchance, might be like the Pharisees in any way, shape, or form.

Now, of course, in Jesus’s day, the Pharisees were well-respected religious leaders who were dedicated to the Law of Moses, knowing and keeping the Law of Moses, and keeping much more than the Law of Moses, because they had all of their own manmade laws and traditions that they piled on top of the Law of Moses. Jesus had many critical things to say, as we all know, about the Pharisees, so today, their name, or that title, “Pharisee,” has negative connotations.

Of course, right off the bat, I’m going to say, “I’m not a Pharisee. Man, I’m a follower of Christ.” But of course, the worst thing about being deceived is that you don’t know that you’re deceived. If you knew you were deceived, you wouldn’t be deceived. When we’re certain that we’re not like the Pharisees, that could be a warning sign that we could be like the Pharisees and be deceived.

It worth our time to think about, and look at Scripture, and ask the Holy Spirit to help us, okay? We’re going to look at an entire chapter over the next few Little Lessons, where Jesus criticized the Pharisees, and we’re going to look at our own lives, our own selves, in that process, to see if there’s any way that we resemble them, so that we can fix the problem, of course.

It’s so easy to distance ourselves from the Pharisees, and say, “Well, I’m not like them,” because the specific things that they did, we’re for the most part not guilty of. But I think sometimes we’re like the man who heard his pastor give a sermon about the Good Samaritan, and after the sermon, he said to his pastor, “That was a great sermon. It really touched my heart, and let me tell you, if I’m ever find myself traveling on the road to Jericho, and I discover somebody that’s been robbed, and beaten up, and left for half-dead, you can be sure that I’ll do something about it.”

He was so sure that he was unlike the Pharisees and the Scribes, the religious dudes who passed by the poor man who was lying by the side of the road, because if he was ever on the road specifically to Jericho, and he specifically ever came across a needy person there. But somehow divorced his thoughts from thinking about how that application every single day of his life as he sees people who are in need. You see what I’m saying? Okay. It is very easy to fool ourselves in this regard, and I’m speaking to the speaker here, as well.

All right, so this is a good exercise. If you don’t get anything out of this, I’ll tell you what, I’m going to get something out of it, all right. Let’s jump into Matthew chapter 23, starting in verse number one. I’m reading from the New American Standard Bible, just because that’s the one I’ve used for so long.

“Then Jesus spoke to the crowds, and to his disciples, saying ‘The Scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the Chair of Moses’.” Well, there is already a bit of a criticism there, isn’t it? The implication there is that not necessarily has God seated them there, but they have seated themselves there.

There’s the first way that we can begin to look at ourselves. Have I put myself, inserted myself, into the position that I have? Or can I truly say that it is God who has put me in the place of whatever spiritual authority that I might have?

Something to think about, and something that’s rather subtle, isn’t it? Because you can be sure that the Scribes and Pharisees were very subtle, and maybe even to the point of uber-subtlety in getting themselves into the Seat of Moses, and saying that “We’re qualified, because of thus-and-so.”

All right, so am I in the place that God has ordained for me? Or have I inserted myself into a position where it gives me a chance to influence people on behalf, allegedly, of God? But that’s just the beginning.

“‘They have seated themselves in the Chair of Moses’,” said Jesus. “‘Therefore, all that they tell you, do and observe’.” Now, my actual understanding is that in the synagogue, there actually was a place called the Chair of Moses. That is, when the Law was read, when the Books of Moses were read, there was a special chair from which the synagogue leader, whether it be a Scribe, or a Pharisee, or someone else, would sit and actually open the scroll of the appropriate book, and read from it.

Jesus is saying, “When they’re reading to you from the Bible, there you go. Do whatever they say.” They’ve inserted themselves there, but at least they’re, at times, reading the Bible. I’m laughing because it’s funny, but I guess it’s also because it’s pathetic. Anyone can read the Bible.

Unfortunately, what it has become, in the quote-unquote “teaching ministry,” is the teacher has to figure out some stuff that isn’t so evident from just reading the Bible, and he’s got to make it informative. Because I can’t just get up and read the Bible. Because you could do that.

I better bring in some Greek, or some Hebrew nuances, or I better show you something a little, I don’t want to use the word “twist,” but that’s what I’m talking about here. Something you never saw before. Or I’ll bring in some historical context.

Well, this is all good, if it helps us to better understand so we better obey the Word of God, but quite honestly, what I realized in my life is, I don’t need more insight into God’s Word. No, what I really need is more obedience to the insight I already possess.

The true minister, that’s his or her goal, is not to impress the sheep, but to feed the sheep, so that they’ll be healthy and strong sheep, spiritually strong sheep, so that they can be obedient to what the Word of God tells us all to do. Okay?

Most sermons include a time where the pastor reads the Bible. If Jesus were here today, he’d say, “Now, pay attention when the pastor is reading the Bible. You can be sure that’s true. Everything after, his elaboration, then you better be wary.” Because he has to justify his job, and he’s got to present stuff that you didn’t know.

That becomes increasingly more difficult, as the people sit in the pews month after month, year after year. It just becomes increasingly difficult to come up with stuff that nobody’s ever heard yet, so to keep people interested.

Because when it’s all about just learning and adding more knowledge to what you have already possess, well then, you’ve got yourself a problem. But if we’re focused on obedience, that’s altogether different.

Well, okay. I can see that we’re out of time for today’s Little Lesson. Pick up right here on the next one. Hope to see you then. God bless you.

“Am I a Pharisee?” (Part 2)

The following excerpt is taken from a transcript of the video above.

We continue to look again at the Pharisees but not because we’re so interested in them, because we want to find out if we, God forbid, resemble in any way the Pharisees whom Jesus criticized and condemned, and of course, all of us initially are going to say to ourselves well of course I’m not a Pharisee, I’m a follower of Jesus. I’m not a Pharisee.

But as we look more closely and honestly at what Jesus said to the Pharisees, we may find some resemblances which we can then make an adjustment. That’s another word for repentance, okay? So we start off in Matthew, chapter 23. There’s a whole chapter of Jesus saying what’s bad about the Pharisees and He said they’ve seen it themselves in the chair of Moses, so in the synagogues they’re in the seat … They’re the ones reading from the Books of Moses, the first five books of the Old Testament where the law of Moses is located.

Jesus said in verse 3 of Matthew 23, “Therefore all that they tell you do and observe.” Now that’s I think specifically when they’re in that chair reading from the scrolls. I don’t think Jesus meant everything they tell you do it because He corrected so many things that they were saying. Corrected their teaching and their doctrine and so forth, alright?

When they’re in the seat of Moses, when they’re reading the Bible, you’re safe then and I closed the last lesson by pointing that out, nothing’s different today. When your pastor is up there reading from the Bible, well you’re safe. You’re safe then but it’s after that when you have to beware because that’s when you’re going to get something beyond the Bible and hopefully it’s going to challenge you to face up to what is very obvious there in the Bible.

I think so many sermons … I’ve watched this over the years, I’ve been a Christian for … Goodness, for four and a half decades now and been in the ministry for four decades, and a pastor will get up and read a passage of scripture or a teacher, whatever, visiting evangelist, you know. Get up and read the scripture and in its plain obvious sense, it brings conviction to every listener. I mean, you can sense it.

That’s what the Holy Spirit does. The Holy Spirit convicts us when we’re not doing what the word says we should be doing and so the pastor gives that and everyone feels conviction and then the rest of the sermon is all designed to make the pastor the hero who releases us from our conviction because oh, it really doesn’t mean what you may have thought it meant there because in the Greek or in the Hebrew or you know, according to this church father or according to this radio preacher or you know, we all know that can’t be what it means because that’s impossible, nobody can be that obedient.

You know, all these things that preachers come up with and so by the end the pastor, all he’s done is made himself the hero because he’s relieved everybody of the guilt they naturally felt from just reading the scripture, and that’s why I love the format that we follow in the church that I’m a part of, which is just a little house church. Where we read the scripture and then we all go around the circle and we talk about what I like about that scripture, what I find challenging about that scripture, and then what that scripture teaches me about God and what that scripture teaches me about people.

A lot of truth surfaces in that. It’s hard to hide when you’ve got all … It’s kind of like almost you know, in a court setting where you’ve got all these people and you think man, I better tell the truth now. If somebody gets off, well that can be counteracted, you know? By somebody else in the group so there’s those checks and balances just built right into the format.

But not saying that all pastors are dishonest or that they’re always twisting the word but there’s a huge temptation to do that. A huge temptation to do that and the true men of God aren’t doing that, of course, but they don’t have big churches. All that they tell you, do observe but do not do … Now I’m reading from Matthew 23:3, “But do not do according to their deeds for they say things and do not do them.”

Alright, so now Jesus is talking. We read this in the first Little Lesson that Jesus is talking to the crowds and to His disciples, so this is believers and unbelievers, and this is critical of the Pharisees and He’s saying you know, don’t do what they’re doing, do what they tell you to do but they’re not doing what they’re telling you to do. This is the first criticism that Christ makes of the Pharisees, specifically that they’re not practicing what they’re preaching and there’s a question that we can all ask.

You know, I remember reading John Wesley’s, I think it’s 21 Questions that he designed to be asked in what they called the “class meetings”. That was the groups of disciples that met on a weekly basis for self examination and admonition and exhortation and you know, spiritual growth, and I believe the first question on that list … If it wasn’t the first, it was right after the first or close to the first, and it was something to the effect of am I by anything I’m doing trying to lead people to believe that I’m actually more spiritual than I am? Because this is the fault of the Pharisee and anyone who’s not just the teachers and the preachers, but anyone who’s speaking and relating anything regarding the truth of the word of God but not practicing it themselves. Oh, I’m so sorry to announce to you that I’ve been guilty of that and this is why it’s so good for us to read stuff like this.

Jesus didn’t practice what he preached, he preached what he practiced, you know? And that should be what we’re striving to do and be as well. Here’s what I practice and so I only preach, I only prescribe what I’m doing myself and a more subtle nuance of that is am I in any way trying to lead people into believing that I’m actually more spiritual or more committed than I am because my public persona is different than my private one.

Oh my goodness, you know. So your pastor knocks at the door, let’s just invent an example here. Your pastor knocks at the door, oh my goodness, I look out through the keyhole, it’s the pastor. Quickly turn off the TV and open the Bible and walk to the door. “Oh pastor, so good to see you. Just reading the Bible here.” Well, you are a Pharisee and anything that resembles that when you put on this I’m more spiritual than what I actually am act because if there’s anything that Christ will see this repeating itself down through Matthew 23, if there’s anything He condemned them for it was that. You’re hypocrites, which is another word for you’re just an actor or an actress, alright?

A little conviction coming through here today. Thank you so much for joining me. We’ll see you hopefully next time.

“Am I a Pharisee?” (Part 3)

The following excerpt is taken from a transcript of the video above.

We’re looking at Jesus’ very critical words about the Pharisees, and looking at ourselves in light of what he said so that we can see if maybe, even though we’re not labeled Pharisees, maybe we’re guilty in some way of the things that Jesus condemned the Pharisees for.

And so on our last lesson, we were just reading in Matthew Chapter 23, a whole chapter where Jesus denounced the Pharisees. And he told his followers and the crowd that gathered, “Do what they tell you when they’re reading from the Bible, but don’t do what they do, because they tell you to do things that they don’t do themselves. Okay?”

And so there’s the first thing that characterizes the Pharisee. He is, or she is, a hypocrite. Telling other people to do what he or she is not practicing themselves, or a subtle variation on that theme is leading people, trying to make people think you’re more spiritual than you actually are by your public persona.

All right. So let’s move on, now, to Matthew chapter 23. In verse number four, Jesus said, “They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger.” And so, boy, a lot said there. It’s a continuation of that same thing. They’re telling other people to do things that they’re not doing.

And Jesus says it’s even worse than that, actually. They’re tying up these heavy burdens. That is, they’re telling people not only to obey the word of God, but they’ve got their extra baggage to lay on you, because they’ve got special insight or revelation.

And it always surprises me. I call them the Christian holiness police. As if there aren’t enough rules and regulations in the Bible already, they’re inventing even more to lay on people’s shoulders. “Yeah, do what the Bible says, but also, let me lay this on you.”

And they’re always looking for those who aren’t keeping their additional laws. And oh, my goodness, that’s rampant. And so, let’s help ourselves here. If the Bible doesn’t say it’s wrong, it’s probably not wrong. Because the Bible is a pretty thick book, right? And God covers a lot of stuff there. I don’t know why Christians got to come up with stuff that’s not in the Bible.

And even if it is wrong, if it’s not in the Bible, it must not be so bad as some people are trying to lead us to believe. Because it wasn’t as an important enough to God to mention in those hundreds of pages, in the Old Testament law, the law of Moses, which of course, we’re not under the law of Moses, there’s 600 and, I think, 13 laws, in the law of Moses. Somebody counted them one time.

And if you read them and you read all of Jesus’ commandments in the new covenant, there’s quite a few. And then all those things that God said, there’s a lot of things that he never mentioned that we hear people saying are wrong. And I don’t get that. I honestly get that. That’s Pharisaic. You’re adding even more burden to people than what’s in the word of God.

If it’s not in the word of God telling you it’s wrong, it’s probably not wrong. And even if it is wrong, it’s obviously not so important to God, because he never thought to mention it one time. Amen. Okay. Matthew 23 in verse number five. “But they do,” now, here comes the hard stuff, “They do all their deeds to be noticed by men.” Yeah.

“For they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels on their garments.” Now, a phylactery is actually, it’s kind of a neat … This box that contained Bible verses. Tying it around your head, and you even see Orthodox Jews doing that in their prayer times. And so, obviously there’s some symbolism there, because it’s not going to help you at all to put a box.

If I take the Bible right now and lay it on my head, that’s not going to help me spiritually, right? It doesn’t impart God’s word by osmosis. But tying a box on your head with the Scriptures in it is symbolic, and a reminder to the person wearing the Scripture box, “I want my word in your mind and ever before you.” Okay.

And so, that’s really what’s important, so that you can obey and do God’s word. But the Pharisees are impressing people. “Well, I’ve got a phylactery. It’s a full frontal forehead phylactery, the triple F model, and man, we can fit a lot of Scripture in there. So when you see me walking down the street with my phylactery on, oh, baby, do I ever appear like I’m ultra, mega, uber spiritual to you?”

And it can be no different with Christians. You know what I mean? From the ridiculous to the sublime, from the person who carries the monster Study Bible to church, just lugging this enormous thing around to try to show people, “Look, yeah, I must be very studious, because I got this monster Study Bible,” to many other much more subtle things, the little nuances where we’re trying to show people how spiritual we are.

And Jesus said, “They lengthen the tassels in their garments.” I wouldn’t know where to start with that one because I can imagine, I guess the tassels have some symbolic representation. If you know what it is, put it in the comments so we can all see here. But lengthening the tassels? Does that have really anything to do with true spirituality and godliness and holiness?

Absolutely not. And so Pharisees focus on the things that are really not that significant. And oh, my goodness, there is so much Pharisaism within the church world. And I certainly have been guilty myself, and I’m probably still guilty to a degree, because we’re blind, and if you’re blind, you’re blind to what you’re blind to.

Oh my goodness. People write questions to me, for example, sometimes, and I just think to myself, these are big issues. They’re legitimate questions, big issues in people’s minds, and within the wider church world. And whole sermons are given on some of these issues, and I just think of myself, my first reaction is, “Oh, my goodness, half the world is waiting to hear the name of Jesus for the first time.”

Now, that might not be exactly accurate, but millions and millions of people have not had a real encounter with the Gospel. And millions of people are living in abject poverty, and the misery that encircles that, and we’re talking about what amounts to prayer beads. It just shows a Pharisaical mindset has crept in.

These little things that are so small, if even at all in the word of God, become the monster, big important things. Okay. All right, so, we’re out of time. But take a look at yourself just like I’m taking a look at myself. Are the main things the main things, or have the main things become the things that really shouldn’t be the main things? See you next time.

“Am I a Pharisee?” (Part 4)

The following excerpt is taken from a transcript of the video above.

Welcome to today’s little lesson, I was almost going to say my fellow Pharisees, because we have been looking at the Pharisees and we’re seeing ourselves!

But it’s good. It’s good for us to be honest with ourselves, to see how we’re like the Pharisees so that we can not be like the Pharisees by repenting. Right? All right.

And so we’re just working our way through Matthew Chapter 23 and Jesus criticized in our last little lesson in Matthew 23, verse number five, “They do all their deeds to be noticed by men.”

So they’re not … A Pharisee is not the pleaser of God. That’s not his main drive. It’s pleasing men. That makes you Pharisee. If you’re more interested in pleasing men than pleasing God.

And the Pharisees, Jesus specifically said, “They broaden their phylacteries and they lengthen the tassels of their garments.” Well, these are not things any Christian’s doing.

We’re not wearing phylacteries and we don’t got tassels on our garments, and so forth. But I’m sure that if we thought about it, we could think of things that are basically just symbolic things or things of small or little consequence that those become the big things that we talk about.

Those are the big issues, those are what the sermons will preach about. Meanwhile, Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself and go make disciples of all the nations.” And those things become like optional, incidental commandments and the big commandments all get wrapped up around the length of your hair, and a head covering, and the right translation of the Bible to use, and so forth.

I mean, oh my goodness. Christians have gone off on a million different … Following a million different rabbit trails and that’s what Pharisees do. So we need to repent.

Matthew 23, verse number six, “They love the places of honor at banquets, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and respectful greetings in the marketplace, and being called a rabbi by men.” Now, how would you know this about somebody? Because how do you know their inner thoughts?

Well, you don’t. But God does and Jesus was God. And so we don’t have to question his judgements here at all. There’s no doubt the Pharisees were like that and we don’t need to be looking at anybody else. Let’s just take time and look at ourselves.

Do I love the honor that comes with whatever it is that I do in the Lord’s kingdom? Does it get me special privilege, special place? Does it get me a respectful greeting or a title? Ooh, titles. Oh my goodness. Titles, titles, titles, titles, titles. True servants of Christ aren’t into the title thing and I hope I’m not guilty of this.

I’m sure I am to a degree because I’m the President of Heaven’s Family and the founder. I guess though to my small credit, anytime I say that, I inwardly have a resistance to it because I realize that’s absolutely meaningless. And my preference is to be thought of as a servant and that’s the highest title that God could give you.

Even the great apostle Paul … And think about it, he was the Uber Apostle, right? He was beyond even just your average apostle. He was a super apostle, if there was such a thing. And yet he would write his letter and say, “Paul, called as an apostle.”

So not, not the title Apostle Paul, but Paul … Servant, sometimes he’d say. Servant of Jesus Christ, called as an apostle. And I get a little bit concerned when we see so many folks in “ministry” who are grasping at titles and even little people.

I’m thinking of a guy I knew one time who had a church of about 15 people and he was the senior pastor. You know? The senior pastor. Well, the assistant pastor of that Church of 15 people. See, he’s trying to be something, leave an impression.

“I’m a senior pastor, so I must have a big congregation.” Senior pastor. Well, I’m not just speaking to the senior pastors, I’m speaking to the pastors, period, too. And also all the “apostles”, and prophets, and everyone else who’s … Bishops.

Boy that became popular. Bishop So-and-So. And you’d never see their name without the title. Beware of those types of people. There is a great danger that their motives are wrong. That they’re doing it because they love the praises of men and the honor that they get.

Jesus has some things to say about the whole title issue and he’s speaking to his disciples about how you ought to view people and you might want to give titles. And then also speaking to those who might want titles for themselves.

Do not call anyone on your Earth father. Wow … Oh, I skipped over. Chapter 23, verse three. “But do not be called rabbi.” See, he said the Pharisees love being called rabbi. “But do not be called rabbi,” That is a teacher, “for one is your teacher and you are all brothers.”

There it is right there. Pharisees think themselves better, put themselves above. They don’t consider themselves equal and they’re always conveying that aura of superiority. Even if it’s a humble superiority, it is definitely a superiority.

Jesus is trying to bring us down to realizing that we’re just sinners saved by grace and if anyone has anything, he got it from God. We’re all brothers, we’re all in the same family. We really only have one teacher. That’s God is our teacher.

And if we’re learning through somebody else, it’s because God has imparted something to them that they’re sharing or God has given them a gift that they’re utilizing. But it all stems from God.

This is important. Are you a Pharisee? Am I Pharisee? Oh my goodness. Big important questions, big important questions.

Do not be called Rabbi. Now, you know … So, that means it’s okay to take any title besides rabbi? Well, Jesus list some other titles here. Is that the exclusive list? Are there no other titles that Jesus would disapprove of if he came in our day and was speaking these same things?

Would the title bishop be okay then? You know? Is that one all right? The apostle title? Is that okay?

All right. Out of time. Hope to see you next time. God bless you.

“Am I a Pharisee?” (Part 5)

The following excerpt is taken from a transcript of the video above.

Welcome to today’s Little Lesson, and we’re looking at the pharisees, but really we’re looking at ourselves to see if we’re like the pharisees whatsoever, and we’re working our way through Matthew Chapter 23 in that light. So we read in our last Little Lesson in Matthew 23 in verse number eight, Jesus said, “But do not be called Rabbi for one is your teacher and you are all brothers. Do not call anyone on earth your father, for one is your father who is in heaven.”

I remember many years ago, participating in and saying these things myself, being critical of the Roman Catholics because of the fact that their priests were often given the title of father, father so-and-so, and my Catholic friends saying, “Yeah, father so-and-so,” this and that and the other, and being critical of that because oh my goodness, Jesus said, “Don’t be calling anyone on earth your father,” and here these religious leaders in the church have embraced and adopted and they’re utilizing that title, which to this day, I believe is totally wrong.

But what I’m trying to bring out is the fact that Protestants are just equally as guilty of it when they give any title to their spiritual leaders that resembles anything like what Jesus said right here. And not just the specific things. Somebody will say … They don’t say this because it sounds so stupid to say this, but this is actually what’s believed. And so it’s kind of like the emperor’s new clothes. And now here I am, the little child saying, “Look, he’s not wearing any clothes.”

So these guys, in essence, “We’re not guilty because we don’t let anyone call us rabbi. Now, I am called pastor or I am called bishop or I am called apostle so-and-so, but no, I would never let anyone call me father or rabbi,” or Jesus said in Matthew 23:10, “Do not be called leaders for one is your leader. That is Christ.” So I all my bases covered. No one’s calling me a father or a rabbi or leader. I’m safe. But they call me … I got all kinds of other titles.

Well, you’re following the letter of the law, but ignoring the spirit of the law. Can you get the spirit of this, is that Jesus is saying leaders shouldn’t be exalting themselves and followers shouldn’t be exalting leaders by taking titles, in the case of the leaders, or by giving or using titles in the case of the followers. That’s what he’s saying. That’s what it comes down to. How can you argue with that? That’s what this says. And if you say it doesn’t say this, well, then, you’re just not being honest.

So our churches are full of title grasping leaders and title using followers. The followers aren’t giving the due allegiance to Christ that he deserves. They’re interjecting these intermediaries and giving them a degree of glory that only belongs to God. You get how serious this is? Get the reason behind this. In every case, Jesus says, “One is your teacher, one is your father, one is your leader.” You’ve got one father, teacher and leader. That’s it. And so we ought to be focused on him.

The greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength, not love your pastor with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, or your spiritual leader. But I tell you, it’s endless devotion to personalities and to leaders. I remember when I was a pastor, people come to me and say, “Have you heard? Have you watched? Have you seen? Have you read so-and-so’s book or listened to so-and-so’s most recent message.” They’re like Christian hobbyists and like sermon subscribers, where it’s all about, “Oh, that was such an anointed message,” and, “Oh, he’s such an anointed teacher,” and, “Oh my goodness, what a marvelous person I’ve got,” all enraptured in people.

And again, if those people have anything legitimate from God, then it’s from God, and we ought to be giving God the glory for it. And anybody, any teacher who takes that glory, in essence, you are taking that glory. And to some degree, right? If I demand a title be given to me, I’m robbing God of glory. I’m shoving myself into a place that belongs only to God. And you can be a legalist and a keeper, a letter of the law keeper, fooling yourself, but you’re not fooling God. “Oh, I don’t let anyone call me rabbi or father or teacher.”

As I said in the very first Little Lesson, this series, like the guy who heard his pastor give this sermon about the Good Samaritan, and afterwards he said, “Pastor, your sermon has touched my life. If I am ever over there in Israel and I am ever walking on the road to Jericho and if I see a man who is robbed there,” and so he was sure that he was a good guy because if I’m ever over there in Israel and I’m on that road and I see a guy half beaten or half dead, I’ll do something, totally ignoring the application of the spirit of what the story of the Good Samaritan is all about, loving your neighbor as yourself. Neighbor, not over there in Israel. Unless you live in Israel, you don’t have any neighbors really in Israel.

A neighbor is someone within close proximity to you, reasonably close proximity. That’s what the word neighbor implies. So we’re supposed to be loving our neighbors as ourselves, not just the people when we are over their touring Israel and we happen to be the one time in our life on the road to Jericho and lo and behold, there’s a guy lying there who’s been robbed. Okay. So this same exact kind of self-deception of the leaders who take titles now and say, “I’m not guilty of what Jesus said the pharisees were guilty of right here.” Did you hear me? I don’t think this is disputable or debatable. I just don’t see it.

Verse 23:11, “But the greatest among you shall be your servant,” and obviously the reference point from there is God, in God’s eyes, what he esteems the servant. And servants, they aren’t taking big titles for themselves. I’ve been criticized for using the pseudonym, and it is a pseudonym, David Servant. And I use that pseudonym for a reason, not because I think I’m the greatest servant. It’s to remind me of what I’m supposed to be.

But I took that pseudonym because I in the past, and still to this day, I travel and minister because I work for a ministry called Heaven’s Family, in very restricted countries. And if I revealed my true last name, when I send my visa or my passport into those foreign embassies to get permission to go into those countries, they’ll Google my … They do. They Google my real name to see if I’m up to no good in their minds. And if they saw that I was involved in Christian ministry, they might very well not give me a visa.

So that’s why I took a pseudonym. It’s just to keep me under the radar in these restricted countries that I go to sometimes. And that’s it. But I’ve been criticized. I can think of one guy in particular who criticized me. “He’s trying to exalt himself, claiming to be the great servant.” No, I figured that most Christians would realize that that can’t be my real last name. That’s what I thought. But it reminds me, I am supposed to be a slave and a servant. That’s it. Okay? All right. Well, over my time today. Thank you so much for joining me. Hope to see you next time. God bless you.

“Am I a Pharisee?” (Part 6)

The following excerpt is taken from a transcript of the video above.

I never thought this would go into six lessons, but it has. Maybe the Holy Spirit thinks that I really need to listen to what I’m saying here, and maybe he thinks you need to listen to it too, I don’t know. We’ve been looking at the Pharisees and finding ourselves. Oh my goodness, have we been finding ourselves. It’s been brutal, but faithful are the wounds of a friend. I’m tell you what, Jesus is our friend, and he’s trying to get us to conform to his image. Sometimes, that can be brutal, because when your eyes are open to the fact that, “Oh my goodness, I’m no different than the Pharisees in this regard, I too love the places of honor and the respectful greetings when I go out there, because of my ministry.”

“The greatest,” Jesus said, and this is where we closed in our last lesson, “Shall be your servant.” The Pharisees were not servants. They were exalting themselves so that others would serve them, but Jesus warns, and you can have it either way, Matthew 23, verse number 11, this is a bedrock Bible principle, “Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled, and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” Oh, boy, and that that’s not just talking about in the afterlife someday, let me tell you. It’s talking about right in the here and now, many times.

God is so patient and gracious and merciful. Not everyone who exalt themselves gets immediately humbled, and I suppose for some, it doesn’t happen until they stand before Jesus, and all their works are burned it up in the fire of judgment because all their works were done for the wrong motives, as Paul warned in his letter to the Corinthians, but still, God in His mercy and His love might humble us, even as we exalt ourselves in this life. Yeah, because He loves us, hoping for us to have our eyes open to the real condition of our hearts and our minds.

“Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled, whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” It’s interesting because, let’s see, “He who humbles himself,” and then he resists exaltation, at least self-exaltation, right? Yeah, but there’s nothing wrong with God praising us or seeking his praise or seeking his reward. What Jesus is warning against here is the self-promotion, self-exaltation, that God is not the one doing it. Our job is to humble ourselves. God promises that if we do that, he will exalt us. No one’s yet plumbed the depths of everything implied in that, okay?

Back to the Pharisees and verse number 13, “But woe to you, scribes and pharisees, hypocrites.” Now, the word for hypocrites, I understand, in the Greek is just another word for an actor, a play actor. That is, you’re pretending to be what you are not really. That’s the big test. Are we like pharisees? Are we consistent? Is our public persona the same as our private persona?

“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.” Well, a lot’s packed into that, and we will spend a little bit of time here. Pharisees shut off the Kingdom of Heaven from people by, of course, their false teaching. Boy, we certainly don’t have any shortage of that within the church world today, do we?

Of course, the Pharisees, what they were preaching was a legalism that was void of salvation, as it truly is by grace through faith, but I would say the pendulum has swung moreso to the other side of the clock tower in our day, where what’s much more commonly preached is a salvation of false grace, where all you have to do is just pray a little prayer and then you’re good to go, whether you have any change or transformation or any obedience from thereafter. It’s all by grace. Anyone who says that we have to obey is a legalist. These are the things that are being taught in so many, quote unquote, “Christian,” circles. They’re not even Christian circles. I say “quote unquote” because that’s not Christian doctrine. That’s not Biblical doctrine, but that’s so pervasive in our day. The scripture warns against that repeatedly. If you’ve watched the Little Lessons for any length of time, or anything that I’ve been teaching for years, you’ve heard that message over and over again, loud and clear.

Pharisees are false in their doctrine, and they’re leading people astray, and a horrible, horrible crime, preventing people from entering the Kingdom of Heaven, shutting it off from people because they’re shutting off the way, nor do you allow those who are entering. People that start getting a glimpse of the truth, you run in there with your false doctrine and your twisting of the word of God, and then, you fool them to thinking that they were wrong and being misled, and then you reel them back in to your darkness. Hopefully, nobody watching this video is guilty of that, but I guess it’s possible that somebody may have stumbled upon it. Okay.

Verse number 14, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense,” so this is again false. It’s not the real reason that you’re doing what you’re doing. “For a pretense, you make long prayers.”

We don’t know the historical, actual event that’s occurring here, but I think we can put the pieces together, that the Pharisees were preying on the weakest people within Jewish society, in many cases, widows, elderly widows who are oftentimes vulnerable and lonely, and then gullible. Coming to them, and under the guise of spiritual ministry, “Oh, let me pray for you, you dear widow,” and then praying these long prayers that seem like, “Wow, you really do care about me,” but at the end of your long prayer, you say, “I’ve got some financial needs, and the Lord has promised to supply my needs through people like you,” whatever the lines are.

Jesus saying, you’re financially robbing these widows. Not literally robbing them where you’re going and actually stealing, I hope not anyways, but voluntarily coercing people to voluntarily give up their money to you, by your pretense of your long prayers.

That’s a question to ask. “Am I a Pharisee? Am I motivated more by money? Is that really what’s got my clock ticking? Or is it true love for God and fellow person?” We only minister to those with financial resources. When money is always being mentioned, ad infinitum, and we have this today, of course, the prosperity preachers who are getting rich off of gullible people. They’re Pharisees. They’re pharisaical in that regard.

Okay, well, out of time for today. Thank you so much for joining me. Hope to see you next time. God bless you.

“Am I a Pharisee?” (Part 7)

The following excerpt is taken from a transcript of the video above.

We’ve been looking in Matthew chapter 23 at Jesus’s criticisms, his denunciations of the Pharisees. And finding ourselves, in so many ways. It has been an exercise in self-examination. Today we’re going to be about halfway through this entire chapter that is devoted to this very topic, Jesus’ criticism with the Pharisees.

We’re looking at Matthew chapter 23, and verse number 15. let me read it to you, and see if we can find application to our lives in some way. “Whoa to you,” Jesus says, “Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites.” And he repeatedly uses that phrase, hypocrites, which in the Greek is a word, it just means actor. You’re a play actor. You’re pretending to be, what you really aren’t. Putting on a show for people, yet God knows what’s really going on in your heart and your life. And that certainly is true with us.

Anytime we’re putting on a show for people, that tries to leave the appearance that we’re more spiritual than we actually are, that’s pharisaic. It makes us like the Pharisees. There’s a lot of that. And I’m sure I’m guilty. I know I’m guilty.

“Hypocrites. Because you travel around on sea and land, to make one proselyte and one convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.” Now let’s see if we can unpack that a little. Because again, when you take the letter of the law, you can easily not find yourself guilty. “Well, I don’t travel on land and sea so much. I don’t travel on the sea at all, for that matter. I fly wherever I go in my ministry.”

And we are often trying to impress people, and I think that is intimated here by the extent to which we’ll go, inconveniencing ourselves for the sake of the Gospel. “Boy, I’ll get on a jet, and I’ll fly for 14 hours, or 32 hours.” And believe me, I know what that’s like. But not just that, not just your travel inconvenience, but just the efforts that people make.

“Oh, you must be so dedicated, because look at how much you’re doing to reach people for the Gospel. I mean, you’ve built this huge building. You’ve gotten yourself mortgaged, in debt for decades here. You work 60 hours, or 70 hours a week do your pastoring. Your family has been neglected because of that. Oh, you’ll drop everything to go,” whatever. We’re happy for people to know how dedicated we are. What a great extent we’ll go to, to show how devoted we are.

But Jesus says, “But look at the fruit of what you’re doing. Look at the quality of the disciples that you’re making, in light of all of your sacrifice and devotion.” So in this case, it’s quite plain. “You make him twice the son of Hell as yourself.” Oh my goodness. That’s pretty pointed and plain. We may or may not be guilty of that to such a degree. But yet, there’s an application here to modern ministers, and anyone who’s claiming to be a servant of God. Look at the quality of your end result.

Jesus said, “Make disciples.” Well, you put together all these great sermons, and built this big program, multiple programs, layers of programs. Given the best years of your life, and so forth. And all of these things that ministers and pastors often do. But what have they got to show for it? They’ve got a crowd. A Sunday morning crowd, that’s all they got to show for it.

I’m maybe exaggerating too far onto the side, there could be a little more fruit beyond that. Maybe a few people slip into Heaven, too. But in reality, for so many in ministry, if they’re honest, that’s all they can show. What do you got? How’s the quality of your people? Are they gaining ground in loving God with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength, as proven by their obedience to His commandments? Namely, his most important commandments.

Are they growing in love, and sacrifice and devotion? Do they love their neighbor as themselves? Do they share the Gospel with anybody? Have they ever made any disciples themselves? See, so I had to face up to this. I’m not just being critical of other ministers. I faced up to it, and I admitted it. Not much to show for all your work, and all your devotion. And a lot of people think you’re devoted.

But look at the quality of the output. Look at the fruit of what you’re doing. For those of us in ministry, it ought to be, you’re looking at people, the disciples, the ones who are under, some way or another, your ministry being impacted by it. If the only thing has happened isn’t that they’re saying, “Well, we’ve got a great preacher in our church. He gives great sermons,” you haven’t got nothing. As Stevie Wonder said in one of his songs, “You haven’t done nothing.”

The goal, the mandate is to, “Make disciples, teaching them to obey all that Christ commanded.” So, you’ve got a big church. Great. Are they obeying Christ, and keeping all His commandments? Well, you know the answer to that, don’t you? If you invite a missionary, someone who is displaying their devotion to Christ in an extraordinary way. They’ve left their home, and left their families to go to a foreign country to reach people, who have never had a chance to hear the gospel.

If you invite that missionary to speak at your church, will there be more or less people that will show up for that service? You know the answer to that. Maybe more will in your church, I doubt it. Because in most cases, it’s much less. Because people aren’t interested, because they’re not saved, they’re not disciples of Christ. They’re not really excited about the expansion of the Kingdom of God. They don’t want to be around, where there might be an offering received, to help promote the Gospel and help another missionary. They don’t want that.

If that’s the fruit of our ministry, then that’s pharisaic. You’re putting in a lot of effort to show people how devoted you are, and very little real fruit, real fruit disciples to show for it.

Okay. Thank you so much for joining me on today’s Little Lesson. Hope to see you next time.

“Am I a Pharisee?” (Part 8)

The following excerpt is taken from a transcript of the video above.

Thank you so much for joining me. If you’re a regular viewer, you know that we’re currently in a little series of lessons as we work our way, verse by verse through Matthew chapter 23.

Matthew was apparently inspired by the Holy Spirit to record Jesus’s detailed denunciation of the scribes and the Pharisees. And it’s very easy to think to ourselves that none of this has any application to me because of course I am not a Pharisee, I’m a Christian, and when you take the letter of the law, the exact things that Jesus said, you can say, “Well yeah, no the application to me whatsoever because I’m not doing what they’re doing.” But if you look a little bit deeper into the principles that surface in Jesus’s criticism of the scribes and Pharisees, you can find some application. And we’ve been finding some application too many of us, this guy included. So we’re going to continue in that vein today.

So we’re in Matthew chapter 23 in verse number 16. Let’s look at something that would be very easy to wiggle our way out of if we take the letter of the law. But when we take the spirit of what Christ said, oh my Goodness. Yikes. Many of us are in deep trouble. So Matthew 23 verse number 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, he is obligated.” And we could add there he’s obligated to keep his vow or his word because that was the practice the Pharisees had. They’d make a vow, swear by something else. I swear by the whatever, and I will do this and so, but they had a little rule there that if you swore by the temple, you didn’t have to keep your vow, your promise. But if you swore by the gold in the temple, then you were obligated.

And it reminds me of a little game we had when I was a kid that we had this idea that it was okay to lie as long as you had your fingers crossed behind your back. And so you tell somebody something and you make a promise and they get all excited because it was some good promise and he goes, ah, fingers crossed. So that somehow relieved us of that responsibility to keep our word. And so it’s an excuse, a justification for not telling the truth, for lying. And the Pharisees had this very sophisticated system. Jesus goes on to elaborate on other examples of the same thing. Here’s what they would say. Matthew 23 verse 18, “Whoever swears by the altar, that’s nothing; but whoever swears by the offering on it, he is obligated.” And then it goes on.

But Jesus points out something here. And here’s the beginning of the spiritual principle that surfaces verse number 19. “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 everything on it. Whoever swears by the temple swears both by the temple and by Him who dwells within it. And so Jesus is just writing their very wrong thinking in this regard. And it comes down to their perception of what was important. Or maybe we can say their perception of what was really valuable. The gold in the temple was more valuable in their minds then the temple itself, which that’s wrong, right?

Because if the temple is a place where God’s presence is kept, and as Jesus, Jesus said, “Whoever swears by the temple swears both by the temple and by Him who dwells in it.” So the greater value was not the gold. The gold was really of no value in comparison to the person in the temple, the Lord God Almighty. It was his house during the Old Covenant as it were. Again, Solomon, at the dedication of that temple said, “We know we can’t confine you into this temple. You’re bigger than the whole universe. You’ve made the whole universe.” But yet still, there was an aspect of God’s presence there. So it shows that the Pharisees had their focus on the wrong thing and they didn’t value what was really valuable. In this case, they valued gold over God and not just of course they weren’t clinging to gold coin so much. But the gold in the temple, the vessels of worship and so forth that were made of gold. And oh boy. If you swear by the temple, that’s nothing, God’s house where God lives, but if you swear by the gold in the temple, then you’re obligated. And then the same mixed up thinking concerning the sacrifice and the altar, a misplaced value.

And so I think there’s application there to us, and you can probably go a million different directions of misguided values. But here’s the fundamental question that we need to ask ourselves. Do I value, do I consider sacred what really is sacred according to God? And there’s a lot of Phariseeism going on in the church in that regard. I would say that one of them, we’re not doing any of the swearing stuff, so that has really no application. We know we’re not supposed to be swearing. We know our yes is supposed to be yes and our no is supposed to be no. Jesus said that in the Sermon on the Mount, but we value certain things and make them much more sacred than you’d ever find in scripture. And they usurp the sacredness of other things that God said are extremely sacred. Like Him. Like Him.

Oh, we’re in the church building now, let’s quiet down, behave ourselves. We have to put on our church mode, shift into church mode and we walk into God’s house as we sometimes even hear pastors, it’s amazing that they say this, but “Welcome to God’s house. Isn’t it good to be in the house of the Lord?” You know what I’m thinking. I’m hoping you’re thinking it too, because under the New Covenant, the temple of the Holy spirit, one of the temples is our own bodies and we’re always in our bodies and our bodies are supposed to always be made a living sacrifice unto God. But you know…

So here’s a temple of the Holy spirit right here. How come I act so special when I go to church, but every other time I’m not really valuing what God values? God himself. He’s not living in a church building as a matter of fact. Under the Old Covenant, sure, his presence to a certain degree was kept in the temple. But that’s Old Covenant folks. The temple is no longer a building in Jerusalem. The temple is all the believers in Jesus Christ individually and collectively.

And so, how come we’re saying or implying or acting that, oh, it’s really important to be very sanctimonious when we go to church and be thinking about God there, but when we walk out the door, great to be away from God and out of his territory? Now we’re free once again. Oh my goodness. That is not a Christian thought whatsoever.

Okay, well, we’re out of time for today, but something to think about. Okay? Thanks for joining me. Hope to see you next time.

God bless.

“Am I a Pharisee?” (Part 9)

The following excerpt is taken from a transcript of the video above.

This is part nine of a series of lessons. I never thought it would go this long, but I feel like it’s been good for us. It’s been good for me. In Matthew Chapter 23 Jesus has detailed denunciations of the scribes and Pharisees, and we’re looking for any application in our own lives and we’re finding it. Okay? Currently, we’re a little more than halfway through this chapter, and I’m just going to pick up where we left off in our last little lesson, if that’s okay. Where Jesus was, you know, criticizing the Pharisees and scribes because of their misplaced values. They valued the gold of the temple more than the temple itself, which was the habitation of God, to a degree, under the old covenant. And so we’re asking ourselves that same question, is it possible that I could be, you know, valuing some… mis-valuing things on the scale of the real value in God’s eyes.

Am I taking things that are of a little value and making them of great value and importance or vice versa? And we’re going to see that’s the spirit of what Christ is talking about here. Okay, so now we go by a verse… Well, let’s just repeat a little bit here. Verse number 20 of Chapter 23 of Matthew, “Therefore whoever swears by the alter,” Jesus is correcting them, “Swears both by the altar and by everything on it. Whoever swears by the temple swears both by the temple and by him who dwells in it.” So you’re not released from your obligation, your vow, when you swear you know, by the gold of the temple and not by the temple itself, and so forth. Okay, so now new territory. Verse number 22, “Whoever swears by heaven swears both by the throne of God and by him who sits on it.”

So you know, when we swear by heaven, if we would, now we’re not swearing by heaven, this as a practice of the scribes and Pharisees, you know we are obligated to keep our vows. And the Pharisees would have said, on this one I’m sure, no as well because of some technicality. Now, here’s the principle that, it actually starts a new paragraph in the New American Standard, but I’m not sure it should be a new paragraph. I think it’s related to what we have been reading about these misplaced values and misplaced, you know, assigning importance to various things relative to how important they are in God’s eyes. Verse 23 of Matthew 23, “Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites. For you tithe mint and dill and cumin,” you know, your garden herbs, “And have neglected the weightier provisions of the law; justice and mercy and faithfulness.”

All right, so here’s something really important for believers to understand. Lest we become Pharisaic to any degree. The Pharisees majored in the minors, and minored in the majors. So they’re always emphasizing the importance of tithing. And I think there’s a lot of churches like that. They’re, you know, if you took what percentage of the Bible mentions tithing, you know, let’s just say it’s one half of 1%, and then you listen to, you know, many church sermons consistently over a period of months or years, what percentage of the time is tithing mentioned? You know, it’s much greater than what the Bible mentions it. So they’re placing a greater importance upon it. Well, why? Well, because in the church’s eyes and many leader’s eyes it is more important because that’s what keeps the machine going. We need your tithes, we need your offerings.

But Jesus, you know, the Pharisees were deep into tithing. They were tithing there garden herbs. So they’d pick a little, you know, mint and they’d slice off a 10th of their little mint leaf, put the rest in their tea and the other little thing they’d put it in a little cup, and I guess they brought it to the temple. It was that… I don’t know, you know, but that’s what they were doing. And Jesus says, okay, you know, that’s in the word, but there are things that are much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much more important than tithing. And he lists some of the things, he calls them the weightier or the more important provisions of the law. And he lists three things: justice, mercy and faithfulness. Wow. And of course you could do a study on those three things in the Bible and it, you know, you’d find a lot about that because those are attributes of God.

He’s just, he’s also merciful, he’s also faithful, and he wants us to imitate him. And so these are the more weighty things. And Jesus didn’t throw out the tithing thing. No, he said but these things you should have done without neglecting the others. So make the most important things the most important things, make the little things the little things. They’re all have some degree of importance. And I think that, you know, we could go a million different directions on this. I’m not going to be able to go a million different directions in the few minutes that I have left. But I’ll tell you one thing that many of us are guilty of in placing much more importance on them than what God does, at the neglect of other things that God says are more important. And that is our pet doctrines. Those things that we hold as, oh this is what kind of sets me apart from other Christians because I believe this.

And I’m always, you know, harping on this and I’m always posting on Facebook about this. I’m always starting conversations about my favorite doctrine. And it just becomes an obsession, you know, to try to convince others that you’re right and they should get on the same doctrinal path as you and so forth. And what’s more important, there are many things more important, but one of the big things is of course, is unity. Jesus didn’t pray in John 17 that our doctrine would be absolutely perfect, and that even we’d be unified necessarily in our doctrine, but that we would all be one. And if there’s one thing that has divided Christians more than anything else, it’s doctrine. I can’t fellowship with you because you don’t believe like me. I go to the church that has this doctrine and we even advertise it on the front of our church that we’re not like the rest of these other churches because of certain doctrines that we believe and they don’t believe, or vice versa.

Okay, so that’s Pharisaic. You’re making the little things the big things and the big things the little things, and neglecting what is most important, justice, mercy and faithfulness. Doctrine is something that, you know, can actually become an idol, and it is. There’s no doubt that doctrine becomes an idol. You know I hate to go into specifics about that because I’ll make people angry about, you know, attacking their doctrine. And there might not be anything wrong with their doctrine, but when it supersedes, you know, when our love of doctrines supersedes our love of God, when your whole… all your Christianity is based on knowledge of doctrine rather than obedience to God’s commandments because you love him. You see, that’s Pharisaic. And to a degree, again, you have to dig a little bit here to see it, but that’s the principle that Jesus is communicating here.

He, you know, at one time said, I don’t know if it’s in this passage but, you know, he said, you strain out the gnat and you swallow the camel. That’s the same thing. You’re, you know, you’ll find a gnat in your soup and you go, “Oh my goodness, there’s this gnat.” You’re all focused on this little thing. Strain out that gnat. I don’t want that gnat in my soup, no sir. But you look down the next day there was a camel sitting in your bowl of soup. Oh, know it’s a funny illustration. It’s impossible of course, to swallow a camel, but you get what Jesus is saying. We’re unbalanced. What’s the most important thing? Love God with all your heart, mind, soul, strength. What’s the second most important thing? Love your neighbor as yourself. And what’s another really important thing? Make disciples. Okay, out of time for today. Thank you for joining me. Hope to see you next time. God bless.

“Am I a Pharisee?” (Part 10)

The following excerpt is taken from a transcript of the video above.

Hi, welcome to today’s little lesson and this’ll be the final little lesson in a series of 10 little lessons asking the question, am I a Pharisee. Have you missed the first nine? Well, it’d be good for you to go back and find those other nine, because we made a lot of progress and done some great self-examination to see if by any chance we’re at all Pharisaic. And we’ve discovered that yeah, there is a chance that we are. Okay as we are honest with ourselves, and look at the principles behind what Jesus was saying to the scribes and Pharisees. All right, I don’t want to go any longer on this because I think we’ve gone long enough, but we’re going to pick up in Matthew chapter 23 and verse number 24. which I actually quoted the at the end of the last little lesson and I said, I’m not sure this is in this section or not.

And here it is as the very next verse that we are about to read. You blind guides, this is verse 24 who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel. A very funny illustration that basically says that you’re making the big things, little things and little things are the big things. And that certainly is a characteristic, a Pharisaic thing that we do witness within Christian circles, right? Right. I mentioned just one thing among many things that could have been mentioned and that is doctrine. When doctrine becomes the all important thing, it actually can become idolatry. Can usurp God’s rightful place in our lives, because our Christianity is all about the knowledge that we accumulate about God. Rather than the heart love that we have for God as indicated by our obedience to the commandments of Jesus Christ. Okay? All right, so we’ve talked about that. So we go on and verse number 25 of Matthew chapter 23 today, woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites for you clean the outside of the cup.

Excuse me, and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self indulgence. And so Jesus repeatedly called them hypocrites. It just means you’re an actor. And so this is another way of saying the same thing. Externally, you look so great, but internally it’s not near as nice looking. And he uses an illustration shortly, but let’s read verses 26 and then verse 27. You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so the outside of it may become clean also. And so this is an important spiritual principle for all of us who don’t want to be pharisaic. So often when we do any self examination, we look at what we know everyone else’s seeing, the outside. And we don’t ask the more important question about what’s the inside looking like? What are my motives? What are my thoughts that nobody can see or hear?

what am I doing in my private life? How is that different than my public life? What do I not want anyone to know about what’s going on in here? Okay? So that’s where the focus ought to be. As Christ said, when you clean up the inside, the outside naturally cleans up. And that is simple. But it is absolutely profound, simple, but absolutely profound. And if you and I would take regular time to monitor what’s going on inside, what’s not pleasing to God inside and working on, purging ourselves of those things, the outside would automatically clean up. Simple but profound. And, same point almost in verse number 27, woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites for you are like whitewashed tombs, which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they’re full of dead man’s bones and uncleanness. So you too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

Okay. So I don’t know how else to say this or to elaborate it on any better than what Jesus has said here. And I’m not implying that any true Christian is guilty to the degree that the Pharisees were okay. Because if you have, and I trust that you have been born again and believe in Jesus Christ and your sins have been forgiven you. And you’re on the path, the narrow path your whole life, you’re striving to please God. Then you’re not at all like Pharisees. Pharisees were way, way far from pleasing God. But what I’m saying here is that we too, can be, to a degree, guilty of the same things that the Pharisees we’re guilty of. And we all know that it’s very possible to look better on the outside than what’s going on really on the inside.

Okay? So I’m just encouraging you in your prayer time and I hope that you have prayer time every day. That that would be a great component of the prayer time. To pray Lord, search me and know me and show me if there’s any evil thing within me. I believe that’s one of the Psalms of David. Search me and know me. Show me, Lord. if there’s anything displeasing within me. So that would be a self-examination. That is, Oh Lord, show me my heart. Don’t let me deceive myself. And again, the outward stuff is an indication of what’s going on inside. And so if you are aware of exterior things that are displeasing to God, again, the place to go is in your heart to say, now, Lord, okay, I’ve got this exterior problem. Is there something going on in my heart?

And it could be as basic as love for God. Because we all know this, right? I’m not telling you something you don’t know. I’m just reminding you. Jesus said, if you love me, you will keep my commandments. So there’s a basic problem with… Disobedience indicates lack of love for God. And in our relationships with others yeah, we have conflicts. We’re having fights, we’re jealous, whatever in all interpersonal relationships, all of the problems that people have. It can be directed or once again, the source of the problem goes down into the heart. Selfishness. And that’s something that Jesus pointed out here. Those pharisees, you’re full of robbery and self-indulgence. Okay, so the real problem is you don’t love your neighbor as yourself.

So these are the important things that we ought to be focused upon as we look at our lives and as we ask the Holy spirit to help us to become more like Jesus. Right? I’m going to stop there. There’s more we could go on to in this 23rd chapter of Matthew but I trust that you could do that yourself. And I think we’ve gone through the parts that are the most applicable to us. Okay. Thanks for joining me. Hope to see you next time.