Summary: A true follower of Jesus is someone that has been radically changed from the inside out.
A Messiah's Warning About Being A Spiritual Phony
Text: Matt. 23:1-12
1. Illustration: A recent survey of Discipleship Journal readers ranked areas of greatest spiritual challenge to them. These are listed in this order. 1. Materialism. 2. Pride. 3. Self-centeredness. 4. Laziness. 5. Tied were: Anger/Bitterness/Sexual lust. 6. Envy. 7. Gluttony. 8. Lying. There’s little difference in ethical behavior between the churched and the unchurched. Religion, for most people, isn’t really a life changing experience. People cite it as important, for instance, in overcoming depression, getting through a problem at home, work, or school but it doesn’t seem to have first place in determining personal behavior.
2. However, giving our lives over to the Lordship of Jesus ought to make all the difference in the world. It should radically change us...forever!
3. In our text today, Jesus warns us about being a spiritual phony. He tells us that if we are going to one his followers we should be...
4. Let's stand and read together Matthew 23:1-12.
Proposition: A true follower of Jesus is someone that has been radically changed from the inside out.
Transition: First of all...
I. A True Disciple Is Genuine (1-7).
A. Don't Follow Their Example
1. Jesus has run the gauntlet of everything the Religious leaders of his day could throw at him and passed with flying colors.
a. He has answered their questions without falling into their trap or stooping to their level of hypocrisy.
b. Now he turns his attention to his disciples and warns them not to be like their religious leaders.
2. He tells them, “The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees are the official interpreters of the law of Moses."
a. Teachers of the law are literally "scribes," which throughout the Empire included those who wrote legal documents for others, but in Judea and Galilee included educated teachers who instructed children in the law and in some cases taught adults as well.
b. Actually, the Pharisees were few in number. The Jewish historian, Josephus, said that in Jesus day there were only about 6,000 Pharisees out of about half a million people.
c. However, you would never be able to tell by how many times they appear in the Gospel accounts.
d. Which only goes to show how self-important they saw themselves.
e. Sitting in the seat of Moses means that they saw themselves as Moses' successors, and therefore, possessed the authority to teach, interpret and pass down traditions concerning the Law (Horton, 489).
f. However, a more literal interpretation of this text reveals their heart.
g. Matthew 23:2 (NASB)
saying: "The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses;
h. They were not appointed by God to sit in the chair of Moses and had not even been elected by the people.
i. They had simply seized for themselves that position of authority which was therefore fake.
j. For Jews, Moses was the supreme Lawgiver, the supreme spokesman for God.
k. Therefore to sit in the chair of Moses was tantamount to being God's authoritative spokesman, and it was that very claim that many of the scribes and Pharisees made for themselves (MacArthur New Testament Commentary, Matthew).
3. Notice, however, what Jesus tells his disciples, "So practice and obey whatever they tell you, but don’t follow their example. For they don’t practice what they teach."
a. We need to see that Jesus doesn't tell his disciples to ignore them or their teaching, but rather not to follow their example.
b. Jesus obviously was not speaking comprehensively of the lies and errors they taught but only of their instructions that conformed to Scripture.
c. He had made clear that the righteousness acceptable to God must exceed the hypocritical, works-oriented self-righteousness the scribes and Pharisees advocated and practiced.
d. Jesus was not giving blanket approval for following the teachings of the scribes and Pharisees but was rather warning against throwing the baby out with the dirty bath water.
e. In other words, if they speak God's truth, you should practice and obey it, Jesus was saying.
f. The Word of God is still the Word of God, even in the mouth of a false teacher.
g. The verb "practice" is an imperative, which demands an immediate response, and the verb "obey" carries with it the idea of continued action.
h. In other words, Jesus was saying do it now and continue doing it.
i. However, he goes on to say "don't follow their example" (MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Matthew 16-23).
j. The emphasis here is that Jesus didn't want his disciples to model themselves after the actions of the Pharisees, who didn't practice what they preached (Horton, 491).
4. Jesus goes on to say, "They crush people with impossible religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden."