Summary: WE do not want to be the reason that people turn from Jesus!
• SLIDE #1
• There is a lot of responsibility that comes with being a Christian. It is not always easy to do what we are called to do.
• It is so easy to get off course and start heading down the wrong path.
• We can run into a lot of dangers if we start neglecting our faith.
• Over the past couple of weeks we have been looking at some of the serious problems the religious leaders of Jesus time were having.
• AS we look at these issues, we can learn how we ought not live our lives.
• Today we are going to look at the third way we can be a bad Christian.
• When we become an obstacle to others coming to experience the grace, love and salvation that Jesus has to offer, we are not doing what God wants us to do.
• How can we become obstacles to others coming to Christ? Are not people responsible for their own salvation?
• In the passage we will examine today, we will see three traps we can fall into if we are not careful.
• Let’s look at Matthew 23:13 together. Verse 13 beings the series of “WOES” that Jesus directs toward the religious leaders.
• The word “WOE” can denote a compassionate expression of sorrow or a strong condemnation or a combination of the two. (Expositor’s Commentary, Matthew)
• In this case, I really believe Jesus is using a mixing of the two, leaning more toward the condemnation part, but still done with somewhat a sorrowful heart.
• SLIDE #2
• Matthew 23:13 (ESV): 13“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.
• One way we can become an obstacle is by claiming to know the way.
• SLIDE #3
We become an obstacle by:
I. CLAIMING TO KNOW THE WAY.
• Have you ever had a problem and then went to a person to get some help. As you explained your problem the person listened intently to you.
• You think they can help you solve your problem because they acted like they knew what to do.
• Later after you ended up with more problems that you started with, you discovered that your “helper” had no more clue as to what to do that you did.
• See, the job of the religious leaders was to help lead people into a relationship with God, but they apparently had no clue themselves.
• These leaders hid under the mask of godliness. This mask was designed by them to hide their polluted heart.
• Jesus called these people hypocrites. A hypocrite was one who wore a large mask to cover their true identity as the pretended to be someone else. We would call them actors today. Or maybe politicians.
• These religious leaders had persuaded themselves that the formal ritualism, the external acts of “righteousness” denoted signs of true devotion and holiness.
• These folks pretended to know God.
• If they really knew God, they would have known He is a God of love. Their god possessed none of that.
• SLIDE #4
• Matthew 9:10-13 (ESV)10 And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
• All these guys could focus on were themselves and their traditions.
• They pretended to be God’s spokesmen and they pretended to be in His kingdom.
• They actually thought they spoke for Him; they spoke for a God they did not know.
• What about now?
• When we claim to know the way to God, when we claim to have a relationship with God, to be speaking for Him and if we claim to be a part of His kingdom, it needs to be real.
• Pretending to be what we are not will eventually come out.
• People need real answers to real questions from real Christians. When we give people help, we need to give them real help, not our opinions. They need to see Jesus shine through in our lives, not just hear us talk about it.
• When you are real, when you are convicted of something, you do not get mad at the messenger, you seek God’s face to see what He was trying to tell you through the messenger.