Summary: conflict in the church

“Cleaning House In God’s House”

Matthew 21:1-17


Intro: Last week we looked at the Parable of the Workers. We saw the difference between equality and fairness. How has it been goig this week? I trust you have been able to rejoice as you have heard of God’s blessing on others’ lives. So often conflict comes about in our interpersonal relationships. Yet one of the biggest places we see conflict is in the church.

There are few things as nasty as a church fight. There are few things that can cause so great harm as fighting in the church. Today we see Jesus coming to the temple and needing to “clean house.” And as we look at this, let’s also look at our own lives to see if there are things we need to “clean house” about too.


I. The Acclaim: going along with the crowd - We see here Jesus coming into Jerusalem. His disciples have gone ahead of him and have brought a colt to ride upon. Verse 5 informs us that he was fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9. As he comes to town, the people come out and offer him praises and greetings.

John 12 tells us that a large crowd who had seen him raise Lazarus from the dead had come into the city and spread the word about him.

**What do you do when the crowd all seems to want to do right? It’s the thing dreams are made of. Sort of like the comic we had in the bulletin a few months ago about the dream of Pastor Sludman: everyone is volunteering to be a Sunday School teacher.

Whenever the crowd does right, it is easy to be caught up in doing right too.

That’s why it is so important to surround ourselves with a support network of friends who will encourage us in our walk and life.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together . . . but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Heb 10:24-25

We need to create a climate for spiritual growth in each others’ lives. When you get together with friends, do you talk about the LORD? If not, why not?

Satan deceives us into believing that our friends wouldn’t be interested. “Oh, just talk about sports and the weather.” We rob ourselves of so many spiritual blessings because we are afraid to open our mouths.

When the whole crowd is doing it, often the voices of sin are silenced. Often our attitude of godliness and love will silence those who are critical and slanderous, who only want to gossip and spread dissension.

Jesus is heralded by the crowds. They are caught up with enthusiasm. Yet he never forgets who he is. Many times when we are given praise, we actually think we deserve it. We think we have earned praise. Jesus is the only man who ever deserved the praise he received.

II. Action: Stepping out from the crowd

When we are in with the crowd, we like to stay in line with them. Going against the stream is hard. That’s why many cults start out with Bible studies that appear innocent and scriptural. Once you have gotten involved with the group, then you find out what they really believe, & it’s hard to change.

Jesus comes to the temple, and he could have been one with the crowd. He could have entered in and worshiped and given sacrifices. Yet as he comes, he sees the abuses in the house of God. And he speaks out against them.

How often we overlook sin because it is done in the church.

Someone divorces their spouse: if it is a stranger, we condemn the act; yet if it is a friend from church, we say maybe they weren’t meant to be together. God wouldn’t want them to be unhappy.

If a neighbor cheats on their taxes, we want to call the IRS, but if it is a brother from church, we say they are simply exercising their Christian liberty.

The church needs to be the example in leading moral lives. And we need to make sure as we see sinfulness in the church that we expose it.

1 Peter 4:17 For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And, "If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?"

Romans 2:17 - Now you, if you call yourself a Jew (Christian); if you rely on the law and brag about your relationship to God; if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law; if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of infants, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth--you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who brag about the law, do you dishonour God by breaking the law? As it is written: "God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you."

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