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Summary: This message looks at how we sometimes block the door for spiritual seekers and keep them from finding God.

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BIG IDEA: We can point people to God, but we can also stand in their way.

- Matthew 23:13.

- The idea here is blocking the door or pointing someone in the wrong direction.

- This is something we should pause and consider how heartbreaking the image is: someone seeking spiritual truth, someone hungry for more, someone trying to find an answer to their emptiness – they turn to us because they know that we’re a Christian and we end up pointing them in the wrong direction.

TWO OF THE BIGGEST WAYS WE STAND IN THEIR WAY: Hypocrisy and partial truth.

- These are two things that Jesus came back to again and again in His criticism of the Pharisees.

a. Hypocrisy.

- We talked a few weeks ago about the prevalence of hypocrisy here in Matthew 23. You can pretty much say it’s the one word summary of Jesus’ criticism.

- Let’s talk for a moment, though, about how that specifically plays into the spiritual life of others.

- In this situation, the standing in the way would look something like this. They are hungry for spiritual truth, but they see the hypocrisy of our lives, presume that Christianity must not be the right way, and wander off in another direction.

b. Partial truth.

- For most Christians in America, it’s not that we’re preaching something that’s totally whacked out and completely insane.

- Rather, it’s that we’re only sharing part of the story. But part of the story is enough to get someone off track.

- Paul in Romans outlines saving faith in four parts: repentance, belief in Christ’s death and resurrection, you’re a new creature in Christ, and then walk forward in the power of the Spirit.

- Today, though, in many evangelical circles, we basically just preach the belief in Christ’s death and resurrection and neglect the other four. As a result, we have a ton of people who claim to be Christians because they believe in Jesus’ death and resurrection, but have little awareness of their sin and no sense of living a changed life.

- Similarly, as we look as Jesus’ frequent call to obedience as the proof of salvation, we see that many churches speak as though grace means that obedience is an optional extra and not the natural progression of having received grace.

- In both cases, we aren’t preaching something that’s intrinsically wrong, but rather we’re preaching partial truth – only telling a portion of the story.

- In this situation, the standing in the way would look something like this. Someone is searching for spiritual truth, they come to us because we’re a Christian, and what we tell them sends them down a wrong path.

HOW DO WE HAVE THE POWER TO "SHUT THE DOOR" FOR PEOPLE? People often trust “religious experts,” yet they’ve often just trusted the tradition they’ve been taught.

- Nicodemus was a religious leader, yet didn’t know the basics of spiritual life.

- John 3:9-10.

- Just because you have the title and reputation as a leader and expert doesn’t mean that you actually have spiritual insight.


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