Summary: Today we are going to look at a very cruel giant, the giant of religion

INTRO: A young girl became a Christian in an exciting revival at her church and was baptized the closing Sunday morning. That afternoon she ran through the house singing and dancing. Her sour grandfather rebuked her with these words, “You ought to be ashamed of yourself. You just joined the church and you’re singing and dancing on the Lord’s Day!” Crushed by her grandfather’s attitude, the little girl went out to the barn, climbed up on the corral fence, and observed an old mule standing there with a sad, droopy face and bleary eyes. As she reached over and patted the mule sympathetically, she said, “Don’t cry, ole mule. I guess you’ve got the same kind of religion that Grandpa has!”

Steve Hill: Religion is hanging around the cross, Christianity is hanging on the cross.

TS: This morning we are continuing the series “Facing Your Giants.”

1. We’ve looked at the giant of intimidation (fear).

2. The giant of discouragement.

3. The giant of the journey (time).

4. The giant of deception.

Today we are going to look at a very cruel giant, the giant of religion.

TITLE: The Giant of Religion

TEXT: Matthew 23:1-7, 13, 23-28

This morning we are going to look at 5 signs to see if the giant of religion is affecting you.

1. Religion is very burdensome.

2. Religion seeks to please men.

3. Religion will hinder your faith.

4. Religion only sees people’s faults.

5. Religion looks good on the outside.

*This was our Lord’s last public message. It is a scathing denunciation of false religion that paraded under the guise of truth.

I. Religion is very burdensome. Religion weighs down the heart and takes away one’s passion and joy.

A. We read here how the Pharisees gave people orders concerning religious observances.

-V. 4, “They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.”

1. These rules, regulations, and laws crushed the people and the religious rulers did nothing to help.

-The truth be known, the Pharisees and teachers of the law could not even keep these rules and regulations but they expected the people to.

2. In those days people thought they’d get to heaven by keeping the 10 commandments and the hundreds of other laws they manufactured out of them.

B. Too many rules and too many laws will lead to a loss of personal freedom and cause people to feel enslaved and burdened, and then ultimately lead to a desire to escape and run away.

1. Illustrate: When I was newly saved I had well meaning Christians telling me their convictions of what Christians should and should not do and as I remember it they were pretty dogmatic about it.

-As I thought about what they said, I felt like there was absolutely no way I can make it as a Christian, I felt like quitting and giving up until I felt the Holy Spirit tell me to do what he said and not to worry about what the well meaning Christians’ convictions were.

-Religion leaves no room for error and thus God’s grace.

Q: In your mind when you see a Christian do something that you wouldn’t do, do you think somehow you’re more spiritual (that somehow they have not arrived)? Be careful, that’s religion.

TS: Religion is not only burdensome but—

II. Religion seeks to please men. Vv. 5-7

A. Success meant recognition by men and praise by men.

-They used their religion to attract attention, not to glorify God. (Matt. 5:16)

1. They used religious ornaments to display their piety.

-Phylacteries were small leather boxes into which the Pharisee placed portions of the scriptures. They wore these boxes on their foreheads and arms, in literal obedience to Deut. 6:8 and 11:18.

-They also increased the size of their tassels on the hems of their garments.

2. The Pharisees also thought that position was a mark of greatness, so they sought the best seats in the synagogue and public dinners.

-Albert Einstein: Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.

-True greatness is found in serving others, not in forcing others to serve us.

B. In our own lives do we seek God’s approval over man’s?

1. This is easy to say and believe until the Lord tells you to share your faith to some stranger in the supermarket. You feel that tension building and you begin to rationalize all the reasons why not.

Q: Ask yourself: Am I more worried about what they think of me or am I more worried about what God thinks?

Thought: Why then is it so hard. Because we are more concerned what people think than God.

TS: Religion is not only burdensome it also seeks to please men.

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