Wake Up and Smell the Jesus (Matthew 23)
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Scripture for today's sermon:
A look at the Pharisees (i.e. People): (Matthew 23:1-7)
- They (we) have high expectations for others that they (we) do not place upon themselves (ourselves)
- They (we) enjoy people thinking well of them (us)
- They (we) enjoy people showing that they think well of them (us)
Jesus is the only authority that is worthy of being put on a pedestal.
Seven woes from Jesus:
- Preventing others from following Jesus (Matt. 23:13)
- Trap others in a system of do's and don'ts without a voice or way out. (Matt. 23:15)
- Making insignificant things sacred. (Matt. 23:16-22)
- Major in the minors. (Matt. 23:23-24) - Becoming so focused on details that they ignore the larger issues.
- Appearance of righteousness, but inside are sinful and dead. (Matt. 23:25-28)
- Religious practices prove they are no different from their fathers who ignored and rejected the prophets.
How do we avoid living in these ways (Matthew 5)
Changing your behaviors (external) does not change who you are in God. It is an internal change that must take place.
- Fulfillment of the law is not abstaining from killing someone, it is love.
- Fulfillment of the law is not abstaining from cheating on your spouse, it is purity.
- Fulfillment of the law is not obtaining a legal divorce, it is remaining faithful to your spouse.
- Fulfillment of the law is not swearing to something and doing it, but speaking truth and not having to swear to do something.
- Fulfillment of the law is not an eye for an eye, it is mercy and love for your enemies.
- Fulfillment of the law is not to seek acknowledgment of our deeds and approval of others, but to allow God to recognize and reward us for our deeds.
You cannot fix your hypocrisy by trying harder and doing the religious things. We all need God to do a work and make the inside clean. It can happen while doing the religious things. Putting ourselves in those places, and being vulnerable, gives God an opportunity to work in us. But we cannot fall into the trap that the actions we are doing is what is changing us.