Seven Woes to Spiritual Hypocrites – Matthew 23:13-36

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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
October 21, 2018

Seven Woes to Spiritual Hypocrites
Matthew 23:13-36

Introduction

What is the greatest threat any man or woman faces? It is not Democrats, Socialists, Communists, Republicans, Tea Party, or any other political entity; it is not uncontrolled crime or a police state; it is not ecological disaster or the projects of environmental extremists; it is not nuclear holocaust or the earth getting hit by an asteroid, and despite the hype of the media, it is certainly not global warming. All these things could lead to circumstances that we may not like, some would even result in widespread death, but even physical death is not man’s greatest enemy for that is only a transition into eternity. It is what will happen in eternity that is important. Will that man or woman spend eternity under God’s just condemnation in hell, or in heaven by God’s grace? Or to state it more euphemistically, will you spend eternity in the smoking or non-smoking section?

The greatest threat any person will face is that which will keep him from receiving God’s gift of mercy and grace in Jesus Christ. Certainly things like secularism, materialism, hedonism, humanism and false religions are a great threat for they can keep a person from the truth and locked into systems of belief that are far from the God of the Bible. But the greater threat comes from those that claim to lead to God, but in fact lead away from Him. The greatest threats to the human soul are false prophets and false teachers. They convince people that they have the truth and will be with Jesus in heaven, but instead it is a lie that leads to eternal damnation. This is why Jesus, who is so tender and kind to all others, is harsh and fierce with the false prophets and teachers of His time. That is why He gave such a strong warning in Matthew 7 about those who call Him Lord and claim to do all sorts of things in His name, but He will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.

Last week we examined Jesus’ description of five characteristics of these false religious leaders in Matthew 23:1-12. They claim authority for themselves, make hypocritical demands of their followers, are loveless and uncaring, make pretentious displays of their religiosity, and they are proud and arrogant. (See: Warnings against Pseudo Piety & Pride). You must be cautious of those who display any of these characteristics. At best such people are immature, but they could also be false teachers.

In Matthew 23:13-36, Jesus continues in His warnings about these false spiritual leaders, but now he addresses them directly. Seven times Jesus says to them, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites.” More than any other group the scribes and Pharisees were false teachers. While some were sincere and true such as Nicodemus, the majority had traded in the truths and wisdom of God for the traditions and wisdom of men.

Jesus repeated pronouncement upon them is, “woe to you.” The word “woe” (Oujai / ouai) is used in several ways. Most often it is a loud guttural outcry of pain, fear or anger (woe!), or a gentle expression of grief, despair or sorrow (woe is me). Jesus’ use of it here is that of judgment mixed with regret. He is not using it as an exclamation, but rather a declaration of divine judgment pronounced against sinful men who will not turn from their evil ways.

Jesus also calls them “hypocrites” (uJpokrithvV / hupokritìs). The word had been used of Greek actors who placed a mask over their face as they played their part. From that usage the word developed a meaning of someone who pretended to be something they were not, and specifically, someone better than they really were. Outwardly appearing in public to be of high virtue, but inwardly and in private proving to be immoral. This was an accurate description of most of the scribes and Pharisees.

The scribes and Pharisees are no longer around, so why should we study this section of Scripture? Because the false spiritual leaders who exist in our own time have the same characteristics. These scriptures enable us to recognize and warn the religious hypocrites of our own time. You must be careful of those who have the traits Jesus described in verses 2-12, and you also must not be afraid to recognize them and treat them as Jesus does in verse 13-36. Do not shy away from exposing them and giving stern warning about what they are doing and what God says lies in store for them if they do not repent. Warning someone, even when done sternly, is an act of kindness.

Jesus describes here eight more characteristics false spiritual leaders may have. The first is in verse 13.

Religious CharlatansMatthew 23:13

They are religious charlatans. “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from men; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those are entering to go in.” The picture described is of these men standing at the gate of heaven and slamming the gate shut in the face of those who would like to go in. They won’t go in themselves and they do their best to keep other people out too. This is a key trait of all false religions and cults.

How do they do this? By advocating a religious system or philosophy that leads either to a false god(s) or a false understanding of the true God. The scribes and Pharisees did it by setting aside the grace of God and developing a religion of works righteousness, the common idea that if you are good enough, God will let you into heaven. Or perhaps better described according to how most people actually think and behave, as long as you avoid being horribly evil, God will let you into heaven.

There are plenty of these religious charlatans around today. The false religions and major cults are easy enough to spot because of their emphasis on earning your salvation by what you do. But what about those who use the Bible and say that Jesus is the only way, yet their message is still not true to God’s plan of salvation? There are many around that will sell you Jesus as a great fire insurance policy. That is, if you will do what they tell you, Jesus will keep you from the fires of Hell. Often, but not always, there is a corollary promise of a wonderful life that will be healthy, wealthy and prosperous. The particular works required will vary from praying particular words, raising your hand or walking the aisle when the evangelist calls for it, getting baptized, verbally acknowledging certain historical facts, fulfilling sacraments, being charitable or doing good deeds, but whatever they are, they are faith in what man does instead of faith in the grace and mercy of God that is found in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Neither Jesus nor salvation are products to market. Jesus and His gospel of salvation are to be proclaimed as the truth and the only way to the Father. Romans 6 makes it clear that salvation is from sin to righteousness and not just escape from the fires of Hell, and this salvation comes only by God’s grace and mercy in granting forgiveness to those who place their faith in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ alone. Jesus said that those who live for Him, which is the result of true salvation, will be persecuted by the unrighteous of this world. The Christian life is wonderful, but not according to the world’s materialistic and hedonistic point of view. Be careful, for religious charlatans abound and they will seek to market to you a Jesus and a salvation that leaves you self-righteous and therefore still condemned by God.

Pious Thieves Matthew 23:14

False religious leaders are also often pious thieves. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows’ houses, even while for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you shall receive greater condemnation.”

Since this verse is not found in many early manuscripts, it may have been transposed from either Mark or Luke into Matthew, but since there is not doubt that Jesus did say it, and since it fits the context, I will comment on it.

This practice is still seen today. In the course of bringing “spiritual comfort” to widows, these false religious leaders used their influence to deceive widows into turning over to them their finances and sometimes their homes. They “devoured” the homes of defenseless widows while appearing to be virtuous because of their long prayers for them. As similar “pious” thieves of today are exposed, more arise to take their places, and story after story is still heard of some widow who is taken advantage of so that she sends in her money, often her life savings, to one of these false teachers. This also happens to widowers and others that do not have someone protecting their interests. Con men are bad enough, but these ones pose as spiritual leaders, and so their condemnation will be greater than those who were simple thieves.

Sons of Hell Matthew 23:15

Verse 15 exposes another of their practices. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel about on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.” These are very strong words from the Lord because of the damnation these people bring on others.

The Jewish nation was always supposed to be missionaries to the Gentile nations. The promise to Abraham included that “all the families of earth shall be blessed” through him and his descendants (Genesis 15). They were to be a “light to all nations” (Isaiah 49). The nation often failed at this, but just prior to the coming of Jesus there was a great missionary zeal that took hold of the hearts of many, and the Lord God, creator of heaven and earth, was proclaimed among the Gentiles. This helped spread Christianity later.

Tragically, it was not enough for many of the Pharisees to see a Gentile come to the synagogues and begin to worship the true God. (These Gentiles were called, “proselytes of the gate”). The Pharisees demanded that these Gentile converts also follow all the minutia of the rabbinical traditions too (They would then be called “proselytes of righteousness”). The self righteousness of scribes & Pharisees was enough of a curse, but these converted Gentiles would be zealous for their new religion, and some in that zeal would surpass their teachers in self righteousness, and thus “twice as much a son of hell.”

True Christianity is not about a religion, it is about reconciliation of the sinner with His creator through redemption and justification by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We must make sure that remains the goal of our evangelism and discipleship. We want people to believe and become followers of Jesus, not a religion. We are to be opening the door to eternal life, not to the traditions of men leading to death.

Be bold when representatives of false religions or cults or anyone else tries to present a false gospel to you. If they want to present a message of damnation, then treat them accordingly. Offer to tell them about salvation in Christ, but you do not need to debate them in theology or philosophy. Instead, simply but firmly denounce their teachings for what they are – ungodly and damning to the souls of men. That is what both the Lord and the apostles did.

Bogus Vows Matthew 23:16-22

False spiritual leaders also make bogus vows. They make promises they have no intention of keeping. Verses 16-22, “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, that is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple, he is obligated.’ You fools and blind men; which is more important, the gold, or the temple that sanctified the gold? And, ‘Whoever swears by the altar, that is nothing, but whoever swears by the offering upon it, he is obligated.’ You blind men, which is more important, the offering or the altar that sanctifies the offering? Therefore he who swears, swears both by the altar and by everything on it. And he who swears by the temple swears both by the temple and by Him who dwells within it. And he who swears by heaven, swears both by the throne of God and by Him who sits upon it.”

Jesus had addressed this question before in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:33-37), but He makes even more apparent here the foolishness of their practice, and He also calls them “blind guides” because they were so ignorant of the truth. They treated making vows much like children who claim to invalidate their promises by crossing their fingers. They developed an elaborate system of what was binding and what was not. In this way they could sound very pious by making all sorts of boastful promises without ever keeping them. They should have known better, Deuteronomy 23:21 states, “When you make a vow to the LORD your God, you shall not delay to pay it, for it would be sin in you, and the LORD your God will surely require it of you.” Ecclesiastes 5:5 states, “When you vow a vow to God, defer not to pay it; for He has no pleasure in fools: pay that which you have vowed.” Jesus makes it plain that every vow is binding regardless of what you swear by for ultimately it is made before God who is the creator of everything and He will hold you to it.

Christians are to be people of their word. If they say it, then they should do it. Jesus said in Matthew 5:34-37 that we are not to get involved with this sort of promise making where some vows have to be kept and some can be broken. Jesus’ command is direct and simple, “let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil.” Be suspicious of those who do not keep their word. You cannot trust them, and they may be false teachers.

Neglectful LegalistsMatthew 23:23-24

The scribes and Pharisees were also neglectful legalists. Verses 23-24, “Woe to you, scribes & Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!”

They were majoring on the minor and neglecting the major! They were caught up in minutia as they sought to fulfill the Mosaic command to tithe to the nth degree. There were several tithes commanded in the Mosaic Law, all of which supported the Levitical priesthood, but the one in question here is in Leviticus 27:30, “Thus all the tithe of the land, of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s; it is holy to the Lord.” The Pharisees took this beyond the staple crops such as grains, olive oil, wine, fruits & vegetables to include even potted kitchen herbs such as mint, dill & cumin. Out of every ten leaves or seeds they would set one aside for a tithe. While it was commendable that they were meticulous to keep this law, they neglected the more important aspects of the law including justice, mercy and faithfulness. This was also something they should have known for each of these are common themes in the Hebrew Scriptures. Micah 6:8 is specific stating, “He [the Lord] has shown you, O man, what is good and what the Lord requires of thee, but to do justice and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” But they ignored these commands.

The scribes and Pharisees thought they were pleasing God by their attention to detail. Jesus points out their ludicrous folly with the illustration of being careful to strain their wine, perhaps even drinking through clenched teeth, in order to make sure they would not accidentally drink a gnat, an unclean animal, yet they would end up eating camel for dinner, another unclean animal.

Again, it was fine that they were concerned about details, but by neglecting the larger issues they only proved to be blind guides for they were either ignorant or defiant of the very truths they claimed to be experts in. They were supposed to lead people to God and teach them how to walk with Him, but they neglected true righteousness and led their followers into the self-righteousness that legalism brings.

Be careful of those who focus on minor issues while neglecting the more important ones. Be wary of pastors and preachers who neglect the whole counsel of God to focus on their favorite topics. While it is important to know the details of such subjects as prophecy, the gifts of the spirit, the Bible and science, cult awareness, Hebrew history and culture, etc., etc., there is a serious problem whenever one subject is emphasized to the neglect of the rest of the Scriptures. The details are important, but not until the major issues are understood. Or to put it another way, the color of the paint it not important until the foundation is laid and the building is constructed.

Masked Harpies Matthew 23:25-26

The sixth woe Jesus pronounced upon them is in verses 25- 26. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also.” They were masked harpies. A harpy is a greedy, predatory person. They masked over their true character by being careful to keep the ceremonial laws so that they would appear pious. The analogy that Jesus makes is that of washing the outside of a plate and cup while leaving all the filth and putrid food inside. A meal served in these dishes looked great from the outside, but who would want to eat the contaminated food inside them?

The Pharisees did well at making a show of all their righteous deeds. The multitudes commonly thought that no one could be as righteous as a Pharisee, but the truth was that no one was as unrighteous. The outward show of ceremonial righteousness only hid the robbery and self-indulgence in their hearts. Robbery is the Greek, aJrpaghv / harpagì referring to that which is taken by force – plunder, booty. Self-indulgence is the Greek (ajkrasiva / akrasia) meaning without self-control and hence falling to temptation (1 Corinthians 7:5). The true measure of a person is not what they say and do in public, it is what they say and do in private.

Spiritual Contaminants Matthew 27-28

They were also spiritual contaminants, verses 27-28. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you too outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”

While this appears similar to the previous condemnation – all cleaned up on the outside but filthy on the inside – it differs in that they were a spiritual contaminant to others. Their heart of robbery made other people their victims as they tried to satisfy their self-indulgence. Jesus states here that they were full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. Their outward profession of spirituality caused others to follow them, but what they actually taught was lawlessness. Jesus said of them in Mark 7:13 that by their traditions they invalidated the word of God. Like a whitewashed tomb, the outward appearance was pleasing, but what was inside was corrupt and those who touched a tomb would become unclean. False teachers can appear to be spiritual and nice, but they are corrupt and those who follow them will become unrighteous.

There are also many around today that are like this, and that includes within the professing church. Theological liberals directly deny the Scriptures while maintaining an aire of personal spirituality. Within what is claimed to be evangelical Christianity, there are many that follow their own traditions or some philosophy that distorts or replaces the clear teachings of the Scriptures. The shifting winds of doctrine blow them off course, and while the teaching sounds pleasing to the ear, it is human wisdom that eats away at the truths of the gospel so that you end up with corruption and self-righteousness. In just the last one hundred years some of these ill winds of doctrine striking against the orthodox church have included modernism, scientism, legalistic fundamentalism, neo-evangelicalism, popular psychology, church growth marketing (“seeker sensitive”), post-modernism, emergent theology, and the latest are convergence and social justice.

Stay away from those that appear to be spiritual, but proclaim a gospel different from salvation by God’s grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone for the glory of God alone. Beware of those that get caught up in the latest theological fads instead of being diligent to examine everything in the light of the Scriptures and remain true to teaching the whole counsel of God.

Pretentious Murderers Matthew 23:29-32

The final woe starts in verse 29, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, ‘If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ Consequently you bear witness against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up then the measure of the guilt of your fathers.”

The scribes and Pharisees boasted that they were better than their fathers claiming that they would not have killed the prophets of old which their fathers had murdered. They even enlarged and beautified the tombs and monuments made to those their fathers had murdered. But it was all a sham for they were true sons of their fathers for they were of the same nature and character in their plotting to murder the greatest prophet of all – Jesus (Matthew 12:14; Mark 3:6; Luke 6:11; John 5:18; 8:59; 10:31; 11:53,57). Their plan to murder Jesus was the culmination of all the guilt of those who had murdered God’s messengers in the past. Jesus charge against them continues as He reveals them to be just as murderous as their fathers.

Brood of Vipers Matthew 23:33-36

“You serpents, you brood of vipers, how shall you escape the sentence of hell? Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Truly I say to you, all these things shall come upon this generation.

Jesus calls them snakes – specifically vipers – a small poisonous snake that lived in that region. Vipers were especially dangerous because they would look like a dried stick when they were still and many people were bitten as they gathered wood, as happened to Paul in Acts 28. Vipers were deceitful and deadly and so were the scribes and Pharisees. These false spiritual leaders were in grave danger of God’s eternal judgement and they could not escape it on their own. Jesus was going to send more prophets, wise men and scribes, and their normal purpose was to reveal truth and warn people to repent and believe God. Salvation would be granted to those that would listen and heed the message, and the book of Acts records thousands that believed the gospel of Christ. However, the flip side of the gospel is its condemnation of those who reject it as stated in 2 Thessalonians 1:8. The character of these scribes and Pharisees was already set. They would not listen and heed, they would persecute and kill. They would be guilty of killing the prophets just like their fathers.

Jesus was crucified as were some of the Apostles, and all of them were martyred except John, and he was persecuted. Stephen was stoned to death and Paul was scourged several times before being executed. Persecution by the scribes and Pharisees was a fact of life for the early Christians. By Acts 8 the church scatters from Jerusalem because of the heavy persecution. All this only proved that the scribes and Pharisees were just like their fathers. Contrary to their claim, they agreed with their fathers and so became guilty along with them of the murder of God’s righteous people – from Abel who as slain by his brother to the prophet Zechariah who was murdered in the Temple itself. They were guilty of all – from the first to the last one, from A to Z.

That generation did suffer the multiplied guilt and judgment they and their fathers had brought upon themselves. About forty years later Jerusalem was utterly destroyed by the Roman armies of Titus, and the people slaughtered or scattered around the world.

Conclusions

There were false teachers then and there are false teachers now. You can listen to them on “Christian” radio, see them on “Christian” TV and buy their books in “Christian” bookstores, and they have plenty of websites and presence on social media. God allows them as a test of your faith and whether you love Him (Deuteronomy 13:3). And though they are dangerous, you need not fear them if you are careful to pay attention and heed Jesus’ warnings. They are easily identified by their characteristics, as explained by Jesus in this passage. Their false teaching is easily identified by those who know the Scriptures, and their deluding influence is easily resisted by those who live in the power of the Holy Spirit. However, if you are not a diligent student of God’s word or walking well with Christ, then you are their target, and you will surely get hurt unless you heed Jesus’ warnings in this passage about them.

I encourage you to be diligent in your daily devotions of reading and studying the Scriptures and praying. Be like the Bereans and check out what you hear against the Scriptures. Be sure to be involved with other believers for protection against being “carried about by every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14) is found within the mutual ministry of spiritual gifts and practicing the one another commands. Be alert and be bold to properly correct those who stray from the truth and rebuke those who continue in error. By this we protect one another and bring about spiritual maturity to the glory of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Sermon Notes – 10/21/2018

Seven Woes to Spiritual Hypocrites Matthew 23:13-36

Introduction & Review

The greatest threat to anyone is whatever will keep him from ________God’s gift of mercy & grace in Jesus

Matthew 23:1-12 – five characteristics of false religious leaders: 1) Claim ______________for themselves.

2) Hypocritical demands of others. 3) Loveless and uncaring. 4) Pretentious displays of piety.

5) ____________& Arrogance

Matthew 23:13-36 – _________times Jesus repeats, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites.”

“Woe” (Oujai / ouai) is used here as a _______________________________

“Hypocrites” (uJpokrithvV / hupokritìs) – two faced, ______________to be something you are not (good)

The scribes and Pharisees are gone, but there are many others ____________________in our own time

Religious CharlatansMatthew 23:13

They advocate a religious system or philosophy leading to a false god or ____understanding of the true God

False religions & cults are easy to identify, but many “evangelicals” also preach a _________based salvation

Jesus is ____________, not marketed to people’s desires. The gospel is salvation from ______, not just Hell

The Christian life is ________________by God’s standards, but terrible by worldly desires

Pious Thieves Matthew 23:14

They appeared virtuous, but preyed on widows to ____________their wealth

Religious con-men are still present today taking ___________of the old and defenseless to gain their wealth

Sons of Hell Matthew 23:15

They worked hard to make Gentile proselytes like themselves, some of whom went ______________them

True Christianity seeks converts who will believe and be followers of __________________, not a religion

Be bold to warn and rebuke those that proclaim a false religion or ______________ gospel

Bogus Vows Matthew 23:16-22

Jesus addressed this subject in Matthew 5:33-37, but He is even more _________ here

They treated vows like children crossing their fingers , but vows are ___________(Deut. 23:21; Eccl. 5:5)

Christians are to be people who __________their word (James 5:12)

Neglectful LegalistsMatthew 23:23-24

They majored on minors but neglected the major issues of ____________

Leviticus 27:30 – Tithing agricultural products was commanded, and including spices was ______________

Neglecting major aspects of godliness such as justice, mercy & faithfulness was ____________ (Micah 6:8)

It was ludicrous folly to strain wine to prevent accidentally ingesting a gnat, yet eat a camel – both ________

Unable to see God’s truth due to either ignorance or defiance of it, they were _________guides to doom

Seek out the whole counsel of God, for the details are not important until the ________issues are understood

Masked Harpies Matthew 23:25-26

Their outward piety in keeping ceremonial laws did not remove the __________within them

Inwardly they were full of robbery (aJrpaghv / harpagì) – taking by force, ___________, booty

Inwardly they were full of self-indulgence (ajkrasiva / akrasia) – ________self-control, subject to temptation

The true measure of a person is what they say and do in ____________, not public

Spiritual Contaminants Matthew 27-28

Appearance obscured the reality of their hypocrisy and lawlessness which would ________________others

Spiritual contamination is common as the shifting winds of doctrine _______the gospel with human wisdom

Stay away from those that proclaim a different gospel, and beware of theological ___________

Pretentious Murderers Matthew 23:29-32

They boasted to be better than their murderous fathers, but they were just like them seeking to _______Jesus

Brood of Vipers Matthew 23:33-36

Vipers are poisonous snakes that appear to be dried sticks when still – biting the _______________

Jesus sent more prophets, wise men, scribes – but they killed & persecuted them instead of __________them

The gospel is a message of salvation to those who believe, and condemnation to those who __________it

The _____________ were persecuted and killed, as were many of the early Christians

The scribes and Pharisees were as ___________as their fathers and stood guilty and condemned

Conclusions

False teachers abound, but they can be identified by the _________________in Jesus’ warnings

They are resisted by knowing the ______________and walking in the power of the Holy Spirit

Be diligent in your devotions and be involved with other believers for growth and _________(Eph. 4:11-16)

KIDS KORNER
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Count how many times references are made to the scribes and Pharisees. 2) Discuss with your parents the characteristics of false teachers and protection from them

THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. What is the greatest threat to any human? What are the five characteristics of false teachers in Matthew 23:1-12? Why does Jesus pronounce woes upon the scribes and Pharisees? Why does He call them hypocrites? How did they shut off the kingdom of heaven from people? How do modern false teachers do the same thing? How did they take advantage of widows? How do religious leaders still do that today? Do you know of examples? How would a proselyte become “twice as much as son of hell.” How should you respond to someone that proclaims a false gospel? Does God expect you to keep all of your vows? Explain. Why does Jesus contrast their tithing of spices with their neglect of justice, mercy and faithfulness? How does straining a gnat and swallowing a camel demonstrate they were blind guides? In what ways were they clean externally, yet filthy internally? Is that a danger today? Explain. What is the true measure of the character of a person? In what ways do false teachers contaminate others? What are the dangers of spiritual contamination for evangelical Christians? Why does Jesus say the scribes and Pharisees were guilty as their fathers in murdering the prophets? Why does Jesus call them a “brood of vipers”? Why did Jesus send additional prophets, wise men and scribes? What did the scribes and Pharisees do to them? How can you identify false teachers? How can you protect yourself against their influence? Why is it important to be involved with other true Christians?


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