The Greater Condemnation #4

Friday, June 15, 2018

My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body (James 3:1,2 KJV).

While many want to lead in local assemblies, today’s Scripture issues a stern warning. They had better reconsider!

God will hold church leaders—“masters” (today’s Scripture) or teachers (John 3:10)—to a much higher standard than He will church members. Do they believe the right doctrine? Are they practicing what they preach and teach? Christ said to Israel’s religious leaders in Matthew 23:14: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.” Unsaved false teachers will have a hotter place in Hell than those whom they misled!

In time past, Israel had God’s Word and the Gentiles did not (Romans 3:1,2). Compared to Gentiles, Jews were the teachers. Yet, the Israelites were hypocrites—they committed the same sins they had condemned the “wicked” Gentiles for doing! In Romans chapter 2, God holds the Jews as the more responsible party. Gentiles were without God’s revelation; Israel knew God’s Word and still committed those atrocious deeds (see verses 1-3,12,17-27). They would all endure God’s wrath!

While we members of the Church the Body of Christ never have to fear seeing God’s angry face or winding up in Hell, we should know that God Himself will review our Christian service. Jesus Christ will examine our soul, to determine the quality of doctrine we built into it (see 1 Corinthians 3:9-15; 2 Corinthians 5:9,10). Was it “gold, silver, precious stones”—valuable, spiritual information, His Word rightly divided? Or “wood, hay, stubble”—useless doctrine, human wisdom, religious tradition? Paul warned the Corinthian saints that they were allowing false religious leaders to contaminate them with doctrinal error, which would cause them loss of reward at the Judgment Seat of Christ (see 1 Corinthians chapters 1-3).

Dear friends, we had better be cautious of whom we allow to become our Bible teacher. Furthermore, we had better not rush into becoming Bible teachers ourselves. Bible teaching is a most serious job….

Hypocrites! #6

Friday, May 25, 2018

Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward (Matthew 6:2 KJV).

What exactly is a “hypocrite?”

Our Lord Jesus Christ issued the grave admonition in Luke 12:1: “In the mean time, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trode one upon another, he began to say unto his disciples first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.” As “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (1 Corinthians 5:6; Galatians 5:9), Pharisaical hypocrisy throughly subverted Israel! (Its absurdity is described in Luke 13:11-17.)

Israel’s hypocrisy culminated at Christ’s barbaric crucifixion. Indeed, Calvary’s cross will forever be an emblem of God’s grace in spite of man’s sin. Yet, it will also always be a reminder of how opposed organized religion is to God’s grace. It was not thieves, drug abusers, drunkards, gangbangers, pimps, prostitutes, and atheistic evolutionary college professors who demanded God’s only begotten Son be crucified! No, it was the most “pious” people who ever lived! Religion was everything to them, and Heaven’s Best meant absolutely nothing to them! Mere hours after shedding His innocent blood, they, without one scintilla of remorse, held a religious feast—Passover!

James spoke of divine wisdom as being “without hypocrisy” (3:17). There is no deceitfulness with God; thus, the same should be true of His children. “Provide things honest in the sight of all men” (Romans 12:17). If we have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ who is anything but a hypocrite, we should therefore behave like the people we are (Christians) and not the people we are not (unsaved)!

By the way, what became of organized religion? First Timothy 4:2 says, “Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;….” Its proponents still masquerade as “truth-tellers.” They are non-dispensational—ignoring Pauline revelation (grace) and exalting everything else as “Christian” thought and behavior (see verses 1-16). Beware, dear friends, that ye be not hypocrites! Cast off the masks, makeup, and costumes! “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof” (Romans 13:14)! 🙂

Hypocrites! #5

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward (Matthew 6:2 KJV).

What exactly is a “hypocrite?”

The Lord Jesus thundered in Matthew 23:23: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” They seemed to honor and follow the Mosaic Law, although they limited themselves. Consumed by tithing the smallest spices to obey Moses, they ignored God’s major commandments—judgment (justice), mercy, and faith.

Now, verse 25: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.” This is formalism—emphasis on outward appearance—yet again. They painstakingly wiped (and wiped!!!) cups and platters (dishes) used in religious services. How attractive were those washed vessels! When God looked into the souls of those cleaning, He saw filth and ugliness. Their motives were greed and incontinency: they could not help themselves but take, take, take from the common Jewish worshippers to support that extravagant religion!

And, verse 27: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.” Jesus employs a simile. These religious leaders are painted, decorated tombs… yet, innumerable corpses and utter impurity are hidden inside! Spiritual death personified!

Finally, verses 29-32: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.” They supposedly “lamented” their fathers killing God’s prophets of old. Nevertheless, ultimately, they will soon demand Jesus Christ’s crucifixion….

Hypocrites! #4

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward (Matthew 6:2 KJV).

What exactly is a “hypocrite?”

Most of the Bible’s acridest comments about hypocrites are found in Jesus’ final Temple sermon. Matthew chapter 22, verse 15: “Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk.” They send allies in verses 16 and 17, “Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?” Verse 18, “But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites?” While playing like they were law-abiding citizens, they (like all Jews) had no interest in funding an oppressive Gentile government. Their only goal was to get Jesus in trouble with the Roman authorities.

Chapter 23 of Matthew is Christ’s censure of the pervasive corruption within this the ranks of Israel’s religious leadership. His words, while sharp, are necessary to expose Satan’s strongholds within the nation. The pretenders in Israel will now be uncovered for all in the Temple complex to see.

Verse 13, for example: “But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.” Despite their pious appearance, they discouraged and intimidated any and all from participating in God’s will! Verse 14: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.” In the name of religion, they stole large sums of money to “pray” for the dead!

Now, verse 15: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.” They diligently sought converts to Judaism—not to teach them God’s Word and lead them to salvation—but simply to get new church members.

Indeed, the hypocrites have infiltrated Israel. They have permeated the professing church today as well….

Hypocrites! #3

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward (Matthew 6:2 KJV).

What exactly is a “hypocrite?”

Our Lord Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry is winding down—Calvary is a few months away at most. For three years, He has performed miracle after miracle after miracle in the midst of His Jewish brethren, but has been overwhelmingly mistreated and ridiculed. Israel’s religious leaders have striven to demean and discredit Him at every possible opportunity. In Matthew chapter 12, for the first time, they plot to kill Him (verse 14). Shortly, He begins His parables and increasingly withdraws from public ministry.

As chapter 16 opens, those Christ-rejecting Israeli religious leaders approach Him. After disregarding His other miraculous deeds, and still wallowing in their unbelief, they feign themselves as genuine truth-seekers in verse 1: “The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven.” They are not interested in being converted to faith in Him; they are “tempting” or challenging Him, seeing if He will pacify them. “[2] He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. [3] And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?”

They prided themselves in studying nature to predict the weather, but how pathetically ignorant they were of more critical (eternally important!!!) matters. Discounting the earlier miracles, they had not recognized that Messiah (He Himself!) had arrived and they were outright rejecting their only chance at forgiveness of sins and eternal life! He chided them further: “[4] A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed.”

There are more hypocrites to come, and the Lord Jesus will soon address them with His most unpleasant words yet….

Hypocrites! #2

Monday, May 21, 2018

Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward (Matthew 6:2 KJV).

What exactly is a “hypocrite?”

Christ famously stated in Matthew chapter 7: “[1] Judge not, that ye be not judged. [2] For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. [3] And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? [4] Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? [5] Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.” The hypocrite appears to promote righteous living. However, his lifestyle is far below the standard to which he holds others.

Jesus took what was true during the Prophet Isaiah’s lifetime and applied it to His own day 700 years later. He issued the following severe denunciation in Matthew chapter 15: “[7] Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias [29:13] prophesy of you, saying, [8] This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. [9] But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”

Israel abounded with pretenders. Outwardly, they prayed to “Adonai” (the Lord), recited the Mosaic Law, and sang the Psalms of David. Yet, their internal behavior was something else entirely. The Lord Jesus saw directly into their souls: while acting and sounding like worshippers of God, they had no faith/trust in His Word. It was just meaningless, worthless religion! They actually preferred their manmade traditions to His revelation. How do we know? Did not Israel shortly conspire with the Gentiles to kill Adonai’s Son on Calvary? Had they truly valued the Scriptures of Adonai and Moses and David, they would have believed Jesus was the embodiment and fulfillment of those very words!

Alas, what hypocrites….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “‘Thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege?’

Hypocrites! #1

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward (Matthew 6:2 KJV).

What exactly is a “hypocrite?”

The word appears 20 times in the “New Testament” Scriptures. Today’s Scripture is the first occurrence. Our English “hypocrite” is a transliteration of the Greek term, hupokrites (“under judge”). It was used to describe an actor under an assumed identity. He or she wears a costume, mask, and/or makeup to transform into someone else. To be candid, he or she is a pretender. It would do us well to look at these verses to see just what makes hypocrites so insincere.

Reading today’s Scripture again: “Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.” Here, a hypocrite gives alms (money/goods to the poor and needy)—not to help others or glorify God—but to be noticed and praised of men.

Matthew 6:5 mentions a second type of hypocrite: “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.” They pray—not to have fellowship with God or reflect upon His Word—but to be observed and praised by others.

Verse 16 features a third hypocrite: “Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.” The hypocrite here also seeks the attention and glory of men—they advertise their fasting by using their faces. They are not interested in true mourning, deep contemplation of their sin, and so on.

Just as someone would play another role on a stage, so the hypocrite “plays his part” for all society to give him a standing ovation….

Purloining

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again; Not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things (Titus 2:9,10 KJV).

What exactly is “purloining?”

According to The Oxford English Dictionary, “purloin” is the formal term for “to steal.” Another English dictionary says, “to appropriate wrongfully and often by a breach of trust.” When used in the context of “servants” and “masters” (as in today’s Scripture), it acquires the sense of stealing from one’s employer or boss. The legal term is “embezzlement” (misuse of entrusted money or property). (The English word is from the French purloigner “put away,” from pur- “forth” + loign “far.”) What is most painful is the identity of the purloiner—usually it is the most trusted member of the team!

Experts tell us that theft in the workplace causes American businesses to lose an estimated $50 billion annually! Whether stealing parts from inventory, taking money from cash registers, using company equipment and accounts for personal gain, check fraud, swiping so much as ink pens and pencils, it costs the company. Over many years, a worker can siphon and remove the merchandise or funds little by little. It is difficult to notice. The median age for purloiners at the workplace is the late 40s (both men and women). Women are more often guilty of it.

Rather than stealing from the company, the Christian worker is to “shew all good fidelity.” Faithfulness or trustworthiness should be demonstrated, “that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.” The purpose of a Christian’s on-the-job honesty is to make God’s doctrine attractive. If the Christian employee talks about how Satan lies and Jesus Christ is “the Truth,” but then steals from his company, he will lose both his job and his testimony! Rather than being attractive, the Bible will be hideous before the eyes of lost men. They will not care to hear from hypocrites who say one thing and do something else. Let us always bear this in mind when on the job!

Sincere!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

“And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:9-11 KJV).

Without further delay, we need to be sincere.

Hypocrisy is a charge frequently laid against believers in Christ: “I do not go to church because of all the hypocrites there!” Actually, to some extent, everyone is a hypocrite—even the critics of Christians! We are not 100 percent genuine every single second of every single day, are we? Christian and non-Christian alike, we can all be “actors” to some degree: all of us can appear to be individuals we really are not.

Non-Christians speak and behave as if they can access the one true God without His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. They cannot. Yet, they want to say that this religion and that religion are “just as good” as Christianity. They assume they can be “good” people apart from Jesus Christ. Scripture disagrees: “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10). Christians talk and conduct themselves as if they are still lost and going to Hell. They are not. Nevertheless, they claim, “I cannot help but sin; the Devil made me do it!” They suppose that they are still the slaves to sin. The Bible disagrees: “But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life” (Romans 6:22).

Unless Christians have grace edification, they do not know how to behave. Why? They have no idea what to believe. Why? They do not know how to understand and enjoy the Holy Bible. They, using religion, thus pretend to live the Christian life: when they fail, the critics gleefully wail, “Hypocrite!” However, friend, if God’s wisdom from His rightly divided Word fills your spirit and heart, you will be no hypocrite, and you will be “without offence [violation].” It will really be Christ Jesus living in you! You will be “filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ!”

Shine as Lights #4

Thursday, May 18, 2017

“Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain” (Philippians 2:14-16 KJV).

Shine as lights, brethren, shine as lights!

We ought to be “blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke.” Instead of behaving like mature sons of God, there is often childishness in our lives—this should not be. “Without rebuke” means “not worthy of being faulted or discredited.” That is, no one has grounds for calling us hypocrites. As the famous dictum goes, “We practice what we preach.” We claim to be God’s children—we act like God’s children. We say we are saints—we behave like saints.

“In the midst of a crooked and perverse nation….” The life of Jesus Christ is to be lived in and through us the saints as we function in “this present evil world” (Galatians 1:4). We should “do all things without murmurings and disputings,” we are to be “blameless and harmless,” we should be “the sons of God” practically, and we are to be “without rebuke,” while living in a world abounding with those very spiritual evils. What a distinction!

The word “crooked” here in Greek is skolios, from which we get “scoliosis” (curvature, warping, winding of the spine). It is rendered “untoward” (turned away from God) in Acts 2:40. “Perverse” is stronger—it means “corrupt, distorted.” “And Jesus answering said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you, and suffer you? Bring thy son hither” (Luke 9:41; cf. Matthew 17:17). Speaking of perversion within the “Christian” community, Acts 20:30 warns: “Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” And, 1 Timothy 6:5: Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.” (These last two references contradict the behavior encouraged in today’s Scripture.)

NOTE: We will temporarily break away from this devotionals arc to bring you a special study tomorrow. Stay tuned for the second half of the “Shine as Lights” series!

Bible Q&A #380: “Can you explain Galatians 6:11?