The Leaven of the Pharisees Part 2

A woe depicts sorrow. In the case of the Pharisees it also represented depending doom as Jesus revealed in Matthew 23 when he pronounced these scathing truth’s to the religious leaders of his day. They came in forms of woes and in many instances these woes refer to weeping and gnashing of teeth. Weeping and gnashing of teeth is always associated with religious professors because they will have the greatest suffering if they don’t live up to the light they have.

Matthew 24:48 But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; 49 And shall begin to smite [his] fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; 50 The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for [him], and in an hour that he is not aware of, 51 And shall cut him asunder, and appoint [him] his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Gnashing of teeth symbolises indescribable mental anguish. It always applied to people who profess to follow Christ so for the Christian it is of vital importance to consider what he is saying. Note when he spoke the woes to the Pharisees he was actually speaking to the multitude and the disciples therefore it is for our admonition to take it to heart. What are these woes all about? To get the depth of meaning from these woes we need to study them in contrast to the blessings when Jesus spoke to the disciples and multitude.

Matt 23:13 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.

Jesus is addressing religious leaders who prevent people from entering the kingdom of heaven. Does this really apply to our situation? Aren’t we trying to get people into the kingdom of heaven? The purpose of the Christian life is to lead a person to Christ but it refers to the hypocrite who pretends to be doing something yet is doing the opposite. What does it mean to shut up the kingdom of heaven? We need to check this against ourselves lest we do the same thing. The hypocrite pretends to do one thing but does the opposite in reality. The contrast is found in Matthew.

Matthew 5:3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Do you see how they connect? The curse is for the one keeping others out of heaven but the blessing is for those who are poor in spirit. What does it mean to keep people out of the kingdom of heaven? Isaiah 9 tells us what the leaders were doing to the people.

Isaiah 9:16 For the leaders of this people cause [them] to err; and [they that are] led of them [are] destroyed. 17 Therefore the Lord shall have no joy in their young men, neither shall have mercy on their fatherless and widows: for every one [is] an hypocrite and an evildoer, and every mouth speaketh folly. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand [is] stretched out still.

The purpose of the woes was not to condemn for Jesus didn’t come to condemn but in this rebuke Jesus was endeavouring to reach out to the scribes and Pharisees. These leaders were hypocrites but his hand was still stretched out to them. If as we continue to study this subject we realize we have done the same, don’t become discouraged as God’s hand is still stretched out to you. We can learn how to bring the people into the kingdom of heaven. John the Baptist is an example of bringing people into the kingdom of heaven. John never kept anyone out of the kingdom of heaven because he was not a hypocrite. His message was;

Matthew 3:2 Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

The example of John the Baptist tells us his type of work to save souls was not hypocritical. Jesus used the same method neither was he hypocritical nor kept anyone out of heaven.

Matthew 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

In John and Jesus we have a clear example of what it means to help people to come to the kingdom of heaven. Repentance is the doorway to the kingdom of heaven. It gives the soul an opportunity to acknowledge his poor condition. Hence Jesus said blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. By stifling the call to repentance church leaders both in the days of Christ and today are preventing people from coming into the kingdom of heaven. What is repentance? It is turning away from sin, confessing and giving it up and having a loathing for it. The bible clearly tells us that sin is the transgression of the law. Romans 3:20 declare the truth on the matter.

Romans 3:20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

What tells you that you are a sinner? The law tells you you’re a sinner and only when you acknowledge your sinfulness by what the law has said can you repent of it. Therefore repentance requires the law.

Romans 7:7 What shall we say then? [is] the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.

This verse is talking about the Ten Commandments. The law is the only medium through which I can discern sin and without the law I don’t know sin and if I don’t know sin I cannot repent.

Romans 7:13 Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.

It is true that we know we are sinners. We all admit that. But has sin become exceedingly sinful in my experience that I loath it. If it hasn’t the law hasn’t done its job. If you haven’t come to loathe sin perhaps you have not looked at the law or you thought the law was done away with at the cross. If sin and repentance was also done away at the cross then John, Jesus or Peter at Pentecost were preaching something that was not needed. I had not known sin expect the law had said thou shalt not covert. As I try and keep the commandments I fail then I realize how bad I am.

Romans 7:24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

As Paul made this experience the law became big to him and as the law became big to him so did his sin and as his sin became big so he became a wretched man.

Romans 5:20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:

When the law becomes big to you your wretchedness and sin becomes big and when that becomes big Jesus becomes bigger and that was what John and Jesus and the apostles preached. Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand. If you take away the law you essentially take away everything else. The law itself cannot save us but it give us the need for salvation not just intellectually but internally of your poor condition.

Revelation 3:17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:

This message was given in the Laodicean period because the ministers have taken away the law. When the law has gone from the minds of the people they don’t realize their poverty and when they don’t realize their poverty they can’t enter heaven because Jesus says blessed are the poor in spirit of theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Read a prophecy concerning today’s leaders.

Jeremiah 6:13 For from the least of them even unto the greatest of them every one [is] given to covetousness; and from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely. 14 They have healed also the hurt [of the daughter] of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when [there is] no peace. 15 Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time [that] I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the LORD. 16 Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where [is] the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, we will not walk [therein].

Ministers today say we don’t want old-fashioned religion and preaching. We want the new theology and philosophy of today. Today’s new theology says sin is not so bad. In the minds of many ministers and churchgoers lots of things that God calls sin are no longer sinful; they are just considered old fashioned. They have healed the daughters of my people slightly. Often when a person is burdened with guilt we come to them saying oh what you are doing isn’t that bad and in saying that we are healing their guilt slightly. It is half measured medicine. It’s like saying peace peace when their in no peace.

What needs to be taught is that sin is sin and if people have committed sin and are under its guilt don’t lessen their guilt by saying their sin is not sin because it is. Point them to Jesus for full healing and tell them how they can give their sin to Jesus and how he can help them overcome the sin that is weighing them down in their practical life. The scriptures say sin shall not have dominion over you. It is a shame today that this world does not preach sin and call it by its right name anymore. The woes of Matthew 23:13 is fulfilled in the teachers and leaders of today who do not want to know their own sins.

Matthew 23:13 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.

If leaders were to preach what the transgression of the law is, they will have to change their own ways and they don’t want to do that. For example, if the leader has a habit of watching cricket or follow football, which is a sin according to the scripture, he will not want to tell the congregation it is sin because he will have to stop himself. The leaders of the church don’t repent of their sins either. We need to keep the standard high but people say if you put the standard high it makes people feel bad. So it should as when they feel bad and you teach them to repent, then Jesus becomes meaningful. There is even a class of Sabbath keepers who say the law has been done away with at the cross because that is what the Sunday keepers teach. Even among Sabbath keepers sin isn’t called by its right name. The worldliness among Sabbath keepers today is sin in all its fullness. It must be identified and stopped in every department of the church and that requires the leaders to change and they wont do that and so they shut the kingdom of heaven to everyone and themselves also. They won’t let anyone go in. To preach the law they think will make everyone uncomfortable and they don’t want that.

The class who do not feel grieved over their own spiritual declension, nor mourn over the sins of others, will be left without the seal of God . . . . {5T 211.1}

If we are going to preach the sealing message, which is part of the three angels message’s, then we must preach repentance because it says the class who do not feel grieved over their own spiritual declension nor mourn over the sins of others, will be left without the seal of God.

The Lord commissions His messengers, the men with slaughtering weapons in their hands: “Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at My sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house.” {5T 211.1}

Here we see that the church–the Lord’s sanctuary–was the first to feel the stroke of the wrath of God. The ancient men, those to whom God had given great light and who had stood as guardians of the spiritual interests of the people, had betrayed their trust. {5T 211.2}

If we betray God’ trust and refrain from preaching repentance for sin we will be the first ones to suffer the stroke of God’s wrath. Like the Scribes and Pharisees upon whom Christ pronounced woe, so it will be for the leaders in any of the Seventh Day Adventist movements who do likewise. We must be careful not to lower but raise the standard high.

These persons come to feel secure in their deceptions and, because of His long-suffering, say that the Lord seeth not, and then act as though He had forsaken the earth. But He will detect their hypocrisy and will open before others those sins, which they were so careful to hide. {5T 211.3}

No superiority of rank, dignity, or worldly wisdom, no position in sacred office, will preserve men from sacrificing principle when left to their own deceitful hearts. Those who have been regarded as worthy and righteous prove to be ringleaders in apostasy and examples in indifference and in the abuse of God’s mercies. Their wicked course He will tolerate no longer, and in His wrath He deals with them without mercy. {5T 212.1}

If we do not lift the standard high and give the people knowledge of their sins so they can repent and come into the kingdom of heaven, God will not have mercy upon us. He will only pronounce a woe.

James 2:5 Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?

Those that are poor but rich in faith are the heirs of the kingdom of heaven. Hypocrisy never made anyone rich in faith. Those who had great faith were those who had great knowledge of their sins. In their knowledge of their sins they repented and Jesus became everything to them. It is written he that is forgiven most loveth most. Therefore to help people love God we must first help them to see how bad they are. It is my prayer that we take these woes personally and not lessen the standard and the seriousness of sin but lift up Jesus the forgiver of our sins. May we be true missionaries for Jesus and not shut the kingdom of heaven up for anyone.


Posted on May 29, 2011, in Sermons For Sabbath, The Leaven of the Pharisees, The Seven Woes and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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