God’s Loving Warning to Us
Hypocrite: One who pretends, puts on a show, acts out something that is false or imaginary. The word came to mean someone who masked his real self, acting in one way but was really another.
Woe: An exclamation of a grieving denunciation; a mixture of sorrow and wrath.
God’s Heart – Even though the Scribes and Pharisees were unbelieving religious pretenders, who led others to be the same, God longed to bring them to himself, as a hen gathers her brood.
Seven times, in Matthew 23, Jesus called out to the religious leaders, “Woe to you… hypocrites!” He looked behind their masks and exposed their sin and their erroneous sway over others.
Woe to the religious who reject Jesus as Messiah, choosing the world and self over the kingdom of God and self-denial.
Unbelief and wrong belief prevails today. A recent survey found that “a majority of evangelicals said (1) that most people are basically good and (2) that God accepts the worship of all religions….” (LifeWay research for Ligonier Ministries)
The realities: 10 It is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” 23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.(Romans 3: 3:10-12; 22-25 ESV)
14:9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10:6 …“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.(John 14:6; 10:9 ESV)
Woe to people who believe and teach falsely about salvation. They do not enter God’s kingdom through Jesus, and they close the door on others.
Woe to the religious, who failed to bring people to Jesus, the Righteous One, but falsely taught salvation by works and man-made religion.
The Pharisees were aggressive to make religious converts, but they weren’t reaching people for God.
Our purpose to the nations is not to call people to live better lives—to live as sinless church-going people. Locally and globally, we are to point people to Jesus, who died for their sins and lived for their righteousness.
Jesus, who lived perfectly righteous, took our disobedience upon himself on the cross, receiving our curse, and he gave to us his righteousness, allowing us to receive God’s blessing. It is paramount that we lead people to faith in Jesus, the Righteous One, who was slain on our behalf. (Romans 4:25)
Woe to people who lead others to religion and to practice righteousness apart from Jesus Christ.
The Oath Taker
Woe to the religious, who majored on the minors, in order to create loopholes for their insincere commitments.
Every pledge and commitment is heard and seen by God and is binding to him. There are no loopholes to be found and taken in our contracts, commitments and covenants.
33 “You have also heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not break your vows; you must carry out the vows you make to the LORD.’ 34 But I say, do not make any vows! Do not say, ‘By heaven!’ because heaven is God’s throne. 35 and do not say, ‘By the earth!’ because the earth is his footstool. and do not say, ‘By Jerusalem!’ for Jerusalem is the city of the great King. 36 Do not even say, ‘By my head!’ for you can’t turn one hair white or black. 37 Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is from the evil one.(Matthew 5:33-37 NLT)
We, too, have a tendency to major on the minors. We must repent of that kind of thinking. With our whole heart, let’s major on the majors. The major focuses can be summarized by loving the Lord your God with all of our heart, soul and mind, and loving your neighbor has yourself (Matthew 22:37-39).
Woe to the people who deceive in words and promises, and who are deceptive in their religious focuses.
Be blessed by receiving the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ, the Righteous One, who took the curse of sin on the cross for you.
Be blessed by leading others to understand and receive by faith the righteous and eternal life of Jesus.
Be blessed by being true in word and promise and by fully loving God and loving people well.