In our weekly Bible class, we are doing an overview of the sixty-six books in the Bible. We have finished the major prophets and are in the middle of the minor prophets at this time. What stands out about all of God’s men is their preaching against sin. You could really call them “negative” preachers. They cry out against and point out the sins of their own nation. They identify and point out the sins of their religious leaders. They call a spade a spade and mince no words. Before we attribute such goings-on to the Old Testament, note many of Christ’s messages. Some of today’s preaching suggests that Jesus came to tone down His Father’s message. Some refer to the God of the Old Testament as “harsh,” but claim the God of the New Testament would never offend anyone. Jesus was supposedly the “nice one” as it were.
Yes, Jesus spoke to all kinds of people, but He didn’t participate with all kinds of people. He spent most of His time with His disciples, not the religious or the non-religious. Yes, He accepted their invitations, from both the Pharisees and the publicans, but He didn’t live as they lived nor talk as they talked. Being their guest was not an endorsement of their lifestyle or doctrine. The new evangelism today encourages becoming their friends before you ever mention Jesus. Join in their games, buy them a drink, share a joint and you will be able to influence them. All you are telling them is that you prefer their lifestyle over yours. You are telling them you count their situation more enjoyable than your own.
He upbraided the phony crowd with scathing denunciations and nasty names. Can you believe that? Here, this “lowly Jesus” calling people of note bad names (Matthew 23:13-17, 19, 23-27, 29, 33.)
“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. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.” Matthew 23:27-28
Only God can see what is in a man’s heart.
In our time, we are demanded to be tolerant of another’s god, but Jesus told the woman at the well she didn’t know who or what she was worshipping (John 4:22.) What kind of man would talk to a minority woman like that? In Matthew 15, He alludes to a black woman as a “dog.” This is just too much. He told the woman taken in adultery to stop sinning (John 8.) How dare a 32 year-old single Jewish man correct a woman’s lifestyle. She probably had a bad marriage or was the victim of an abusive husband. What right does some carpenter’s son have to tell her how to live her life? How would some single guy understand a married woman anyway? This Jesus was an extremist. Three times in His three and one-half years ministry He created chaos in the Temple by throwing furniture around and destroying the vendors’ inventory. In our day, someone would have demanded He get psychiatric help.
The worst thing of all about this young man was that He claimed to be God. He accepted people’s worship. Surely, God would be more moderate and reserved than this Man.
Mankind has forever wanted no restraints upon himself, only on others. If I steal, be tolerant of me; it is not altogether my fault; I am a victim of society; surely you can forgive me; aren’t you supposed to love your neighbor? If you steal from me, you need to pay the price; you must learn that there are consequences for your actions. Our viewpoints change depending on who is involved and also on which side they are involved. If it is our fault, we want mercy. If it is another’s fault, we want justice.
Paul, the author of over half of the New Testament, named individuals who caused him trouble and called sin by it exact name.
“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.” 2 Corinthians 6:17
Paul was alluding to Isaiah 52:11 when he said this. From Genesis to Revelation, God taught separation. Paul travelled many miles telling the story of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He didn’t try to win people over to the Jewish way of life; he told them of Jesus Who could save their souls from hell.
Trying to follow the Sermon on the Mount took no one to heaven. Loving one’s neighbor is useless unless:
“…Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” Matthew 22:37
In fact, until one puts the Lord first in his life, he will not be helping or loving his neighbor, he will only be enabling him. Motive supersedes action when God is doing the judging. Some may give to get a write-off; some may give to get acclaim from society; some may give out of a guilty conscience; none of these make any points with God. His criteria:
“Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7
With all of the changes this world has seen, one thing has remained consistent:
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9
The religious crowd is still playing “footsy” with the Devil and berating the dedicated Christian for being holier-than-thou and out of touch with reality. It seems that both the Judgment Seat of Christ and the Great White Throne judgment will reveal some surprises.
Keep Looking Up!