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140 - Religious Grandstanding

More Than Ink / Pastor Jim Catlin & Dorothy Catlin
The Truth Network Radio
April 1, 2023 1:00 pm

140 - Religious Grandstanding

More Than Ink / Pastor Jim Catlin & Dorothy Catlin

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April 1, 2023 1:00 pm

Episode 140 - Religious Grandstanding (1 April 2023) by A Production of Main Street Church of Brigham City

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You pick up your Bible and wonder, is there more here than meets the eye?

Is there anything here for me? I mean, it's just words printed on paper, right? Well, it may look like just print on a page, but it's more than ink.

Join us for the next half hour as we explore God's Word together, as we learn how to explore it on our own, as we ask God to meet us there in its pages. Welcome to More Than Ink. Hey don't a lot of people act like religion is a performance art? A performance art?

What do you mean? You mean like acting? Yeah, like acting out, acting religious, doing stuff that you're not, don't really represent your heart? Being not who they are. That sounds like a hypocrite. Oh, Jesus had a lot to say about hypocrites. He had a lot to say about hypocrites, and he'll do it today on More Than Ink.

Well, yes indeed, this is More Than Ink. I'm sitting across from Dorothy. And I'm sitting across from Jim. And we're looking out the window and we're seeing snow. We're recording this at the end of March, and we're still getting snow here. And we're past the first day of spring too, and we're still getting snow.

We are, and I just saw a picture of this same date last year with crocuses blooming, and they're not even visible this year. Yep, there you go. Anyway, we're not depressed by that because we're reading God's word together. We're going through the book of Matthew, and we are currently in the most famous sermon of Jesus's in the entire Bible. And probably some of the most familiar words. Very, very well quoted.

Yeah, it's all over the place. So this will be familiar to you, it's familiar to us, but now listen, don't let that familiarity kind of jade you. Don't let it kind of take the edge off your observation skills because as a Bible reader, as we were talking to someone just this morning, you can go back and read the same passages of scripture many times and come away with new insights and new thoughts that the Holy Spirit gives you. So don't think, hey, got this one mastered.

I don't have to wake up. We'll just kind of read our way through it and go to sleep and come back. No, listen to this carefully and turn on the brain. This is interesting stuff.

Interesting stuff. So we're in the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus is giving us instructions about, well, the kingdom of heaven and its citizens, those who were invited there.

And so as he's on the mountain there in northern Galilee at the top of the Sea of Galilee, he's talking to a large gathered crowd. And we're starting into chapter six. Well, I'm glad you mentioned that he's been talking about the kingdom and entry into the kingdom. And if you remember, we had in the last chapter five been reading about the righteousness. And he said, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and the Pharisees, you're not getting in the kingdom. But he had already said the way into the kingdom at the beginning of his ministry is repent and believe. Repent and believe. So he's going to go on here talking about the practice of righteousness among those who are inheritors or citizens of the kingdom.

Yeah, yeah. He has already contrasted where he's coming from as the Messiah when we talk about it. He's already contrasted what the true take on the kingdom and the law is relative to the Pharisees. Remember that's why he said your righteousness has to exceed them. And they're going to be back in the cross hairs today.

Yep, yep. So let's, let's take a look and see where they're kind of going astray. Because before you point your finger at them, you got to realize we have the same tendencies. Okay, and he's going to identify two groups of people, the hypocrites and the Gentiles, insiders and outsiders, insiders who perform and outsiders who are trying to get in.

So on your toes. If you follow with us, we're in chapter six of Matthew, verse one. Okay.

Take it. So he says, beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who's in heaven. Thus when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the streets and in the synagogues that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.

But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Okay. How far are we going? Let's just stop there for now. Okay. I mean, this, this section right here is actually, it hits on a very common three point theme in a lot of religions. I mean, if you look at Judaism, talks a lot about giving and praying and fasting.

Right. Even if you look at Islam, I want to check, there's the five pillars of Islam. The first three are giving and praying and fasting.

The last two are the Hajj, you know, your pilgrimage and another reciting. But I mean, these are central to a lot of, a lot of beliefs. I would say they're pretty central to almost all practice of religion. Yeah.

Who you give to and how you pray and fast, right, self-denial for the purpose of pleasing your God. Right. These are central practices.

Yeah, very central. So he starts off with the needy and he says, beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them. So really he's, we're getting back to like we did last time, exceeding the righteousness of the Pharisees is working back into the motivation of the heart. Right. That's what we're talking about.

And that's what he's saying here. You know, you, you can practice righteousness. In fact, back in chapter five, he said, let your, let your light so shine and give glory to God. So that your good works can be seen by that. So how do we reconcile that with this?

Don't do it for them. Well, good works is good works is good works, but here the motivation is selfish. And so we're really back to heart issues again in order to be seen by them or you'll have no reward from your father who's in heaven.

Yeah. So again, we have to talk about what's the heart's drive toward this kind of righteousness. What are you seeking? And when you see the needy and you give to them, is it really self-serving so people will see you or is it really selfless for their benefit? Well, it's interesting that Jesus uses this word reward over and over and over again in this passage. And a reward literally is, is something you earn by something you do.

But when he says, you know, your father who sees in secret will reward you. Right. Well, God gives a different kind of a reward than the world does. Right. Exactly. Yeah. So this is not an issue about earning something from God.

No. But he's saying your motivation here is wrong. You're working toward a reward from men. Right. What you need to do is change your attention to God.

And not to earn anything from God, but to say, you know, I want my intentions about why I do this, my motivations to be God-centered and not me-centered. That's what he's getting at right here. And it's interesting that he identifies the group of people who practice this are the hypocrites. The hypocrites. Yeah. The hypocrites is the ancient word that was used for an actor. Yep. Somebody who behind the mask has a mask that says one thing, but who they are behind the mask is something other. Yeah.

Well, that's still true. Who they are and how they act are disconnected. That's an actor. Yeah. Performers. They are performing for an audience. Performers. Yeah. In this sense, they're performers on the world stage.

And we have this in spades today as well. People who do things because they want to be seen about doing them. Not necessarily because they care about what they're accomplishing. They want to be seen. You know, that begs the question.

Do we do our good works because we want to be righteous or we just want to be seen as righteous? Right. Right. Right. Now, that's what Jesus is driving at here. Yep.

That's exactly what he's driving at. And he said before, he wants our behaviors to flow naturally downstream from the state of our hearts. Who we are.

Yeah. The hearts of God is transformed. But here, in a sense, we're applying these, quote, unquote, good behaviors. We're slapping them all on the outside of ourselves, hoping that people think upstream our hearts are as pure as our actions are. But in fact, for a hypocrite, they're not.

And if you remember way back in the beginning of this sermon in Chapter 5, Verse 6, when he said, Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Right. Hunger and thirst are inner, inner desires. Still inner things. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So we're still in the realm of the heart here. Yeah.

Because he's not condemning giving to the needy at all. That's a good thing to do. What he's saying.

In fact, it is expected that you would give. That's exactly right. That's exactly right. But if you're doing it because you want to be noticed, that's wrong. That's just totally wrong.

He says in Verse 2, you know, that they may be praised by others. Right. And if that's the reward you're after, that's the reward you're going to get. That's all you're going to get.

And nothing more. Yeah. In fact, it says there, it says, I say to you they have received their reward. You can add the words in full. Right. That word really means to pay off something. So if you're looking, if you're looking to be paid or to gain something from this hypocritical action, this is all you're going to get.

This is all you're going to get. You know, received in full. It's interesting. I just did a quick concordance search on the word reward. And I came across a verse in Colossians. I was looking to see kind of what does the scripture say about rewards. Is it earning? What is it God gives? What? So I came across this passage in Colossians 1, 23, or 3, 23 and 24.

Now listen and see if you don't see this connect. Paul says, whatever you do, do your work heartily as for the Lord rather than for men. Knowing from the Lord, you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ you serve. Oh, so the reward God gives is an inheritance. And that connects back into this whole chapter when he continually refers to your father, your father, your father, your father. Yeah. So God is an inheritance stored up for us that he is ready to give.

Jesus had already told him, little children, your father is delighted to give you the kingdom. Right. Yeah, exactly. It's not something you earn.

You don't earn it. And we've got to keep emphasizing that because many times Christians get this idea that good works are bad because you can't gain your salvation through good works. Good works gets kind of a bad rap in a lot of evangelical circles.

But no, it's good stuff. It's what your heart's intention in doing them is. Are you trying to earn salvation through those works or is it just a natural outcome of the state of your transformed heart? Those are two different things. But in this particular case, in this particular case, this giving is not a natural outcome of a reformed heart.

This is slapping fruit on the outside of your life. This is performance giving. Yeah. So what do you make of that figure of speech that your right hand doesn't know what your left hand is doing? Well, that's a good question.

Which is a very well-known idiom, even in English. It is. Yeah. Yeah. Would the right hand be the active hand, the public hand, the one everybody sees, and the left hand is the personal private one? Yeah.

I think that is. And I think probably in just a more general sense, it's saying you need to let this kind of giving to the needy be secret. And it is so secret that the left side of you doesn't even know what the right side is doing. That's how secret it is. I mean, it's almost like it's unconscious. So it's a nice metaphor of saying, well, you are one person, and your left hand does know what your right hand is doing.

But this is so secret, you're not even totally aware. You know, that's interesting, because that connects perhaps to the sheep and the goats that we're going to get to much later in Matthew. Oh, yeah. When Jesus is separating the sheep from the goats, and he says to the sheep, you know, here's the things that you did. And they go, oh, really?

When did we do that? Right. It's unconscious.

It was so natural, so second nature to them, they weren't even aware of doing it. Yeah. Yeah. I think that's kind of what it's pointing to.

I think so, too. It's something that's so innate to who you are, one part of your body just isn't even aware it's going on. You just do this. So when you pray, right? When you give, when you pray, when you fast, it is assumed that those are outworkings of something that we will be doing if we are children of our Father. Right. Well, let's see how we should pray then.

Okay. Because he says, now, don't pray like that, but pray like this. Right. So read on verse five.

Yeah. When you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites, for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners that they may be seen by others. Truly I say to you, they have their reward, but when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. So prayer is not performance.

Same way as giving shouldn't be a performance either. Right. But he has emphasized your Father, your Father, your Father.

And when you pray, verse seven, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do. Okay. So these are outsiders. Right. For they think that they'll be heard for their many words.

Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Okay. I want to stop right there. Yeah. Because how many times do we hear, even in Christian circles, this nauseous repetition of the same phrases over and over and over again, thinking if we pray, if we pray a million times over and over and over, God will hear us. Right. Right.

Jesus is saying, no, you don't have to pile up your repetitions that way. Right. God is your Father. He's listening. And you should relate to him as naturally as you do to a Father. Yes.

And realize that you are in quite a privileged position as being a child of a Father. Right. And so he's listening.

I mean, there's a connection right there. It makes me think of that song, Let Your Words Be Few, from Ecclesiastes. You're God in heaven, and I'm here on earth. So I'll let my words be few. That's right.

So really right here. In fact, in another place, it says if you're even kind of stuck for words, the Holy Spirit will give you utterances. Yes. Well, no. It says the Holy Spirit prays with utterances beyond words, in the realm where words have no relevance.

So even when you've got zero words, the communication is complete. So Beth, he's saying, don't turn prayer into a public performance. Come on.

Yes. He says, don't pray like that. Let's do this. Verse nine.

Here we go. When you pray, pray like this. Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Can we stop there?

Yeah. Well, that's the Lord's Prayer. Well, you know, really, the real Lord's Prayer is in John 17. This is an example of how to pray. And this is not a mandatory prayer or necessarily an explicit prayer. This is like a model prayer.

It is a model. It's a framework on which to hang our understanding of how to pray. And yet, ironically, this has been turned in the modern church into what he was just saying, don't use many words. Into a repetition. So it's like, you need to go and say the Lord's Prayer five times. Now it can be really helpful if you regard this as a framework and take each phrase and go, okay, Father, I'm going to hang there for a little while and talk about you as my Father.

Your name is holy or separate. You know, we can kind of work our way through that. But it was not Jesus' intention that we memorize this and recite it. That's what he just said.

Don't do that. No, because he says they're doing the repetition stuff. This is the opposite of that. Yeah. Right.

And, you know, we could spend a lot of time analyzing this. But, again, I mentioned our Father, not just the Father. Our Father, great position of privilege in him calling us to be his children. The Father in heaven, you know, it talks about the fact that he's still sovereign and he's not somewhere else in a real sense. And he doesn't start off by saying you need to just lay out your needs right at the top. He said what he does is when he starts the prayer, he says, let's focus on who God is and praise who he is. Yeah, remember who God is.

Yes. Because, you know, it kind of falls into two sections. The front part is all about you, God, your name, your kingdom, your will.

Who are you? Because then I remember who I am. It's such a good reminder because many times when we go to prayer we say, well, you know, we need to take this to prayer. And, boom, you go right in and you lay your needs down.

There's nothing wrong with laying your needs in front of God. But it always is a great discipline to stop and say, let me remember who I'm talking to here. Yes. And that's what he does at the top of this as well. And my Father, he's in heaven and I'm here in the material time world. Right.

Gives you a nice context when you pray, as well as he's saying, God, I'm going to ask you for something, but at the top I already said I want your will to be done. I mean, that kind of overwrites everything. But here we go. Here's my ask.

Because you're the king. Right. Your kingdom is coming. Your name is holy. Yeah.

Right. So I always stop on that phrase because that connects right back into the Ten Commandments when God said, you know, you shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain because my name is holy. His name is separated from sin and not to be identified with someone who uses it fraudulently.

Or for vain reasons. We talked about that a little while ago. So you know, it's really worth considering, Jesus says, pray this way.

Remember who God is and then you'll remember who you are and what your needs really are. Well, yeah. And when he does get the needs, he just says, give us this day our daily bread.

I mean, that's... Yeah. It's literally our needful bread. Our needful bread. It's exactly the bread we need for today, no more, no less. And that's what bread represents. It's kind of the essential for life.

What does God give me my essentials for today? And I remember someone saying, you know, you need to pray for your needs, not your greed. And so that's what he's saying right here. And this is one little verse in verse 11, you know, give us this day our daily bread. And then he goes on and talks about forgiveness.

That's an interesting thing to include in a tidy model prayer. Right. That these, if Jesus says these are the essential things. These are big. They're big.

They're on the top of the list. Yeah. We're praying, Father, keep us alive in our body and keep us alive in our souls by dealing with our sin, right? Forgive us what we owe you. And then he says, as we already have forgiven those who owe stuff to us, well, you know, that's a woo.

That's troublesome. That's like when he says that, right? You're doing that, right? Right? Yeah.

Because sons of our Heavenly Father, as forgiven ones, if we then withhold forgiveness from others who can never owe us as much as we already owe God, we are not acting out the character of our Father. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And the degree to which you overplay the debts that are owed to you. I mean, you make too much of those and as a result, you don't forgive.

The degree to which you overemphasize those, in a sense, you really underemphasize your own indebtedness to God. That's right. You just demonstrate that you don't really understand how much God has forgiven you. Yeah.

You don't really get it. So Jesus tells that incredible parable about that in Matthew 18, so you all can go look that up. Yeah, Matthew 18. But then he also includes in this spiritual portion of the prayer, and lead us not into temptation.

Interesting. But deliver us from evil. Now, James tells us that God can't be tempted by sin and he himself tempts no one, but this word is also sometimes translated as testing. So we don't know which way it is to be read as tempted or tested, depending on who is doing the tempting or the testing and what the purpose is. God's purpose is always to prove us.

Satan's purpose is always to make us fall, which is why Jesus adds here, and deliver us from evil, or the evil one. The evil one is actually a better translation. Yeah. Yeah. So that caps off his list of his model prayer. It does. And if you're noticing, there's part of the Lord's Prayer at the end that's missing here in this translation.

Well. For thine is the kingdom and the power and glory. That part, yeah. It turns out in most modern translations, they'll kind of flag that, because that edition looks like it was added later. It wasn't in the original thing that Jesus said. And it's sound, and it's biblical. There's nothing wrong with it.

Yeah, there's nothing wrong with it. But it probably didn't occur in this particular place, because Jesus goes right on talking about forgiveness. Yes, he does.

Yeah, he does. Verse 14, for if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Yikes. Yeah.

Yeah. And again, if you have a warped view of what people owe you, then you really have a warped view of what God has done in forgiving your sins. You have not understood. You don't get it.

What God has done for you. Yeah. It's quite a reciprocal kind of principle. If you don't understand how much God has forgiven you, you're probably going to treat people who owe you very badly.

And that's a way in which, outwardly, that action, which is so crazy when you talk about it, should clue you into the fact that you don't really have a good grasp of what you've gained and what God has done in forgiving you. Right. You don't really have a good idea about that. And when we persist in unforgiveness toward others, it eats us from the inside out. Exactly. Yeah. Exactly. It kills us. Yeah. And forgiveness is just such a big issue. And it comes up so often. It made me think of the paralytic who's dropped down through the roof.

Oh, yes. And in that particular case, as the drama ensues while this guy is being plopped down in front of Jesus, he looks down at the guy and he doesn't say, you're healed. He says, your sins are forgiven.

Your sins are forgiven. The whole room freaks out. And they're like, what? You can't say that.

Who does the guy think he is? Yeah. Yeah. Go check that out. And this guy is paralyzed.

What has he done? Right. Right. And I mean, it's a great scene. I looked at the passage, if you want to go check it out. It's in Matthew 9. It's also in Luke somewhere.

I forget where. But anyway, forgiveness is a big issue. And your grasp on how valuable your salvation is through the blood of Christ is measured by how well you forgive other people.

It's an interesting kind of tale. Okay. Let's go on to fasting.

Oh, we need to. Verse 16. And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others.

Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face that your fasting may not be seen by others, but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

A similar theme. Fasting isn't bad, but don't do it in order to be seen, in order to get praises from other people. So is your religion, your practice of religion, a performance to gain the approval of the people who are watching you?

Or is it an outward expression of something that has already taken place in your renewed heart? Right. Fasting is something that he's saying here shouldn't really even be public. No. Really. Nobody needs to know.

No one needs to know, so just let that go. However, Jesus told that parable of the two guys that went down to the temple to pray. You know, it's a tax collector and a Pharisee, and the Pharisee gets up there, violating two things in this passage, and does this prayer all that. But he says, I fast twice a week. That's part of his thing. I'm going to impress God. Yeah, I do this. And so, I mean, he's violating this whole section right here.

And so, in fact, I looked up where that is if you want to check it out, Luke 18. So here indeed, again, don't do these things which are okay to do. Don't do them.

These are all good things. Don't do them for the praise of men. That's just not what it's all about at all. And in fact, fasting is kind of mysterious to a lot of people.

I don't think we have enough time to go into the ups and downs of what it really is. It is actually required in the Old Testament on the Day of Atonement. That's the only place where it's required.

That's the only place I know of. But it does have practical and valuable application in our lives today. And we'll just have to hit on that another time. And in the age we live in, which is all about satisfying yourself, not denying yourself, it is a worthwhile discipline to consider. That's all I'm going to say about that in a moment. We could go on. We have passions about this.

We could go on about it. But yeah, the simple answer in a way is it's a denial of an appetite. And there's nothing wrong with denying that appetite. But we are not creatures like animals that live by our appetites. But we focus on things more importantly. And it's not wrong to eat. And it's not wrong to fast.

In its place, it can have some great value, great value. But the deal here is, who are you doing it for? Who are you calling attention to? Yeah, so if we were fasting, you know, and we went and saw people and say, Oh, I'm sorry, I'm feeling really miserable because I'm fast today. We're hungry today. Don't eat that.

I haven't eaten since last night. No, no, no, no, you're kind of you're fishing for people's sympathy. And so for people to say, for them to be impressed, aren't you spiritual, you fast. No, don't do all that stuff.

That's just crazy. So the same theme right here, when it comes not only to giving to the needy, but for praying and for fasting. Don't do these things publicly in order to gain the praises of people who will say, wow, you are really very righteous.

No, don't do that. That takes us back into that Colossians passage I read, it's the Lord you're serving, not men. Exactly. And from the Lord, you'll receive the reward of the inheritance. He's coming in his kingdom, and you will be there.

Yeah, yeah. You don't need to do this performance to earn that position. Oh, no, you don't get into the kingdom by any of this. But people who are not truly saved don't get that they still think it's kind of a performance thing, you know. So in fact, even when it comes to giving to the needy, I'll give to the needy, tell me how much I have to give what percentage of my income I have to get so I can measure it and make sure I hit the mark. Exactly. And that's just wrong thinking altogether. Giving to the needy is a great thing to do. Don't do it as a way of religious highlighting of yourself. Because God does.

Yeah, exactly. And that was his point previously, was the fact when we come back to the heart issues, we need to have our hearts transformed by God. So our hearts are evidenced in what we do as glorifying who God is, you know, who does stuff like this?

Well, people whose hearts have been transformed by God, those are the people who do this kind of thing and it glorifies God. Well, we're out of time and come back as we continue to push on here in the Sermon on the Mount. Great stuff to come next time. I'm Jim.

And I'm Dorothy. And we'll come back to the Sermon on the Mount here on More Than Ink. There are many more episodes of this broadcast to be found at our website, morethanink.org. And while you're there, take a moment to drop us a note. Remember, the Bible is God's love letter to you. Pick it up and read it for yourself and you will discover that the words printed there are indeed more than ink. That's pretty close. That's good. You want to listen to it? Nah. This has been a production of Main Street Church of rhythm city.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-01 14:30:58 / 2023-04-01 14:44:17 / 13

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