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Seven Woes and a Wail, Part 2

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll
The Truth Network Radio
October 7, 2021 7:05 am

Seven Woes and a Wail, Part 2

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll

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October 7, 2021 7:05 am

The King’s Commission: A Study of Matthew 21–28

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Most of us understand how it feels when we're rebuked by someone who says we're falling short of the standard.

Disappointing someone we respect makes us feel like a failure. Well today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll invites us to envision ourselves in the first century when religious leaders imposed impossible standards. No one could live up to their expectations, and gratefully Jesus had the tenacity to confront their pride and expose their hypocrisy. Let's pick up our study now in Matthew chapter 23.

Chuck titled today's message, Seven Woes and a Whale. Jesus being God has seen right through them, and if there's anything a hypocrite doesn't want to happen, is that someone see through them and call it out. It's exactly what Jesus is doing. Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites. You're careful to tithe even the tiniest, the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law. You should tithe, yes, but he adds, do not neglect the more important things. And now look at this one. You strain your water, or your wine, or your milk, or whatever maybe the beverage you're going to drink.

You stretch the Muslim over the container, and you pour the liquid onto that so that you can strain out the nat, which by the way was considered unclean to the Jew, the same time you are getting ready to swallow a camel. How ludicrous and examples of majoring in the mind. It is important that you and I, as we grow in the Christian life, hear this, continue to deal with what is essential and what's non-essential. What's worth making an issue over, and what's worth overlooking. Every marriage that stays together, the husband and wife have learned how to do that. Every partnership, the partners have learned how to do that.

You won't major in the minors, you will major in the majors. If it's an issue that ought to be dealt with, it ought to be big enough to deal with. But if it's something we ought to overlook, overlook it.

They didn't do that. Every nitpicking detail became important to the scribes and Pharisees. Look at this next one, the fifth one in verse 25. Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, for you are careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy. Look at that word, you are filthy, full of greed and self-indulgence.

You want to know something? They've never heard such things said to them. You will not read of anyone else who confronted him. The one who came closest to him was John the baptizer, and you know what happened to him. Here is Jesus exposing them for what they are. Speaking of exposing reminds me, turn ahead to Hebrews chapter 4. I'm going to show you a verse that's familiar, followed by one that you easily forget.

Hebrews 4, 12, along with 4, 13. You'll remember the verse, for the Word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. You know God's Word cuts where no surgeon's scalpel can go? No surgeon can ever do work on the soul. Only God's Word does that.

That's why when you feel conviction over things that are said, it's the Spirit of God cutting through, right through the soul and spirit to reveal to you what is actually there. He says it exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. No other book on earth does this. Read as much Shakespeare as you like. You will not do self-examination by reading Shakespeare. Read any of the poets.

You will not do self-examination. Oh, there might be a thought or two that will make you think deeper for sure, but you won't expose the truth that's within you, like when he does it saying you are filthy on the inside. When he speaks, he speaks as the very Word of God. Now the verse that's often overlooked. Look at the 13th verse. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes and he is the one to whom we are accountable. Before we go back to Matthew 23, stay right here.

Let those words sink in. The negative is nothing is hidden. The positive is everything is naked and exposed. You may hide it from your best friend, from your spouse, from a colleague that is so close. You know virtually everything about each other, but you don't know everything. God knows it all. He's known it all since you took your first breath.

He will know it all until you take your last. Nothing is hidden, which is the beautiful part of following the Lord Jesus Christ. When he knows us like this and accepts us as we are, no wonder it's called grace.

The one who knows us the best loves us the most. Now back to Matthew 23. You will see where he says inside you are filthy and that's why he was able to say that. Down here in verse 25, full of greed and self-indulge. How did he know that?

He's God. When he looked at them, he looked right deep into their heart of hearts. Nothing was hidden and how they hated it. In fact, he says to them, look first wash the inside of the cup and then the outside will become clean too. They weren't interested in washing anything within themselves.

They're too busy looking for what's wrong in other lives. So hypocritical. Now look at number six. The sixth woe deals with spiritual contamination.

Talk about vivid words. Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites. You're like whitewashed tombs. Whitewashed tombs. Sparkling, beautiful, resplendent, white on the outside, but filled on the inside with the stench of death. You can't get more of a contrast than that.

All sorts of impurity. Outwardly you look so righteous, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness. Rarely, but I can't say never, rarely does a person acknowledge before others the truth of his own life. When he was alive and active as the president of the Navigators, Lauren Sanne told the story of a young man he was discipling, mentoring we would say today, from the Air Force Academy right there in Colorado Springs. The young man happened to be the top of his class.

I can't recall if he was a junior or senior, but he was a respected cadet among the student body and they had a retreat. Lauren tells the story and he asks the young man if he would be willing to let him interview him and the student seemed a little bit uneasy about it but said he was okay if he wanted to do that. So after a few general questions, Lauren said to him, tell me, we'll call him Frank, tell me Frank, when do you have your time with the Lord and how does it help you in your in your walk, in your Christian walk? The young man stood straight, looked Mr. Sanne straight in the eyes and then looked at the group and said, sir, I don't have a quiet time. My life is empty and I've led you to believe I am one kind of man and I am not that at all.

There were tears, there were, I think as I recall, Lauren broke the meeting up, spent time with him and my whole point in telling you this is how rare that sort of thing is. Put yourself in a small group. Have someone ask you about a part of your Christian life that you know is not what it should be, but it's made out to be a model and it's your moment either to fake it or acknowledge it. That young man acknowledged it. I will tell you, I don't know the percentage, but it's a very, very small percentage of individuals who are honest enough to say, actually, I'm not the person I'm not the person you think I am. I am a fake.

I have pretended to be. You can be sure not one scribe or Pharisee ever told anyone that they were filthy on the inside. Jesus exposed it for what it was. When you walk with Christ, you open yourself to his accountability.

When you're willing to be mentored by someone, you are saying in effect, probe my life, point out areas that I need to acknowledge because I want to be pure and clean. I want to be a model of what this life is about. Even though I'll never be everything I should be, I certainly don't want to be a hypocrite.

Now the last woe is one that brings us into this serious scene of murder. Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites. You build tombs for the prophets, your ancestors killed. You decorate the monuments of the godly people, your ancestors destroyed. And then you even say, if we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would never have joined them in killing the prophets. But, but, there's that contrast, but in saying that, you testify against yourselves that you are indeed the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. In fact, they are the very ones who are beginning to conspire against Jesus himself. You know that in your heart lies the seeds of murder. When Jesus comes to a conclusion of this, by the way, it's in this section, he calls them snakes and vipers.

I mean, you can't be more vivid. When he comes to the end, he looks at the nation Israel, which is, if you will, personified in the city of Jerusalem. And there is a, there is a baleful, awful wail. He says, oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem. It's as if he is saying, oh Israel, Israel, oh Israel, listen to me. You're the one who killed the prophets and stoned God's messengers. But the truth is, how often, now listen to the, to the compassion, how often I would have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her chicks.

Can't you see it? A mother hen with her wings out pulling her chicks in to protect them under her wings. It's with a broken heart, he adds, I, I would have brought you under my wings like a, like a mother hen with her chicks and you wouldn't let me. Many of you will remember your English literature days when you studied the poets.

One of them was John Greenleaf Whittier. Remember these words? For of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, it might have been.

It might have been. It's a tragedy of this wail. Oh Jerusalem, just think of what we could have had.

Israel, just think. I had so much to offer as your Messiah. I came offering it to you. How often I wanted to gather you but you fought against me.

It might have been, but you would not have anything to do with it. I could have protected you, set you free, but you'd have nothing to do with it. Donald Barnhouse, preacher of yesteryear, tells a moving story of when he was just a lad walking with his little boots on as a boy through a barnyard that has just been on fire and now the fire has been put out, but the embers, the hot embers, are everywhere and they're sparkling on the ground. They're spitting the sparks from here and there and he's walking through it kind of kicking the embers and he comes upon this like a little larger ball that's sort of glowing with fire, charred remains of something, and he kicks it and out flood eight or ten little chicks from the charred remains of a mother hen that now sprawls out dead before him as he watches the chicks run to hide.

Protected by the mother hen, they had found safety and now that the fire had ended, they were freed and he said, I would have taken you like a mother hen how often, but you wouldn't let me. You wouldn't come my way. I told you, I am the way and the truth and the life and I said to you, no one comes to the father but through me. You wouldn't come. You wouldn't have it. Listen to those around us today in the real world out there and you'll hear resentment as you give the gospel message. Here's what's resented.

It's too exclusive. Who's to say that the only way to God is through Christ? Well Christ says it. God's plan is that if you're going to come to him and enjoy his heaven, and enjoy his heaven, you're going to come his way. Well a good God should let everyone into his heaven whether or not they believe in Jesus. You'll hear that. Why? Because they cannot stand the thought of that exclusive message.

Here's another one. A just and fair God will not will not treat you like that. A just and fair God will at least let religious people in and I want to go, whoa, wait. I have just been talking about the most religious people who have ever lived on the planet. They dressed like religious people. They sounded like religious people. They went through the religious ordinances. They had religious titles. They were called by religious names. They required religious rules and regulations. Surely they would be allowed in and look at the woes he levels at them.

You know why? Their hypocrisy condemned them. They wouldn't come through Christ. How often I would take you, but you wouldn't come. You wouldn't come my way.

You refused it. Some even think about it theologically and they say, well God's sovereign God's sovereign and he's gonna sovereignly have that moment when I take my stand before him. I was reading Bernard McGee's book this last week on Matthew and he tells the story of the man who had just gotten a hold of the sovereignty of God and he as you often will see among those that just get it he took it to seed and he said you know he said to his preacher the next Sunday you know what I'm such a believer in the sovereignty of God I think I could walk out in the middle of the freeway and stand there until my hour had come and his preacher looked at him and said you go out there in the middle of the freeway and stand long enough your hour has come. Now I'll tell you you play long enough whether it's theologically or logically or whatever and you go your way you will never know what it is to be in God's heaven. It must be as he has designed it. That's his sovereign right by the way. It's his heaven so he controls the gate and since the gate is controlled by him and since Christ is the way and the only way and truth and life you cannot know God apart from faith in Christ.

Jesus said I am the way without the way there is no going without the truth there's no knowing without the life there's no living it's only through Christ and the Pharisees and Sadducees and scribes and Herodians and those people in such authority refused the way. Don't do that. Don't dare do that. Life's too short, eternity's too long. I want you to bow your heads. You've listened so well to a message that hasn't been easy to sit through. I want you to ask yourself do I really know Christ?

Have I tried to know him? Have I have I truly placed my faith and my trust in the Savior? Were I to breathe my last tonight and stand before my maker could I say the only reason I have to step into your heaven is because I am clothed in the righteousness of Christ that became mine to claim when I trusted in your son.

Right where you're sitting the simplest of prayers, Dear Father, I'm lost. I'm a sinner. I'm a hypocrite. I act one way but I believe another. I look like I'm pure and I'm pure but my thoughts are filthy.

I am wrong before you and I need to be made right and it can't happen on my own. So please, dear Lord, take me as I am. I trust in your son as my Savior right now. Father, we are grateful for the way you speak to us in such direct tones and terms. Thank you for exposing the truth of our lives and thank you for giving our heart such emptiness until they can be filled with your son Jesus. Thank you for loving us and being willing to take us as we are and change us and deliver us from darkness to light, from confusion to purpose and definition. Guide us, we pray, as we close this meeting to a relationship with you that is honest, lasting, and sure. In the name of Jesus, I pray this.

Everyone said, amen. Jesus said, I am the way. And if you've made a decision to trust Christ as your Lord and Savior for the first time today, or you've simply made a decision to pursue Christ in new and meaningful ways, we'd like to point you to a free resource that'll guide you. Chuck Swindoll writes a daily devotional that's sent via email.

His practical writings cover a variety of everyday issues that'll help you merge biblical truth with the realities of your life. And there's no cost to request this devotional email from Insight for Living. When you follow the simple instructions at insightworld.org slash devotional. And then if you'd prefer owning a tangible devotional book, one you can hold in your hands, we'll direct you to a resource from Chuck. It's a daily devotional called God's Word for You. About this resource, Chuck said, This world offers so much that distracts us from Christ-like thoughts and actions, often to the point that we become numb to our need for soul nourishment.

It's easy to spend our days seeking to be entertained, but there's something that satisfies the soul much more fully when we think deeply and nourish our souls with spiritual truth. Well, to purchase a copy of this 30-day devotional, go to insight.org slash offer. And then let me add that when you give a donation to Insight for Living, your gift empowers us to provide Chuck's Bible teaching on radio, and the internet. And your gift truly makes a difference. I just saw a note that read, Thank you, Insight for Living, for changing my life.

Now four years clean from all drugs. Well, to support Insight for Living today, here's the number to call. If you're listening in the US, dial 1-800-772-8888. Or to give online, go to insight.org. I'm Dave Spiker, inviting you to join us again tomorrow to hear the Bible teaching of Chuck Swindoll on Insight for Living. The preceding message, Seven Woes and a Whale, was copyrighted in 2017 and 2021, and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2021 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-13 12:03:56 / 2023-08-13 12:12:10 / 8

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