Plagiarism of God’s Word

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.” (Matthew 23:15)

This week we are going to look at the third woe to the scribes and Pharisees that Jesus pronounced. First we see that as before Jesus has called them hypocrites for this woe as the woes before. We have previously defined hypocrites and we know that Jesus had a very high disdain for the hypocrite. Each and every one of us have a little hypocrisy in our lives and it is part of our nature to at times appear as something that we are not.

My father once preached a sermon on the charges against the Church that people have and one of them is most certainly hypocrisy. I myself have heard their excuse of never gracing the open doors of the Church because it is fill with hypocrites. The first thing that I must ask is where they go in their daily lives that they do not find a hypocrite? There are hypocrites everywhere and because the Church is filled with people, wala, there are hypocrites in the Church. There is a little bit of show in each of us and it is a natural as our nature. I cannot argue intentions as an excuse for this behavior but the motive may be what caused the most condemnation for the scribes and Pharisees from Jesus.

Before we start I want to look at the definition of the word proselyte. A proselyte is a person who has converted from one opinion, religion, or party to another, especially recently. Proselytes into the Jewish religion were of two orders. One was the “Proselytes of righteousness,” or those who wholly and fully embraced the Jewish religion, who were baptized, who were circumcised, and who conformed to all the rites of the Mosaic institutions. The other order was the “Proselytes of the gate,” or those who approved of the Jewish religion, renounced the pagan superstitions, and conformed to some of the rites of the Jews, but were not circumcised or baptized.

“because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte”

Here in this woe we see the scribes and Pharisees going to great lengths and effort to bring new people into the faith of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Here we see that they traveled around over land and sea to find people and tell them of their great God and persuade them to accept Him in faith. This we should think is very admirable as this is exactly what we are supposed to be doing. Sharing the gospel message of Jesus Christ to every ear that will hear. Planting the seeds of His truth in their hearts for the glory of His Kingdom. (Matthew 28:19-20) So why was Jesus condemning them for this great effort.

The Jews did rightfully see that their business was to enlighten the souls of men living in the darkness of this world. It was their responsibility, as well as ours, to have a true love, care, and concern for the spiritual welfare of those living in rebellion to God. In its pure purpose this is the reason that the Jews were called to be a priesthood to bless the nations of the world. (Exodus 19:6) The Jews rightfully thought it their call to bring converts into the Kingdom of God.

“and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell”

It was not proselytizing that the Lord was in opposition too but it was the hypocrisy of their motive for gaining these converts to the Jewish religion. In this great effort of the scribes and Pharisees to make converts into the Jewish religion the scribes and Pharisees sought to secure their outward conformity rather that an inward conversion of the heart. Like they themselves it was not about a true heart for God but an outward appearance that they may be seen as righteous. The scribes and Pharisees did not have as love for the souls of men, no burning zeal for the love and honor of God. They were filled with their own selfish motives of vain glory, party spirit, and covetousness. They were not concerned for their souls or the reformation of their lives they only wanted them in their congregations to make markets of their lives.

The scribes and Pharisees taught them nothing of the word of God but lead them in their own opinions and filled them with their false tenants, gross externalism, and practical immorality. The Proselytes did not become as God wanted man to become but by the influence of the scribes and Pharisees they became as they were. It would have been better if they had been left to their own irresponsible ignorance. The result was that they became twice the sons of hell than when before their conversion to Judaism. Once they were lost in their sin and were ignorant of it but now to add to the weight of their previous sin was the burden of the same sin as the scribes and Pharisees, hypocrisy. Because of the false teachings of the scribes and Pharisees they had grafted to their own vices the vice of the Jews. The converts had become as the “son of perdition.” (John 17:12) Therefore the converts had become twofold more the children of Hell and only worthy of the fires of Hell.

“as yourselves.”

I find the last two words of this verses interesting. It made me curious as to why the Proselyte was more the son of hell that the scribes and Pharisees. Should it not be that they should bear the greater punishment for leading so many astray from the truth? Yet, Jesus said that the proselyte was twice as much a son of hell.

I think the point of this lesson can be found in the Gospel of Luke. “He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me, scatters.” (Luke 11:23) The scribes and Pharisee were not speaking on behalf of God neither were they speaking for God. Their motives were self-centered and serving their own desires and not that of the Kingdom of God. We as His witnesses must check that as we are witnessing for our Lord and Savior that we are gathering souls for Jesus and not scattering. To gather with Him is to follow His promptings and not our own. We have been given the power of the Holy Spirit, (John 16:13-14) and in our hour of need He will give us the words to say. (Matthew 10:19) We ourselves cannot save a soul it is a miracle of the Lords hand.

Jesus is the way, the truth and the life and no one can come to the Father except through Him. (John 14:6) It is we that plant the seed, we that waters the seed but it is God who causes the growth. The Father opens the heart to receive the truth and it is the Father who reveals the need of a soul to seek and call upon the name of Jesus. (John 6:44)

Once one receives and trust Jesus for their salvation they are not instantly perfected in Christ. They have the desire but they lack the knowledge and they lack the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. Sanctification is a process that culminates when we see Jesus. As the disciples of Jesus we are students, learners of Him and we are all at different stages in our spiritual walk on that dusty Kings highway to His glory. As His disciples we must be trained and then sent as the Spirit of Truth leads. The foundation of our mission work for the gospel of Jesus Christ is prayer. We are to pray that the Lord will send workers into His harvest. (Matthew 9:38)

The condemnation that Jesus had for the scribes and Pharisees was their hypocrisy. They gathered these proselytes for their own selfish agenda and purposes and not for the glory and honor of the Lord. The Church today is suffering for this flaw in properly teaching the doctrines of the Scripture. “He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who is seeking the glory of the One who sent Him, He is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.” (John 7:18) As it was then with the scribes and Pharisees so it is today in many Church organizations and it is a snowballing effect from back in Jesus’s time.

If a convert is not properly taught the truth of God’s word and he thinks that he is going to heaven based on false doctrine then he will also be DE synthesized to the nature and depth of the sin which God hates. If he is comfortable with a sinful life, then he will be twice as fit for Hell as the one who should have taught him. We see the effects of this today in the Church. People who are not grounded in the truth will go out and teach a lesser truth as they witness for Christ. A lesser truth is a lie. As the lie continues to expand the future converts become weaker and weaker in truth, but stronger and stronger in sin. This is exactly how the Catholics and the denominations of Protestants have become more and more tolerant of sin with time. Every generation becomes more involved in evil, and the sects become more and more tolerant of sin over time. How can a Church of God embrace Abortion, Homosexuality, and marriage between the same sexes? Because over time they have lost the truth in the hypocrisy of the false teaching.

As we fall further and further from the truth because of the weakening of the Churches devotion to the world of God, the Church loses its power, The Sword of the Spirit, to combat the evil forces in which it is engaged against. If we the followers of Jesus Christ, the Christians would return to faithful devotion to Prayer and God’s Word then, we can be “confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of the immature, having in the Law the embodiment of knowledge and of the truth, you, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that one shall not steal, do you steal? You who say that one should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?” (Romans 2:19-22)

I am confident that as I look around our community, our nation and our world that we are ever near to the end of our time in this world. There is much that we should and must be doing. “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” (Matthew 9:37) We the members of His body the Church, we must return to the business at hand and present our reasonable service unto our Lord. I leave you with the Word of God spoken by His Prophet Jeremiah. “I did not send these prophets, But they ran. I did not speak to them, But they prophesied. “But if they had stood in My council, Then they would have announced My words to My people, And would have turned them back from their evil way And from the evil of their deeds.” (Jeremiah 23:21-22) Let us begin here through the power of our Lord to strive to save the lost sheep before the last tock is heard from the last tock.

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, August 17, 2014

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