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Entries in Justice (3)

Thursday
Oct062016

Society under Siege: Social Activism

Mt. 28:18-20; John 13:1-8.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on October 2, 2016.

What is social activism?  It is the tactic of creating social upheaval, and thereby pressuring the government into changing laws and policies.  Ultimately it is about changing society.  The idea of manipulating the people of a nation for political purposes has been around for ages.  However, in the last 2 centuries the fine tuning of changing society has led to books like the anti-Semitic, propaganda text in pre-revolution Russia called “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”  Another book would be “Rules for Radicals” by Saul Alinsky.  We have reached a point where multiple, competing agencies are trying to manipulate society to their own ends.  In the midst of this environment large parts of the Church have been seduced to employ this same tactic in order to achieve a “godly” purpose.  Is this what Jesus wants?  Is it our job to force society to adopt and live by the truth of God?

No godly person ever used this tactic

Technically this first point is made by the absence of Scripture.  I must give credit to the late Dave Hunt who made this point back in the 1980’s.  The absence of godly people organizing a community to cause social upheaval and the approval of God should be glaringly obvious.

We do see many cases of civil disobedience.   So let’s look at some of them.  In Exodus 1:15 and following we have the Pharaoh of Egypt telling two midwives to kill any Hebrew boys who are born.  These midwives were Hebrew themselves and in good conscience could not kill these baby boys.  Thus they lied to Pharaoh.  They basically claimed that the Hebrew women had their babies too quickly for the midwives to intervene.  Notice that in this case there is no organizing of a large group to create social upheaval.  These women aren’t even operating to change the laws of Egypt.  They simply refuse to kill the baby boys out of deference to the commands and nature of the One True God.

Several other cases are seen in the book of Daniel.  The three Hebrew boys refuse to bow down to an image when commanded to do so by the king.  Under threat of death they make the statement that they believed God would save them.  But if not, they still wouldn’t bow down to the idol.  Daniel himself faced a law that commanded the citizens to pray to no one but the king for a period of time.  Daniel refused to obey this law and prayed to the God of Heaven anyway.  Notice that none of them create riots and marches.  They make no attempts to change the laws of the land.  Rather, they obey the dictates of their conscience, regardless of what might happen to them.

Lastly, we see the same thing with the Apostles Peter and John.  They had been preaching about Jesus, when the Sanhedrin commands them to stop. Of course they make the statement that if they have to choose between obeying man or God, they would choose to obey God.

All of these examples are all about individual conscience before God.  The godly of every generation have not necessarily obeyed all the laws of mankind (basically the evil ones).  However, they are not leading protests and social upheaval in order to change society.  They are simply trying to please God over man.  So what should godly people be doing in our culture today?

Our mission is people not societies

This leads us to our first text.  In Matthew 28 we see Jesus explaining that he had been given power and authority over all nations and all heavenly principalities.  With this authority he could have commanded anything.  Yet, he does not give us the mission of taking over the nations of the world.  This may be what Islam teaches.  It may be what communism teaches, but it is not what Christ taught.

Instead he sends his disciples to all the nations in order to preach the Gospel of Jesus and disciple the individuals that respond to it.  We must never forget that our main aim is to disciple those who become Christians.  Our goal is not to take over the governments of this world and neither is it to build crystal cathedrals.  Rather we are called to build people.

So if we get caught up in trying to change or “save” societies we can be in danger of losing the individuals that we were sent to reach in the first place.  What do I mean by that?  When the church focuses on society and trying to change or perfect it, then our focus looks for those tools and things that “work” to change society.  When we focus upon the system instead of the people, then people will end up getting crushed.  The mistake is not just in trying to perfect society.  Even our churches can be guilty of trying to build little perfect societies within our church walls.  Evangelism typically ceases to be about discipling a new believer to become more like Jesus, and becomes about forcing an individual to fit into our system.  “Be a good cog.”  This path is dehumanizing, uncaring, and anti-Christ.  There are multiple generations of people who have been crushed by Churches and Christians who are more concerned about a perfect system (i.e. don’t rock the boat) then they are about following and obeying Jesus.  So what would Jesus do if he were here today?

Jesus shows us the way

In John 13:1-8 we see Jesus the night before he is crucified.  It is clear from his actions here that Jesus would not be rioting in the streets and leading a revolution against the government.  It is also clear that he would not be using millions of dollars to subvert the political process.

In these verses we see that Jesus knew that society had it out for him.  He knew that things were only going to get worse politically.  Instead of throwing a temper tantrum and using his power to force change in society, Jesus accepted the reality on the ground and focused on what really mattered.  Is it possible that we could learn to accept the reality that this world will give us difficulty if we want to follow God?  And, can we accept the reality that it will not give us justice?  If a nation dissolves and reforms, or is taken over by another nations, it is not the end of the world.  How many nations today have taken the place of others before them?  Most of the nations fit this parameter.  Now weigh this against the reality that if an individual goes into eternity lost, it is the end of their world.

Thus, we are told that Jesus loved them to the very end.  Can we choose to love people to the very end of our earthly life?  I know that this passage is about Jesus with his closest disciples.  Yet, one of them has surrendered to the devil and is about to betray him.  Jesus even loved Judas to the very end.  On top of this, it is impossible to see Jesus hanging on the cross and not recognize that he loved the world and paid the price for whosoever would believe.  If we sacrifice caring for individuals in order to build the perfect society (whether in the church or in the nation) then we are being foolish.  The Church was not established to create a perfect society.  It was established to provide a family for those who would respond to the call to believe on Jesus.  We are to be a family of imperfect people who have been redeemed and are being saved by Jesus.
Jesus said that the Truth will set you free.  Radicals like to talk about speaking truth to power.  But the truth is they are always heavy on power and light on truth.  Their methods look nothing like Jesus.  Jesus spoke truth into people’s lives.  He combated the lies of the enemy that held them spiritually captive with the love of God’s truth.  “Yes, if you remain in your sins you will die in them.  But, if you turn from your sins and believe me, then you will live eternally.”  Now this does not save everyone, but it is the only door to hope.  The only way to do what Jesus did is by getting down in the nitty gritty of a person’s life.  It takes time and investment to determine the lies a person has believed and counteract them with the truth of God’s word.  It isn’t a quick, easy, perfect process.

The problem with a pragmatic approach is that it rarely asks, “Should we do this.”  Yes, we could go to war against progressives and try to take our nation back for Jesus.  But should we?  At least should that be our focus?  If there is going to be another Spiritual Awakening in America, it will first start because Christians repent of being side-tracked and actually start following Jesus.  Even then, it will be because of the move of God.  It is He who raises up nations and He who puts nations down.  Let us start demonstrating such humility before God that even Jesus himself exercised.   He humbled himself and used his authority and power to accomplish what God asked.  If we will do this then we will hear from the Father the same words He says to His Son.  “Come, sit at my feet until I make your enemies your footstool.”  When Jesus comes back he will take up the governments of the world and hand them over to his saints.  Until then we must humble ourselves and focus on sharing the Gospel, and discipling those who respond in repentance.  Some tools may be powerful.  But at what cost do we use them?  Our country will be torn apart by these competing, social powers unless God has mercy on us.

Social Activism audio

Tuesday
Dec302014

When Your Time is Up

Today we are going to be in Luke 12:13-21.

Our time is up for 2014 and 2015 is soon to begin.  We cannot go back and change what we said, did, or accomplished this previous year.  The New Year reminds us that we are mortal and we are now one year older.  How many years do I have left?  Am I living in such a way as to bring judgment or grace upon me when I stand before God?  These are some heavy questions that we may tend to avoid.  However, it is imperative that we deal with them now while we have time, rather than waiting and being caught off-guard.  The Bible tells us that “it is appointed to men to die and then the judgment.”  Instead of seeing these things as dark and foreboding, we can look at them as powerful understanding of what is to come.  When you know what is coming in advance, you can make preparations now that will help you be successful when they come.  That is the wonderful thing about the present.  Even though your past is “etched in stone,” the present allows you to affect the future that those past decisions are taking you towards.  We can make course corrections and thereby overcome things that we cannot change.

A Person’s Life Is Not In The Abundance of Possessions

In verses 12-15 Jesus is interrupted by a man who wants Jesus to do something for him.  Jesus then turns to his disciples and teaches them because the man is an illustration of an important principle.  Life cannot be found in the abundance of possessions.

Now this man addresses Jesus as “teacher.”  Thus he approaches Jesus as a disciple.  However, there is no sense of wanting to learn in his request.  He simply wants Jesus to do something for him.  So is he a disciple or is he only a manipulator trying to get something out of Jesus?  Jesus exposes his true motivation: covetousness.  This man wants what his brother has and is hoping Jesus will get it for him.  Now notice the response of Jesus.  He calls him “man.”  This is quite different then the “my friends” he used with his disciples back in vs. 4.  This is a more curt and formal address.  Jesus clarifies that he is not really the man’s teacher and the man is not really his disciple.  Jesus was merely a means to an end for this guy and do not be deceived, God will not be mocked and used by us for fleshly means.

Now the man’s issue has to do with an inheritance.  He wants Jesus to make his brother divide the inheritance with him.  Now it makes sense to come to Jesus to settle an issue of justice.  The Scriptures said that the Messiah would rule with perfect justice and would cause righteousness to shine.  He would be the ultimate arbiter of mankind.  Yet, we are not given enough information about this particular situation to judge the merits of this man’s appeal.  Was his brother being wicked and squeezing him out of his proper inheritance?  Or was this man wicked and trying to get more than his proper share?  Or were they both wicked and covetous?  Regardless, one thing is true, Jesus does care about justice.  He does not reject this man’s appeal because he doesn’t care.  Even if this man’s cause was just, Jesus recognizes that something deadly has happened in his heart.  He has been overcome with having what his brother has.  Much covetousness lies behind the talk of justice.  Christ cares too much about this man’s soul to prostitute justice for the sake of his flesh.  Is it possible that getting justice might be the last thing we need spiritually?  Jesus essentially tells the man that his problem is not his brother, but his own heart.  He has become greedy and is coveting.  To give him what he wants would only make his spiritual situation worse.

In verse 14 Jesus asks him, “who made me judge over your case?”  Legally no one had.  Thus Jesus points out that the man is only seeking leverage over his brother.  Had his case been heard by the authorities and denied?  We are not told.  But there is far more to this story then is made evident by the man’s appeal.  Why come to Jesus and not the proper authorities? 

Jesus may also be reminding those who are listening of the situation of Moses.  When Moses first decided to do something about the plight of his people, he ended up killing an Egyptian taskmaster who was harshly whipping an Israelite.  Later he sees too Hebrews fighting and tries to get them to quit quarreling.  One of the men responds, “who made you ruler and judge over us?”  As much as people want justice and cry out for it, when God does supply the man to get it for us, we complain.  Justice is a double edged sword.  It not only cuts those who have treated us unjustly, but it cuts us as well.  Thus as Messiah, God had made Jesus judge over all mankind.  In fact we see this in 2 Timothy 4:1, “I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His Kingdom…”

The real issue here is the man’s relationship to Jesus.  If Jesus really were his master and judge, then the man would have left everything in order to follow him and know true justice.  From the point of becoming his disciple and following, the only purposes and intention that would matter would be those of Jesus.  Thus we see the problem of my agenda versus the agenda of God.  God’s agenda is generally not the same as ours even when we claim to want the same thing as him.  Our understanding of justice is not always just.  We live in a world that loves to co-opt the person and message of Jesus for its own understanding and intention.  Yet, in the end they will not follow Jesus as Lord.  Check your own heart and see if there are desires and agenda items that are more important to you then having Jesus as your Lord because this will reveal your true relationship with Jesus.  He is either Lord of all or not Lord at all.

Jesus then turns to his disciples and warns them to watch and guard against coveting.  Our sinful nature will seek to suck life out of material things instead of turning to God from whom all life flows.  Our life is in the words of Christ to us, not in what Christ says to our brother.  Even if the entire world turns against Jesus and you are left alone, his words to you can supply life to you, if you believe.  “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”  All else is peripheral and often detrimental.  When we covet we want to have more, especially that which belongs to another.  In Colossians 3:5 we are told that coveting is idolatry.  This man looks to the inheritance that his brother has as more important than God.  He is not really interested in justice, but in satisfying a craving for more possessions and wealth.  Jesus says to watch and guard against such sins.  But what are we guarding?  We are guarding our hearts from being infected by such sin.  This man was being swallowed up in sin.

The Parable of The Rich Fool

In verses 16-21, Jesus tells a parable to his disciples to slam home the main issue here, this man’s soul is in jeopardy and he is being foolish.  When you look at the man in the parable you will notice that his thoughts are all centered on himself.  If you count the personal pronouns he uses you will get the picture.  Also note that there is no mention of God in all of his thinking.  It is irrelevant if he goes to synagogue every week and prays loudly in front of everyone.  We see here in the private counsels of his own heart that God has no place.

In the parable the man has bumper crops to the point that he has a “problem” of figuring out what to do with the excess or overflow.  Instead of asking why has God blessed him and figuring out what God’s purpose is, his solution is to build bigger barns and amass the increase for himself.  Even though he doesn’t need more, he heaps it up.  Today we would call this hoarding.  Now here is a problem.  It is one thing when Jesus calls us out on our hoarding.  We know that he has no ulterior motive.  But, often those who point out the sin of hoarding only want to have what they have.  We see a big pile of money or possessions and the wickedness of our heart covets it.  This reminds me of the movie that just came out, The Hobbit.  In it we see how the amassed gold and riches ate into the heart of all who saw it and obtained it.  So we will be judged on both accounts: a greedy amassing for self and a greed desire to take from others.

In verse 19 we notice that his soul is at ease.  Godly people in every generation have spoken of the need for a holy discomfort with our life and the world around us.  When Christ is our focus then this world causes us trouble and discomfort at least.  Too often Christians stop at being uneasy about the world, yet refuse to walk with the Lord seriously enough to become uncomfortable with their own sin.  Our rest is to be found in trusting Jesus and His teachings.  This man is trying to find rest in material abundance outside of Christ.  We need to refresh ourselves in Him and rest, but we should never rest in being vigilant over our soul against sin.

Similar to the handwriting on the wall before Belshazzar, a message from God comes to the man.  He is about to die and he has been judged as a fool by God.  He is a fool because he focused his life on what couldn't save him, nor could go with him.  He lived without a sense of accountability to God.  This life is a gift and how we go about living it determines our judgment.  Will you live for the Lord Jesus or will you continue as master?  His judgment comes without warning and the man will die that very night.  Although some of us are given fair warning that our time is coming, many will go into eternity without the ability to "make quick amends."  We need to live so that nothing is left undone between us and the Lord.  

In Matthew 19:21 Jesus says to the rich young man, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come follow me."  This idea of putting treasure in heaven by helping others is explained there.  Here the phrase is called, "being rich toward God."  It is interesting that it clearly means to help people, but the emphasis is on God.  When we help others simply because it makes us feel good, we need to be careful.  This is not what saves us.  In fact such giving often cuts God out of the picture.  It is purely about bringing pleasure to one's self.  But, when God becomes the Lord of all our possessions and money, we will truly become a free person.  We are free to bless others as he enables and directs.  You are under no compulsion by the people who covet your money and hold the words of Jesus over your head.  Their greed will continue to destroy them unless they repent.  But you are free to give and help under the compulsion of the Spirit of God.  Lest this seem like a cop-out, know this: you will give account to God for all you have done or not done on this earth and He is not mocked.  James lays out a warning for those who either have riches or desire to get them.  James 5:1-7  , "Come now you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you!  Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten.  Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire.  You have heaped up treasure in the last days.  Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.  You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter.  You have condemned, you have murdered the just; he does not resist you.  Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord."

 

Time is up audio

Tuesday
Dec022014

Faults of the Evil Generation II

Today we are looking at Luke 11:37-44.

We have been looking at the things Jesus pointed out about his generation which evidenced their wickedness.  Their unbelief always wanted more signs.  Also their ability to see spiritually had been lost.  Today we will see how sin had caused them to give greater attention to superficial things over the top of the deeper and more important issues of their hearts.  Such a superficial existence not only fails to do good things, but actually causes us to do evil.  In this passage our favorite bad guys (the Pharisees and the Lawyers) are on the whipping post.  However, we need to ask ourselves today this question.  How am I like this?  Or, at least, how have I been dealing with this reality in my life?

They Focus on Image over the Inside

Now in this passage there is a Pharisee that asks Jesus to come to his house and eat with him.  During this situation Jesus recognizes something that is going on inside of this man.  There is no indication that the man had said anything openly.  Yet, Jesus is not content to have image without an accompanying inner reality.  That which looks good on the outside but is poisonous on the inside is more dangerous than that which looks bad on the outside.  People will be tempted to accept something into their life that looks good on the outside but can hurt them, whereas something that looks bad is generally rejected outright. 

So why was Jesus invited to dinner?  We do not know the man’s motivation.  More than likely he hopes to find reasons to discount Jesus and thus move up in the ranks of his religious group.  Thus pretended favors always lead to real attacks.  Yet, maybe this man simply wants to have the attention of one who had Jesus at his house.  Jesus was widely popular and to be associated with him in anyway would reflect upon the Pharisee.  Or, perhaps the man is interested in Jesus and wants a closer look.  No matter which of these is the truth, remember this one thing.  When you invite Jesus into your house, he is not going to content himself with only looking good.  Jesus is going to point out those hidden issues of our heart that need to be dealt with.

Now something happens before dinner.  Jesus neglects the traditional washing that the religious did before eating.  Now this washing wasn’t about hygiene.  It was a symbolic washing that represented being spiritually clean from sin.  It seems impossible that Jesus simply forgot.  Even if he didn’t normally observe this washing, Jesus knew the teachings and practices of the Pharisees all too well.  Thus it seems that Jesus purposely neglected washing because he knew it would provide a situation in which he can speak to the heart of this Pharisee’s life.  Although we are talking about the faults of an evil generation, we need to recognize that Jesus is also pointing out precisely where they needed to change in order to be saved.  It is like a surgeon.  Yes, cutting a person is bad.  But if a surgeon cuts a person precisely where they need to be cut then it is actually a good thing.  When God points out our sin it is not in order to condemn us, but in order for us truly to be set free.

Now when the Pharisee sees that Jesus does not do the traditional washing, he “marveled.”  Instead of seeing the heart of Christ he was stuck on this outward act or lack thereof.  We must understand that focusing on the outward without working on the inside is utter foolishness.  Jesus uses the metaphor of a cup to illustrate this.  Have you ever opened the dishwasher to pull out a cup or bowl that looked clean but when you turned it up there was some crud still left in the bowl?  Someone didn’t rinse it well enough for the machine to clean.  Although it looks good on the outside, you are not going to eat from it.  This is how God saw the Pharisees.  On the outside they looked like good followers of God and He should be happy to have them and use them for His glory.  But the problem was that they were full of sinful things.  Jesus points out that God had made mankind both material and spirit, or with outer and inner parts of their being.  Would God be satisfied for his people to clean only the outward?  The Pharisees were right that God was concerned with man’s need to be cleansed of sin.  But they focused only on the outward things.  In fact in this case the washings were merely symbolic.

In Matthew 15:11 Jesus makes the case that we are not defiled by outer things.  Rather we are defiled by what flows out of our heart into our material life.  Thus a person can make their life look good, but if their heart is wicked, it is not only unacceptable, but is even a worse evil.  Are we not a generation that fights against the reality that our inner man is more important than our outer man?  Do we not focus far more on image and material things than on truth, reality, and inner things?  It is an evil thing to focus on the outward and ignore the inner.

In vs. 41 Jesus tells him to give alms of what he has and then he won’t have to worry about washing his hands before dinner.  That is he will truly be clean spiritually.  Notice that it is possible to use external actions to wash internal sins.  This man was guilty of greed and wickedness (vs.39).  He focused solely on the symbolic act of washing, but never actually did anything about the greed and wickedness in his heart.  Did he not know he was greedy?   That is unlikely.  By his actions he was testifying that he would rather live in shadows and hide from the Truth than walk in the light of God.  Not all who come to Christ and go to Church seek His light and life.  Many are merely looking for shadowy places in which to hide themselves.  But where Jesus is there will always be a confrontation which such wickedness.  We must wash our hearts by actions that crucify those inner sins.  Are you proud?  Then take a humble position and seek no credit for it.  Become a servant of others and in so doing crucify the pride in your heart.  Such a person will be seen as clean by God.

They Focus on Trivial Matters over Heavier Things

Similar to focusing on the external is this problem of focusing on trifles over the top of heavier issues.  In another place Jesus used the picture of straining out a gnat, but then swallowing a camel.  The inability to truly face and deal with the inner issues affects how one prioritizes outward actions.  This imagery has to do with light and heavy objects.  Do you remember in the old cartoons how the character would be weight lifting and the two round weights would have 1,000 painted on them?  Yet, later you would find out that they were just black balloons.  This helps us to see several issues.  So keep this metaphor in mind.

Now Jesus had counseled the man to give alms because he knew the man gave precious little that didn’t somehow benefit him.  The Pharisees had developed a meticulous system of rules about tithing (giving a tenth of your income).  Within this system of rules they were able to look like they were lifting a lot of weight spiritually, but in reality they were not lifting anything at all.  Here Jesus points out that they would make a big deal about tithing to the point that they would even give a tenth of the herbs in their herb gardens.  This scrutiny on a trivial area of “income,” became a mark of great piety; as if they had lifted such a great weight.  In another passage Jesus shines a light on some of the things that they were doing.  Under the Law an adult child was responsible to take care of their parents in their old age.   However, a tradition had developed that said if a person had already made a vow to give their extra money to the Temple then they could be excused from having to care from their parents.  Now which is the heavier weight that needed lifting; caring for elderly parents, or donating to the temple?  More importantly which was the greater responsibility for the shirker; caring for their parents or caring for the temple?  Clearly caring for the parents is the primary responsibility.  So why would they do such a thing?  They would do it because they would get more honor and prestige out of giving a great sum to the Temple than out of “merely” caring for their parents.  This is how upside down their priorities were.  God is more concerned that you care for your immediate family than he is to get 10% of your income.  He is concerned that we be clean on the inside, and money /wealth is one of the biggest defilers of man.  Now you may think I just made a case for why poor people don’t have to give.  You couldn’t be more incorrect.  Do poor people have the need to be cleaned from greed and materialism?  Of course they do.  Our greed will always tell us that we don’t make enough to give to God, whether at a Church or directly to others in need.  A person who gives in to such greed will not be condemned because they failed to give enough.  They will be condemned because they embraced greed and nurtured it with false logic.  The Pharisees had trivialized tithing.  It was intended to be a means that broke the back of greed in their life, taught them how to live within their means, and helped those that were hurting.  These are the big weights that God wanted them to lift.  But they turned it into a means of stroking their pride.

In vs. 42 Jesus gives us two “heavy things” God wanted them to work on: Justice towards their fellow man and Love towards God.  The whole time they were coming up with rules and loopholes in the area of tithing they did not lift a finger towards justice for their fellow man and truly loving the heart of God and His ways.  Micah pointed this out in his book (6:6-8), “With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the High God?  Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?  Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, ten thousand rivers of oil?  Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?  He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”  Today social justice has become a code word for big government programs.  This movement has co-opted the biblical language for its own political gain.  They two are defiled by the lust for power and greed for money.  We do need to care for one another in our society.  But God’s plan has always been for individuals to freely choose to either serve Him or not.  Only then can they truly cleanse their hearts.  But the modern system of turning all compassion over to the State is not only hurting the poor, but defiling all of our hearts.  Ask yourself, what is due my fellow man, and do I love God and His ways more than the things of this world?  You will be cleaned or defiled by how you deal with those questions.

In verse 43 Jesus points out the vain things that they loved.  They wanted the best seats in the Synagogue (those that had the most social prestige) rather than being content with the place God would give them.  They wanted the kudos of their fellow Pharisees rather than the kudos of God.  They wanted people to notice them when they walked through the marketplace rather than to be noticed by God.  Respect, position, and power are not necessarily bad things.  But the love of these things causes much sin and defiles many.  These things are empty if they are sought over the top of God and a clean heart.

Lastly, Jesus points out how our neglected sins defile us and others.  What is the big deal?  Inner sins don’t just stay inside.  They grow and their defilement infects us and spreads into society.  We will end up defiling others by our sinful actions.  Jesus uses the picture of an unmarked grave.  To touch a dead body or grave made a person defiled under the Law.  This is something the Pharisees would have meticulously focused on.  Yet, here Jesus says they are like a person who made a grave but didn’t mark it (through negligence or purposefully).  People who interacted with them thought they were clean, but in fact they were being defiled unknowingly by them.  O friend, are you pretending to be all righteous and clean when in fact you are defiling everyone around you?  Take this to heart.  Begin to clean the inside of your heart in the fear of the Lord for He is the one that you will stand before and give account one day.

Faults II audio