Woe to the Pharisees, pt. 3: False Faith

Posted: February 12, 2013 in Matthew

Matthew 23:23-28, “Woe to the Pharisees, pt. 3: False Faith”

One of the easiest ways to discern a lie is to look at the truth.  It’s been often said that the way US Treasury agents are trained to discover counterfeit money is to study all the aspects of authentic bills.  The better acquainted an agent is with what is real, the easier it is for them to be able to spot what is false.  The same thing is true on a spiritual level.  How easily we are able to discern something that is false is directly linked to what we’re able to recognize as the truth.  (This is one reason why it’s so important for us to know our Bibles!  Knowing the truth of the word of God will go a long way to helping us steer clear of false teachings and other cults.)

No doubt there was much contrast going on the day that Jesus confronted the Pharisees.  There they were, only days after the triumphal entry into Jerusalem from Jesus and hours before the preparations for Passover began.  All of the religious elite had come out to test and discredit Jesus in the eyes of the people, and they couldn’t do it.  Jesus had shut them down and silenced them with His response.  Now Jesus publicly took the scribes and Pharisees to task, and the hypocrisy and false faith of the Pharisees was on full display before the people as the Son of God spoke the truth.

As Ch. 23 began, Jesus first addressed the people listening.  They needed to be warned about those who taught them, and Jesus made it clear that although the Pharisees may have taught some things from the Scripture that were true, the examples they set were false.  The Pharisees loved the honor of men more than the glory of God, and put legalistic burdens upon men that God never intended.  The way not to be like the hypocritical Pharisees was to maintain a spirit of humility before God, allowing God to lift us up as He sees fit.

Jesus then turned His attention to the scribes and Pharisees, starting a litany of woes (either 7 or 8, depending on your Bible translation).  In the first few woes, Jesus condemned the Pharisees as false teachers.  They were obstacles against others entering the kingdom of heaven, and they themselves never entered either.  They had deceived the defenseless and acted in destructive ways against them.  They went out to convert Gentiles, but converted them to greater condemnation, insulating them against the truth of the real knowledge of God.  They were blind to God’s holiness, and taught people to devalue the righteousness of God.  The Pharisees may have been the teachers of Israel, but they were terrible teachers, dangerous to everyone around them!

In the next three woes, Jesus looks at them a bit more personally.  Earlier, He had looked at their teaching, now He looks at their character.  He had already condemned their false teaching, and now He looks at their false faith.  They had an appearance of holiness, but in reality they knew nothing of the real righteousness of God.  In fact, they did not know God at all, and Jesus exposes their dead faith for what it is.

In all of the harsh words from Jesus, please do not miss His compassion.  False faith needs to be exposed.  How else will someone be aware of the need?  The Pharisees (like many today) were deceived about their relationship with God.  They believed their outward appearance was proof of their holiness, when in reality it was all hypocrisy.  God does not want us to be deceived by false faith!  He wants us to know what real life is in real faith as we walk with Him.

Matthew 23:23–28
23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! …

  1. One of the first things that we notice from virtually all of the “woes” is the same wording that begins each one: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!”  We tend to focus on the Pharisees, but it was not just the Pharisees who were called out by Jesus; it was the scribes as well.  These were the scholars – the ones that spent all their day in the Scripture, studying it and teaching it to others.  Yet all their time of study did not guarantee their holiness (much less their salvation).  They were equally corrupt with the Pharisees, sharing in the same sins and the same condemnation.
  2. No matter if they were a scribe or a Pharisee (or perhaps both), they were all publicly condemned by God the Son. “Woe to you!”  This was not the first time that God had publicly called out those who claimed to serve Him.  In Isaiah 5, God called out woe after woe upon those who had perverted His law in injustice and said how the nation was going to be judged.  In Jeremiah 23, God specifically called woe upon the priests & teachers – “Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture!” (Jer 23:1), not unlike the scribes and Pharisees Jesus was calling out again.  Hosea 2 is filled with woes for those who were content in their transgressions against the law of God.  God had declared many woes before just prior to judgment (11 out of the 17 prophets wrote down God’s proclaimed woes upon Israel & Judea), and He was doing it again just prior to judgment on the nation.  This was the Pharisees’ (and the Jew’s overall) last opportunity to repent, prior to Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection – and unless their hardened hearts soon broke in repentance, it might be their last chance to repent prior to the Romans’ destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD.  There was a judgment coming, and God was warning them of their crimes that had brought it upon them.
    1. Why warn them in such a harsh manner?  Because God loved them.  He did not want to see them perish – God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked.  God’s whole desire for people is that they would turn in repentance and be saved!  Especially for those who are supposed to be the people of God…when we are in sin, He wants us to turn in repentance.  And if that takes a harsh discipline (even a public discipline), then so be it.  God disciplines us because He loves us.  He wants what is best for us as we grow into the men and women that He wants us to be.  And sometimes that means taking us out to the proverbial woodshed – or perhaps letting some secret sins come out into the exposed light in order for healing to begin.  (Of course, the best way to avoid this is through continued humility, confession, and repentance before God!)
  3. Whatever the particular individual was (scribe or Pharisee), each of them were labeled by Jesus as hypocrites.  They were deceivers who acted one way in public, and another way in private.  It may have been invisible to the people around them, but it was abhorrent and obvious to God.  In fact, Jesus illustrates that in all of the three woes of vss. 23-27.  What appeared to be righteous on the outside was sinful on the inside.  That truth was not hidden from Almighty God.  (God always knows the truth.  God knows who we truly are.  Everyone else might be fooled, but God will never be deceived…)
  4. Keep in mind this was a very public chastisement.  The people who had been esteemed in the eyes of the community were now receiving a very visible dressing down by God.  They had left God with no choice.  They had repeatedly refused His approaches.  They made it clear that they rejected the Messiah, which meant that they did not have faith in the One True God, despite their claims to the contrary.  If they had known the Father, they would have known the Son (Jn 8:19).  Because they rejected and rebelled against Jesus, they showed themselves not to know God at all, no matter what their outward reputations may have been.  Thus they were frauds.  They had the responsibility to teach the law of God to the people of God, but they themselves did not know God.  Jesus had a moral responsibility to call the scribes and Pharisees out on their deception, so that the people would be properly warned.

…For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.

  1. Woe #5: Majoring on the minors.  The Pharisees, etc., paid a tithe of the smallest things, though Jesus doesn’t say anything about their normal income.  The implication is that they were outwardly faithful in matters of finances.  This was a good thing!   “Tithe” is simply a word that means “tenth,” and refers to what the Hebrews were supposed to give unto the Lord.  It was first seen in Genesis 14 when Abraham gave the mysterious King Melchizedek (priest of the Most High God) a tithe of everything he had gained in a battle against 5 kings.  It was first commanded in Leviticus 27 during the last verses of the book as God tells Moses that “all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD’s.  It is holy to the LORD.” (Lev 27:30)  From the very beginning, the tithe represented all of someone’s increase – not merely a payment of money, but of everything that had was gain or income to the individual…the firstfruits of the field or the livestock.  Over time, this seemed to have developed to include seeds & herbs, such as the “mint and anise and cumin,” as the Pharisees had been faithful to give. 
  2. It may have been a good thing, but it wasn’t the only thing.  It’s not that God didn’t want them to tithe; it’s that they forgot (or never know) one of the primary functions of the tithe. Beyond the actual instructions on what to give, God was also very clear on the heart of the giver and what God wanted to do within the character of the one who gave.  The tithe wasn’t an outward ritual of how to make oneself righteous; it was an ongoing exercise to help someone see where their heart was in regards to God.  As Moses told the people to do when they were finally in the Promised Land, they were to gather their whole tithe and set it before the Lord…  Deuteronomy 26:13–15, "(13) then you shall say before the LORD your God: ‘I have removed the holy tithe from my house, and also have given them to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, according to all Your commandments which You have commanded me; I have not transgressed Your commandments, nor have I forgotten them. (14) I have not eaten any of it when in mourning, nor have I removed any of it for an unclean use, nor given any of it for the dead. I have obeyed the voice of the LORD my God, and have done according to all that You have commanded me. (15) Look down from Your holy habitation, from heaven, and bless Your people Israel and the land which You have given us, just as You swore to our fathers, “a land flowing with milk and honey.” ’"  []  God commanded the tithe not merely to provide for the priests and the needy, but He gave it as a tangible reminder to keep God first.  Any offering to the Lord is supposed to be an offering of worship. It’s an acknowledgement that God is God, and we serve and worship Him.
    1. On a practical level, this is one reason why financial giving is so important even to NT believers today.  We can have a tendency to serve and worship God with our lips, but when it comes down to our finances, our trust slips.  All of a sudden, we’re not so sure if God will truly provide for us throughout the month – or we find out that our financial priorities differ from God’s – or we think that whatever percentage we give it means more to us than it does to someone else, etc.  There are all sorts of reasons we can run through as to why we might not give unto the Lord, and this is exactly why God wants us to give.  It’s a continual reminder to us that we trust Him – that we worship Him & not ourselves, and that He has the first and foremost place in our lives.
  3. If they had worshipped God through their tithe and kept God first in their lives, there is no way that the scribes and Pharisees would have missed out on the vastly more important things.  The tithe was important, but in the grand scheme of things, it was pretty minor.  Far more important to God than the gifts and offerings we bring to Him are issues of character.  His desire for us is that our lives be transformed from the inside-out – that we would be conformed to the image of Christ.  When that happens, then the things that matter to God begin to matter to us.  His values become our values; His priorities become our priorities.  What are some of God’s priorities?
    1. Justice”: Right judgment according to the Scriptures.  Widows and orphans and strangers in the land were routinely taken advantage of (and the Pharisees were guilty of the same), and God meant for them to be protected.  Someone had to rise up in defense of the defenseless, taking a stand for God’s righteousness and justice.
    2. Mercy”: Instead of showing condemnation, God’s people are to show kindness and compassion.  It’s easy to point the finger at everyone who does something we believe is wrong, or does something different than what we prefer, but just as God shows mercy towards us, we are to show mercy towards others.  Sin is surely dealt with, but it is dealt with in a way that continues to demonstrate the mercy of God.
    3. Faith”: Other translations might say “faithfulness.”  The idea is to walk with God in faith.  Someone doesn’t merely express a one-time faith in God & then go on with his or her life – rather, they walk with humble faith in God day-in and day-out, consistently worshipping and loving the Lord with their whole heart.
    4. That Jesus grouped these things together calls to mind how the prophet Micah summed up the desire of God for His people. Micah 6:8, "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?" []  These were the “weightier matters of the law” – this is what God desired of His people, and yet these were the very things that the famed teachers of the law neglected to do.
  4. The issue in this “woe”?  The scribes and Pharisees majored on the minors, and in the end, totally neglected the majors altogether.  They did not care about the things that were most important to God, and they demonstrated that they did not know Him at all.  They were willing to do all of the minor outward works that would have seemed to be under their control, but they did not want to give up that control and submit themselves to God.  If they had, then His priorities would have become their priorities.  This would have addressed the larger issues…the things upon which we are fully dependent upon the grace of God to achieve.
    1. Even today, there is no way for people to care about things like justice, mercy, and faith without the equipping of the Holy Spirit.  These things are inherently focused upon God or other people, whereas when we are left to ourselves we inevitably focus upon ourselves.  Humans (by our very nature) are selfish beings.  We might make some attempts at justice and mercy – but in the end, we’ll end up doing the things that seem best to us.  To be truly selfless and lay down our lives for the good of others and the glory of God is something that only God can equip someone to do.  To walk with God is something that requires the power of God – and that only comes through the grace of God, which Jesus alone provides.

24 Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!

  1. Interestingly, the word-picture Jesus gives seems to reverse the issue.  We would think that the large “camel” would represent the weightier matters, and be the things that the Pharisees should have been concerned with.  Of course, that is Jesus’ point.  The Pharisees were all mixed-up – they thought the gnat was the camel & vice-versa.  Their spiritual priorities were all backwards.  They believed that if they did the minor things, those were the things that made them righteous.  Not so!  What they accomplished in the minor things were only minor things.  They did not address what mattered most.  Keep in mind that both gnats and camels were considered unclean foods to eat (Lev 11:11, 23).  It’s just that it may have been a lot easier to accidentally eat a gnat than a camel.  After all, someone might open their mouth and have a gnat fly in, but if you bite into a camel steak you know exactly what you’re doing! (And how much more the exaggerated picture of opening up your mouth wide enough to swallow an entire camel all at once!)  What the scribes and Pharisees neglected ought to have been painfully obvious to them.  It’s impossible to read the Bible (OT and NT) and miss God’s emphasis on justice, mercy, and faith.  To be sure, there are many minor regulations in the law of Moses, but the overriding theme is holiness and love.  To miss out on those things is to miss out on everything – it’s to be blind to what the Scripture is saying.  This was the 2nd time Jesus labeled the scribes & Pharisees as “blind guides.”  They were truly guides for the people of Judea, but they were dangerous in their duties!  They were blind to the truth of the very Scriptures they were tasked to teach.
  2. People still do this today!  Legalists cannot help but focus on the minor and miss out on the majors.  Paul encountered this on his missionary journeys with the Judaizers, who taught that someone must first be a good Jew before they could be a faithful Christian.  They forced Gentile converts to get circumcised, to keep a kosher diet, and to keep all sorts of Jewish feasts and other Jewish traditions.  Of course the problem is that the true gospel of Jesus Christ frees us from all of those things.  It was because the law cannot be kept that Jesus came to earth in the first place!  The apostles and leaders of the early church recognized this, and even said that they could not put upon the Gentiles that which the Jews themselves were not able to bear & keep (Acts 15:10).  But the Judaizers did not stop with the 1st century.  There have been legalistic Judaizers through the ages, even to today.  They guilt people into following their own versions of Jewish feasts and regulations, and all sorts of minor issues, and in the end they miss what is most important to God: grace.  To look at the law and miss the grace of Jesus Christ is the most grievous error of all!
    1. Legalism always does this, whether it is clothed in the disguise of “religion” or not.  Do this, do that, add this, add that…over time, someone’s faith is reduced down to a bunch of “do’s and don’ts,” and it no longer resembles the gospel of grace.

25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence.

  1. Woe #6: Inwardly corrupt.  Can you imagine walking into a restaurant kitchen to find the dishwashers scrubbing the outside of the glasses only, while leaving the insides dry & untouched?  Talk about a major health violation!  That’s the picture Jesus paints of the scribes and Pharisees here.  They scrubbed the outside, but did nothing on the inside.  Outwardly, the scribes and Pharisees lived lives of holiness.  They would have been held up as examples to everyone else in Judea of how to live lives pleasing to God.  By all accounts, they held themselves to a higher standard, and few people in Judea could match the way they dedicated themselves to the Law of Moses.  Or so it seemed.
  2. It may have looked that way on the outside, but Jesus saw right through the act.  They had just cleaned the outside of the cup, leaving all of the filth and backwash of their sin on the inside.  They appeared to be holy, when in reality they lived lives that were abhorrent and opposed to God.  What did they do?
    1. They were full of “extortion.”  The word speaks of plundering or pillaging.  By the definition, it seems more suited to pirates than pastors – and indeed it is!  But as the scribes and Pharisees took advantage of the people the way they did, this is exactly what they were guilty of.
    2. They were full of “self-indulgence.”  The scribes and Pharisees were consumed with themselves and their own pleasures and excesses.  What they condemned in others, they engaged in their own minds and hearts to excess.  Although most Bible translations agree here on the wording, the majority of ancient manuscripts use a different word here & say “unrighteousness.”  No doubt both describe the Pharisees well.  To be full of self-indulgence is to be filled with unrighteousness.  The man or woman who is consumed with selfishness cares nothing about the righteousness of God, and acts in ways that are directly opposite of it.
    3. It’s so common to find false teachers doing the same thing.  What so often appears to be someone who crusades for holiness is so often exposed in personal scandal and sin.  They never believed the things they taught; they just used them for personal benefit. …
  3. Question: Were the scribes and Pharisees actually criminals?  Did they engage in literal extortion?  Perhaps, though we’re not given any specific examples.  It’s not likely that the Pharisees ganged up on people and forced them to give them so-called “protection money” or act in other ways that we might imagine from old gangster movies.  But they did practice extortion when it came to faith.  Remember that Jesus had already called them out on how they devoured widows’ houses – taking advantage of old women making them feel as if they had to give 100% of what little they had to the temple and for the Pharisees’ benefit.  The widows had been manipulated by the legalism of the Pharisees and they went physically hungry as they tried to meet whatever requirements the scribes and the Pharisees laid down.  That may not be a crime that would land someone in jail, but it certainly is a crime in the eyes of God.  God saw their spiritual abuses and saw it as nothing less than extortion.
    1. Sometimes people today still experience spiritual abuse from pastors and other spiritual leaders.  They are manipulated to feel guilty about the smallest things in a system of legalism – they are made to feel like terrible sinners for even the slightest questioning of a pastor – they are treated as pocketbooks in a pew rather than the people of God.  And it is wrong…dreadfully wrong.  God sees this behavior as criminal, and He will most certainly deal with it. …
    2. Beyond the category of spiritual leaders, we also need to remember that all sin (no matter how small we might view it in our own eyes) is criminal in the eyes of God.  To break the law even in one area is to be guilty of breaking the entire law of God (Jas 2:10).  Lust is as adultery, and hatred is as murder (Mt 5).  The Pharisees may or may not have committed physical acts of extortion, but no doubt their hearts were full of it, just as Jesus said.  We can all be guilty of doing the same thing.
  4. Notice what their sins are opposed to: “justice and mercy and faith.”  If they had been seeking after God in faithfulness, walking with Him & caring about the things that God cared about, there is no way they would have engaged in selfish extortion of the people.  These things are completely opposite of one another.  The fact that they did engage in these sins goes to underscore the hypocrisy of their supposed faith.

26 Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.

  1. The solution is so simple, is it not?  All they needed to do was to work on the inside, and the outside would follow suit.  If you’re soaping up the inside of a coffee cup, you’re going to get soap on the outside too – there’s not really any way around it.  It sounds simple with cups & dishes, but it’s not so simple with people.  Question: how exactly can someone clean their inside?  After all, if we are outwardly dirty, all we need do is take a bath.  But how can we scrub our soul?  Who can make themselves clean again once their mind is defiled?  It’s impossible…for men and women.  But this is exactly why the gospel of Jesus Christ is such good news.  What is impossible for man is totally possible for God.  When we place our faith and trust in Jesus Christ, we are born anew of the Holy Spirit (Jn 3:5).  He makes us new creations, and the old person is gone (2 Cor 5:17).  What we cannot make clean again, Jesus makes clean by His grace & power!
  2. We still need to be reminded of this today.  We will never clean ourselves up by merely scrubbing our outsides; we need an internal change that only comes through faith in Jesus Christ.  People try this all the time!  They might realize that their life needs to change, but they think, “I can’t come to God until I clean myself up first.”  Or “I’ll just buckle down and change these habits, and then I’ll be OK again.”  That’s only scrubbing the outside.  What we need is an internal change, and we can’t do it on our own.  It’s not about trying to clean ourselves – it’s about surrendering ourselves to Jesus through faith.  When you give your life to Him, then the Lord Jesus is the One who cleanses you!  He sets us apart for Himself and washes us by the water of the word (Eph 5:26).  He is the One that produces the fruit of the Spirit in our lives (Gal 5:22-23).  It’s His work, and we must come to Him through faith in order for Him to do it.
    1. If you’re waiting to clean yourself up before surrendering your life to God, you’re going to be waiting a long time.  You’ll never be good enough – you’ll never be clean enough – you’ll never be righteous enough.  But that is exactly why Jesus came.  He did not die on the cross for you to clean up your life; He died because you needed to be cleansed.  He died because that was the only way you and I could be forgiven and to be brought into a relationship with God the Father.  Stop waiting – stop putting up excuses, and surrender yourself to Jesus today!

27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

  1. Woe #7: Inwardly dead.  Historically, the Jews had a practice of “whitewashing” tombstones and other things associated with dead bodies (ossuaries, etc.).  They would take lime & spread it all over the stone, causing it to brighten & become white, and thus stand out.  Jews were forbidden from defiling themselves by touching the dead on certain occasions (and priests were forbidden from touching anyone dead, except those of their closest families), as this would make them ceremonially unclean.  That was the reason for the whitewashing.  If the gravestones and monuments were made as bright as possible, it would help people see them & not accidentally touch them in defilement.  This makes Jesus’ use of the illustration particularly interesting.  After all, whitewashing was a process used to help keep people away from sin; not hide it.  But that’s exactly what the scribes and Pharisees were doing.  They had whitewashed their outside, not to help people stay far from sin in following their example, but as a way of hiding their own sin and hypocrisy from the people they were supposed to guide.
  2. This woe seems to go hand-in-hand with the earlier woe (and illustration of the cup).  Not only were the Pharisees corrupt – it was worse; they were dead.  They were walking graveyards.  Outwardly they looked holy, but inwardly they were so corrupt inside that they were decaying.  They were spiritually dead.  Jesus had already pointed out that the scribes and the Pharisees had not entered the kingdom of heaven themselves (vs. 13), and that they had shown themselves to be children of hell (vs. 15).  Here, He states the spiritual truth behind it all.  The very people who were supposed to be leading the nation of Israel into the life that God provides were themselves dead and doomed in their decay and corruption.  They were supposedly the holy Pharisees and scribes, but in reality they were as lost as the most sinful Gentile.
  3. What did this death look like?  “Hypocrisy and lawlessness.”  No matter what appeared on the outside, the reality on the inside was sinful.  They were two-faced hypocrites, and despite their apparent love of the law of God even in the most minor points, they were completely opposed to the law.  They were without law in their lives because they were not submitted to the Righteous God.  The law they followed was their own law – the legalistic traditions of men.  They cared nothing about the true righteousness of God, which the Law of God through the Scriptures was supposed to teach.  Thus their purported faith in God was a deception (perhaps even to themselves).  It was totally false, and they were left in spiritual death.
    1. It doesn’t matter how holy we look on the outside if our insides are corrupt and without God.  We could put on the best faces to other people – we could give all our money away to feed the poor – we could show up to church every time the door is open – and yet, without the transforming work of Jesus in our life, we have absolutely nothing.  Any pretense we would have to faith would be false.  Why?  Because without Jesus there IS no faith!  It is all hypocrisy & false pretenses at righteousness.
  4. Yet even in this condemnation, Jesus holds out hope in His very presence!  Again, this is what the Son of Man came to do: to save us from the results of our lawlessness and spiritual death.  If the scribes and Pharisees but repented in humility, they would have experienced the grace of Jesus for themselves!  They would have known the life that Jesus offers, and they would have experienced true faith in God for the first time.  Of course, left to ourselves, we are all in the same position of the Pharisees: spiritually dead.  We had sinned against God either outwardly or inwardly, and we had all incurred the results of that sin: death.  Yet Jesus came and died the death that we had deserved, and then Jesus rose from the grave in life.  Now He offers that same life to all those who trust Him by faith.  Truly this is hope for all the world!

It’s relatively easy for us to look back and see the false faith of the Pharisees.  After all, who couldn’t see their legalism & hypocrisy?  But it wasn’t likely too obvious to the scribes and Pharisees themselves.  No doubt there were many among them who thought they were serving the Lord – they had just deceived themselves from knowing what that actually entailed.  Instead of following the heart of God in the Scriptures, they followed themselves – and their faith was a train wreck as a result.  The very people who were supposed to be the pinnacle of what it meant to be a follower of God actually showed that they did not know God at all.  They had a false faith and they were lost in their deception.

God forbid that we would do the same thing!  There are many people who show up in churches all across America that are lost in a false faith.  They believe that they are made righteous by the things that they do, or the rituals in which they participate, when in reality their inner self remains unchanged because they never met the Lord Jesus.  They do not know Jesus by faith, which means that they do not know Him at all.  It is shown through their legalism – or through their hypocrisy – or through their unchanged lives…and it ought to be a wake-up call to them to humble themselves before the Living God.

Maybe there are some here today that fit that category.  Maybe you’re lost in a false faith because you were never told what a real living faith was all about.  Maybe you are one who always thought you had to clean yourself up before you could come to God.  Today, know that real faith is possible through Jesus Christ.  You can be forgiven and you can have Jesus change YOU when you humbly surrender yourself to Him in repentance and faith.

Maybe there are others here today that simply need to be affirmed of the truth of Jesus.  Perhaps you’ve sat under abusive teachers in the past who manipulated your faith.  Perhaps the only example you’ve ever seen of supposed “spirituality” has come from false teachers.  Know that the truth is found in Christ.  He is the best example because He IS the truth.  In Christ, there is healing – in Christ there is mercy – in Christ there is compassion.  Look past the false teachers and all of the bad examples to Jesus.

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