Theme Verse: Luke 9:23-27
Then He said to them all, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me.
- FOLLOWING IS A CHOICE
- FOLLOWING IS A COMMITMENT
- FOLLOWING IS A COURSE
Are We Following Jesus or Following the Rules?
The Pharisees and Scribes would have had Everyone Convinced that they were Completely Committed Followers. The only question is, what are they following?
That’s a good question for us to ask today. “What are you following?”
Matthew 23 – Pulling the Curtain Back on the Faithfully Faulty
The Prognosis: The Faithfully Faulty are often Dedicated and Devoted
- The Pharisees went through incredibly intense training and study
- The Sadducees were raised in a family of religious leaders to become leaders.
- There is no question that these men were devoted and dedicated
- The problem is that you can be devoted and dedicated, and still be wrong.
Jesus levels a pretty heavy accusation on the Sanhedrin referring to centuries before, when the Jews killed the messengers of God because they didn’t want to hear what God had to say when it went against their personal desires.
2 Chronicles 36.15-16 : But the Lord God of their ancestors sent word against them by the hand of his messengers, sending them time and time again, for He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place. But they kept ridiculing God’s messengers, despising His words, and scoffing at His prophets, until the Lord’s wrath was so stirred up against His people that there was no remedy.
The Problem: The Faithfully Faulty have a Faulty Focus: Outside Vs. Inside
23.25-26: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence! Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup, so the outside of it may also become clean.
Illustration: You might spend hours cleaning the outside of a toilet, but you are not likely to drink the water in the bowl…right? Why? What if at your favorite restaurant you kept getting bowls that were sparkling on the outside, but the inside didn’t look like it had seen the sink?
- If Your Focus is on the External, then it is on the Temporal
- These could be people who are not really saved.
- They know enough about how to act that they are convincing
- They know enough about what to say that they sound convincing
Listen, there could be a real danger for some of you here. You can spend time in church with believers, singing the songs and reading the Scriptures, but not really make the decision to be saved…to become a follower of Christ. You know all the stuff and may do all the right stuff, but you are LOST! It’s time for you to stop playing a game at the cross and come to Jesus.
Matthew 7:21-23 (HCSB)
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 On that day MANY will say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we (DIDN’T I) prophesy in Your name, didn’t we (DIDN’T I) drive out demons in Your name, and didn’t we (DIDN’T I) do many miracles in Your name?’ 23 Then I will announce to them, ‘I NEVER KNEW YOU! Depart from Me, you lawbreakers!’
- These may be the Believers who Wear their Christian Masks
- Don’t watch the wrong stuff…where people can see
- Don’t drink the wrong stuff…where people can see
- Don’t eat the wrong stuff…where people can see
- Don’t listen to the wrong stuff…where people can hear
Revelation 3.1 – To the angel of the church in Sardis write: “The One who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars says: I know your works; YOU HAVE A REPUTATION FOR BEING ALIVE, BUT YOU ARE DEAD.
Notice the number of times Jesus uses the word: HYPOCRITE in Matthew 23 = 8x (vvs. 13, 14, 15, 23, 25, 27, 28, 29)
People tell me that they can’t stand the hypocrites in the church…neither can I. But I’m not at church for the hypocrites, for the people who disappoint, discourage, and mislead…I’m here for the ONE who LOVED me so much that HE GAVE HIS ONE AND ONLY SON for ME, that I could have ETERNAL LIFE through my FAITH in HIM. (John 3.16)
- If Your Focus is on the Internal, then it is on the Eternal
The Promise: The Faithfully Faulty can Become the Faithful Follower
As With Moving from Fan to Follower…It Requires a Choice
- The Pharisees…and other Faithfully Faulty
- Choose Rules over Relationship
- Choose Law over Love
- Choose Guilt over Grace
- Miss what Really Matters
Galatians 2:16 (HCSB)
16 yet we know that no one is justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no human being will be justified.
- Being a Follower Means…
- Choosing Relationship that empowers us to follow the Rules
- Choosing Love, that fulfills the Law
- Choosing Grace that is the Answer for Guilt
An invitation is given to people who have been selected by a person to attend or participate in an event, celebration. The invitation often comes with an RSVP for those who would choose to attend. Attendance may not be mandatory, but you can’t experience the benefits if you are not there.
- You are invited to…STOP PLAYING GAMES AT THE CROSS
- You are invited to…JOIN JESUS ON THE JOURNEY OF LIFE
- You are invited to…BECOME A FAITHFUL FOLLOWER