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Maks Vusik
Matthew 23:16-22
GCS Sermons 2017
56 mins 50 secs
Views: 40

We live in the age of terrorism. Hardly a week goes by without someone committing an act of terror somewhere in the world. Those who engage in such acts are radically committed to their ideology and sincerely believe that their actions will earn them a place in paradise. They do not value their own lives or the lives of those who die and suffer at their hands. They recruit others to join their cause and their converts are often even more radical than they. In Matthew 23, Jesus addresses a different kind of terrorists. They do not blow up airplanes or people (even though they killed prophets Matthew 23:30), but the damage they cause is far more deadly. These spiritual terrorists are sons of the devil who are on their way to hell and they are not content to go there alone. These men are very religious and under the guise of spirituality they prevent people from finding their way to the truth. They trap their followers in false religion and thus guarantee their eternal damnation.

Jesus reserved His most damning declaration of judgment for such spiritual terrorists, namely scribes and Pharisees. In His final public address to the crowds, He unmasked them and revealed their true identity. They were not spiritual guides of the people but they themselves were lost. Not only were they lost but they were also blind and unable to find their own way to the truth, what to speak of leading others. They corrupted the law of God and twisted His commandments to suit their own desires and maximize their personal profit. In Matthew 23:16-22, Jesus exposes their weapons of choice: lies, deceptions, perversions and evasions of truth.

Scribes and Pharisees perverted the practice of making vows in the name of the Lord and created a system of binding and nonbinding oaths. Simply put, the purpose of nonbinding oaths was to deceive people and God. They created meaningless and illogical distinctions that could not stand the test of reason or Scripture and, as a result, were condemned by Jesus as “fools and blind men.” With this stern condemnation of scribes and Pharisees, Jesus affirmed the principle that every form of lying is an affront to God and brings severe judgment. Lies, deceptions, perversions and evasions of truth strike at the character of God who is the God of truth. Everyone who loves and practices lying will be condemned to eternal lake of fire (Matt. 12:36; Rev. 212:8, 27; 22:15). Genuine believers are characterized by honesty and their speech manifests a heart that has been transformed by the gospel.