Luke 12:1-21

 

“In the mean time, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trode one upon another, he began to say unto his disciples first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.  For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed:  neither hid, that shall not be known.  Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.  And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.  But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear:  Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.  Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?  But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Fear not therefore:  ye are of more value than many sparrows.  Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God:  but he that denieth me before men shall be denied before the angels of God.  And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him:  but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven.  And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto the magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say:  for the Holy Ghost shall teach you in that same hour what ye ought to say.  And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me.  And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?  And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness:  for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.  And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:  and he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?  And he said, This will I do:  I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.  And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.  But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee:  then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?  So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

 

“‘Father we settle our hearts, we thank you Lord, for all of your goodness towards us.  Lord we are overwhelmed, Lord.  Lord as we look at this world we live in, Lord, we see the broken hearts and broken lives, and we think of those every day who pass into eternity without you.  Lord, how we wonder, Lord, what mystery it is that you would set your affection on us to reveal yourself to us, to make us your sons and daughters, to gather us out of this present world in this age, Lord, that we might stand in eternity around your throne, to be your children, conformed into your likeness.  Lord, how we wonder at your love.  As we continue our study in Luke, Father, we pray that you would give to each of us our portion, that our hearts would be filled, Lord, that we might take to heart those things that we see, that we might live, Father, in your Word, that it might be a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path.  And direct our ways, Lord.  We open our hearts as we continue, we pray in Jesus name, amen.’

 

First Warning of Jesus ‘Don’t Live In Hypocrisy’

 

We’re in Luke chapter 11, we left off I believe in verse 44, which is a strange place to kind of leave off, so we’ll back up and just kind of read through a few verses to get down there, so we remind ourselves of where we were.  Verse 37 says Jesus, “as he spake, a certain Pharisee besought him to dine with him.”  Now we’re not sure of the Pharisee’s motives, if he was genuinely interested or if he wanted to have a theological debate with Jesus.  “And he went in and he sat down to meat”, to dinner.  “When the Pharisee saw it” now it’s going to tell us what, “he marvelled that he had not first washed before dinner” because they were so bound in tradition in washing their hands in a particular way, they were amazed that Jesus didn’t wash, which wasn’t a transgression of God’s Word, but it was a transgression of their traditions, which Jesus always seemed to take the opportunity to cross their traditions.  Not crossing the Word, but crossing their traditions, to challenge their hearts.  Because Pharisaism was borne out of the children of Israel [i.e. the Jews, not the 10-tribes of Israel] from Babylon, from the Captivity.  And originally they were the fundamentalists of Israel [Judah, the Jews]. They were good, they wanted to preserve the Word, and they wanted to take the nation and direct their hearts back to the Word, and they wanted to preserve the sanctity of God’s Word of the Old Testament.  And so the sect was born of the Pharisees.  But as the years went by, and by the time Christ came, it had been ritualized, it had been dried up, and they had actually taken the Law of God and added so many precepts and so many traditions to it, that they made the Law something that they could keep in the natural, to produce a self-righteousness.  The Bible tells us clearly the Law was a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ.  The Law was the thing that should have shown the heart of every Jew that he needed a Saviour, that he needed that innocent substitute as he went to the altar and sacrificed a lamb to die in his place.  And yet the Pharisees had brought it around to the place where they were trying to keep the Law in the natural.  And Jesus would say to them, ‘You have said, and it’s been spoken of old, Thou shalt not commit adultery’ and you know these verses, ‘but I say unto you, if you even lust after a woman, you’ve committed adultery in your heart.’  And Jesus, what he was trying to do, always, was to break them down, to make them realize that before the Law they were sinners, they were law-breakers.  And so Jesus, when he had the opportunity, it seems to me, that he often walked right by their traditions, to get to the heart of the matter.  And in this scene, instead of washing his hands the way they washed their hands, and all of the things they did, elbows down, wrists down, all this gymnastics, Jesus just sat down and said grace and started to eat, evidently.  And this Pharisee is amazed.  “And the Lord said unto him, Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter:”---probably held up the cup and plate---“but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness.”  Ravening, that’s extortion, the idea.  Again, just kind of a light dinner conversation he’s having with the Pharisee there.  Imagine saying this to someone who invited you over for dinner.  “Ye fools, did not he that made that which is without make that which is within also?”  They thought ‘We are fools for inviting you over.’  And now he quotes to them a current proverb in their own day, “But rather give alms of such things as ye have, behold all things are clean unto you.  But woe unto you, Pharisees!   for ye tithe mind and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God:  these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.”  And he says ‘you count out your seeds, one for God, nine for me, one for God, nine for me.  But you pass over judgment and love, the love of God, these ought you to have done,’ and they were still under the law, they should have tithed [as essentially, believers still are in a sense under the Law, if you understand Law & Grace properly, along with the covenants of God.  For more on this, see: http://www.unityinchrist.com/whatisgrace/whatisgraceintro.htm], ‘and not leave the other undone.’  “Woe unto ye, Pharisees!  for ye love the uppermost seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets.”  They loved that prestige, they loved to have their reputation noticed, more worried about reputation than character.  Now, as we read through this, take note of it, because there’s a little bit of Pharisee in all of us, a little bit of Pharisee in all of us.  We kind of all struggle a little bit with recognition, when it comes, there’s a part of us that likes it, and there’s a part of us that tries to be Christian and says ‘I’m humble, pray for me.’  There’s part of us that are like that, ‘Oh, I know you, aren’t you so and so?  You’re a carpenter, you did a great job over there.’  ‘Yeah, that’s me, that’s me.’  I mean, there’s something in all of us, and there should be recognition for faithfulness and so forth, but there’s a little bit of Pharisee in all of us. Sometimes we find it much easier to point the finger at someone else, and we notice that our sins look much worse on somebody else than when we do them.  Now I’m saying that, because as we get to the end of Jesus chewing up the Pharisees and spitting them out, then he’s going to warn believers about the hypocrisy that they practice.  And we need to take note of that. 

 

The Pharisees and Scribes Are Like Poorly Marked Graves That Defile Those Who Walk Over Them

 

“Woe unto ye, Pharisees!  for you love the uppermost seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets.  Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  for ye are as graves which appear not, and the men that walk over them are not aware of them.” (verses 43-44)  And the idea is, then they’re considered unclean by stepping on defiled ground, and he says people are being defiled by you, and they’re unaware of it, because of your religious hypocrisy.  Now in the middle of that, it says one of the lawyers said unto him, “Then answered one of the lawyers, and said unto him, Master, thus saying thou reproachest us also.”  ‘In thus saying, you’re reproaching us also.’  He answers that question, big time, and be careful, there’s a little bit of a lawyer in each one of us also.  “And he [Jesus] said, Woe unto you also, ye lawyers!  for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers.” (verses 45-46)  Now these are not the kind of lawyers that we think of when we hear the word, these were the ‘doctors of the Law’, or the scribes, the ones who interpreted the meaning of the Law, and how they should live by it.  When it says lawyer it’s different than what we might think of.  These are the people who entered into a situation to decide what was right and what was wrong.  It’s interesting, Chuck Smith said that years ago, when he first got in the ministry, he kind of found himself playing the role of an arresting officer.  When something went wrong in the church, he said, like when there’s an accident on the highway, he said ‘The officer gets there and says, ‘OK, whose fault was it, who went through the red light, and who did this and who did that?’ just stepping into the scene to figure out whose fault it was.’  He said ‘That was my attitude when I was younger in the ministry,’ he said, ‘I would step in and just because I knew what was right and I knew what was wrong, and just decide whose right and whose wrong.’  And he said, ‘As the years have gone by, he says, I’ve become more like the paramedic.’  He said, ‘I show up now, I just want to save lives, I just want to salvage everybody that was in the accident.’  But the lawyers and the Pharisees, they were the arresting officers. At any scene, they were the ones that would just look and point the finger, and accuse and find the splinter in someone else’s eye.  And Jesus talked to them nicely about that too. 

 

They Made God’s Sabbath Command An Unmerciful Burden On People

 

‘Woe unto you lawyers, for you load men with burdens that are grievous to be borne,’ doctors of the Law telling people how they should live under the Law.  ‘And you yourselves touch not one of the burdens with one of your fingers.’  They had made up their own rules.  You know, the Law said certain things about the Sabbath day.  Now by the time Jesus came, they had certain traditions about the Sabbath. If you were a lady, and they would wear a particular kind of girdle, wasn’t like the girls we have today, they didn’t have our technology, but it was different.  But you could only tie it with a certain knot, there was a Sabbath knot in the Talmud you had to use on your girdle…if you were a lady, you weren’t allowed to look in the mirror on the Sabbath, because if you saw a white hair, you would be tempted to pull it out, and that would be harvesting.  On the Sabbath day, which began Friday night at sundown, if you cooked a meal before sundown Friday and then took it to your neighbors house down the street and put it there, that was on that particular Sabbath considered an extension of your home, and you could then walk all the way down to that person’s house, on the Sabbath, even though it wasn’t your house.  If you tied a rope from your house that went a certain distance, as long as that rope went was considered part of your house.  And then beyond that they had so many meters they felt you were allowed to travel on the Sabbath.  So what Jesus is saying is, you’re binding all of these crazy burdens on people, but you yourself with one of your fingers are not really dealing with the issues of the Law, you’re not really willing to lift any burdens of what this is all about, criticizing them. [There’s also a little bit of, or a lot of lawyer or doctor of the Law, scribe, in some Christian groups too.  The scribes, doctors of the Law, and yes, the Pharisees had taken God’s Law and made a legalistic, burdensome trip out of it, with their interpretation of just how it should be kept, and their judgment of others for non-compliance.  This is found to be true particularly with the Sabbath Command, the 4th Commandment, and some groups today still do that.  For a study on that, see http://www.unityinchrist.com/wwcofg/Has%20the%20Sabbath%20Been%20Abrogated.htm.  Be sure to read the second section in that piece, showing Jesus’ strong correction of the Pharisees’ unmerciful interpretations of God’s Sabbath Command, condemning their marching around like goose-stepping State Troopers at an accident scene where paramedics are more needed than they are.] 

 

‘You Have Taken Away the Key of Knowledge’---Jesus Then Gave That Key to the Apostles

 

“Woe unto you!  for ye build the sepulchres of the prophets, and your fathers killed them.  Truly ye bear witness that ye allow the deeds of your fathers:  for they indeed killed them, and ye build their sepulchres” (verse 48).  In other words, by the very fact that you’re building the sepulchres of the prophets, you’re admitting that the prophets were great men, because you’re honoring them, and yet it was your fathers who killed them.  “Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute:  that the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation;”---now notice this, it’s interesting---“from the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, which perished between the altar and the temple:  verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation” (verses 49-51).  Now you know the story of Cain and Abel, Jesus says he was a prophet.  Hebrews 11 says that, that the blood of Abel prophecied.  Now Abel was in Genesis, Zechariah was in 2nd Chronicles, which was the last book in their Hebrew Old Testament on their scrolls.  Now in Matthew 23 he says “in there now fill ye up the cup of your fathers”, and he makes it more clear why it will be required of that generation, because they themselves would kill the Messiah.  Their legacy was that Israel [Judah, Judea, the Jews] was antagonistic to the men of God that came, and Jesus said, the apostles came, and prophets, and holy men of old, that they killed them, and that now he himself was standing in their midst, and that they would themselves fill up the cup of all of that injustice that had been done from Abel to Zacharias, and that they were the ones themselves who would finally kill God’s Messenger, the Messiah that was standing before them.  “Woe unto you lawyers!  for ye have taken away the key of knowledge:  ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered” (verse 52).  The scribe in Jesus’ day wore a symbolic key on his sash, because those were the ones who interpreted the Law.  And they would decide in the Law what was obligatory and what was up to you, what was mandatory, and what was discretionary.  They would be the ones, and supposedly the key was the symbol of the fact as scribes and as lawyers, doctors of the Law, they could tell you, ‘No, you may not do this, the Word of God says this, but this is something that’s left up to you, you can decide.’ in that sense.  Now that is what Jesus talks about, when he talks about binding and loosing, things that were bound were mandatory, and things that were loosed were left up to your own discretion.  Jesus said he would give the keys of the Kingdom to his apostles, and whatever they loosed on earth would be loosed in heaven, and whatever they bound on earth would be bound in heaven. For example, in the sense that the New Testament says fornication is wrong.  That is a mandatory statute.  That is something that will not change.  Ah, going to the movies, is that wrong?  That is discretionary.  It’s left up to you, and I think if you have any spiritual inclination, you’ll know where you should be and where you shouldn’t be.  Because, some of them you might as well just drink poison if you’re gonna go.  But the idea is, some things are left up to us.  We can enjoy ourselves.  Can you sit home and play a game of poker, sure.  That’s up to you.  I don’t think you should have a gun under the table and be playin’ for 100-dollar bills, but, you know, you can enjoy yourself.  But drunkenness is mandatory, that’s something that’s bound, they [the apostles] had the keys to the Kingdom, that is wrong, it should not happen, has not changed.  [Actually most of these rulings for the Church were given in the written Epistles of the apostles.  The recorded rulings of the Pharisees and scribes, those who according to Jesus “sat on Moses seat,” are not valid rulings for the Church, Body of Christ. Read Matthew 16:19 and Matthew 18:18.  So whatever customs the Jews through the Pharisees and scribes said were in force, while they were “sitting on Moses seat” are no longer valid.  Jesus said this twice, about the “keys of the kingdom.”]  So, Jesus is saying to these men, ‘You know, you have the keys, supposedly, of knowledge, and you are not entering in yourselves into the kingdom, and you’re making it impossible for others to enter in.’  So he is pronouncing woe’s upon them.  [And these woe’s will be fulfilled in both 70AD and 133-135AD by the Roman Legions coming upon them and completely destroying Jerusalem and Judea as well.]  And nobody had ever talked to these guys like this before.  You can see them, ‘Nobody’s ever talked to us like that before! Ever said to us, You murderers, you fools, woe unto you!’  Nobody’s ever talked to these guys this way.  “And as he said these things unto them, the scribes and Pharisees began to urge him vehemently, and to provoke him to speak many things:  laying wait for him, and seeking to catch something out of his mouth, that they might accuse him” (verses 53-54).  The idea is, they began to assault him verbally, they’re trying to provoke him now, to provoke him to speak many things, ‘Yea, well what about this!  Oh yea!  Well what about that!?  Oh yea, Well what about this!?  Well woe unto you!’  You know, you can see what they’re up to.  That is the kind of atmosphere that’s being created now.  “Laying wait for him,” they don’t stand a chance, “and seeking to catch something out of his mouth, that they might accuse him.”  God, sitting in front of them, they’re waiting for him to make a mistake so they can accuse him.

 

Luke 12:1-21

 

Be Constantly Guarding Yourself Against Hypocrisy

 

Now, I like this, “In the mean time, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trode one upon another, he began to say unto his disciples first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.”  Now you got to get the scene.  Jesus just deals blow after blow after blow to these Pharisees.  He doesn’t like hypocrisy.  If you’re here this evening, and you’re thinking, ‘Ah, I don’t like church’, maybe you’re not saved, some friend talked you into coming to church, and you’re thinking ‘The reason I don’t go to church is because I don’t like hypocrites!’    Well, you’re in good company.  Because Jesus doesn’t like hypocrites either.  He does not like hypocrisy.  And he just took the time to rip these religious leaders up one side and down the other, because of their hypocrisy.  If you’re here this evening, and you don’t know Christ, and one of the things that maybe has kept you at a distance is you’ve seen religious leaders on television that no doubt have been living in a particular way that you can see clearly is hypocrisy for what they say they are and who they say they should be, and you think you’re discerning, pointing the finger.  Well you must understand, Jesus doesn’t like hypocrites either.  He feels the same way you do.  So now he moves on and says to the people that are there, his disciples, his learners, “Beware”, and it’s in the tense “constantly be being aware, constantly be guarding yourself against the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.”  Now, leaven was something, you know, that was put in bread to make it rise.  It would make it ferment.  It was like yeast.  And when you made a batch of bread, before you baked it you would take a piece of that bread and would save it for the next batch that you were going to make, and it would help that next batch of dough to rise.  And the idea is when you put a little bit of leaven in something, it permeates the whole.  So what Jesus is saying is, ‘Constantly be guarding yourself against hypocrisy, because when you put a little bit of it into your life, it permeates all of your life.’ 

 

What is Hypocrisy?

 

Now, hypocrisy is the hypokrides, the actor on the stage of life.  If you have been around the theater and you see those two masks, one with a smile and the other with a frown, the idea is the hypokrides was the actor on the stage of life, and he would put on a different mask for his part, to be something that he wasn’t in the natural.  You guys saw the movie The Mask, stupid wooden mask that the guy puts on his face, and boung! changes his whole life and all of a sudden he’s something he can never be when he’s just a dork [Jim Carey, The Mask].  I forget the, you know what I’m talking about, it was a big movie there for awhile [and Jim Carey is now a believer].  Green face, you know, the whole thing.  Well that’s it.  He’s warning about putting on a religious mask, and playing the part in front of people, and at the same time allowing something else to go on in your own life---and he says, that kind of religious hypocrisy is infectious, you can get infected with that.  And he’s speaking to his followers, and he’s speaking to us.  And I think, ‘I can get infected with that.’  We all have to watch out, we can get that virus, can take awhile to get over it.  “Constantly, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.” 

 

A Serious Warning to Hypocrites

 

Now here’s why, he says, “For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known.  Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops” (verses 2-3).  Jesus says there isn’t anything hidden, no hypocrite with the mask on his face has anything hidden before my eyes.  When David sinned, he said, ‘Lord, this sin I have sinned only in your sight, O Lord, I’ve done this great thing in your sight, you’ve seen the whole thing.  And against thee and only thee have I sinned.’  And what he’s saying is, we have to watch out that we don’t do the religious thing, you know, put the religious bumper-stickers on the car, with the religious music playing, and the religious jargon, and have another whole personality somewhere else that we let out when we’re not around Christians, and when we’re not around the church.  When all of a sudden here comes somebody from Calvary walking down the street, you get that green mask out, ‘How you doing?  Praise the Lord!  Hallelujah!’  In the meantime underneath you’re a carnal nerd.  Hey, if the shoe fits, wear it.  And Jesus says, because there isn’t anything that’s ultimately hidden, everything’s going to be brought out into the light.  You may fool everybody else, but you’re not fooling yourself and you’re not fooling God.  And it will all come into account one day.  Now he is not talking about revealing the forgiven sins of a believer.  That’s not what this is about.  Because the Bible says our sins are removed as far from us as the East is from the West, never to be remembered.  He is talking about people that play the religious role, and underneath they are not saved [i..e no indwelling Holy Spirit there], they are something else.  I was like that before I came to Christ, with me it was Eastern mysticism, here I am in the Eastern Mysticism movement, meantime I’m droppin’ acid, you know, if I was out there hooking up with some astroplane, why did I need LSD, and you know, eating Italian sausage?  I’m wearing two masks here, you know.  And you know people like that, they go to church, and then in the mean time during the week they’re cursing, and drinking, and then they go to church and get it all washed away again, and the next thing you know…He’s talking about people who play the religious game.  And it’s all going to be brought out.  And he says for us that we should watch out that we don’t get infected with that.  [The old joke, the one time Baptists don’t know each other is when they meet at the bar.]

 

“The Fear of Man Bringeth A Snare”

 

Now in verses 4 to 7 he uses the word “fear” five times.  Because he knows that fear plays on us.  The Book of Proverbs says “The fear of man bringeth a snare.”  And so many times we determine our behaviour by what people are going to think about us, what people are going to say about us.  Sometimes you’re even out with people that claim to be Christians, and all of a sudden they’re saying, ‘Oh come on, have a beer, you can have a beer’ and you’re going, ‘Oh, yea, I’ll have a beer’ and then because you’re afraid if you don’t they’re going to say ‘Hey, what’s wrong with you?  You’re holier than thou.’  And then they’re saying to you, ‘Hey, this is cool, isn’t this fun?’  And you’re going ‘Yea, oh yea.  This is cool.’  And inside you’re thinking ‘Oh, I shouldn’t be doing this.’  It says, look, hypocrisy, look out for fear, look out for the fear of man.  Look out for trying to live your life to please men, because everything’s going to come out in the open, all of it’s open before God.  You might as well live your life in his presence, and determine how you’re going to live because God is watching you, and not because men are watching you.  [Comment:  The Calvary Chapels, which started out as a spiritual-hospital type healing ministry to drug addicts and alcoholics, teach abstinence from alcohol.  Most, if not all their pastors understand that the Bible teaches extreme moderation concerning alcohol consumption, not abstinence.  They require everyone in a ministry position to not consume alcohol, because their ministry still reaches out very effectively to substance abusers of all kinds.  This does not apply to the rest of the Body of Christ.  But beware of what the Bible teaches, and that is extreme moderation for alcohol consumption.  Why?  One reason, and I discovered this the hard way, is that overconsumption and the building up of a large tolerance to alcohol leads directly to alcoholism.]  Because these men, one day, they’ll be crying “Hosanna, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.”  And a few days later, they’ll be crying, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”  Now that’s the way people are.  Look in verse 4, “And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.”  “My friends,” I like that, talking to us.  That’s easy for him to say, isn’t it?  ‘Hey, don’t be afraid of those guys, all they can do is kill ya, don’t be afraid of those kill-the-body people, you don’t have to be afraid of them.’  Because he says, “and after that” you see Jesus knows there’s an “after that”, they can’t do anything else.  Now, that seems self-explanatory, doesn’t it?  ‘After they kill you, they can’t do nothing else to you,’ Jesus is saying.  “But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear:  fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him” (verse 5).  Now look what Jesus is saying, he’s saying, Don’t be afraid of those who can just kill the body, and after that,---now that’s an important question for you this evening, if you don’t know Jesus.  Because he says there’s an “after that”.  And he says that the death of the body is not the thing that should really be feared.  He says the eternal death of the soul in hell is the thing that should be feared. Someone who kills your body, and the Church’s history is filled with martyrs, don’t worry about that.  I was talking with someone this morning, just got back from India, and he said, “While I was there a good friend of mine they carried him up at the  conference to speak, they had to bring him up on a litter because his skull was still fractured, he had been beaten almost to death for the third time.”  And he considers it the greatest honor of his life, is if he could be martyred for Jesus.  So they can’t stop this guy. 

 

We’re All Going To Die, Eventually

 

Jesus says, the death of the body, it’s inevitable, everybody’s body here is going to die, even if they freeze it.  What a ridiculous thing to find relief in.  Everybody’s body is going to die. You can drink carrot juice, and I do sometimes, yeah, I know.  [laughter]  Coca Cola tastes way better.  But once in a while I get convicted, and I feel like I need to take care of myself and I go through these phases and, you know, take antioxidant.  You take care of yourself, that’s wisdom, the Bible says it’s a temple of God, and you take care of yourself.  But ultimately, it’s worm-food.  I mean, ultimately you can only make it look good so long.  We have lots of help these days with false eye-lashes, false teeth, wooden legs, wooden arms and false hair, and new implants, and lypo-suction, and we get nipped and tucked, and they got you all stretched out, and we can really do a lot today, there’s no excuse to look bad.  But what he’s saying is, you’re not really lengthening anything here.  So don’t be afraid of those who can just kill the body, because there’s an “after that.”  Because why should you determine your life by those people, because in the afterlife there’s nothing they can do to you.

 

Whom We Should Really Fear

 

But there is someone who determines your afterlife.  Jesus says, fear him, speaking of his Father.  Because he has power, after he’s called life home, to send those who have not turned to him, and the word here is gehenna, to the place of eternal punishment, where the Bible says is outer darkness, where the flame is not quenched and the worm dieth not. [The greater Body of Christ has many differing interpretations concerning heaven and hell and the afterlife and when and how God will judge the “unsaved dead.”  To view some of those, see:  http://www.unityinchrist.com/plaintruth/battle.htm.]  Fear him.  Look at what Jesus is saying, determine your behavior, you know, for me, I live both in fear of God, and I love him.  And anybody whose had a good dad knows both those things.  My kids both fear me and love me.  They reverence me, they respect me, and they love me, both things need to be there.  And we need to be in awe of our God, and we need to determine our behavior because we care and we fear and we respect what he thinks, not what men think.  The problem with our nation today, is we have lost the fear of God, there is no fear of God.  It’s the problem with America today.  There is no fear of God.  And we’re determining our behaviour by some other thing.  Jesus says, sure cure for hypocrisy, live in God’s presence, instead of in the presence of men, instead of letting men determine what you should do.  And some people are so influenced by peer-pressure, by what people think.  Here he gives us some comfort and consolation in regards to this.  “Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?”  For nothing, smallest amount of money.  “But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Fear not therefore:  ye are of more value than many sparrows.”  (verses 7-8)  Now, see here’s the one, he’s giving you the other side.  Yes, God is the one who determines eternity for an individual, has the power to throw someone who rejects him into hell.  But he’s saying, ‘Your Father, who cares for the sparrows, knows you’re more valuable than they are.  Even the very hairs of your head are numbered’ he says.  The average human head has 140,000 hairs on it, to start, now I don’t know who counted them.  I read that, so I’m quoting someone else.  The average human head has 140,000 hairs on it, and it says here they’re all numbered, not ‘they’re counted.’  They’re numbered, he knows each one of them individually by number.  He knows when number 74 falls out.  He knows when number 3,245 falls out.  He’s the only one that really knows when you’re having a bad hair-day.  Even the very hairs of your head are numbered, now that is how intimately he is involved with your life.  Why should there be hypocrisy in our lives?  Why should we be putting on a mask on the stage of this present life, to impress men, when our Father who is in heaven has all authority, loves us to the point where he knows the very hairs on our head? 

 

Our Lives Should Be A Confession of Our Relationship With Jesus Christ

 

“Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man confess before the angels of God:”---Imagine that, getting to heaven, Jesus introducing you, ‘Guys, Tony, guys, Carol, Annette, just before the angels, he’s going to introduce you---“but he that denieth me before men shall be denied before the angels of God” (verses 8-9).  Now by the way, it’s not a one-time act, “he that confesses me before men”, it begins at a point in time, when we come to Christ.  But the language speaks of something enduring.  Our lives should be a confession of our relationship with Jesus, we should live that way.  That’s what he’s just saying.  Don’t live in hypocrisy.  That we should live acknowledging him.  And he says ‘If you live your life that way, he said I will also acknowledge you before the angels around the throne of God.  If you deny me before men, if you’re life is a denial of my Lordship and who I am, you shall be denied before the angels of God.’

 

Blaspheming the Holy Spirit

 

“Whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him:  but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven” (verse 10).  Now by the way, if you’re worried that you have blasphemed the Holy Spirit, you haven’t.  Because you couldn’t worry about him without him.  In the context that Jesus is speaking of, he’s speaking in the context of religious hypocrisy on the part of the Pharisees.  They were blaspheming the Spirit, and there’s another place and I believe it’s in Mark, where he says “You’ve come close to blaspheming the Holy Spirit.”  Because they were acknowledging that he was doing miracles,  but they were ascribing them to Satan.  They were looking at his life and hearing his words and seeing the authority, but they were jealous because all men were going after him [and the common folk were].  And in their hearts they had a conviction, ’This is all true, this is Jesus the Messiah.’  But they were denying him with their lives, like he says there “If you deny me before men…”  And in that they were blaspheming the Holy Spirit.  The blasphemy of the Spirit in the day of Jesus could manifest in a different way than it could today, because those leaders could actually point directly at him, which we can’t do today because he’s not physical, he’s invisible, they could actually point at him, and ascribe his works to the Devil, in denying the conviction that was in their heart, and in that way they blasphemed the Spirit in a way that you and I can’t today.  But human beings today blaspheme the Holy Spirit in the sense that Jesus says that when the Holy Spirit comes, ‘he’ll convict the world of sin, and of righteousness and of judgment.’  That every human being will have a conviction, an internal witness that they will not be able to deny. You can deny before men, you can argue with people, I remember before I came to Christ, I loved to argue with Christians, I loved to get them mad, I loved to bother them.  And one of the reasons I liked to do that is because if they short-circuited, I had a little more assurance that what they were saying wasn’t really true.  Because somehow inside I had that witness of God going on and I knew what they were saying was true.  But I was blaspheming the Spirit, I was denying the conviction of the Spirit.  Now ultimately the blasphemy of the Spirit is you die without accepting Jesus---that is the unpardonable sin.  That you go to the grave rejecting Christ.  If you do that, there is no more salvation.  You are doomed to eternity separated from God in hell. [This is a doctrinal interpretation of Calvary Chapel, not particularly representing all the Body of Christ.  If you are interested, see that previous link to view some other interpretations within the Body of Christ about heaven and hell.]  You do not go to hell because you sin, you go to hell because you deny Jesus Christ, because though you are a sinner this evening, all of that can be dealt with tonight by asking Christ to be your Saviour.  And the burden of that can all be removed from you, because he has already carried it 2,000 years ago on the cross.  You can make that trade this evening, asking him to be your Saviour, acknowledging you need forgiveness, seeing your sin on him, and receiving in its place the life that he wants to give to you.  If you have a conviction in your heart tonight, ‘This is true, but I’m not gonna respond, I don’t want anything to do with this.’  You are pushing away the best friend you have ever had, and that is God’s Spirit that is trying to work in your heart to draw you to eternal life, that you might be saved.   No one else cares that much about you. 

 

In an hour of trial, witness, the Holy Spirit will give you the words to speak

 

“And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto the magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say:  for the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say” (verses 11-12).  Don’t worry about that, whatever hot water you end up in he says, standing for Christ, ‘in that hour, the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what you ought to say.’  And I know there’s people in this room that have had that experience.  You know, being called on the carpet for Christ, or having to talk to somebody about Christ, or somebody finds out about your faith, and they want you to come in and talk to them.  Or there’s people I know that have come up to me, and have claimed this verse.  Tomorrow Lord, I’m just going to tell the truth, and I’m not going to worry about it, when I get there my heart’s going to be open, just going to tell the truth about you, you’re going to give me the words to say.’   And how many wonderful things we see, how the Lord does that. 

 

Second Warning of Jesus, About Covetousness

 

Now one of the company interrupts and says to him, “Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me.” (verse 13)  You know this problem.  Everybody talks about how close their family is, how close family is, and Mom while she’s still alive, ‘Oh my kids, oh my family.’  She doesn’t know when she dies, what you guys will do over the will.  ‘You took what!?  That was supposed to be my picture over the mantle, I don’t care what’s written in there…she was crazy when she wrote that, she was crazy and we’re going to go to court…she wasn’t saying she was mentally incompetent when she wrote that…’  We even see it amongst Christians, sad to say.  And we shouldn’t, but worldly people all the time, someone dies, and all of a sudden they’re like scavengers, they’re fighting over ‘This should have been mine, I can’t believe they got it.’  And you know, they don’t talk to their brother for the next twenty years.  And here’s one of them coming to Jesus, telling on his brother.  Now sometimes a rabbi would get involved in that culture in helping, most of the time they were there as vultures themselves, getting what they could for the Temple coffers.  ‘Tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.’  “And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?” (verse 14)  “Man,” that’s probably where that comes from.  [laughter]  “who made me a divider or a judge over you” is plural in the Greek.  So evidently both of them are there, or he’s speaking to all of them.  “And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness:  for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (verse 14).  “Take heed”, next warning.  The first warning was about hypocrisy.  The second warning is about covetousness. 

 

Constantly Be Guarding Your Heart Against Covetousness

 

And here it is again, the tenses, “Constantly guard yourself against covetousness, for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.”  The Greek word for “covetousness” literally means “to thirst for more, to thirst for more.”  And we can get in that frame of mind where we deceive ourselves…’If I only had this, if I only had one of these I’d be happy…If I finally get this paid off I’d be happy…Well if I had this I’d be happy…If I had that I’d be happy.’  And the problem is, if we start to take our satisfaction and translate it to the material realm, it was never satisfied there before we met Christ.  And somehow we get amnesia, and we forget, and we start thinking ‘If I only had this in place and I had this, I’d be happy.  Lord, if you give me this, I’ll give half to you, I’ll support missionaries if you give me this, Lord.’  And when we may strike deals with heaven, and say, ‘let’s make a deal,’ and we start to put our happiness there, then we find ourselves running on empty again, and then realize what gave us fulfillment was when we found Christ out of all that.  So he says ‘Constantly be guarding your heart against covetousness.’  It’s something that we can do without anybody else seeing.  You know if you constantly guard yourself against murder, I mean, that’s pretty obvious, somebody’s going to see what you’re doing.  Covetousness, we can sit around in church, we can sit around looking in the parking lot at somebody else’s car, we can do that and get away with it now, because nobody sees.  And the problem is, if we let if fester there, it takes root, and becomes a driving force in our life. 

 

Jesus’ Parable About The Covetous Man

 

So he’s warning again.  “And he spake this parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully.  And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?  And he said, This will I do:  I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.  And I will say to my soul, Soul,”---this guy’s in trouble---“thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry” (verses 16-19).  Now by the way, as we go through this, there are here six “I’s” and four “my’s”, this guy’s got an “I” problem, if you haven’t noticed.  He goes through this scene and says, let’s read it again, notice, “What shall I do, because I have no room were to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do:  I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and goods.  And I will say to my soul, Soul…”  This guy’s got a problem.  Thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.”  There’s great presumption here.  First of all, “I will say to my soul, Soul thou hast much goods.”  First of all, the soul does not possess any of that.  The soul is the eternal part of this man who is in error   His physical body will die, his soul will go on into eternity.  His soul doesn’t take any of this with it, doesn’t possess any of this. [what I think Pastor Joe means by soul is what the Bible terms “the spirit-in-man” or the “spirit-of-man.”  Biblically, the soul refers to the combination of flesh and this spirit component of man. Generally, the Body of Christ is divided on these interpretations. See http://www.unityinchrist.com/plaintruth/battle.htm]  And he says, “take thine ease for many years”, presumption. 

 

The Price of Covetousness

 

Because Jesus is going to say “But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee:  then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?  So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (verses 20-21).  I was landing yesterday in  Charlotte, South Carolina with Frank, we’re coming down, and the wind is blowing across the runway, and the plane’s going like this, I mean, I’m waiting for sparks to shoot off the wing.  We’re coming down and I’m thinking, ‘I should probably tell Frank, hey if I had it to do all over again, I would do it with you Frank, if this is the last thing we’re going to say to each other.’  Because you look at that wing dipping, and you think ‘Boy, do all this, and a gust of wind, it could be all over.’  This guy’s presuming.  ‘my soul has much goods, eat, drink and be merry.’  What a way to live.  ‘Take your ease for many years.’  “But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee:  then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?”  Now the Greek is strange.  It’s “this night do they require thy soul.”  And in another place he talks about tormentors.  Who are they?  “This night do they require thy soul:  then whose shall these things be, which thou hast provided?  So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”  Now the parable’s over.  “So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” 

 

‘A Man’s Life Does Not Consist of the Things Which He Possesses’

 

Again, the great exhortation, as you look at this present world, how we tend to get caught up in the things that are around us.  Now look, as an unbeliever, I remember the way that I was before I came to Christ.  And the hours that I spent in my mind wondering what I would do in my life, and what did I want to accomplish.  Did I want to make a million bucks by the time I was thirty, so I could retire, instead of retiring when I was sixty or seventy?  What was it that we were after, and what were we willing to do, were we willing to scheme against our friends, and were we willing to short-cut, and do things behind people’s back?  What was it that we set our sights on, and thought if I had this, if I have that, and you’re dating this girl, and you don’t want her to find out you’re dating that girl at the same time, and the two of them aren’t making you happy.  You know, and you’ve got all of these things going on, trying to fill the empty place inside of your life.  Let alone fighting with people over material things.  Jesus says, ‘A man’s life doesn’t consist of the things which he possesses.’  Think of Howard Hughes, wealthiest man in America.  A bigot, trying to control Washington, and doing it in some ways.  He develops a phobia of bacteria.  Starts living in a sterile environment.  Nobody’s let around him without rubber gloves, he won’t come out of the room, hasn’t cut his hair in a year, he’s dying in bed with his fingernails growing out this long, his hair and his beard grown out like this, he’s got needles broken off in his arm, dying a mad man.  A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things that he possesses.  And there are others, you look at their lives, and you look at what they have.  I’m always amazed again when I see one of our sports heroes, making millions of dollars a year, busted for cocaine, or fist-fighting and drunk in a bar.  I mean, if life consisted in the abundance of things that we possess, they would be fulfilled.  The problem is they have it all, and  yet they have nothing.  They’ve surrounded themselves with it, but they have nothing.  Because they’re still empty inside.  They’re still empty in their hearts. 

 

Conclusion

 

Jesus says to us who believe, he gives us these warnings, in regards to religious hypocrisy, beware of the leaven of that, don’t let it get into your system, be genuine.  Be children of God, walk in his presence, know that he watches over you, he counts the very hairs on your head, that he knows them all by number [wish he’d count a few more on me J ], that he cares for your lives, that in an hour of trouble and pressure he’ll give you the words to say.  And walk acknowledging Jesus before men, not denying him and blaspheming the Spirit.  And constantly beware of covetousness, another thing that will take our heart away from him, fighting with other believers about the physical, about the inheritance, about why should you have this.  And look, there are times when there needs to be a situation that’s brought to the Elders, and the Bible says that.  There are times when the church can step in and help decide something, when there is a genuine disagreement.  But for the sake of unselfishness, agape, never let it cause division between you and another believer, never let it cause division primarily between you and the Lord.  [Comment:  We should not let it even cause division between us and those in the world as well.  Remember Jacob kept digging wells until all those non-believers around him were satisfied.  He didn’t just dig one and say Mine! and defend it to the teeth with weapons.]  Never set your heart so much on some physical things that you would be willing to cheat on your income taxes, that you would be willing to lie to get it.  That you would be willing to step across the that line the Holy Spirit is drawing in your heart, saying, ‘Don’t step across this line.’  And yet, beware that you don’t put some value on some physical thing, and value it so highly that you’d be willing to step across that line to get that thing, whether it’s a relationship, and you’re willing to sin to get it, or whether it’s money and you’re willing to be dishonest to get gain.  Because none of that will go with you.  All that you lie or cheat or compromise your faith for, is left behind.  What will go with you is the lack of rewards as a believer.  What goes with the unbeliever who lives their life that way is emptiness, they step into darkness, outer darkness, taking none of that with them, not a single part of it, nothing, they step out empty and naked, without anything from this world.  I’d much rather be a simple Christian, living my life with assurance that Jesus loves me, numbering the number of hairs on my head, he knows them, knows when I lose one, knows they’re getting thin, cares enough about me that if I get in any jam for him, for his sake, he’s going to give me the very words to say, knowing that if this night my soul is required, God calls me, that because I haven’t denied him before men, I’m going to step into his presence and receive eternal rewards, living without fear of death or the grave, living with hope that goes beyond that to another world, that the Bible says becomes an anchor to our soul.  How wonderful.  I encourage you this evening, if you don’t know Christ personally, before we end I want the musicians to come, we want to give you an opportunity to turn to him.  Take heed of what you’ve heard him saying tonight.  If there is this tugging in your heart, if the Holy Spirit is working there, drawing you, don’t deny Christ.  He says if you’re willing to acknowledge me before men, I’ll acknowledge you before all the angels in heaven.  And we’ll give you a chance to do that this evening, as we end this service.  If you’re ready this evening to accept Christ as your Saviour, we want you to come and to stand here at the altar and let us pray with you, and give you a Bible.  And the rest of you, let’s stand together, let’s pray, I don’t want everybody running out, trying to get to their car first, I want you to pray, there’s eternity involved, you know, running out to get to your car, beware of covetousness.  There’s eternal things going on here, they’re more important, let’s settle our hearts, and let’s seek the Lord, and let’s pray, let’s pray for our own hearts, to beware of hypocrisy and covetousness.  And let’s pray for those of us here this evening, that have given themselves.  Maybe you’re here tonight and you don’t know Christ, and you can agree with some of this.  You don’t like hypocrisy either.  Well let me tell you were hypocrisy runs across your life tonight.  If you’re here tonight, and in your heart you know that Jesus is drawing you, and you refuse to respond to that, then you are the hypocrite.  You can come now…[transcript of a connective expository sermon given on Luke 11:37 through Luke 12:1-21, given by Pastor Joe Focht, Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia, 13500 Philmont Avenue, Philadelphia, PA  19116]

 

Related links:

 

Jesus’ strong correction of the scribe’s and Pharisees unmerciful interpretations of the Sabbath Command.  See:

http://www.unityinchrist.com/wwcofg/Has%20the%20Sabbath%20Been%20Abrogated.htm

 

Law & Grace, what is it?  See:

http://www.unityinchrist.com/whatisgrace/whatisgraceintro.htm

 

How Do I Become A Christian?  See:

http://www.unityinchrist.com/baptism/What%20is%20Baptism.htm

 

and,

http://www.unityinchrist.com/prophecies/2ndcoming_4.htm

and scroll to the bolded paragraph titled “How to Become a Christian” and read from there.