FROM THE PREACHER"S LENSES
|Tuesday, November 19, 2019|
n our world generally and specifically in our community, we have all kinds of characters. And so it was in the days of Jesus when He lived in the part of the world now known as Palestine and Israel.
Specifically there was a group of Jews who proclaimed that they had separated themselves from the crowd to strictly obey and enforce the Laws of Moses.
The Laws of Moses, otherwise known as 'Mosaic Laws' are found in the first five books of the Bible.
Moses otherwise known as Musa got the laws from God on Mount Sinai not too far from Egypt.
The Children of Jacob, otherwise known as Israel, grandson of Abraham had lived in Egypt for about 400 years.
These children of Jacob were guests of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt but after many years, a Pharaoh rose, who turned the Israelites to Slaves.
With time, God heard their cry of oppression and He decided He was going to deliver them.
So on their return to their ancestral land, God gave them rules to govern them to a 'Holy living' (Lev.19:1).
The Laws can be classified into three types; Moral, known as the ten commandments, secondly, Civil and thirdly Ceremonial.
One will naturally expect a sect of people who dedicate themselves to uphold the laws of God to be very kind to fellow human beings.
Unfortunately not the Pharisees!
Where showing kindness to fellow human beings contradicted their interpretation of the law, they jettisoned kindness for the law.
It is this kind of attitude I want us to examine today and for everyone to examine himself what kind of person he is; a mere religious person or a spiritual person?
So the topic of my sermon today is "The Spiritual Man and the Carnal Man in the Place of Worship" or "Recognizing the Christian and a mere Religious Person"
Meanwhile, let us commit this hour to the hands of God
The Spiritual Man and the Carnal Man in the House of Worship or "Recognizing the Christian and the mere Religious Person"
In the time of Jesus, as I said earlier there were the Pharisees, who said they had separated themselves from the crowd to strictly obey and enforce the Laws of Moses and they prided themselves in it.
They were self-appointed custodian of the Jewish Laws and Customs (Religion).
It is God who gave the laws to Moses to pass to the people to guide them to 'holy living'
So, one will expect that the Pharisees would be the real friends and disciples of Jesus.
But it was not so, rather they made Jesus their enemy and they were the ones and not the ordinary people in the synagogue that actually plotted and crucified Jesus (John 11:47-53).
Is this not a big surprise? Did they not separate themselves from other citizens to strictly obey the laws of God?
Did they not know that Jesus came from God?
Of course they knew. Nicodemus said it to Jesus (St. John 3:2).
Nicodemus was a Pharisee and if Nicodemus knew it, other Pharisees knew it that Jesus came from God.
Other Pharisees said same to Him at other times, that they knew He came from God eg in Matt.22:16.
But why will they make Jesus their enemy to the point of killing Him; a man, they recognized that He was from the throne of God?
They were so religious that they stood in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets to pray so that they may be seen of men (Matt.6:5).
They were so religious that they made special exaggerated phylacteries for themselves in obedience to the command in Num.15:37-40 "They
make broad, their phylacteries, and enlarged the borders of their garments" (Matt. 23:5). So, they had the laws at their reach any time
Jesus said of them in Matt. 23, "You would think these Jewish leaders and these Pharisees were Moses, the way they keep making up so many laws ----but they don't do what they tell you to do themselves. They load you with impossible demands, which they themselves don't even try to keep. Everything they do is for show. - - - - -"
(Extract, Matt 23:1-12).
Jesus called them hypocrites, snakes! Sons of vipers and He pronounced woe on them (Matt. 23 vs 25,33). They would protect "the law" to the neglect of mercy and human need.
For instance, one of the allegations leveled against Him (Christ), which led to His hanging was that He did healings on the Sabbath.
But these same religious leaders would on the Sabbath untie their cattle and lead them out for water (Lk. 13:10-16).
They would proceed at once on the Sabbath to get out their cow if it fell into a pit (Lk 14:1-6).
Can anyone see how callous, wicked and hypocritical, man can be, in the name of religion?
We read in Mk 3:5 that Jesus was deeply disturbed by their indifference to human need.
So, it is clear that religion cannot make anyone righteous or holy in order to merit heaven.
The fervency and zealousness, which anyone can exhibit of any religion, can only create in him at its best, hypocrisy, holier-than-thou attitude, and illusion of self- righteousness, arrogance and pride.
And this is why a set of people who had looted a Nation of its' wealth with pen, including those who had fed fat on the Nation's treasury, one way or the other, and those whose legitimate earnings in all their working years added together is not able to explain their acquired properties and life style, thereby subjecting the rest of the citizens into serious hardship and abject poverty, turning them wretched and miserable, making them a bunch of nuisance and beggars all over the world, will promulgate a law and preside as jury in mutilating the hand of a poor citizen for stealing a goat. And after they have
callously deformed the poor fellow, they still had the audacity to say: "It is the law by which the people want to be governed" People whose conscience is seared and dead, using religion as a cover for their callousness, cash in, on the illiteracy of the common man.
No one is saying that offences must go unpunished but who punishes the fat cheeks, flowing gown decree making murderers, who had committed the real atrocities of decimating the Nation by their irresponsible and numerous nefarious act of looting the Nation's treasury? Except for hypocrisy, they ought to lay the example by asking themselves to be put them on guillotine first before they order any one's hand to be cut.
It is this kind of hypocrisy and injustice in the name of religion that Jesus fought all His ministration days on earth and for which the Pharisees, who could not tolerate His preaching, murdered Him.
The Pharisees of Jesus time would criticize others for the specks in their eyes but will be unbothered with the beam in their own eyes (Matt 7:3-5). This is one of the evils which religion makes of anyone.
Consider the story of Lazarus who when he died,
"Many of the Jews went to comfort his sisters; Martha and Mary" (John 11:19). And when Jesus brought Lazarus back to life, anyone would think that it was going to be something of a big joy to the religious leaders, but instead, they were offended both at the Healer and the healed (John 11:46-50; 12:10) and they started in earnest, the plot to kill Jesus. They even made effort, to return Lazarus to the grave (John 12:10).
Yet, they had gone earlier to register their condolence and perhaps give a soul-renting eulogy at his interment.
This is a typical behaviour of a religionist who puts on the toga of holiness, whereas inwardly, he is full of thorns, thistles and bitterness.
Anyone should like to ask, what the offence was, in Jesus turning the sorrow of Martha and Mary to joy.
Though, the ordinary man would give a loud shout of 'Halleluyah' for Lazarus coming back to life but the religious leaders would not, because Jesus was taking from them the respect they have hither to enjoyed from the people. Jesus had become more popular and influential above and over them (John 11:48; 12:11).
Their ego was being eroded and insulted by Someone, who was uneducated in their law; Someone, who hasn't been to their Bible College / Seminary; Someone, who was not highly as educated like them; Someone, who hasn't come from a family of Priests or a noble one. Moreover, Someone, born by two commoners.
And for those reasons, He (Jesus) deserved nothing but death.
Yet these religious leaders kept all the feasts.
Yet they slaughtered the necessary sheep and goats at both the morning and evening sacrifices.
Yet they burned all the incense and candles on daily basis.
Yet they kept all the laws of the Sabbath and of the new moon?
Yet they offered all the sacrifices for their sins, whether those committed intentionally or ignorantly!
Yet they observed the fastings and obeyed the ordinance of tithing to the last mint leaf in their garden? (Matt 23:23).
Of course they did, but the truth is that however appealing and wise any religion can be, whatever effort anyone makes, to force it down the throat of any person or nation, it can never conquer the evil thoughts and desire in any person (Col 2:16-23), nor achieve holiness in anyone because it is weak through the flesh. Paul puts it in other words;
And this is why no one, however zealous of any religion, can ever please God (Rom. 8:7-8).
Only those who have confessed Jesus as Lord and Saviour and in whom the Holy Spirit lives are qualified and allowed to please God.
Those High priests and Pharisees did not understand that Christ gives to those who trust in Him, everything they are trying to get by keeping the laws" (Rom 10:1-4).
The religious person will only find himself constantly persecuting the Holy Spirit controlled person in the Church (Gal 3:21-31).
Paul wrote: "But as then, he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the spirit, even so it is now" (vs 29).
As it was in Paul's time, even so it is now, when he, who is in the flesh
(1) will do everything to suppress the spirit filled person in the Church.
(2). The carnal man wants himself only to be heard and always seek to be noticed.
(3). The carnal man is intolerant and hates to be corrected.
(4). The carnal man thinks highly of himself and sees himself as a great fellow.
(5). The carnal man rates and esteems himself above all others. Phil 2:3, which enjoins "each, to esteem others better" is not in his Bible.
(6). The carnal man loves being praised and hailed. Everything he does is for vain glory and praise of men and when what he does goes unnoticed, i.e. when the praise doesn't come again, he takes offence and withdraws his services or even exits the Church totally.
(7). The carnal man closes his eyes to the striking qualities in others and he is never impressed with what others do, but will spite and despise it.
(8). The carnal man is uncomfortable, unhappy and envious when another person exhibits sterling qualities higher than his. Rather than commend him, he looks for faults in order to discredit him. If however he takes courage to commend, he does it on the lips and if he is in the position to do, he will do everything to suppress the one with higher qualities from being heard. He will keep him behind important scenes.
(9). The carnal man's attitude is not different from the Pharisee who as he prayed, prided himself with the labour of his hands: who boasted of not being any extortioner nor adulterer nor unjust, but fasts and pays tithes (Lk. 18:12).
(10). The carnal man is quick to condemn and thereby unable to help anyone who falls because he has presumed he cannot fall in his own case.
(11). The carnal man always has the false impression that when he is absent, the fellowship / church or workplace will collapse.
(12). The carnal man exaggerates and he is boastful, always talking about himself and his family.
(13). The carnal man cannot submit himself to the leadership of others i.e. cannot work under anybody and when he has no choice but to work under someone, he is always looking for the faults of that leader.
(14). When others do something, the carnal man is of the opinion that he can do that same thing better. He considers whatever he does superior to others.
My friends, it is my earnest prayer that you will grasp the message, recognize your position and receive Christ into your heart.
Receiving Christ is different from receiving a religion.
Receiving Christ is having the blessing of having your sins forgiven and getting saved, with your name entered into the Book of Life and doing things with the lead of the Holy Spirit, different from how other people do them.
Doing this is the only ideal thing for you.
I have been preaching on "The Spiritual Man and the Carnal Man; Recognizing the Christian and the mere Religious Person"
The collapse of the economy and infrastructures of our nation today can be blamed on the situation where the population of the mere religious people by far, outnumber the population of the spiritual people in spite of the uncountable numbers of Churches and Mosques. The Pharisees in our midst by far outnumber the disciples of Jesus.
Let us pray.