Wednesday, May 29, 2013

One of the Most Dangerous Enemy of the Church

Temple Baptist Church - 5-29-2013
Colossians 2:17-19
A. Paul is writing to a church he did not start and to a people he had never personally met because of his love for both!
B. Last week we dealt with verse 15 where we found that the Lord “spoiled” or divested the powers of Satan in both principalities and powers. These are enemies found without the local church but, through the medium of men; too often find their way into the local church. I call this the “enemy from within.”
C. Though Satan is a formidable foe who attacks the church constantly from without, the most dangerous enemy of all can be sitting on the church pew! The bible has much to say about the “grievous wolves,” false prophets, and teachers that would permeate “Christendom” in the last days. We are there and they are here!
D. The enemies of the local church are many but I want to deal with two of them tonight. 1) Ignorance Concerning Liberty 2) The Rise Of Phariseeism. In verse 17, we find two things: the rise of Phariseeism which brings about an encroachment upon our liberty. Government in any form was never meant to limit or encroach upon the personal liberties of its people and this includes the local church. The local church has certain purposes which are in general corporate. I am going to spend a little time on these things because of their importance to the welfare of the individual believer; their importance to the welfare of the local church; and their importance to the welfare of this lost world in which we live.
1. Ignorance Concerning Liberty – Many do not understand our liberty which we have in salvation.
a. As God’s children, we are free indeed! John 8:36 “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” The word “indeed” carries with it the understanding of certainly, clean, verily, and of a truth. One of the greatest attacks upon the believer today is the attack against our liberty which we have in Christ.
** Turn to Luke 4:14-21 And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about. (15) And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all. (16) And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. (17) And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, (18) The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, (19) To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. (20) And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. (21) And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.
2 Corinthians 3:17 Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
Galatians 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
1) We have not been set free, we have been made free through the FINISHED work of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2) Jesus Christ was not a “victim” at Calvary; He was the “Victor!” He was victorious in death, over death, and after death.
b. What liberty is:
1) Freedom from the condemnation of the Law. Romans 8:1-2 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (2) For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
2) Freedom from the penalty of sin. Colossians 2:13-14 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; (14) Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;
3) Freedom from the bondage of sin. Romans 6:12-14 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. (13) Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. (14) For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.
4) Freedom from the fear of death. Hebrews 2:15 And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
c. Though at liberty, our liberty has certain scriptural bounds:
1) Christ is the end of the law for righteousness - Romans 10:4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. (Through Christ, we are free from the law of condemnation—which was our schoolmaster that brought us to Christ. We are also free from the Ceremonial Law of the Old Testament.)
2) Our salvation establishes the law - Romans 3:31 Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law. (I love the song “O Beautiful for Spacious Skies” and want to quote a part of the second verse: “Confirm thy soul in self-control, Thy liberty in law!” Liberty must be within law, not outside of law!
a) We are subject to the laws of God and man - 1 Corinthians 9:20-21 And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; (21) To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. (We are not free from the Moral Law or the Civil Law which regulate our relationship with men and society. We are not under the Covenant of the Law but are under obligation to good morals and citizenship through obedience to both Scripture and government.)
b) We are subject to the law of Christ - Galatians 6:2 Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
John 13:34-35 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. (35) By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. (The Law of Christ is the Law of Love! Our behavior is to be regulated by our love for Christ, love for each other, love for the church, and love for sinners. Obeying the Law of Christ will not hurt any of the four.)
d. What liberty is not.
1) Liberty in Christ is NEVER license to sin! Romans 6:1-2 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
1 Peter 2:16 As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.
2) Liberty in Christ is ALWAYS liberty to serve! 1 Corinthians 9:19 For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.
1 Corinthians 10:23 All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.
e. Understanding liberty’s limitations.
1) Our Liberty Should Never Make Void Plain Scripture. Many things are clearly set forth in the Bible. The Word of God either condemns them or commands them. These are not matters of preference but conviction. Often we call our preferences convictions or call convictions preferences, according to what we want or intend to do with them. If the Bible either condemns or commands, there is no liberty to go contrary to it.
Romans 3:31 Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.
2) Our Liberty Should Never Be Exercised Contrary To The Clear Leading Of The Holy Ghost – God has given to us His precious Spirit to lead us into God’s will for our lives.
John 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
3) Our Liberty Should Never Become A Stumbling Block To A Weaker Brother.
Romans 14:13-15 Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way. 14 I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean. 15 But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died.
4) Our Liberty Should Never Be Purposefully Offensive To Another Believer. Notice that I used the word purposefully. We often “offend” others without knowing it. I am speaking of knowing that something will offend another and willfully doing it anyway.
1 Corinthians 8:13 Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.
5) Our Liberty Should Never Become A Stumbling Block To The Lost. Many times the lost know or think that they know more about how Christians should behave themselves than we do!
Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
2. The Rise of Phariseeism.
a. Sin can manifest itself in a myriad of ways within the local church. When we think of sinfulness within the body of Christ, we normally think about such sins as adultery, fornication, drunkenness, drug abuse, etc. These sins are certainly “No-no’s” in the church, but one of the most prevalent sins of the believer is often either over looked or justified.
b. The sin of Phariseeism! Phariseeism is an area of sin that remains problematic in our fundamental churches. Phariseeism! You will not find that word in your dictionary because it is one that is used predominantly within fundamental churches. Liberal churches have little or no problem with it because there is no strict adherence to the Scripture and every one does that which is “right in his own eyes.” Though it does show occasionally in other churches, Phariseeism—as a general rule—is a fundamentalism problem!
c. Knowledge without compassion is a dangerous thing! With great knowledge come great responsibility and that responsibility encompasses our relationship with not only the world but with each other. In the “400 Silent Years” between Malachi and Matthew, the Pharisees—along with the Sadducees—came into existence. The Sadducees upheld the ritual laws while the Pharisees upheld the spoken law.
d. The only times that I find our Lord angered was with two crowds: those who made merchandise of the things of God (there is a lot of that going around in these last days) and those of the Pharisees!
1) Phariseeism is a wrong spirit - Luke 9:54-56 And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? (55) But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. (56) For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them. And they went to another village. (Yes, I do understand what the Lord is speaking of in these verses but the spirit of the Pharisee is the same: it does nothing to exhort or edify; it is meant to look down upon and force compliance.)
2) Our Lord never got angry at or tired of sinners (the disciples included). He was long suffering and gentle with them. After the same manner, He admonishes the pastor to be long suffering and gentle with the Lord’s heritage.
2 Timothy 2:24-26 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, (25) In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; (26) And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.
3) The Woes of the Pharisees – Matthew 23:13-29
e. A few years back, I preached on “The Eye of the Pharisee.” The Bible rejects the judgment of others while teaching self-judgment! The Pharisee is characterized by his unscriptural judgment of others – 1 Corinthians 11:31 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.
f. I can preach on not judging one another until I am blue in the face and the problem continues to persist in certain “circles” because the Pharisee can only see through the “eye of the Pharisee!” God’s children need to judge themselves and leave the judging of others to the perfect Judge. Even if judging one another was the will of God, the Pharisee’s judgment is tainted because:
1) Phariseeism judges the believer’s Maturity – Not every child of God has the same level of knowledge concerning right and wrong. You cannot hold a babe in Christ to the same standard of one who has been saved for 50 years. 1 Peter 2:2-3 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: (3) If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.
2) Phariseeism judges the believer’s Motive – We may see outwardly what is done but only God can look at the heart and see why it was done. 1 Samuel 16:7 But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart. (Things are not always as they seem. I once placed as Runner Up in the Earlington, KY tennis tournament. My picture was in the local newspaper as “next to the best.” I am glad they asked for no details because my first opponent (who was much better than me) got sick and could not play. Since it was a small town with few in the boy’s bracket, I was placed in the championship game without serving the ball. In the championship game, I was beaten in “love games” and “love sets!” I never scored one point! You cannot judge the motives of one’s heart.)
3) Phariseeism judges “Motes” in the eyes of others instead of “Beams” in the eyes of self! When we have something in our eye, it blurs everything around us. Our sinfulness gives us a wrong perception of the sins of others. Matthew 7:3-5 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? (4) Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? (5) Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.
g. Our Lord condemned Phariseeism because of:
1) The hypocrisy of their hearts - Matthew 23:25-28 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. (26) Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. (27) Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. (28) Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
2) The partiality of their judgment - Matthew 23:4 For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.
3) The blindness of their spiritual eyes - John 9:39 -41 And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind. 40 And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also? 41 Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.
h. Now, I said all of that to say this: “Leave the judging to God!” Why? Leae judging to God because it is both unscriptural and dangerous to the welfare of both the individual believer and the body of the church corporately.
1) Phariseeism Violates The Fellowship Of Believers – vs. 3-4 – When believers stand argue their “convictions” and “preferences,” it is just that: an argument! What I stand for is between the Lord and me! What you stand for is between the Lord and you! When what we stand for becomes an issue between you and me, it divides the fellowship of the church. Despise - to look down on with contempt or aversion.
2) Phariseeism Withstands The Man Of God - Acts 15:1-2, 5 And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, [and said], Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. 2 When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question… 5 But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses. (The enemy of Christ was the Pharisee! Even God’s man cannot withstand the scrutiny of the “letter of the law,” as can no one else. They will hold him to a holy standard that no man can attain to or they will hold him to “their” standard that even cannot live up to. Pharisees are not “followers,” they are “leaders.” They must have “followers” in order to lead! Pharisees are not “students,” they are “teachers.” They must have “students” in order to teach! Pharisees are not “edifiers,” they are “destroyers!”)
3) Phariseeism Is Detrimental To Evangelism - Matthew 23:13 But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in [yourselves], neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. (The Lord called the Pharisees “hypocrites.” Have you ever heard the lost say that they would not come to church and sit on the pews with all of those hypocrites? Most of the time, their claims are unjust but, on occasion, they are right! The lost hear what the Pharisee says and then see how the Pharisee both acts and reacts! How many times have I heard of people who have said, “I will never come to your church as long as “so-in-so” is there!” Or, “If he (or she) is a Christian, I do not want to be one!” Or, “If they are going to Heaven, I do not want to go there!” Or, “If that is the way their God is, then I do not want their God!”)
4) Phariseeism Drives Away The New Families And New Believers – Matthew 23:15 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves. (Pharisees automatically “migrate” to new “blood.” They are proselyters! Grace teaches the new converts while Phariseeism chastises them! It is not that they do not want to get right with God. God is merciful, compassionate, longsuffering, and gentle with the new believer. They leave because they cannot live up to the standards and expectations of the Pharisee. I am still glad that, when I was newly saved, people let God work in my heart as I heard the Word of God preached. God “grew” me at His pace and His way was perfect!)
2 Corinthians 3:6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.
5) Phariseeism Eventually Destroys the Pharisee! - Luke 11:52 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. (A key is made to unlock a door. Grace is the key that unlocks the door to the believer. Grace brings both love and liberty to the believer and is the key to holy living.)
Luke 6:39 And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?
Conclusion: Beware of becoming pharisaical! All of us have that potential! Pharisees not only destroy those around them, but eventually destroy themselves because—even they cannot live up to the letter of the law! We want to have a good, separated church. We want to have a loving, kind church. I believe that God can reconcile these two positions. The key to holy living is not standards set but seeing God’s people fall in love with Him!
Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men. (I am so glad that I was saved by GRACE! I am so glad that I have been taught by GRACE! I am so glad that I am kept by GRACE! I am so glad that I am judged by GRACE!)

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