Word from the WORD
Eight Woes For Today
- Last Updated on Tuesday, 13 March 2012 18:28
- Published on Thursday, 04 August 2011 11:18
- Written by Jonathan
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Jesus cried out eight woes or deadly errors against the Pharisees and Scribes of His day. Is the church at large making the same errors? Are Christians in their personal lives making any of the same mistakes? The first woe is as follows.
13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.
In this passage we see that the teachers or shepherds were not entering therefore it is only logical that the students are not going to enter either unless they take a different path. The same truth applies today. There is only one path to heaven by way of Jesus. There is only one gospel; one faith, one baptism, one body of Christ, one Lord, one Spirit, and one God (Ephesians 4:4-6).
The Pharisees and scribes were teaching Israel how to enter the kingdom of heaven but their way was not the way so those who came seeking the way to enter were led astray and were not entering. The only way to enter is to believe in Christ Jesus which means repent of your sins and die to self, no longer trusting in your self but rather depending upon or trusting Jesus for eternal life; following His commands and living a new life of discipleship.
What are people taught today regarding how to enter the kingdom of heaven? What do they believe they have to do? What were you lead to believe you must do to have eternal life? I have found the answers to these questions have been varied and revealing. Answers I have received include going to church/mass a required minimum number of times per year. Confession of sin to another person. Doing penance for confessed sins. Becoming a “member” of the “their” denomination. Being water “baptized” as an infant. Having someone pray you into heaven after you die. Simply saying a one time prayer. Intellectually believing Jesus really did live and die as the bible says. Being a “good” person.
None of these actions alone will save anyone. Those that teach they will are like the Pharisees of old; they will not enter and shut up the kingdom of heaven against men who are trying to enter in. The second woe is as follows.
14 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation.
In this verse we see a warning against taking advantage of people for financial gain or to promote one self or one’s own work, ministry, position, etc. for recognition and selfish advancement. Today some Christians are exploiting people for gain and some ministries are exploiting members or supporters. These receive the greater condemnation. There must be no selfish ambition (Philippians 1:15-16). The third woe deals with evangelism.
15 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.
This of course is not intended to discourage missions work or is in anyway against proper evangelism. But it should set fear in the hearts of all of us, especially those called to the ministry of evangelist, to make each convert a transformed individual; transformed into the image of Christ and not into the image of man’s teachings or traditions.
A religion or religious system that does not allow and even encourage the transformation of people into the image of Christ is without real truth and substance (the truth and substance is Christ) and leads to lost souls. Some denominational practices and ministries are such religious systems that think they are being used to save lost souls but are deceived and only deceive others into thinking they have been transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God’s beloved Son. Some teach that one must become a member of their denomination or organization in order to be saved. They teach new converts to follow their traditions and religious practices some of which are blatant sin and known abominations by the word of the Lord. The fourth woe speaks about keeping vows.
16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple, he is obliged to perform it.’
No one is obligated to make a vow or take an oath. In fact scripture discourages vows. Here Jesus condemns those who break vows. If a vow or oath is made it must be fulfilled and without unmerited delay.
Unreliability and unfulfilled commitments can kill most anything; especially from those in places of authority or leadership. The fifth woe deals with priorities.
23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. 24 Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!
Misplaced priorities are a serious matter. The greatest commandments are love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind and love your neighbor as yourself. We ought to follow even the least of the commandments but never place greater emphasis on the least over the greatest or practice the lesser and forget the greater. If we forget or neglect the greatest commandments then we are lost. If we follow them then we fulfill the whole law (Galatians 5:14). The sixth woe points to the heart.
25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.
Again Jesus warns against selfish gain. The Church must be careful to never use force of any kind even intimidation and manipulation to get gain; that would amount to extortion especially if it was for self promotion. In our personal lives we must be careful not to manipulate for gain or comfort. The seventh woe is as follows.
27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
Cleaning the outside (outward appearance) and neglecting the inside or ones heart is a deadly mistake. But it is one people do too often. Many people reason in their hearts “I’m a pretty good person compared to others” so I should go to heaven. If one thinks he is truly good because he appears good or better than most outwardly, he is truly deceived and on the road to hell.
Some in the church talk the talk and maybe even walk the walk for a time or so it appears but then the dirt shows again on the outside but I tell you the sin landed in their minds, took root on the inside first and later produced fruit. Either the inside was never cleaned or it was allowed to get dirty again. Repent often. Walk by the Spirit. In the eight and final woe Jesus warns of refusal to accept His prophets and wise men.
29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, 30 and say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.’
31 “Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt. 33 Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? 34 Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city,…
The scribes and Pharisees killed the messengers (Apostles and prophets) Jesus sent to them after His ascension and refused to listen to those who brought truth and warnings. Are some religious organizations and denominations refusing to listen to the modern prophets, apostles and teachers who warn of their lukewarm state; or their false doctrine; or their errant teachings, or the sin they condone amongst themselves today?
The eight woes spoken against the scribes and Pharisees of 2,000 years ago are applicable today and should be taken seriously by the church at large for correction and direction. Jesus said He chastens those He loves.
John 12:48 He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.
Let us consider the eight woes and let Jesus, out of His great love, correct us today if and as needed.