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Sin in a Three-Piece Suit
Matthew 23
Skip Heitzig

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Matthew 23 (NKJV™)
1 Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples,
2 saying: "The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat.
3 "Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do.
4 "For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.
5 "But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments.
6 "They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues,
7 "greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, 'Rabbi, Rabbi.'
8 "But you, do not be called 'Rabbi'; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren.
9 "Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.
10 "And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ.
11 "But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant.
12 "And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
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.
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.
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.
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.'
17 "Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that sanctifies the gold?
18 "And, 'Whoever swears by the altar, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gift that is on it, he is obliged to perform it.'
19 "Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that sanctifies the gift?
20 "Therefore he who swears by the altar, swears by it and by all things on it.
21 "He who swears by the temple, swears by it and by Him who dwells in it.
22 "And he who swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by Him who sits on it.
23 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, 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!
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.
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.
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,
35 "that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.
36 "Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.
37 "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!
38 "See! Your house is left to you desolate;
39 "for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!'"

New King James Version®, Copyright © 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved.

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White Collar Sins

Someone remarked that our sense of sin is in proportion to our nearness to God. We’re usually good at being aware of blatant wickedness, but what about less obvious infractions? Are we willing to point fingers at others for flagrant iniquity while coddling our own vices? The truth is that many are too Christian to enjoy sinning while being too fond of sinning to enjoy Christianity. My purpose in this series isn’t to condemn anyone. I hope to stimulate a heart for holiness for a fulfilled life and happy relationships. To start off this series, consider five characteristics of sin.

We say we want to be holy, yet we tolerate sin on a daily basis, comfortable with its permeating presence in our homes, our relationships—our very lives. And while we view murder, lust, and lying as unbearably wicked, we trivialize gossip, gluttony, and envy. In the series White Collar Sins: Death in Its Sunday Best, Pastor Skip Heitzig challenges us to view all sin as destructive and recognize its painful consequences.

Outline

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  1. Sin Is Detectable (vv. 1-3)

  2. Sin Is Dangerous (v. 23a)

  3. Sin Is Diverse (v. 23-26)

  4. Sin Is Deceptive (v. 27)

  5. Sin Is Dismissible (v. 37)

Study Guide

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Connect Recap Notes: January 14, 2018
Speaker: Skip Heitzig
Teaching: "Sin in a Three-Piece Suit"
Text: Matthew 23

Path

Someone remarked that our sense of sin is in proportion to our nearness to God.We're usually good at being aware of blatant wickedness, but what about less obvious infractions? Are we willing to point fingers at others for flagrant iniquity while coddling our own vices? The truth is that many are too Christian to enjoy sinning while being too fond of sinning to enjoy Christianity. In this series called White Collar Sins, Pastor Skip hopes to stimulate a heart for holiness for a fulfilled life and happy relationships. To start off this series, Pastor Skip considered five characteristics of sin:
  1. Sin Is Detectable (vv. 1-3)
  2. Sin Is Dangerous (v. 23a)
  3. Sin Is Diverse (v. 23-26)
  4. Sin Is Deceptive (v. 27)
  5. Sin Is Dismissible (v. 37)
Points

Sin Is Detectable
  • Masks were part of ancient Greek theater, and the term hypocrite described the two-faced actors. Later it began to be used for someone who pretends to be something they are not.
  • The phrase white-collar crime was coined by criminologist Edwin Sutherland. It referenced someone who committed a nonviolent crime for financial gain.
  • White collar sin isn't what we think of as typical, obvious sin; it often wears a mask of decency, even religiousness.
  • Hamartiology is the study of sin. We study sin because before we can understand salvation, we must understand how much we need it. Hamartiology explains the problem and points to the solution.
  • In Matthew 23, Jesus confronted the religious elite, showing them the harm of their hypocrisy.
  • Sin is detectable to a holy God; the word harmatia means to miss the mark. Sin is "any failure to conform to the moral law of God in act, attitude, or nature."1
  • The word sin is used 446 times in the Bible; sins is used 187 times.
  • Today, sin has been explained away by psychology and sociology. Many religions disregard it as relative or illusory.
  • Probe: Because God knows everything, He knows every sin. But how can other people detect sin (actions, words, etc.)?
Sin Is Dangerous
  • Jesus used the word woe eight times in Matthew 23 as an exclamation of grief to cry out against the Pharisees and scribes.
  • Sin is so bad that it brings judgment and separation from God. God's entire activity on earth centers on curing the sin problem.
  • Sadly, some recognize sin in others, but fail to recognize it in themselves.
  • Probe: Discuss this Martin Luther quote: "The recognition of sin is the beginning of salvation." Why is this true?
Sin Is Diverse
  • In the Old Testament, some were so concerned with the details of giving, they forgot the big things—mercy, justice, and faith. In their legalism, they neglected what God desired for their lives. Sin is more than just actions; it is also attitude.
  • There are two major types of sins:
    • Sins of commission: doing something we shouldn't
    • Sins of omission: not doing something we should (see James 4:17)
  • Some sins are obvious, and some are not so obvious. Some are open and flagrant, and others are hidden and appear respectable.
  • The less obvious are white-collar sins: gossip, selfishness, bitterness, anger, gluttony, prayerlessness, and envy.
  • Probe: Discuss the two types of sins and the different sins that fall within each group. Why are both types considered sin—missing the mark?
Sin Is Deceptive
  • Many religious people are skillful at making appearances of right living: they're clean on the outside, but dirty on the inside (see v. 5), ensuring their works are seen by men.
  • The greatest blasphemy isn't a person who doesn't know, walk with, or love God, but one who pretends to know, walk, and love God—but doesn't.
  • This is why we need to "seek first the kingdom of God" (Matthew 6:33).
  • Probe: Charles Spurgeon said, "If you're not seeking the Lord, the Devil is seeking you." Why is it important to seek the Lord with your whole person (heart, mind, soul, and strength), and not just one part of you? Will sin permit a half-hearted approach to God?
Sin Is Dismissible
  • As Jesus closed His last public sermon, He lamented His people's refusal to receive the cure for sin. He used tender language—"as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings" (v. 37)—showing His desire to forgive, heal, and dismiss sin.
  • Sin is the problem, and Christ is the cure. Jesus came to forgive sin and demonstrate God's love (see Matthew 1; Luke 19).
  • In verse 37, we see the greatest opportunity and the greatest tragedy:
    • Opportunity: "I wanted to gather your children together."
    • Tragedy: "But you were not willing" (the worst sin of omission).
  • There's only one thing improved by breaking: the heart of a sinner. Jesus will improve your life for all eternity.
  • Probe: Discuss Psalm 51:17: "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit." Why does God desire a broken spirit? How does God restore your spirit? Jesus is willing and able to take care of your sin. Are you willing to let Him?
Practice

Connect Up: Only a holy being can have complete fellowship with a perfectly holy God.  How does Christ's righteousness make us holy, allowing us to come boldly before God's throne (see Hebrews 4:16)? Discuss this statement: Jesus' righteousness is imputed to us (He saves us—see 2 Corinthians 5:21), and by the Spirit we are sanctified (continually made holy over time).

Connect In: In church, it's easy to wear a mask and be a hypocrite. How can we guard ourselves from being like the religious elite in Matthew 23? Chip Ingram suggested three ways:2 begin within (look at yourself), start with your own heart (your attitude), and weigh the consequences (your actions). How do you deal with hypocrisy in your heart?

Connect Out: How would you answer a nonbeliever who says, "The church is full of hypocrites. I've never found a Christian I can trust"?

1Wayne A. Grudem, Bible Doctrine: Essential Teachings of the Christian Faith, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Zondervan, 1999, p. 210.
2Living on the Edge, "How to Overcome Hypocrisy in Your Heart, Part 1," https://livingontheedge.org/broadcast/how-to-overcome-hypocrisy-in-your-heart-part-1/daily-radio#.WlqpOIUfHFY, accessed 1/14/18.

Additional Messages in this Series

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Date Title   Watch Listen Notes Share Save Buy
1/21/2018
completed
resume  
The Lazy Life of the Couch Potato
Proverbs 6:6-11;Romans 12:11
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
The first in our list of White Collar Sins will be laziness—showing a lack of effort or energy, the unwillingness to act or, in some cases, even care. Though many would smirk at this as being petty or trivial (after all there are much worse things in the world), the Bible itself addresses it as being substantial since many other lives can be affected by it. Laziness grows on people; it begins in cobwebs and ends in chains.
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