Hello, and welcome to this message from Skip Heitzig of Calvary Church. We pray this message strengthens your relationship with the Lord. If it does, let us know. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you'd like to support this ministry financially, you can give online securely at calvaryabq.org/give.
Someone once said that our sense of sin is in proportion to our nearness to God. The truth is that many are too Christian to enjoy sinning while being too fond of sinning to enjoy Christianity. As we begin our new series, White Collar Sins, Skip considers five characteristics of sin. Now please open your Bible to Matthew, Chapter 23 as he begins the message, Sin in a Three-Piece Suit.
Welcome to church. I'm so glad you're here. Would you turn in your Bibles please this morning to the gospel of Matthew, first book in the New Testament, Chapter 23. Matthew, Chapter 23.
When I was younger, when I was single, I used to have this mask, a full rubber mask that actually looked like a real person, a real ugly person. And I wore that-- I'd wear it, like, driving down the freeway. I put this mask on and people would do a double take. I'd wear it my bicycle. I'd wear it on my porch. I even wore it to a wedding once.
And this mask had a frown. So it looked kind of like there were some scratches on his face, and he was really kind of gnarly, really ugly. And underneath I could be smiling. In fact, usually I was laughing. But the mask canceled out what was going on underneath.
Let's suppose that I wanted to have a serious conversation with somebody while I was having this mask on, wearing this mask. It really would be impossible to do so because they couldn't get past that mask. It would just be weird because of what they were seeing versus what they were hearing.
Well, in ancient Greek times in the theater, people wore masks. Actors wore a comedic mask if they had funny lines. They would wear a tragic, frowning mask if they had sad lines. And typically in Greek theater, if it was a comedy, they would get an oversized grin, place that mask up to their face, recite their lines, and people would laugh. When it was time for a serious part, they would get the frowning mask, hold it up to their face, quote their lines, say them, and oftentimes people would mourn, they would weep, depending on the nature of the lines.
The Greeks, in their theater, had a Greek term for an actor. It was the word hypakrites-- a hypocrite. It simply means somebody who wears a mask. And we know the word to mean somebody who lives not being real, not being authentic, wearing, as it were, a mask.
This series that we're doing, White Collar Sins, it's a borrowed term. It's a borrowed phrase from the world of criminology. The phrase white collar crime, white collar crime was a phrase coined by an American criminologist by the name of Edwin Sutherland. He wanted to distinguish what he called blue collar versus white collar crimes.
A white collar crime is a crime committed typically for financial gain, crimes like embezzlement, corporate fraud, money laundering. A white collar crime is defined as a crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his or her occupation. So it's a nonviolent crime. It is crime in a three-piece suit, committed by those in the business world, or even the law enforcement world.
And perhaps the most well-known white collar crime of late happened in 2009 with Bernie Madoff. Bernard Madoff, you've heard his name. It's a household name by now. He was convicted of massive fraud, a Ponzi scheme that cost investors $65 billion. Bernie Madoff is serving a 150-year prison sentence in a federal facility.
So a white collar crime can actually incur as much or more punishment than some blue collar crimes. What we're going to do today and throughout this series is in effect give you a short theology of sin. I don't know if you know this or not, but in the world of theology, there is a branch of theological study called hamartiology, which means the study of sin. Comes from two words-- hamartia, which is the Greek word for sin, and the other word law, which means to study. So it's the study of sin.
Now most people when they hear that go, why on Earth would you ever want to study that? That is like the most depressing subject you could ever come up with. It certainly sounds counterproductive to study sin. After all, common wisdom would say, forget the past and just move on with your life.
However, I contend that you can never understand our great salvation until you understand how much we need it. It's once you need that and you are aware of that that you appreciate the Savior that you have. That's where hamartiology comes in. It explains the problem and it points to the solution.
And I could well ask when somebody said, why on Earth would you ever want to study sin, I would ask, why would you ever want to get an X-ray? Or, why would you ever want to go get a blood test, or an EKG, or an electroencephalogram? Answer-- because I want answers. I want to find out what the true condition and the nature of what I am feeling and going through is all about in hopes to point to a solution to it.
Now in this series of White Collar Sins, let me just tell you my aim, my purpose. It is not to condemn. It is not to make people feel bad about themselves. It's not so that you can leave church defeated. It's like, let's go to church and get depressed. The idea is not, oh, great, just when I thought it was fun to come to church, you got to pull this series out.
My purpose is to simply make us feel less comfortable wearing the mask. To aim for mask-less living. To be honest about who we are and what God is done, has done, and is doing with us in saving us from our condition. And in turn, to be much more gracious with other people around us when they falter and they fail.
Well, we're in Matthew 23. I've asked you to turn there this morning. And let me just give you a background. This is a time when Jesus confronts the religious elite of Israel. It's not the first time. This is passion week. It's the last week of his life. He has had several run-ins with the religious elite-- the scribes, the Pharisees, Sadducees-- and he's never had, like, a great relationship with them in the past. There's always this simmering going on underneath, a confrontation going on. Here the simmering is at a boiling point.
And here's what's interesting about Chapter 23 of Matthew. Matthew 23 is the last public sermon Jesus ever preached, that is recorded at least. Now that in and of itself is intriguing because you might think, well, the last sermon Jesus would preach would be a sermon on salvation, or a sermon on Resurrection, or a sermon on how to get along with each other.
But he doesn't preach any of those subjects. The last sermon he preaches publicly that is recorded is a confrontation. It is a polemic. He pulls their masks off. He shines the bright light on them. He unmasks their hypocrisy.
We're not going to look at all of this chapter, but we're going to look at some verses. We're going to make note of it. And what I want to do in looking at Matthew 23 is is to look at five characteristics of sin. Five of them.
Number one, sin is detectable. God always can detect it. God always knows who we are. We never pull one over off on God. He knows our hearts from the beginning. He can detect it, and here Jesus confronts it.
So we have, in this chapter, Jesus the perfect standing next to the pretenders. The perfect one and the pretending ones. Verse 1, Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to his disciples, saying, the scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses's seat. Therefore, whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do. But do not do according to their works, for they say and they do not do.
We always have to understand that sin is detectable to a holy God. The Bible says, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. John wrote, if we say we have no sin, we lie. We are liars and we do not practice the truth. We deceive ourselves.
Now the most common word in the New Testament for that word, sin, in English is that word I just told you about, harmatia. And harmatia, used over 200 times-- 200 and, let's say, 40 times, 220 to 240 times-- means to miss the mark or to fall short. So it implies there is a divine standard in place that we have missed.
So let me give you a working definition of sin in general, a short one. Sin can be defined as any failure to conform to the moral law of God in act, attitude, or nature. Once again, it's any failure to conform to the moral law of God in act, in attitude, or in nature.
Now I mentioned just one word from the Greek language translated into English, harmatia. But if you were to just look at your English Bible-- forget the original language, just look in English-- all the different words translated for that one English word, sin, you would discover that the word sin in your English Bible appears 446 times in scripture; the plural form, sins, another 187 times; and put all of the different forms together-- sinful, sinning, et cetera-- it shows up over 700 times in scripture. What that means is you can virtually look anywhere in your Bible and you are confronted with the idea, the problem of sin.
One time, D.L. Moody, Dwight Lyman Moody, the guy who started Moody Bible Church, that evangelist from Chicago, he was a guest speaker at a church that asked him to come. So he got there, he was ready to give his message, and the leadership, one of the elders came up to him and said, Mr. Moody, we just want to warn you that this church may be very different from the church that you're at, Moody Church.
She said, in this church it's not uncommon to have members of the congregation get up and leave before the sermon's done. So he said, thank you. Fair enough. Fair warning. So he gets up to the pulpit and Mr. Moody said, ladies and gentlemen, today I want to address two different groups of people. I first want to speak to sinners, then I want to speak to saints.
So he spoke awhile, then he said, now I'm done speaking to sinners. So if you want, the sinners can get up and leave. I'm going to now speak to the saints. They said for the first time in their church's memorable history, no one got up early and left the service. The reason everyone stayed is most know that sin is real, but it's sort of hard to admit they're part of the problem.
Sin is not a popular concept. And that is because in our culture, mankind is viewed not morally, not spiritually, but just mechanistically. You are just-- you exist biologically. There may or may not be a God, but it's not a big deal. So it's a purely mechanistic view of our culture.
So sin is explained away. It's explained away like God is explained away. Sin is explained away as a psychological conditioning, or a social conditioning. Years ago, John Lennon sang that song, God is a concept by which we measure our pain. That's how people feel about sin. Sin is just a concept by which we measure guilt and have to deal with guilt. And so we call it sin and feel good when you think, I've appeased a God up there somewhere. That's how they look at it. It is explained away.
Unfortunately, it's not only in the secular world, but in the religious world. Many religions deny sin. Hinduism, for example, teaches that good and evil are relative terms, that we all stumble on our way, our journey to finding ourselves. And if we fail in this life, you'll always be reincarnated into another form, and perhaps then, or in another life or another life or another life, you'll get it right. No, thank you.
The Unitarian Church, oddly called a church, believes that man is basically good. There's no such thing as sin. This ridiculous belief system. That you don't need saving from anything, they will tell you. You save yourself by improving yourself. Life is about self-improvement. That's what salvation means. Just get better, be better, be nicer.
Then Christian Science, which is neither Christian nor science, denies sin, denies death, and denies evil. They do not exist in that ideology. All of those things, they say, are just a result of faulty beliefs.
But it's not just in other religions and in cults, but one eminent pastor, who was very popular on radio and on television for years around this country, said, and I quote, "I do not think that anything has been done in the name of Christ or under the banner of Christianity that has proven more destructive to the human personality, and hence, counterproductive to evangelism, than the often crude, uncouth, and un-Christian strategy of attempting to make people aware of their lost and sinful condition," closed quote.
In other words, here you have a pastor in a pulpit of a mainline church saying, the worst thing you could ever tell someone is that they are sinners in need of a Savior. And I listen to that and then they'll never go to the Savior because they'll never know the need that they have to be saved.
So sin is detectable. Jesus could smell it a mile away. And though he doesn't name it as sin in this chapter, he names the sin that they were committing, and that is the sin of the mask, hypocrisy. So sin is detectable. Jesus detected it, and he nailed it.
A second characteristic I'd like you to notice is that sin is dangerous. It's dangerous. Verse-- well, look at a few verses. Look at Verse 13. But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites. Verse 14, woe to you. Verse 15, woe to you. Verse 16, woe to you blind guides.
Eight times in this chapter he says woe. Trust me, I counted. And you may go, oh yeah? Let me count. OK, whatever. Eight times he says woe. It's a word of denunciation, condemnation. It's an exclamation of grief. You could translate it this way-- how terrible for you, or, man are you in trouble, or, look out. You know what the word is in the original language, both Greek as well as Hebrew, in the Old Testament? The term woe, both the same word essentially-- oy. Sounds so Jewish, right? It's like, oy. Woe, oy, ouch.
Look at Verse 13 for a moment. 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. Do you hear what he's saying? He's saying, you religious leaders are not going to heaven, and anybody who gets close enough to want to enter the door, you slam the door so they can't get in.
Verse 15 gets even more scathing. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, for you travel land and sea to win one proselyte-- now stop right there. A proselyte is a convert. And in those days, there were two types of converts-- what you might call a half convert, and then what you might call a full convert.
One was called the proselyte of the gate. That's a half convert. Procelyte of the gate is somebody who believed in the God of the Jews, who would go to the synagogue, was not allowed to go sacrifice in the temple because they had not been circumcised. But then there was the full procelyte. That's called the procelyte of righteousness. That's what they were after.
So listen to what he says. 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. Oy. Ouch.
So here's the principle we glean from just those two verses. Sin in it's undetected form, in its unrepentant form bars a person from heaven. Sin is detectable to God. It is dangerous for people. How bad is it, you ask? It's so bad that it brings separation from God and it brings the judgment of God on an eternal basis. That's how bad.
How bad is it? It's so bad that God's activity on the Earth, all of his activity on the Earth could be focused on curing this problem. That's what redemptive history is all about-- curing the sin problem. If you want to see how bad sin is, just look at the cross. That's what sin did. It put the perfect one, the Holy one, the righteous one, the sinless one in that kind of agony and pain and bloodshed as he took sin, our sin, upon himself.
But this disease is so bad that often those who are most infected do not realize how sick they are. As Billy Graham once said, the most devastating effect of sin is that we are blinded to it. Now here's where the blindness gets really dangerous. It gets dangerous because typically, you and I are really good at spotting somebody else's sin, and really bad at smelling our own. It's like we're like the guy with Limburger cheese on his mustache, and we're going around going, this world stinks. Well, the problem is right here.
Martin Luther put it this way: the recognition of sin is the beginning of salvation. Now let's suppose you have a new car. You say, well, from your lips to God. But let's just suppose you have a brand new car. And I'm going to use this illustration to illustrate how people handle guilt in their lives.
So you get a new car. And this car, I mean, has all the bells and whistles, all the fancy screen gadgets that tells you the weather in Dubai and are the planets aligned and all that stuff.
As you're driving down the street you hear a noise, a pleasant sound, perhaps. Maybe even a voice that says, the air pressure in your left front tire is low. It might have an icon. It might even be in a British accent. The air pressure in your left front tire is low. And you go, oh, how nice. Or, check coolant. Or, my wife, in her car, has this little pleasant bing that goes off if you go too fast.
Now we-- it's set, there's a factory setting. And then you can change it. You can move that setting of what is too fast. Well, we have changed it since we got it. And I'm not going to tell you what we changed it to, OK?
So let's say we're driving down the street. Bing. And let's say that means you've got to check the coolant soon, which is critical, or the air in your tire needs to be filled up. So there's a couple of ways you can handle those notifications. Number one, you can go and get it fixed-- put air in your tire, put coolant in, don't go so fast.
Or there's another way you could handle it. You could carry in the glove box of your car a nice little hammer. It could be chrome on top, and maybe the leather handle matches the leather seats. I mean, it's a really nice hammer. And so when that light goes off, when that warning light goes off, you just reach into the glove box, take that little hammer, and smash the thing that's telling you you've got a problem. OK? So you can handle it one of two ways. Let's say you smash it. It'll fix the problem-- today. You'll be OK now. But eventually, unchecked, that car could burn up.
Well, that's how a lot of people handle their guilt. They have these imaginary hammers in the glove compartments of their consciences. So when a little light of conviction comes their way, goes off in their mind and their heart, they just knock it out by excuses. I'm not so bad. Others are worse than I am. You know, I'm better than I used to be. So sin is detectible and sin is dangerous.
Let me give you a third characteristic. Sin is diverse. It's not-- it's not one form. It takes on many forms. Look at Verse 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. Blind guides who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel.
Now Jesus here touches not only on what they did, but on what they didn't do. Not only on what they committed, but also what they neglected. So let me give you a quick background. The Law of Moses required the Israelites to pay a tithe annually. We talked a little bit last week about that. A tithe was 10%.
That was of marketable crops, as well as income. Whatever they had, they gave 10% to keep the nation of Israel going. According to Leviticus 27, that was to pay to the theocratic Kingdom of Israel just to keep it operating. A tenth of their income every year.
Second, there was a tithe every year on top of that to support the worship system-- the festivals, the feasts that were corporate feast for the nation. That's Deuteronomy 12. Also, every third year there was a third tithe where they had to give to support Levites, aliens, orphans, widows. So all total, they gave about almost 25% of their income to the Lord and his work.
But these guys, these scribes and these Pharisees, they went the extra mile. They went to the spice cabinet and they took out the mint and the anise and the cumin, and here they go, OK, there's 10% of the mint. I'll put that over there. That's for God. This is the 90%. That's what I keep. I mean, they got so detailed about it.
Now these spices, they're not marketable crops. They don't need to tie that. But they're spices that you have at home, yet they decided to be that spiritual, that detailed. So Jesus's point is simply this: you're so concerned and meticulous about small, insignificant things that you have neglected the big things, like mercy and justice and compassion.
Now this brings up a very important delineation in the diversity of sin. The Bible seems to indicate that there are sins of commission and sins of omission. You may have heard those terms. Those are terms in theological circles that most people learn. A sin of comission versus a sin of omission.
So a sin of commission, like the word implies, is something you commit. Sin of omission is something you leave out. So a sin of commission is doing something we shouldn't. A sin of omission is not doing something we should. So it's not helping somebody when you should help them. It's not praying when you should pray. It's not being a good steward of what God has entrusted to you. Those are sins of omission.
There's an old fundamentalist Baptist chant that said, I don't smoke and I don't chew, and I won't go with girls that do. Well, whoop tee do. What are you doing? What do you do?
James in Chapter 4 Verse 17 said, to him who knows to do good and does it not, to him it is sin. Did you catch that? To him who knows to do good and does it not, to him it is sin. That's a sin of omission.
So for example, what does a man have to do to destroy his home? Answer: nothing. Just don't tend it. Don't nurture it. I mean, does he have to beat his wife to destroy his home? No, just neglect her. It's all he has to do.
It's like the wife who said, honey, how come you never tell me you love me? He said, oh, sweetheart, when we got married I told you I loved you. If things change, I'll let you know. A lot of guys live in that way of thinking. Love isn't a diamond that you find, it's a flower that you cultivate and nurture in water.
It's like a boss who went to one of his workers, said, you're fired. And the worker said, I'm fired? For what? I didn't do anything. The boss said, that's why you're fired.
And some sins are obvious ones, and some are not so obvious ones. Some we can go, ah, that's so obvious. That's so blatant. That's wrong. Open, flagrant. Others are hidden and respectable. They are white collar sins. They're the kind of things that we go, yeah, I know those are bad, but not a big deal. Really? Things like gossip. Things like selfishness, bitterness, anger, gluttony, prayerlessness, envy.
I've had people say, well, you know, when it comes to, comes to God and them spiritual matters, I just live by the Ten Commandments. I've had people tell me that. I live by the Ten Commandments. Ever had anyone tell you that? It's all the religion I have. I just live by the Ten Commandments.
Next time somebody tells you that, ask them this: OK, name them. Well, let's see, don't kill people. Good. You're off to a good start. What are the other nine? You may get two or three or four or even five, but you're not going to probably get all 10. Though these are people who say, I live by the Ten Commandments. Furthermore, examine those Ten Commandments and you'll discover the Ten Commandments aren't just talking about your actions, they're talking about your attitudes.
So listen to the Ten Commandments, just one of them. This is out of Exodus 20. The Lord says, you shall not covet your neighbor's wife. You shall not covet his man servant or maid servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
Do you hear that? All those are hidden. You don't see that. You don't see lust at first. You don't see envy at first. You don't see a desire that somebody has to have something that is not his or hers. So sin is detectable. It's dangerous. It is diverse.
A fourth characteristic of sin is it is deceptive. Verse 25, Christ continues, woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, for you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish. Well, that would be deceptive if you don't clean the inside. But the inside, he says, they are full of extortion and self-indulgence.
Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, and the outside of them may be clean also. Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, for you are like whitewashed tombs, which appear indeed beautiful outwardly, but inwardly are full of deadman's bones and all uncleanness. Even so, you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
You see, they were skillful at making a good appearance of right living. They cleaned up the outside. And they cleaned up the outside for one reason. So when you looked at them, you go, impressive. Wow. Spiritual. Higher than the rest of us.
Look back at Verse 5. Jesus says about them to the crowd, but all their works they do to be seen by men. In other words, their whole life is a show. You can cover up a lot with a three-piece suit.
You can cover up a lot with a Bible in your hand. You can cover up a lot with a cross around your neck. You can cover up a lot with a bumper sticker on your car. You can cover up a lot with a song on your lips and a smile on your face. It can be deceptive.
One Christian publication I found put it this way: sin as a caterpillar is dangerous, but sin as a butterfly is a thousand times worse. If sin in its ugliest form is dangerous, who can know it's unmeasured power and influence when it puts on robes of beauty?
So think about this. The worst form of blasphemy isn't a person who denies God, denies his love for God, or doesn't walk with God, wants nothing to do with God. The worst form of blasphemy is a person who claims to know God, walk with God, love God, but doesn't.
You know, we get all upset and disgusted when the world is honest and says, I want nothing to do with your religion. Horrible. Blasphemous. And they'll even say things about Christ and about God. We get all upset about that when they're just being honest. I respect their honesty. But what of all of those who claim to believe, but in their daily life they live as though God does not exist?
This is why we need to seek God intentionally. As Jesus said, seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness. As Charles Spurgeon put it, if you're not seeking the Lord, the devil is seeking you. Sin is detectable, dangerous, diverse, deceptive.
But I've saved the best for last. The good news is that sin is dismissable. It is forgivable. And that is the whole purpose of this book called The Bible, and our Savior we call Jesus. Go all the way down to Verse 37. And as I read it to, you listen to the heart of Jesus wanting to cure the disease.
Oh, Jerusalem. Jerusalem, I wish I could be with you right now on the Mount of Olives, standing in front of the city. It's a commanding view. As Jesus comes down from the Mount of Olives, he is sort of cresting in this beautiful portion of the Mount of Olives overlooking below him the city of Jerusalem, facing west.
And as he sees the city, he says, oh, 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. See? Your house that is the temple is left to you desolate.
As Jesus closes his last public sermon, he is lamenting their refusal to take the cure. It's like a doctor holding out the cure to a loathsome disease knowing that it will cure the patient, and he's holding it out and lamenting the fact that the patient says, not interested. Not willing. I don't want it.
Look at the tender language. The language of a mother hen protecting her hatchlings from gathering storms or from predators. How often I would have gathered your children together as a chick gathers-- or as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. It's a wonderful intimacy in this language. It reveals Jesus's desire to forgive, to heal, to dismiss the sin that he is confronting.
So sin is the problem, but Christ is the cure. Or you could say, life is short, death is sure, sin the cause, Christ the cure. And he laments that they won't take it.
What you have to understand when I say sin is dismissible, this is the whole reason Jesus bothered to come from Heaven to Earth. This sums up his mission. The angel said to Joseph and Mary, you will call his name Jesus for he will save his people from their sin. When John the Baptist saw Jesus come into the Jordan River, he said, behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. Jesus himself said, in Luke, Chapter 19, the son of man has come to seek and to save those who are lost. That's why he came. That's why we celebrate Christmas. He came into the world for the cure.
So one more time, just look at Verse 37 and note that we have in a single verse both the greatest opportunity and the greatest tragedy. The greatest opportunity? I wanted to gather your children together. The greatest tragedy? But you were not willing.
Talk about a sin of omission. This is the worst sin of omission ever. Jesus himself giving the cure to the dying patient and the patient saying, not interested. Don't want it. Not willing. Greatest opportunity, greatest tragedy. Jesus is willing to take care of our sin, all of it. Are you willing?
I had a friend years ago who used to gather once a week with me-- not always regularly I wasn't always good at getting up really early-- but we would get up really early to pray once a week. And he came to me one time early in the morning, and I'm kind of groggy. I'm not, like, feeling it, but he's all happy.
And he goes, Skip, or, Brother Skip, he goes, I love repentance. And I'm going, really? What? I mean, just like, what are you talking about, love repentance? He goes, yeah, you know how it is when God, like, pokes around in your heart and messes with you, and you start feeling conviction? And then when you finally stop and you deal with it, he said, repentance is like brushing your teeth. You always walk away feeling refreshed.
I thought, Brian, that's good. So it's like the Holy Spirit messes with, pokes you, and you go, oy, oy, oy. Go brush your teeth. Walk away feeling minty fresh repentance. To put that in a biblical term, first John, Chapter 1, Verse 9, John said, if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and cleanse us of all unrighteousness.
So in this series, the series is not intended-- and it shouldn't take the wind out of our spiritual sails. It should put wind into our sails. Because the Holy Spirit is going to want to empty us all of self-righteousness, help us take off our masks so that we can have mask-free living and we can be gracious toward those around us.
Also, it's going to reveal great possibilities. Please notice in Verse 37, Jesus talks about gathering you together. That's what he wants. He wants to, in this series, gather you close to him under his wing, protected by him. Intimate, loving, forgiving, dismissing of your sin, but bringing you close to him.
Psalm 51, David said, the sacrifices of God are a broken heart, a broken and contrite spirit. These, oh Lord, you will not despise. So as the Holy Spirit pokes around in this series and you go, ooh, let me find out what they're preaching on this week to see if I want to come to church-- please don't do that-- as he starts messing around with little tender areas and you go, oy, oy, oy, just think, you know what? Grab that toothbrush. Repent of that, deal with that, emerge from that, grow from that, because there is a lot of growth this old boy needs as well.
As somebody once said, the only thing improved by breaking is the heart of a sinner. May God break our hearts and make us holy, for His glory. Let's pray.
Our Father, thank you for revealing to us through Matthew the honesty of Jesus. It amazes most people to read that the Jesus of love is the same Jesus that eight times said to religious people, woe, woe, woe, woe. And we understand something about ourselves and about the condition that we have in just looking at this text together.
Yet what comforts us is those words of Jesus. How often I wanted to gather you, how often I wanted to take you under my wings, how often I wanted to nurture you, protect you, help you, love you, but you were not willing. I pray we would be willing, because you are so willing and so able to deal with the problem. I pray we'll take the cure, that we won't see something as, well, yeah, I used to be that way, but now I'm a Christian so I don't struggle anymore. I pray we would not be that deceived. But we would also know the genuine refreshment that comes from dealing with issues in our lives and turning from them in repentance.
And I just want to close by asking you that if there is anybody here who just hasn't made the first step to give their lives to Jesus, that they would just, in authenticity, do that this morning. I pray that you just bring people into your kingdom by a simple act of faith.
So our heads are bowed, our eyes are closed, we're praying. I just want to ask you, are you sure that you're forgiven? Are you sure that you're a Christian? I'm not asking you are you religious or are you good or are you nice, because you might be all of those things and you might not be a saved person. You may have come to church, but not to Christ.
And it is personal. It is something you authentically, personally, really, intentionally need to do. I want to give you that opportunity. It's a simple act of faith. Jesus has done the work for you. Thus, he has the cure for you. And he is willing to save you if you just admit that you need saving and come to him and trust in him.
So if you've never done that before, maybe you've wandered away from Him and you need to come back and just enter into a relationship with Him again. If that speaks to any of you, with our heads bowed, our eyes closed, mine are now open just so I can see, would you raise your hand up in the air? And in raising your hand, you're saying, Skip, pray for me because today, right now, I'm going to do this. God bless you right in the middle on my left.
Just hands up. You're saying, Lord, I admit I have a need. I need you. I need your forgiveness. I need your cleansing. I want to come into your Kingdom. I want to be saved. Anyone else? Would you raise those hands up.
Right here in the front. Just, if you don't mind, raise them up high so I can see them. God bless you to my left. You and you. Yes, awesome. Thank you. To my right.
Father, our prayer is for all these sitting next to us. We have all fallen short of the glory of God. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves. Every single one of us, we live by and we need desperately your mercy and your grace. And we're so thankful it's ours through Jesus Christ. And I thank you for these honest ones who have raised these hands and they've said, I need God. I need Jesus. I need forgiveness. I need life.
And Lord, I just pray that their spirits will be lifted as they give their lives to you, that they would know how much you love them, and know that their sins are forgiven in Jesus's name. Amen. Let's all stand.
We're going to sing a song. We're going to close with a song. If you raised your hand, do me a favor. Get up from where you're standing, find the nearest aisle by you, and walk right up here to the front where in a moment I'm going to lead you in a prayer to receive Jesus as your Savior. I'll pray with you as you come or after you come, but just come and stand right up here
it won't take long. You're going to hear the encouragement of God's people as you do that. Jesus called people publicly. We think it's an important step that you do that. Just come stand right up here. Be bold. Do it now.
Hey, those of you have come, I'm going to lead you now in a prayer. So are you ready for this? This is real. We're going to do this. So what I'm going to ask you to do is to pray these words out loud after me. Mean them as you say them. Say them from your heart.
You're talking to God, and you're asking God to forgive you and to come inside as your Savior, your Lord. You're giving him your life. It's like you're handing the keys to your future to Him, and you're saying, you drive, you takeover. OK? So let's pray. Say, Lord, I give you my life.
Lord, I give you my life.
I know that I'm a sinner.
I know that I'm a sinner.
Please forgive me.
Please forgive me.
I believe in Jesus.
I believe in Jesus.
That he died on a cross.
That he died on a cross.
That he shed his blood for me.
That he shed his blood for me.
And that he rose again.
And that he rose again.
I turn from my sin.
I turn from my sin.
I repent of it.
I repent of it.
I turn to Jesus--
I turn to Jesus--
--and as Lord.
--and as Lord.
Help me to live for you.
Help me to live for you.
In Jesus's name.
In Jesus's name.
Sin can be dangerous, diverse, and deceptive. So you must be careful about what you allow into your life. Did this message help stimulate your heart for holiness? Let us know. Email us at email@example.com. And just a reminder, you can give financially to this work at calvaryabq.org/give. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from Calvary Church.