Eight Woes 1: Blocking the Doors

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, January 3, 2020 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Every new year, a popular tradition is to form a resolution to start things new and make things better. Such resolutions often only last a few days to a month or two at most before reverting back to old habits. As last year began to close, I was reading through Matthew 23 and this unpopular passage stood out to me. As I read it, I saw some things in myself I did not like. In most churches today, Jesus is preached as this kind, gentle, loving guy who’d love you into heaven, but most tend to skip over the parts where Jesus gets in your face and tells you what’s up. Matthew 23 is one of those parts.

In this chapter, Jesus goes on what seems like a rant against the Pharisees and scribes, the religious leaders of His day, for being frauds. He starts by exposing the general hypocrisy and seeking of the praise of man instead of doing what is right, and then He goes into eight woes against them. A woe is much more than a mere warning. It is indicative that the judgment may already be sealed and set, with only a matter of time before its execution. When Jesus says, “Woe!” it means serious business. This will be a seven-post series (as two of the woes are related), however, while I do want us to be able to recognize the hypocrisy that is out there, I want us first to examine the hypocrisy in our own lives. This series is a unique approach to the New Year’s Resolution concept. Let us use it as a mirror to examine ourselves and repent of where we are guilty. The first of the woes is here:

“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.” ~Matthew 23:13

Misery loves company. Those who want to pout aren’t just satisfied with staying in a foul mood; they want to spread it around and hate those in a good mood even more. A false teacher is no different. In this case, I’m not talking about those who are simply deceived and preaching what they think is true but overall don’t have problems with those who speak the truth. I am talking about those who are concerned about losing followers to anyone else, especially to those who speak the truth. There are many preachers out there who reject the truth of Scripture and will do everything in their power to prevent anyone who might listen to them from hearing it as well.

They will carry what David Wilkerson called “Beware of the Smiters.” It is an “I am a man of God and how dare anyone speak against what I say!” spirit which lashes out against anything or anyone that would dare confront them. They will particularly speak against any ministry or preacher who defends the truth. They want to make sure no one listens to anyone else but them and those of their kind. They want the people to be knowledgeable enough to defend them and ignorant enough to not question them.

Jesus wasn’t merely mad at the Pharisees for teaching incorrectly. He was mad at them for taking advantage of His sheep, those He came to save, when their job was to point their people to Him. Ezekiel had the same objection. He calls the priests cut from the same cloth as conspirers against God, seeking to devour the people as ravenous wolves. This is no small thing. God is MAD about this. And the only thing holding back His wrath against such people is His mercy for 1) to not destroy the wheat along with the tares, and 2) that even those false teachers themselves might be saved.

Yet when I read this passage, I didn’t merely think about the intellectual elite these days, I thought about me. While I am a defender of truth, I had to ask myself: when I defend the truth, am I concerned about the salvation of the skeptic, or am I blocking the way for them to find the truth? It’s one thing to tell them the truth, but it’s something else when you use it as a weapon against the person, not the teaching.

One of the reasons I admire Ray Comfort is for his genuine love for the lost. His apologetics are not spectacular in my opinion, but his desire to see the lost saved is the real deal. Yet to acquire that love, he had to go through a difficult trial: the curse of being labeled “the Banana Man.” He committed some blunders along the way and in some cases deserved some ridicule from it. Yet through it all, he learned to wear the “clown,” be labeled the fool, and through it, he got access to witness to countless people including some big names like Lawrence Krauss and Penn Jillette. While Comfort has at times been foolish, one thing is for sure: no one has been blocked from getting into heaven on account from him.

Have I been that way? No, I haven’t. I have had to train myself to bite my tongue more because I perfectly relate to Voddie Baucham when he describes the unleashing of “Bad Voddie,” the side of him which sees the painfully illogical arguments used against Christianity and wants to “correct them” and then “enjoy this” when the whopping comes. I completely relate to that. It’s not something I like in me. Because as much as I try to restrain “Bad Charlie,” I often fail. I want to see people get to heaven. I want to see them believe the truth. But there are times where my staunch stance for the truth can get in the way. There is nothing wrong with having such confidence in what I believe that nothing can budge me, however, how I use it is the issue. When I come across those who want the truth, I am kind and gentle; but when I come across those who are also set in their ways and it’s not in alignment to the truth, I’m not always so kind. For me, truth is the #1 standard and we can have nothing else unless we have the truth. That’s how I’ve always operated and how I’m wired. What I need is for God to continue His work in me to redirect that wiring to a better use for His Kingdom. I do need to show more love and compassion, but never at the expense of truth. I must share the truth in love, but without truth, there is no love. If I ignore truth and just preach love, I preach them towards a false gospel and a false destination. But if I do not love, the truth I preach is just noise.

Do you find yourself blocking others from finding God? Examine yourself and let God’s spotlight search you. As you do, pray for me as well that I might be obedient to God’s direction in correcting me to stop blocking those who at the moment don’t want truth from hearing it, and instead to encourage them to welcome the truth that they might be saved.

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