[Wow, this one – whew… I love you. Armor up.]
You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? – Matthew 23:33 ESV
Yes, these are Jesus’s words! These are the “words in red”, but don’t mistakenly think that Jesus walked up to some scared teenage girl headed into a planned parenthood building and said this. Don’t think that Jesus walked up to a boy or girl struggling with their identity and the temptation of their flesh that has led them into shameful ground before a perfect and holy God and said this. Don’t think that Jesus walked into the meth cooker’s house, or the bar, or the jail and said this.
No, He walked into the church. He pointed that sword from His mouth in the direction of the religious and said to the hypocrites then what we should hear now –
You make it burdensome for the people to come to me. Instead of helping them carry their burdens, you lay heavy burdens on their shoulders.
You do everything to be seen and honored yourselves. You take the best seats and titles and honor from others and return it to your “same people” instead of extending it to those you don’t know, those who are poor, needy, sick, burdened, lost. You enjoy your season tickets, golf courses, country clubs, first class accommodations, while His people starve, hurt, freeze, suffer, and die alone and without love or hope in this world. You celebrate with songs and lukewarm religious practices that make me sick enough to puke you out.
You want to be seen and revered as wise teachers and leaders when you don’t even know how to serve and love. You are puffed up in knowledge and pride and you would rather be called Father yourself than admit to who your real father is. That snake, that liar, he is quite satisfied with you remaining religious and lost and serving as a hireling — crying Lord, Lord but serving only your own pride.
You won’t enter into grace and belief yourself, and you try to shut the door in the faces of those who would. You would tell them that Christ is necessary but that He is not sufficient. You would tell them that even though they have received salvation by grace through faith that they must turn back to the law — because you wish foolishly that you could pluck them from His hand so they might fall short of grace? May it never be so! Foolish children, who has bewitched you? Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Do you not know that those who rely on works of the law are under a curse? Are you cursed or blessed? Are you bearing love or condemnation? Thistles and thorns or fruit?
You make grand overtures to sign people up for your religious practices, observances of days and seasons, sacrifices of obligation, and empty works – and you prove them twice the child of hell you are yourselves. They no more know God or bear the fruit of His Holy Spirit than you do, you sons of perdition!
You guard the safe keeping of the money and “valuables” in your buildings, houses, warehouses and bank accounts, but you have no such safeguards for what is the only thing valuable that ever enters your building – my people. You wouldn’t even know if you lost a hundred of them, but you sure would know if your balance sheet was off a penny!
You spend your effort on tithes and attendance, and marketing and entertainment, and clothes and appearances — because these are the greatest desires of your own eyes and what is valuable to you — thinking foolishly that I value the same things or priorities. But I desire mercy above sacrifice, justice above bribes, and faithfulness of heart above outward compliance. With your striving to uphold the law, you strain at removing the smallest speck of dirt on your dinner plate — while you try to conceal your choking on the log wedged securely in your throat.
You are full of greed and self-indulgence — though your mind has learned the great mental gymnastics of hiding your heart from the undiscerning — though you have learned to treat the symptoms of your cancer — it is still at work killing you from the inside. So realize the heart of the issue and get that transplant, that cure, before it is too late!
Yes, you are dressed in the right outward appearance, but you are dead inside. Your fear of admitting the lies that you have spread — founding your own reputation as white washed, should be exceeded by your fear of falling into the hands of an angry God who knows your heart! The stench of your hypocrisy and your lawlessness is not just like death lingering in the air — it is the rotting death of your “legacy”.
Yes, you outwardly honor with your flattering words the very ones from the past — that you try your best to kill today with your biting and devouring. You stand on high saying, “I would not do such things” when you are quick to go to war with any wise man who offers you a rebuke. You are a fool, drinking the full measure of the foolishness of your fathers.
You serpents, you brood of vipers, HOW ARE YOU TO ESCAPE BEING SENTENCED TO HELL?
You think this should be aimed at the sinners, with your picket signs, and your political support, and your vocal self-righteousness but the Lord has set His eye on YOU. He is that bear lying in wait for you, He has walled you in so that you cannot escape, He has bent His bow and His arrows will pierce you, He will make your teeth grind on the gravel, if you do not hear my cry and repent! Do not delay!
Because the steadfast love of the Lord is everlasting, and His mercies are for the humble and the lowly. Will you rail against the Truth? Will the rock fall on you so that you are utterly destroyed, or will you fall upon the solid rock and be saved — and sing praises of His mercy, love and grace — through the testimony of your life extending these same mercies to so many more?
If you read this and said to yourself, “_______ ought to hear that.” or “That preacher over at _________ sure needs to hear that” – then you are the very person that needs to stop right here and go back and read this message that IS MEANT FOR YOU! Because if you think that you can teach _________ something, you fit the bill for this message. If that is you, go back and read it again and let the words til up the soil of your heart – you aren’t so perfectly cold and dead that the Word of God can’t touch your hardened heart at all are you?
If you have come to repentance, continue reading, otherwise, I’m sorry, but this message is not for you.
My child, your sins are forgiven. Go and sin no more.