“How’s the Eyesight?” (John MacDiarmid)

Sermon preached at Poole Christian Fellowship on 27 January 2013

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Luke 11 v 33 – 12 v 112

This passage begins with the picture of the eye as the light of the body – here emphasising how important the eyesight is. If our eyes are good, everything will work – but if not we stumble around in darkness. It is the same spiritually – if we have good spiritual vision, if we are seeing things clearly, we will be able to live productive lives for God.

Today’s passage deals with three things that cause spiritual blindness:

  • False Religion
  • False Appearance
  • False Security

1. False Religion (11 v 37-54)

There are only two forms of religion in the world – Gods and man’s. Man’s religion, in all its different forms teaches that if we can do certain things well enough we will be good enough for God who will welcome us into his heaven. God’s religion, taught in the gospel, in that there is nothing we can do to make ourselves good enough for God, we can only rely on his mercy and provision of his salvation to enter God’s presence. Our good works then are a necessary consequence of God’s mercy to us.

False religion is epitomised by the Pharisee and the scribes – and Jesus is warning them in no uncertain terms that unless they come to the reality of understanding God’s salvation they cannot be saved. But even for those who are already saved, the warning to the Pharisees comes home to us, and we realise that none are immune from the temptation to relapse into false religion.

Here we see some of the outworkings of that false religion:

• – “my way or the highway”
Note that Pharisee was “surprised” – this means that he was shocked and judgemental. False religion is always put out if someone tries to do things in a different way that doesn’t match our prejudices.

• – worried about externals (v39-41)
False religion is always more worried about how things are externally than how things are on the inside.

• – majors on the minors
There is a desire to focus on the peripheral issues of church life, whilst losing sight of the main thing.

• – loves to put on a show
Praise from men is paramount!

• – contaminates everything it touches
Just as walking on an unmarked grave made you ceremonially unclean, so false religion poisons everything it touches

• – all about rules and regulations
The life of God within us becomes turned into a series of rules to be obeyed.

• – will not protect against God’s judgement
This was the most shocking assertion of all – that despite all their religious achievements, it could not deliver them from the judgement of God which was coming – only Jesus can do that.

• – will not get you into the kingdom of God
Not only were they not entering, they were obstacles on the way of others

• – always opposes the kingdom of God
Opposition to God’s work always comes from those who are the most religion, because the kingdom of God challenges their own pride.

The message is clear – for the unbeliever, trust in Jesus rather than your own works to be saved, and to the believer – beware – religion can ensnare you and stop you living the life that God wants.

2. False Appearance (12 v 1-4)

Hypocrisy is pretending to be something that you are not. The fact is that God knows every thought of the heart, and it will all me brought out into the open. Repentance and trust in Jesus is the only thing that can protect us from God’s justice – our righteousness never will, and when that righteousness is built on pretence it becomes ever worse.

For the believer, the temptation to pretend that things are different to how they are can be strong. But we do ourselves no favours if we put on a mask of godliness. The fact is that we are all sinners under reconstruction and in need of God’s grace daily. As John said: “if we walk in the light , we have fellowship with one another”

3. False Security

How many people put their confidence in the thought that other people like them, respect them admire them! How foolish! Jesus points out how foolish it is to fear people and not to fear God.

Men can hurt us and kill us (in the sovereign ty of God), but God has power to determine our eternal destiny. Why would a sensible person put what people think higher than what God thinks!

Jesus shows that he understands why we would do this: we are worried about what men will do to us, (answered by the illustration about the birds ), we are worried about how we will cope under pressure (answered by assurance that God will help us when we don’t know what to say), but all this is answered by an understanding of God’s supremacy and God’s care for us. So the question is – who do we fear most – men or God? Where is our security?

The desire to please men rather than God is the one that will keep people out of heaven – it is tantamount to rejecting the Messiah and the work of the Holy Spirit and so is the sin that God will not forgive.

For those who do not know Jesus, there is the need to make sure that we fear God, not men. There is the need to make sure that we do not pretend that we are righteous when we know we are not, and there is the need to abandon the thought that religion will make us acceptable to God, and to embrace the free gift that God gives us in Jesus.

For the believer there is the need to escape from false religion, the desire to please people and to appear good that so ensnares us, and to allow Hi m to bring us into the glorious freedom of the children of God. Let’s look after our eyesight!

John MacDiarmid
January 2013

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