None Can Compare

First, Happy Thanksgiving, may all your favorites avail themselves to you at the dinner table today, but don’t overdo it! 

Did you know that morality alone, won’t cut the mustard? (Matthew 12:43-45) Some people believe that if they will just act moral or be good, everything will be OK. Listen, the Bible does teach us that we are to be moral but just adhering to morality alone is spiritually dangerous for us. It can lull us into thinking that we are good. I haven’t been there in forever. Oh no, I haven’t said that in years. No, No, I don’t do that anymore. I am a good person. The absence of evil or sin is not good enough. Hebrew 9:22~In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness. (NIV) Jesus must die on the cross to fulfill the Law and set us free from the burden. 

To further describe the adulterous generation, Jesus says in Matthew 12:43~When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. (ESV) The unclean spirit is a demon. For some undisclosed reason, this person is temporarily freed from the demon’s influence. Since demons are not human, they don’t need water or food, so this demon goes into the desert for what appears is a vacation or rest. In the Bible, according to Matthew 8:31 demons possess only people and animals. Now demons cannot accomplish their evil desires through inanimate objects. That is not to say they cannot be attached to an object. We are speaking of purpose.

When the demon finds no rest, it decides to return. Matthew 12:44~ Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. (ESV) Matthew 12:45~Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation. (ESV) 

Jesus is describing a moral person. They think they have come to a place where they no longer need God. The scribes and Pharisees are very moral. Their lives are tidy and well organized they adhere to doing God, but not being with God. They find themselves outside of God. How many know that our own words will oftentimes condemn us? For example, take Jesus’ story of a Pharisee and publican who go to the temple and pray. Luke 18:11~The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: God, I thank you that I am not like other people–robbers, evildoers, adulterers–or even like this tax collector. (NIV)

What he says is actually true, however, our comparison was never meant to be others. We are always to compare ourselves with Jesus who was, is and always will be perfect. I get that the Pharisees are very moral people. However, morality can be a tool used by demons to make people think or feel as though they are good enough and don’t need Jesus to go to heaven. I recently had a teacher tell me of a student who wants to live the alphabet life. The teacher overheard this ardent defender for rights say that she has read the Bible and knows that it’s true, but cannot accept it if she wants to live life on her own terms. 

That is precisely what a Pharisee does. They want to live life on their own terms. Hear me, the Bible teaches that that is the way of Cain. It is the way of sinners and scoffers, who choose ignorance as their way of living. Therefore, when a person reforms without Christ, he or she is in worse condition than before because it is so hard for a moral person to see his or her need for Jesus Christ. On the other hand, prostitutes, drug attics, alcoholics, liars, cheats and just general all-around sinners receive Jesus because they don’t have a morality demon lording over them. 

Morality often blinds people to the fact they need Jesus as Savior. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4:4~The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (NIV) Most Jews of Jesus’ day are so satisfied with their morality and religious traditions they can see no need for Messiah. Morality without Jesus dooms people to hell and makes demons content. Christ Jesus the Messiah is far greater than Jonah the prophet and Solomon the king, whom pagans heard and obeyed.

Why not stop and check for any spiritual blind spots in your life today. First, ask God for forgiveness and confess any sins that come to mind. Then ask Him to work on your blindspots. Allow Him to reveal any area in your life that needs His assistance. Ours is to respond to Him. So, don’t resist what the Lord shares. Simply and humbly respond as you watch the Lord work in your life.

Greater Than

In Matthew 12:39-40 Jesus also tells them no sign will be given to their generation except the sign of the prophet Jonah, who was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights. Now to Jews, three days and nights can mean three full days or any portion of three days. Jesus Christ was in the grave for portions of three days—dying on Friday afternoon, lying in state on Saturday, and getting up and out of the grave on Sunday morning. As Jesus continues His discourse on the Accountability of Knowledge, Jesus says in Matthew 12:41~The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. (ESV)

Understand what Christ Jesus is saying to those who truly have read the words of scripture and hidden it in their hearts without understanding. To them, He says the pagan Ninevites, who had no Bible, and yet they repented at the preaching of Jonah, who performed no miracles. However, the privileged scribes and Pharisees, who have the complete Old Testament, refuse to repent at Jesus’ preaching, which is verified by miracles, signs, and wonders. Therefore, at the judgment, the Ninevehites will have every right to join in condemning Jesus’ unbelieving generation. 

Next, Jesus says in Matthew 12:42~The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. (ESV) Solomon, the wisest man on earth shared the wisdom of God and it drew people towards God. Jesus is reminding them the Queen of the South, or Sheba—a Gentile—will rise up at judgment against this generation. (1 Kings 10:1-13)

Do you know how far she traveled to hear the truth? We believe Sheba was probably in present-day Yemen, which is bordered by Saudi Arabia in the north. It is about 1,200 miles south of Israel, a journey of at least two months through the rugged desert. A pagan queen of Sheba believed in Yahweh because of His anointed king. Yet, the Jewish leaders in the town where Jesus lives and bases out of during His earthly ministry are refusing to believe in the words of life. Remember Pete in John 6:68~ Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. (NIV) They are not accepting the Word of God dwelling among them. (John 1:14) No, they are even rejecting Him as they encounter the miracles of the Messiah. John 10:38~But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father. (NIV) 

If our true desire is to avoid living our lives in a Veiled Deception, then we must remember that our accountability increases with the knowledge God shares with us. So, do you believe Jesus, or do you believe the works He has done in your life or the lives of others? I want you to know that there is no other who offer the words of life, but Jesus Christ. And, if you believe, then who are you sharing your belief in Jesus with? We are to be disciples who practice what Jesus preached and that means sharing our faith with others. If you are not already praying about people to share faith with, then you should form a list of people and begin praying for them. If you already have a list, who do you need to reach out to and sow some seed, or maybe just a little water and some good Son-shine. Be a doer of the word.

Sinful Generation

We began this week discussing how our accountability increases as our knowledge fo God and His ways grow in our lives. Sticking with that thought, we witness the Pharisees ask again for a sign. Mark 8:11~The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him. (ESV) I know in my life I have come and argued with God for a sign. I was hoping to use my best esquire skills and lawyer my way into existence. But each time I was soundly defeated. James reminds us in James 4:2-3~You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. (NIV) 

The scribes and Pharisees are asking for grandeur and not accepting the spectacular works of wonder wrought in their midst. Luke says in Luke 11:16~Others, trying to test Jesus, demanded that he show them a miraculous sign from heaven to prove his authority. (NIV) Perhaps you have wanted a sign. However, we don’t go to the side of a loved one’s bed and say, if you are really God, you will heal them, or if you do not heal them, you are no God at all. That is to tempt the Lord. 

Remember in Luke 4, after Jesus has fasted 40 days the Devil tempts Him. To which Jesus quotes from the Old Testament and says in Luke 4:12~Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” (NIV) The scribes want Jesus to cut the sun off in the afternoon. Or, use your finger and write across the sky Jesus is Lord. You could even make something out of nothing. How about a talking donkey like Baalam? To which Christ Jesus might say, but I already have a whole herd of well you know what you are in this type of situation.

No, Jesus answers them like this in Matthew 12:39~…A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. (ESV) This foreshadows Jesus’ death where His body will lay in the tomb for three days just as Jonah rode the belly of the whale. Only to come out an again proclaim God. Jesus will spend about six weeks after the resurrection revealing Himself to many. So when He calls this generation an adulterous one, He links them with a common Old Testament metaphor for spiritual apostasy. 

Isaiah 50:1~Where is your mother’s certificate of divorce with which I sent her away? Or to which of my creditors did I sell you? Because of your sins, you were sold; because of your transgressions, your mother was sent away. (NIV) (See also in Jeremiah 3:8) Jesus is not accusing them of sexual adultery, but of spiritual adultery because of their unbiblical laws and regulations. Also, they loved their religious positions and manmade traditions more than they loved God, which is spiritual adultery. 

Is there a place in your life that you are holding on to. A place where you feel the warmth and comfort of tradition, rather than the real love of a relationship with the God who created you. Your life is more than just traditions, it is to be an intimate journey with the former, fashioner and finisher or all things, Jesus Christ. Why not take time to just get alone, away from everyone and everything and give yourself wholly and totally to God in a time of worship. You won’t have to worry about who is around or watching because it will just be you and the Lord. Worship Him in the beauty of holiness.