We often say that we do not appreciate preachers who tell us that we will go to hell if we do not stop sinning. However, even Jesus used the occasion to condemn those guilty of sin. His messages were not always positive and uplifting. There are times when it is necessary to tell sinners that they are doing wrong in order to lead them to repentance.
On Matthew 23: 15-39, Jesus continues to confront lawyers and Pharisees with their hypocrisy and lack of integrity before He is crucified for our sins. Give a part of seven (eight, depending on how it is divided) warning against the practices of the teachers of the law and the Pharisees. They don’t do what they teach. He attacks your lack of integrity!
Integrity in truthfulness – Matthew 23:15
Jesus accuses lawyers and Pharisees of working hard in evangelism, but making them more perverted than they were before their conversion. They will win someone over to interpret Jewish law regardless of what the Mosaic Law actually teaches or whether what they are teaching is true. Protecting the way they do things is more important to them than telling the truth and maintaining their integrity. That attitude is living a lie and compromising your integrity.
As Christians, we are witnesses of Jesus Christ. When we are more concerned with trying to make someone a believer in our denomination rather than simply believing in Jesus as their Lord, we are just as guilty as the Pharisees. Each denomination is man’s attempt to get right with God. These are well intentioned, but they are man-made, not God-made. Salvation is not found in one Christian denomination and not in another. Salvation is found only in the truth of what Jesus did on the cross! Our integrity demands that we seek to discover the truth, not insist that our path is the truth. It is much better to change your beliefs for the truth than to defend a lie.
Integrity in promises – Matthew 23: 16-22
Next, Jesus rebukes the Pharisees because they believe they can swear (make a promise) by the temple without consequences, but if they swear by the gold in it, they are bound by their oath. Therefore, they have easy excuses to pretend to keep their word and then stop through this technicality. There are times when it is appropriate for us to promise to do something. Our integrity demands that we keep our word. It doesn’t matter if we swear by something or by someone. If you say you are going to do it, do it! Your integrity depends on it.
Integrity in caring for others – Matthew 23: 23-24
The Pharisees are careful to give God 10% of everything, yet they have neglected the law and compromised their integrity by failing to show justice, mercy, and faithfulness in their dealings with others. God would rather they cared more about helping other people than about legalistic tithe.
People and worshiping God in their hearts is more important than the amount of money they give. When we begin to think that we are more important than others and they do not matter, we do not reflect the life or love of Christ. We are here to love God and serve others. Our integrity and testimony is exemplified in how we care for other people. Giving is an expression of worship, but if it is not done with love for God and neighbor, the giver is a hypocrite. People won’t remember you for the money you gave if they don’t see how much you really cared about people.
Integrity in their hearts – Matthew 23: 25-26
Woe to the Pharisees and lawyers because they think that being clean on the outside also makes them clean on the inside! Jesus tells them that it is what is within us that matters. It is your ears and attitudes that exemplify or belittle your integrity. Your greed and selfishness do not reflect positively on your relationship with God. Money is more important to them than integrity.
Our outward appearance may be what people see first, but it is our inner character, our integrity, that will truly be remembered for us. Does your life reflect the presence of Jesus or are you just acting outwardly and hiding the sinful person you are when you think no one is looking at you? If you are more concerned with how you look at others than with their needs, then your integrity needs a serious review. If you really love God and care about others, they won’t care about your appearance.
Integrity in personal behavior – Matthew 23: 27-28
Jesus accuses the Pharisees and lawyers of presenting themselves as pure and holy on the outside when they are unclean sinners on the inside. A hypocrite is someone who pretends to be something in hopes of impressing the people around him. They define themselves as upright, but their character does not reflect that standard. They are being two-faced: hypocrites.
If people could see into their soul, would they see someone who truly loves God and cares for others or would they see a cheap facade in an inwardly empty shell? Does your daily life and integrity reflect Jesus within you?
Integrity in religious convictions – Matthew 23: 29-35
The Pharisees and lawyers build tombs for the prophets who were killed by their ancestors. This is a testimony against them because they are also guilty of the death of those sent by God to warn them. They will continue to do the same by killing Jesus and those who come after him. Its integrity is seriously flawed.
How can we keep doing things against God when we claim to be followers of Jesus Christ? What are we when we go to church every SONDY, but sin like the devil from Monday to Friday? Is your integrity during the week reflected in your worship on SON days?
God longs for our integrity – Matthew 23: 36-39
Jesus concludes this tirade with a lament for the city of Jerusalem. For hundreds, even thousands of years, God has sought a relationship with his people only to be rejected over and over again. When I look at the state of some of our churches, I can only imagine how God must hurt due to the lack of respect for God and others in their integrity. God wants to have a relationship with you. You love him?
God bless you and have a great week!