Because It’s the Religious Thing To Do – Matthew 3:7-10

baptism“But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, ‘You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come. Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance; and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for out father’; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham. The axe is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (Matthew 3:7-10, NASB).

This declaration was made by John the Baptist when the religious leaders came to be baptized by him. John warned them that they weren’t repenting and looking for a Savior as he was preaching. They didn’t think they needed saving and so they were just being baptized because it was the religious thing to do!

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The Test for True Repentance – Zechariah 7:9

TrueRepentance“Thus says the Lord of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another” (Zechariah 7:9, ESV).

In 518 BC after reconstruction of the Temple was started but before its completion the people of Bethel sent representatives to Zechariah in Jerusalem to ask whether they should continue to perform ritual fasts commemorating the destruction of the Temple since the Temple was now being rebuilt.

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Breaking Bad – Ezra 10:1-2

brokencross “We have broken faith with our God and have married foreign women from the peoples of the land, but even now there is hope for Israel in spite of this” (Ezra 10:1-2, ESV).

In 539 BC King Cyrus of Persia captured Babylon and soon thereafter issued a proclamation freeing the Israelites in Babylonian captivity to return to their homeland. The first wave of exiles returned to Jerusalem and started rebuilding the temple in 536 BC and construction was completed in 516 BC.

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How To Make God Happy – Ezekiel 18:23

happy_face“‘Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked?’ This is the declaration of the Lord God. ‘Instead, don’t I take pleasure when he turns from his ways and lives?'”

Sometimes people think that God is somehow out to get them.

In Chapter 18 the prophet Ezekiel provides a highly detailed explanation to refute the notion that God punishes the innocent for the sins of others. Ezekiel clarifies that each individual bears personal responsibility for his or her own sin (see also 33:7-20).

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The Pious Pretender – Matthew 21:31-32

“I tell you the truth, corrupt tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the Kingdom of God before you do. For John the Baptist came and showed you the right way to live, but you didn’t believe him, while tax collectors and prostitutes did. And even when you saw this happening, you refused to believe him and repent of your sins.”  (Matthew 21:31-32, NLT)

Jesus came to Jerusalem prior to his execution and taught in the Temple. The Jewish religious leaders rejected His teachings and plotted against Him.

Jesus told three parables in Matthew 21 and 22 to expose those who rejected Him and His teachings and these verses are the conclusion of the first of these three parables, the Parable of the Two Sons.

In this parable Jesus told about a father who asked one of his sons to go work in the vineyard and the son refused to go, but then later changed his mind and went and worked.

Then the father asked the other son to go work in the vineyard and he agreed to go but never actually went to work in the vineyard.

Jesus then asked which son obeyed his father and the people answered with the first son.

So tax collectors and prostitutes were like the first son who refused to obey but later changed his mind, They were repentant sinners. But the Jewish religious leaders were like the second son who agreed to obey but never did. They were pious pretenders!

And we call their bad behavior “giving lip service.”

Jesus said this pseudo-obedience is a very serious matter.

Pretension is the highest form of unbelief in the Kingdom of God because it presumes God doesn’t know your evil heart while leading people to believe your heart is pure and righteous.

The pretender professes to know God when he actually doesn’t know Him at all!

According to Jesus, people who are sinful and rebellious and then repent will get into the Kingdom of God before people who are sanctimonious.

Lip service may get you accolades from people but it gets you nowhere with God.

If you really know God, then you know that you can’t get anything past Him!
     God knows everything!
          He knows everything about you!
               He knows your intentions, your motives, and your desires!

So, we must be authentic in our relationship with God. God can redeem a repentant sinner and transform him into an obedient child of God. But a pious pretender remains lost in his disobedience!

A repentant sinner knows he has been disobedient and needs redemption, believes God for it, and receives God’s grace.

The pious pretender doesn’t think think he has been disobedient and needs redemption.
     The pious pretender thinks he’s already righteous.
          The pious pretender never asks and believes God to extend to him His saving grace…
               And, consequently, the pious pretender never receives God’s grace!

God’s Measure for Success – Ezekiel 3:17-21

God's Measure for Success - Ezekiel 3:17-21

“Son of man, I have appointed you as a watchman for Israel. Whenever you receive a message from me, warn people immediately. If I warn the wicked, saying, ‘You are under the penalty of death,’ but you fail to deliver the warning, they will die in their sins. And I will hold you responsible for their deaths. If you warn them and they refuse to repent and keep on sinning, they will die in their sins. But you will have saved yourself because you obeyed me. If righteous people turn away from their righteous behavior and ignore the obstacles I put in their way, they will die. And if you do not warn them, they will die in their sins. None of their righteous acts will be remembered, and I will hold you responsible for their deaths. But if you warn righteous people not to sin and they listen to you and do not sin, they will live, and you will have saved yourself, too” (Ezekiel 3:17-21, NLT).

God commissioned Ezekiel to conduct a twofold prophetic ministry–warn the wicked to repent and warn the righteous not to sin. Ezekiel was called to be both an evangelist and a pastor.

God told Ezekiel that he was appointed to be a “watchman for Israel.” The watchman was a lookout for the community and was responsible for providing advance warning of approaching enemies so that the people could take refuge in time.

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