©2022 Spring Series
Not A Fan... A Completely Committed Follower!
Concord Baptist Church of Boston in Milton
Conley Hughes, Jr., Senior Pastor
Tuesday, 21 June 2022, Lesson 5
Kyle Idleman, Not A Fan… A Completely Committed Follower of Jesus
Devotional Time: Not A Fan, Chapter 5 (pp. 69-85)
Being More Righteous, Than Adhering To Rituals – One of the greatest challenges Jesus faced was from religious leaders whose lives were driven by rituals and rules that were written by men. Jesus acknowledged that the translation of the Torah (the five books, commonly called the Law) by the scribes was accurate. However, the religious leaders did not adhere to the scriptures they taught. Jesus chided those religious leaders, Pharisees, for making the scriptures a burden on people’s lives, by extending its meaning to punitive rituals and rules (cf. Matthew 23:1-7, NLT). Jesus said the perfunctory rituals amounted to a “show.” The religious leaders were more interested in impressing people with what they assumed was their vaulted status and superior standing in the synagogue and community. Jesus accurately describes the outer wear that was a symbol of their status; and which they loved to flaunt before crowds. Their behavior had become a daily ritual. The origin of the term Pharisee is, according to some sources, a blend of the Hebrew and Aramaic, parushi, which means literally “the ones who are separated.” In this sense, they felt they were “religiously superior to others.” They also believed the most overt expression of religion was through rituals; and through rules that benefitted them. Jesus was vehemently opposed to this belief and warned His followers to avoid emulating the aberrant example of the Pharisees (cf. Matthew 6:1-4, NLT). Jesus referred to these misguided religious leaders who were enamored with public displays of religious acts, as hypocrites. This ancient term was first used in the Greek culture to refer to “stage hands,” or “actors” as we refer to them today. The term literally meant “those who speak underneath.” Actors wore large masks, which depicted the characters they were playing. The word later came to mean a person “pretending to be something or someone who they are not.” In his helpful book, Not A Fan, Kyle Idleman refers to persons like the Pharisees as fans and not committed followers of Jesus. With respect to their character, he says: “Jesus has harsh words for these fans who were trying to impress others through religious credentials. It’s interesting to note that as severe as Jesus was with these religious leaders he is just as tender and encouraging to those who have genuinely given him their hearts, even if they don’t have it all together… Jesus doesn’t want followers to be perfect, but he does call them to be authentic.” Jesus called the Pharisees hypocrites because they were “pretenders.” They felt they could literally wear their religion on their sleeves; or around their neck. These were rituals constructed by religious people who, sadly, treated faith like a fan.
Cultivating Life From The Inside – One of the great impediments to helping a person enter the Kingdom of God is giving them the false perception that they must obey all rules and adhere to all rituals before they can live a righteous life. This was the great error the Pharisees made. Jesus warned them: “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you shut the door of the Kingdom of Heaven in people’s faces. You won’t go in yourselves, and you don’t let others enter either (cf. Matthew 23:13-14, NLT).” Kyle Idleman observes this about the Pharisees and other religious leaders: “They made it hard for people to come to God. They taught that God’s favor and salvation was something that had to be earned, not just by keeping God’s law, but also by keeping a bunch of other laws they added to it.” These religious leaders were so obsessed with rituals and rules that they neglected to cultivate their spiritual lives within. They really had no authentic relationship with God. The relationship they assumed they had was observed only through outside or external acts of behavior. Long before the Pharisees emerged, King David sought to “restore” his relationship with God. In his confessional prayer, David acknowledged the most authentic offering in prayer was a person’s honesty and transparency (cf. Psalm 51:16-17, NLT). David knew that rituals alone were not sufficient in reestablishing fellowship with God. It is possible David learned this spiritual wisdom from the experience of his predecessor King Saul. Samuel the prophet, warned Saul that God had rejected him because of his failure to obey the Lord and fully devote himself to God (cf. I Samuel 15:22-23, NLT). Here earlier, God places the righteousness of an inner life above external rituals. Jesus also stressed that the cultivation of an inner life has great value in how we care for others, and come to their aid. The religious leaders often made their act of tithing very public and meticulous. Jesus told them while tithing was not to be neglected; they “also” had an obligation to come to the aid of people, which was not to be ignored. Jesus emphasizes, the committed follower will put people over things (cf. Matthew 23:23, NLT). Jesus further chided the religious leaders for neglecting to purify their inner lives. Jesus uses the ceremonial washing of eating utensils so common to the Pharisees, to illustrate His point. In their rush, the Pharisees would often clean the outside of their cups, leaving debris inside. Similarly, they would wear bright outer tunics, but their hearts were cold (cf. Matt. 23:25-26, NLT; Is. 29:13a, NLT).
What We Believe!
“Committed followers seek a right relationship with God foremost!”
1. Committed followers seek to cultivate life from the inside!
Matthew 23:1-7, NLT
“Then Jesus said to the crowds and to His disciples, “The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees are the official interpreters of the law of Moses. So practice and obey whatever they tell you, but don’t follow their example. For they don’t practice what they teach. They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden. Everything they do is for show. On their arms they wear extra wide prayer boxes with Scripture verses inside, and they wear robes with extra long tassels. And they love to sit at the head table at banquets and in the seats of honor in the synagogues. They love to receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces, and be called ‘Rabbi.”
Matthew 6:1-4, NLT
“Watch out! Don’t do your deeds publicly to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do – blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity. I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get. But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in private, and your Father who see every-thing will reward you.”
Psalm 51:16-17, NLT
“You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.”
I Samuel 15:22-23, NLT
“But Samuel replied, “What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to His voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams. Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols. So because you have rejected the command of the Lord, He has rejected you as king.”
Matthew 23:23, NLT
“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law – justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.”
Matthew 23:25-26, NLT
“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy –full of greed and self-indulgence! You blind Pharisees! First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too.”
Isaiah 29:13a, NLT
“And so the Lord says, “These people say they are mine. They honor me with their lips, but their hearts