06/24/2007 “Worship Public and Private” Please take your Bible with me and open it to Matthew ch.

15 where we’ll find Jesus in conversation with the Pharisees. When Jesus dealt with the Pharisees, He said what no one else could or would say to them. For example, watch the Lord as He proceeds to reach these men’s hearts –verse one [Read Matt. 15:1-9] (1) “Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, (2) Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. (3) But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? (4) For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. (5) But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; (6) And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. (7) Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, (8) This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. (9) But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” Today’s sermon title is this: “Worship, Public and Private.” And, my hope today is this – to get you to see that worship is big and it’s so easy to make it small; so small, in fact, that the LORD has to call our attention to how VAIN some of it is. Jesus said, in verse 9, the teachings of man ahead of the teachings of Heaven. I’m always struck by that fact that the LORD often uses the Pharisees and Scribes to teach us some valuable spiritual lessons. There are a number of lessons here in Matthew 15, but the one I’d like to look at here is on worship. Let’s start with the Pharisees, verse one. They came to Jesus with an issue. And issues are important. But when it comes to spiritual lessons and spiritual life, have you ever noticed how often religion overwhelms righteousness?

The Pharisees had a problem with the LORD’s disciples. They would arrive home from the marketplace after having bumped up against a Gentile. And, rather than washing their hands, sort of like, washing off the “pollution of the Gentiles,” they would proceed to eat their meal. The Pharisees, on the other hand, had learned in the Synagogue that “the Mishnah,” or the “tradition of the elders,” verse two, taught them to wash off the “pollution of the Gentiles” just as soon as you arrived home. This was a ceremonial cleansing and the Pharisees had made it into a law. But the Disciples of Jesus weren’t living according to the “tradition of the elders.” They weren’t abiding by Jewish teaching. They didn’t proceed with a ceremonial cleansing after they had been around Gentiles. So the Pharisees had an issue with Jesus because it was His disciples who were so flagrant in their “transgressing,” verse 2, their breaking of the tradition of the elders. By the way, the Bible does not teach that a Jew had to wash off the “dirt” of the Gentiles after he’d been out and about and had bumped into a Gentile. This was a Pharisaical interpretation and application of Moses. So, Jesus responds to the Scribes with a word on the subject of something a whole lot more important in the eyes of the LORD, actually two things: “honor” verse six, and “worship” verse nine. But notice again verse two “Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. (3) But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? (4) For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. (5) But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; (6) And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.” Did you see how Jesus answers their question? He immediately shows them the effect of the Tradition of the

Jewish Elders, which was to, in essence, nullify God’s commands. Have you noticed how often and how easy it is for us to put the stress on things that God doesn’t to the exclusion of the things He does put stress on? Here’s what was going on. The Pharisees were so concerned for what other people were doing; they had no eyes for what they themselves were doing. The Pharisees were “washing” off the dirt of the Gentiles, just like they were taught in their synagogue classes. But when it came to showing honor to their parents, they were placating their consciences by giving gifts t them. Here’s Jesus at work on the hearts of men again. The Scribes were stressing externals while the LORD emphasized the internals. The Scribes made an “issue” of what the Disciples of Jesus did outwardly, while at the same time, they were personally in clear violation of the LORD’s direct command to show honor to their parents. And, when they did that, Jesus tells them that they were, verse nine, “worshiping the LORD in vain” because they were putting the teachings of man ahead of the teachings of Heaven. Vain worship, as you know, is still worship. But, it’s empty worship. It’s empty of life for one simple reason, it was empty of love. They had their teachings down. They knew and they taught and they practiced the traditions of the elders. But they were lacking in a love relationship with God. They were lacking in the one command that Jesus connects directly to worship – honoring their parents. I’m wondering this morning, folks, if you are letting the LORD look into your own heart today, especially in light of what Jesus says here? I imagine you are doing things you feel are right, like these men were doing. And, when other people don’t do those same things, you ‘take issue’ with them; maybe not verbally like these Pharisees did. But when you take issue with others, here’s what you are doing: you are trying, in your own way, to fix others when, in reality, you need to let the LORD have His way with you.

Folks, we aren’t here to fix people. That’s your Father’s job. That’s the work of the Holy Spirit. And, He can see the whole picture. You and I can’t. What would serve us a whole lot better is if we quit trying to “fix” others and focused on letting the LORD do with us what we need done. The One Who “fixes” others is the LORD. Let Him do His job with YOU and He’ll handle those around you quite adequately.

Were these Scribes and Pharisees to have had a true heart for the LORD, they would have quickly identified with how important honoring parents was. And, that would have led them to the practical side of worship. That’s what I’d like to get you to focus on today. Jesus is teaching that when we show true honor to those He used to bring us into this world, we show Him honor. And, when we show Him His due honor, we worship. These Pharisees truly believed that a token gift to an elderly parent was enough to please the LORD. But, in reality, the gift was to salve the conscience? Folks, the LORD watches. He sees the true attitude of our hearts. And, when we miss the inward things, especially the things He speaks about in His word, by focusing on the externals, our worship has been reduced to one thing, verse seven, hypocrisy. “Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, (8) This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. (9) But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” Hypocrisy, then, is revealed in these three things: 1. Drawing near to the LORD with your mouth. 2. Keeping your heart far from Him. 3. Worshipping Him in vain Worship, remember, is seeing God as He truly is, and giving Him His due honor. “Worship is a way of gladly reflecting back to God the radiance of his worth. This cannot be done be mere acts of

duty. It can be done only when spontaneous affections arise in the heart.” – copied Here’s what I want you to see today: Worship is both inward and outward. It’s both private and it’s public. Worship, as you can see here, is both private and it’s public. Key: When we do what we need to, for a lack of better words, stop trying to fix people and begin to reflect back to the LORD our truest feelings and our thoughts of what He’s really like. • Worship = “worth”; showing His worth; reflecting back to Him what He is worth to you. Is He worthy of your honor and praise? The Scribes and Pharisees, I’m sure, had learned the traditions of the elders well. They knew the Mishnah. But there’s a huge difference between knowledge and worship. Worship will lead to knowledge. But knowledge does not always lead to worship. When you come to a worship service, is it worship? Or, are you looking for what the service will do for you? Are we here for Him? Or, merely to ask Him to bless us? First, then, a look at the Pharisees and Scribes. They worshipped. But their worship was vain worship (v.9). And, what really strikes me about these men is that they were in the presence of the Holy Son of God who was instructing them regarding their hearts and the Word of Heaven itself. Yet, their response to Jesus was this: they became offended. Look at verse twelve (12) “Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying?” Can you see where the real problem with these Scribes and Pharisees is? They had made their study of the Bible a hobby. It was their specialty. They, quote unquote, “knew” a whole lot more than the common, ordinary man on the street. They were above the common man. And, to top it all off, they took issue with Jesus because His disciples didn’t practice the Jew’s religion the way they thought it should be practiced.

Folks, that’s not worship. And it’s not love. And, practical though they were, they had truly missed the essence of worship. First, the Pharisees and the Scribes – worshipped, but in vain. Now folks, the message of Matthew 15 is negative. I’ll admit that. But, it’s true. The LORD isn’t looking for empty worship. So, let me close with the positive. Second, worship that is both public and private. Turn with me to Heb. ch. 10 and verse 19 [read Heb. 10:19-25]. (19) “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, (20) By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; (21) And having an high priest over the house of God; (22) Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. (23) Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) (24) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: (25) Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” Yet, here, in the words of the Apostle Paul, is a reminder that we must “boldly’,” “confidently” enter. Today, there is no temple, nor a tabernacle. There is no more shedding of the blood of a lamb. Jesus has completed the work of the entire Old Testament. There are no more bulls and rams and doves to be offered. Jesus said it in three words on the cross. “It is finished.” And here’s why. Today, we can come into the Holy of Holies with confidence. We enter based upon the blood of Jesus, verse 19. Verse 19 uses the phrase “the holiest.” That refers to the second room in the Temple, the Holy of Holies, the one place that only a Priest could enter and then only once each year and then, only with the blood of a sacrifice. Inside the Holy of Holies is where the LORD received the blood of the sacrificial lambs.

by a new and living way, by a consecrated way, verse 20, by the Person and work of Jesus on Calvary. Jesus is our High Priest, verse 21. He died and rose again and is now at the Father’s right hand so that we, verse 22, having had our consciences and our bodies washed with pure water, we can come to the LORD both privately and personally and also publicly and practically to worship Him. You see, your worship takes place every time you come confidently before Him. 19) “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,…” • This is private and personal worship. It’s seeing His worth and showing Him honor by coming confidently to Him Now some might say that when we privately worship, that’s sufficient. But what does the LORD say here? Verse 22, “draw near,” to “come near” to the LORD. Verse 23, “hold fast your profession.” And verse 24, assemble together for the purpose of worship and exhortation. In other words, it’s both private and public. You draw near and hold fast to your profession privately and personally. But, each one of us is commanded to come together for public worship and exhortation. We meet to honor Him for Who He is and we gather together, verse 24, to provoke each other to good works. Folks, the LORD tells us the way it is. You saw that in His ministry to the Pharisees. But He also tells us that we have the greatest privilege in the universe – to come before the Holy God, into His very presence (the Holy of Holies) with confidence. To do this is private and personal worship. But, along with private worship, He exhorts you to “not forsake the assembling together with other Believers. This is public worship. Both are important and both are commanded. Now, what will you do? •

... American churchgoers no longer sort themselves out by denomination so much as by musical preference. Since the 1950's, denominational divisions have steadily become less important in American church life. We have the baby boom generation...to thank for much of this. But at bottom we are all still sectarians; we still prefer to congregate with the likeminded. Our new sectarianism is a sectarianism of worship style. The new sectarian creeds are dogmas of music.... Conflicts over worship in general and music in particular have erupted in churches of every denomination. Forty years ago, this heightened sensitivity to the details of worship and music would have been unheard of, but now it is the norm. All over North America, worship has become contested ground. (1)