Sermon: Hypocrisy and the Fear of Man (Luke 12:1-12)

Luke 12.1-12

Hypocrisy and the Fear of Man

Luke 12:1-12

Introduction

Last week we were a part of a very awkward dinner.  Jesus and the Pharisees went head to head.  Our Lord declared six woes upon the religious leaders of the day because they were more concerned with hypocritical traditions of men that they were with the commands of God.  In essence they cared more about what they looked like to others than what they looked like to God.

Hours later, Jesus is out in the street teaching the multitude and the topic is still the same.  Lets listen to Jesus Words to His disciples and to us.

This is God’s Word:

Lk 12:1 In the meantime, when so many thousands of the people had gathered together that they were trampling one another, he began to say to his disciples first, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.

Lk 12:2 Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.

Lk 12:3 Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.

Lk 12:4 “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do.

Lk 12:5 But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!

Lk 12:6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God.

Lk 12:7 Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Lk 12:8 “And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God,

Lk 12:9 but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God.

Lk 12:10 And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.

Lk 12:11 And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say,

Lk 12:12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”

Pray…

1. The Fear of Man Produces Hypocrisy

Lk 12:1 In the meantime, when so many thousands of the people had gathered together that they were trampling one another, he began to say to his disciples first, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.

Lk 12:2 Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.

Lk 12:3 Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.

Notice in verse 1, Jesus is addressing His disciples even though He is in the midst of a very large multitude, literally ten thousand plus.  The crowd was pressing in and trampling one another to see and hear Jesus.  Yet, Jesus does not address them.

What is so important that Jesus would turn from this crowd and address the disciples?  His disciples needed desperately to here these words of their Master.  They were going to be the next leaders.  They needed to make sure they avoided the hypocrisy of the Pharisees.  It is so vital that we avoid hypocrisy because it spreads like yeast in the dough.  Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.

Whose opinion do you value?  The hypocrite values man’s opinion over God’s.  This is called the fear of man.  The Pharisees practice religion to be seen by men.

Mt 6:1 “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. 

Mt 23:5 They do all their deeds to be seen by others.

According to Jesus, hypocrisy not only infects others but it is utter foolishness.  Everything one does to try and look the part will someday come to nothing.

Lk 12:2 Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.

All hypocrites will someday be discovered.  In the end all the secrets of a false worshipper will be uncovered.

When someone fears man, they think that sin can be hidden.  They think it can be covered up.  What they fail to take into account is the omniscience of God.  Just because a person can hide things from people and trick people into thinking well of them, we must never think for a second God is fooled.

Hypocrisy spreads, it’s futile, and it always fails to deliver.  Whatever someone tries to gain by simply looking the part of a Christian will always come to nothing.

Jesus knew that the temptation the Pharisees encountered was not unique to them.  This same thing will tempt his disciples and all of us.

The fear of man produces hypocrisy and hypocrisy produces more and more fear until the person is enslaved by fear.   In extreme cases this fear debilitates.  When someone lives for the approval of man they will do whatever it takes to maintain that approval.  They will lie, cheat, and steal.  They will withdraw from life in order to maintain the allusion that they are thought well of.  It’s better to live in the shadows that step out into the light only to be discovered.  They won’t do or say the things that need to be done or said for fear of not being liked.  This is sin.  The Fear of Man enslaves.

2. The Fear of God Produces Freedom

Lk 12:4 “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do.

Lk 12:5 But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!

Lk 12:6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God.

Lk 12:7 Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Since the fall our sinful natures have corrupted our emotions.  The fear that we should have toward God has been suppressed by human pride and arrogance.  We must fight against the natural inclination to disregard the things of God.  We reason that we have all the time in the world; we reason that it’s not all that important or that God will always be there to forgive.  We think this way because we think we’re in charge.

We think we have control over our own destiny.  Jesus tells us to not fear death or those who have the power to just kill the body.  Because of the fear of man, we value this life often times more than the life to come.

Rather than fearing those who can just take our lives, we should fear the One who has control over the destiny of our souls.  Only God is to be feared because He alone has control over our souls.   He alone can kill the body and send someone to hell.

A healthy Christian is one who has a reverent fear of God.  This fear is to highly esteem and value God.  It is to care immensely what He thinks.  It is to obey Him out of reverence before we obey anyone else.

Jesus shows us an amazing twist of truth here.

Lk 12:6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God.

Lk 12:7 Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.

The Logic of Jesus goes like this:

-God is to be feared because He has the power to cast you into hell.

-God is omniscient, He knows when the least little thing happens.

-He is very much aware of you in even the smallest details.

-When we fear God we don’t need to fear anything else.

Fear God and Fear not…

3. The Fear of God Made Visible

Jesus gives us two examples of what fearing God and not fearing man looks like.

Lk 12:8 “And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God,

Lk 12:9 but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God.

Lk 12:10 And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.

Lk 12:11 And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say,

Lk 12:12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”

A. The Fear of God Produces Bold Confession

Lk 12:8 “And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God,

Lk 12:9 but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God.

How do you know if you fear man over God?  You don’t witness consistently.  Most Christians never have told anyone about Christ.

Ask yourself; Do I share my faith with others on a regular basis?  If the answer is no, this shows quite vividly where your fear is placed.

A mark of godly fear is a healthy evangelistic ministry in your life.

B. The Fear of God Produces Bold Proclamation

Lk 12:10 And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.

Lk 12:11 And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say,

Lk 12:12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”

We have travelled full circle in our Lord’s teaching on fear and hypocrisy.  Only one who fears God would ever be brought in to the officials and rulers because of the name of Christ.

A person who cowers in fear of man would never be arrested for preaching and teaching Christ in the public arena.

If you do, understand that you don’t need to fear man because of God’s provision.  He will give you the words to say in that very hour.

We could speak boldly like the Apostles when the time comes if we fear God and not man.

A hypocrite like the Pharisees would never go against the flow.  A person who fears man would never go against the flow.  Only a committed follower of Christ would humbly speak the truth in love when it’s unpopular.

I pray we would be a church who fears God and not man.  I pray we are a church will to stand up for our Lord, a people who love Him over all things and willing to sacrifice if needed for the message of the Gospel.

Let’s look together at an example of two disciples with a fear of God and no fear of man:

Acts 4:13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.

Acts 4:14 But seeing the man who was healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition.

Acts 4:15 But when they had commanded them to leave the council, they conferred with one another,

Acts 4:16 saying, “What shall we do with these men? For that a notable sign has been performed through them is evident to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it.

Acts 4:17 But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.”

Acts 4:18 So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.

Acts 4:19 But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge,

Acts 4:20 for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.”

Acts 4:21 And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them, because of the people, for all were praising God for what had happened.   

You may be thinking, there’s no way I could ever do something like that.  To be brought before the civil authorities in risk of losing my life, there’s no way…

What about standing up for Christ tomorrow at work or school?  What about standing up for Christ at Christmas or when your family is gathered?

Whose opinion you value is shown by your actions…

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