Breaking The Spirit of Misery – Part IV
Losing Your Pharisees
Matthew 23:13: – But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye
shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves,
neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.
During my study of "misery" I was led by the Lord to look up its
word origin. The word "misery" comes from the latin word
"miser" which means wretched. After finding this, I looked up the
word wretched and it means "attended by woes" (sorrows or
mournfulness). So a person who is filled with misery will have sorrows and
mourning unlike the person mentioned in the 23rd Psalms who will have goodness
and mercy follow him all the days of his life.
This week’s text was taken from a passage of scriptures known as "The
Seven Woes" (Matthew 23rd chapter). In this chapter, Jesus issues seven
"woes" to the Pharisees and teachers of the law and refers to them as
hypocrites because they were not living the way they were teaching — and in
many cases, they were teaching the wrong things. Their problem was they were
low on morality and high on self-righteousness and pride. Because of this they
were frequently rebuked by our Lord and destined to sorrows and mournfulness.
Our text states, "[F]or ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men:
for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go
in." In other words, the Pharisees were so caught up in to their own ways
that they refused to enter into salvation, and they also aggressively hindered
others from doing so. Today this is best depicted in soap operas as an
"Erica Kain mentality" – knock everyone down and make them just like
you. These type of people in real life have a two-fold, flesh-led ministry.
Their purpose is to (1) Bring you down and (2) Keep you down. I really like the
way I heard it put this Sunday in church: "They’re out to find out what
makes you click and what makes you sick."
So how do we identify these people who hold us back? Well, either they tells
lies about you or they tell truths about you. I’ll repeat that, "They
either tell lies about you or tell truths about you." Now I hear you loud
and clear, "That doesn’t make sense. That can be anyone or everyone."
You’re exactly right. It could be anyone, everyone, no one or just ONE! But
more than likely, the most important Pharisee we need to get rid of is the
INTERNAL ONE (inside ourselves) known as doubt. The doubt that says you were
not made in the image of God. The doubt that tries to lie to you and say you do
not have a purpose on this earth. The doubt that keeps you from pursing what
God has already designed and carefully mapped out for you. The doubt that
constantly wants you to believe you will never see the desires, dreams and
goals God has put into you. God offers us so many promises in His word to show
us that we were not "built to lose;" instead we were designed and
destined to win:
• Psalms 37:4, "Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give
thee the desires of thine heart."
• Joshua 1:8 – This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but
thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do
according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way
prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
• Psalms 1:1-3 – Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the
ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the
scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he
meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of
water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not
wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
Now once we have overcome the internal Pharisee we can conquer the EXTERNAL
ONES. The ones that lie to you, discourage your dreams, bring up your past and
even slander you. It’s funny how the external ones sound just like the internal
ones. Believe it or not, both are so similar, and that’s because they come from
the same place, and that place is definitely not heaven.
To close, I’ll share this incident. One night I was observing two
guys—I’ll call them John and Steve. John began to get on Steve’s nerves.
However, instead of getting agitated, Steve looked John squarely in the eyes
and said, "Man, I’ve got to lose you!! I mean, I’ve really got to lose
Today, that should be our attitude toward whatever or whomever is holding us
back from what God has for us. We’ve simply got to lose that fear, doubt, or
pity that tries to railroad us into a spirit of misery. Let’s stop believing
that "it won’t work out" and start knowing that "It will work
out!!!" Let’s stop worrying about lies others tell about us and begin
standing on God’s truth that says, "every tongue that rises against us
will be silenced" (Isaiah 54:17). Let’s even stop worrying about the past
truths that others and even we ourselves hang over our heads. If it’s in our
past then that’s our past. That’s not who we are; it’s only something we did.
Paul, one of the biggest former non-Christians wrote in Philippians 3:13-14,
"Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I
do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those
things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high
calling of God in Christ Jesus." So it is our established goal and destiny
to press on toward the prize, not the Pharisees.