Matthew 23:15 (Twice as Much a Son of Hell)

Why does Jesus say that the evangelistic endeavors of the scribes and Pharisees were not a good thing?  See Mat 23:15.  While religious pretenders may produce other religious pretenders, in spite of their pretense why is it impossible for a son of hell to produce a true son of God?  See Mat 7:18, 15:14, and the very next verses in our context Mat 23:16,17,19,24.  Consider also Luk 6:39-40 in light of Mat 23:15: Although students can be no better than their teacher, can they be worse?  What would a religious follower look like who was twice the son of hell as their teacher?  Think: who would that make them more like, and what does it mean to be more like Satan except to be even more subtle in their religious pretense?  Cf. 2Co 11:13-15 and see also 2Ti 3:13.  What does this teach us about the importance of personally following and being taught by Christ Himself as our teacher through His Holy Spirit, as opposed to following and being taught by men?  See again Luk 6:40 and cf. Joh 16:13, 1Jo 2:27.

What example do we have in Scripture of a Pharisee who was twice the son of hell as his teacher?  See Acts 5:33-39, 22:3-5, 26:9-11.  Although zealous for God and so religious that he could say he was blameless in regard to the righteousness to be found in the Law of Moses, how did Paul understand the seriousness of his misplaced zeal and crimes against God?  See 1Ti 1:12-15.  Was his sentiment just false humility, or was his sin really that bad?  Why is that?  Think: What culpability, what condemnation is deserving upon the deceived and deceitful of heart who mislead others to become even more like Satan in religious pretense?  See again the first three words of Mat 23:15 and cf. Jam 3:1.  Consider too the long term consequences to increasing numbers of people: What would we expect the world to look like as a result of false disciples over generations of time each making the next twice the son of hell as they are?  See 2Ti 3:1-5, especially 2Ti 3:5, and think: Might it come to be like what it was in the time of Noah and in the days of Lot, even like we find it today?  Cf. also Isa 5:18-20.

Is it possible that in a way similar to the scribes and Pharisees, many Christians today are making converts who are twice the sons of hell that they are?  Although we might be generous to suppose that like the scribes and Pharisee and even like the apostle Paul before his conversion, many today have good intentions in their evangelistic zeal, from Jesus’ words of severe condemnation, is it the case that such misplaced zeal is of neutral consequence, so that in the day of judgment they shall be excused because they meant well?  Cf. Pro 19:2 NIV.  What warning should this give evangelical Christians today about their evangelistic endeavors, especially in regard to seeking converts to a particular religious persuasion or denomination, such as by getting them to say a sinner’s prayer without any mention of repentance and then giving them a false security that they are saved for all eternity and they cannot lose their salvation regardless of their sins?  Again, instead of converts, what did Jesus command us to make?  See Mat 28:19.  What do these things teach us practically about our evangelism and discipleship efforts?  In seeking to save the lost are we to point them to ourselves or even to a particular church?  Are we to make them disciples of ourselves or even disciples of a particular religious persuasion?  Or are we to point them to Jesus and make them His disciples, so that they follow Him, even if they don’t follow us?

When considering those sons of hell like the religious leaders who persecuted Jesus and His disciples, the apostle Paul before his conversion, the Popes who instigated the Crusades and Inquisitions, or even radical Muslims who wage jihad against Jews and Christians as well as other Muslims who disagree with them, what characteristic stands out as a clear indicator that one is a son of hell and not a son of God in spite of their religious pretense?  Contrast Mat 5:38-48, Luk 6:27-35.  What warning should this give us about religious intolerance?  What is the key that was exemplified in the life of Christ for how one is able to stand for righteousness and resist sin in the surrounding environment without becoming intolerant and judging or condemning others?  See Pro 10:12, 1Pe 4:8, 1Co 13:4-8, Col 3:12-14 and cf. Joh 8:1-11, 12:47-48.  In what way is sacrificial love even to the point of death also the key for how Christ’s kingdom must ultimately prevail over the kingdoms of this world?  Cf. Joh 12:24-25, 15:13.

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