14 And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him.
15 And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God. Lk. 16:14-15
I am pretty sure that when we get to heaven, there are many, many things that will surprise and probably shock us. I wouldn’t be surprised if some people were to faint right off and have to be resurrected twice – if that option is there. If you don’t read the Bible carefully while you are down here on earth, it is a given that you could find yourself in a very regrettable position when you get to heaven.
People will be shocked, but it is not because the Lord did not inform or warn us of these things. It is because we have hard hearts, and the revelation of God cannot penetrate our spiritual consciousness.
When they read Jesus’ words in the above scripture, for example, many believers, upon reading these words, think that Jesus was referring to the world. They therefore waste the precious opportunity to look into their own state and instead point fingers at the world. But the church, of which Jesus is the Head, has absolutely no business with the world except to preach it the Good News of salvation. We cannot talk of the world in church. A preacher cannot, for example, waste a whole sermon talking about the great king of pop, Jacko the Wacko in church and claim he is preaching the gospel. He could mention the man in passing, but the king of pop could never become the subject of a church sermon.
Jesus could not, therefore, have been addressing the world when He spoke these words. Jesus was addressing the church. Indeed, we find that here He was addressing the Pharisees, who were the bona fide ‘church’ of that time. It is in this regard that we need to understand also that the Bible is a spiritual Book, and it is written to spiritual people – believers, the church. The Bible is not written to the world for the Bible is scripted in spiritual language, and the world does not understand spiritual language. That is why even a born-again believer, if he does not have a spiritual mindset, cannot understand the Bible. By spiritual mindset I mean the desire, thirst or hunger for the things of the Spirit. There are believers, for example, who seek for material gain in the Bible. Such people cannot understand the spiritual gist of the Bible.
Having therefore established that Jesus was addressing these words to the church, it is imperative that the church WAKE UP!! What is going on in church today is shocking beyond belief. Today the church is nurturing the most obnoxious strain of people on earth!
Who are these people? They are the worldly-minded preachers. The church is coddling and holding in high esteem men (and women) who preach and live any kinds of gospels other than the true gospel of Jesus Christ, the gospel of the cross.
Today the most vociferous, the most televised, and the most revered preachers today are men whose lives are not desirable to the Lord. Most are lovers of money. And they are lovers of many other things that are not of God. But when men justify themselves before men, it is easy for men who have no revelation to follow them.
What does it mean to “justify yourselves before men”?
A preacher who has no revelation of the cross of Jesus Christ in his heart cannot preach the true gospel of Jesus Christ. On the contrary, he will preach a gospel in which he justifies his own ways. The Pharisees, for example, were lovers of money, and they preached things that justified their covetousness. They went to the extent of teaching that whatever financial help one should have given to his parents, he could put into the church coffers instead – and that he would be “blessed”.
That is what the Bible means by “justify yourselves before men”. It means that men preach whatever justifies their own lusts.
In our country I heard of a preacher whose ‘ministry’ is to “comfort” widows. He “comforts” widows by sleeping with them. But he uses scripture to carry out his diabolical ‘ministry’.
But where the gospel of the cross of Jesus Christ is preached, such people will never be allowed to see the light of day. There is simply no place for them in the true church! The gospel of the cross reveals and confronts the evil in our hearts. The preacher who has the revelation of the cross in his heart is the only person who can usher people into the Kingdom of God.
The Pharisees had just heard Jesus say, “Ye cannot serve God and mammon”; and because they loved money, the Bible says they “derided”, or mocked, Jesus.
One of the truest signs that you are a man or woman who is not going to heaven is when you find yourself deriding the message of the cross of Jesus Christ. How do you ‘deride’ Jesus, or His message? It is when you find yourself being a ‘fan’ or follower of a gospel other than the gospel of the cross. It is when you cannot deny yourself. The message of the cross is the true message of the road to eternal life. It is the message that the apostles preached, and it is the message of which God commissioned the Apostle Paul to write more than half the New Testament about. It is also the message that righteous men and women throughout the ages have suffered terribly on account of.
Finally, Jesus declared:
“… for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.”
What does that mean? Lacking the capacity to deny himself, a preacher who does not take up his cross and follow Christ will bring up a doctrine that will draw people to him in order that he might gain in the flesh. He might be seeking after fame, or financial gain. There are many things that a preacher in the flesh could be seeking after.
Jesus’ words here are a shot across the bows, so to speak. Such a preacher cannot please God. God hates preachers who would draw men to themselves. If we are to please God, it can only be if we are to follow Christ’s doctrine as laid out in Matthew 16:24:
“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”
He who teaches and lives such doctrine is the true friend of God.
[Below: Here, no doubt, the writer meant “No love, no stress”! In Tanzania, as probably in other countries, truck drivers write out their frustrations on the back of their trucks]