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A Detestable Judgement | Part 2

November 15, 2020 Speaker: Dr. Rick Gregory Series:

Topic: Judgement

Theme: Human pride hinders the willingness to hear and apply God’s truth to our lives.

Introduction: Jesus was a tender friend to sinners. We must remind ourselves that “God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him” (John 3:17). However, He did call out sinner for their sin – particularly those who projected a form of godliness independent of the true righteousness of God. Those who felt good about their own righteousness, that it is sufficient to enable them to stand before God guiltless, Jesus confronted them. This rejection of human righteousness is essentially what caused the pride of the self-righteous to exhibit its true nature – by seeing to kill Jesus Christ – the One whose righteousness is the only righteousness acceptable to God. The prophet Isaiah had clearly denounced the lip service that self-righteous people give to God when He said they “draw near with their words and honor Me with their lip service, but they remove their hearts far from Me, and their reverence for Me consists of tradition by rote” (Isaiah 29:13). Further, He denounced those “who swear by the name of the Lord and invoke the God of Israel, but not in truth nor in righteousness” (Isaiah 48:1).

There are reasons that self-righteousness and the pride that spawns it are detestable to God. Jesus provides us three of them in our text …

I. It Is Self-Justifying – 16:14-15

A. The Self-Righteous Dismiss Their Accountability – v. 14

  • Jesus, having exhorted His disciples that they must invest themselves in preparing for the future by refusing to live for the “here and now” and to prefer to live for the “eternal dwellings” of heaven – cp. v. 9.
  • One of the major obstacles to this priority is the love for money – hence, Jesus confronts it by saying that you cannot “serve God and wealth” – v. 13.
  • As a result of this confrontation of the liberal, legalistic perspectives of the Pharisees, their response was entirely dismissive – “Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things and were scoffing at Him.”
  • “lovers of money” [φιλάργυρος] – refers to an avaricious and voracious yearning to get more and more; they were greedy – cp. Luke 12:15; 1 Timothy 6:9-10.
  • It is a characteristic of the ungodly – associated with people who have a form of godliness – 2 Timothy 3:2, 5.
  • Additionally, it is a disqualifying characteristic for a spiritual leader – cp. 1 Timothy 3:2-3; Hebrews 13:5.
  • What is sad is that Luke tells us “they were listening to all these things” – and they did so intently as they were seeking mistakes, heresies or blasphemies.
  • However, their response was to deflect their indictment by considering Christ ridiculous – they “were scoffing at Him.”
  • To “scoff” [ἐκμυκτηρίζω] – means that they ridiculed him for this teaching – most likely because their success was viewed by them as an indication of God’s blessings while they saw His poverty as evidence of God’s rejection.
  • They were obsessed with riches, wealth, and prosperity – seeking in every way possible to demonstrate God’s blessing upon them by amassing as much wealth as they could.
  • Thus, they discredited Jesus as a means by which they could preserve their commitments to ungodliness and avoid any “supposed accountability” for their sins of coveteousness and greed.
  • Your life might be filled with all manner of sin and indulgence, but you acquit yourself because “everythings going well” and you are prospering.
  • We often mistake God’s common grace and the kindness that allows us to prosper as a sign of approval when in reality it is designed to lead us to repent – cp. Romans 2:4.

B. The Self-Righteous Delight in Accolades – v. 15

  • Of course, Jesus noticed their dismissal of His indictment of them.
  • So, He denounces their self-justifying standards of legalism and prosperity – “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts;”
  • Their entire spiritual focus was not on whether they were righteous in the eyes of God (that was assumed because of their prosperity), but rather whether others viewed them as righteous – Matthew 6:1; 23:5.
  • The litmus for whether they were righteous was whether other people thought they were righteous – if they were successful projecting righteousness, they felt they were righteous regardless of what was happening behind the veil of their legalism.
  • They zealously sought to establish their own righteousness and were completely unaware of what true righteousness looked like – cp. Romans 10:2-3.
  • But “righteousness” that satisfies the standard of men falls so far short of genuine righteousness – the righteousness of God, is detestable to God – “… for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.”
  • “detestable” [βδέλυγμα] – refers to what arouses disgust to the degree of moving someone to action – in this case it intensifies God’s wrath.
  • Self-justification is no justification at all as the heart of man is completely deceitful, and wicked – and these were those who set themselves up as the guides for others in Israel.


  1. Do you have a history of seeing complete obedience to God’s Word as “extreme”?
  2. When you listen to preaching, do you tend to think more about others who need to hear this or of yourself in how you can apply it?
  3. Do you associate your spiritual “health” on the basis of what others say about you or on what God’s Spirit testifies to in your life?

I. It Is Self-Satisfying – 16:16

A. They Have No Interest in Advancing in Truth

  • Because they had concluded that they were righteous already, they were smug in their self-righteousness.
  • Jesus points out to them that they were stuck in a fog of truth – unwilling to continue to listen to the Word of God – “The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John, since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God has been preached …”
  • The message of the Old Testament – and the truths that pointed to Christ Jesus, although meticulously studied were not understood by them – cp. Matthew 22:29; John 5:39-42.
  • If they were disinterested in the actual focus of the Old Testament, neither would they have interest in the specific truths of Christ that fulfilled the “Law and Prophets” which is “the gospel of the kingdom” – cp. Luke 24:25-27.
  • Jesus is calling out their spiritual blindness and deafness causing them not listen to the Word of God because they had already arrived – satisfied that they were all that they needed to be and thus were “unteachable.” – cp. Psalm 49:20.

B. They Have No Interest in Applying Truth

  • Not only are they unteachable and unwilling to advance in their knowledge of the truth of God’s Word, they are disinterested in applying the truth they know.
  • Their resistance to the gospel of the kingdom and the resulting rejection of the Christ was something that caused a zealous resistance to the kingdom – cp. Matthew 11:12.
  • Their own ideas and priorities caused them to seek to bully their way into the kingdom their own way – “… and everyone is forcing his way into it.”
  • The notion that sinner can enter the kingdom of heaven through faith alone without any merit was reprehensible to them – they would get themselves there even if it meant over Jesus Christ’s dead body! – 1 Corinthians 2:8.


  1. Are you satisfied with the biblical knowledge that you already have?
  2. What are some ways you could progress in your knowledge of God’s truth? 
  3. Do you find yourself deliberately turning a “blind eye” to what God says in His Word?

III. It Is Self-Determined – 16:17-18

A. It Fails to Appreciate the Law – vv. 10-12

  • Jesus then brings the Law to the forefront of the discussion – for a variety of reasons among which is the avoidance of the accusation of the dismissal of the Law and its significance – “But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail.”
  • Jesus indicates that it is not He who is dismissive of the Law, but the legalist!
  • The law exists to highlight for the sinner his sin – by it comes the knowledge of sin – Romans 3:20.
  • This is a major statement by Christ that demonstrates the
  • It’s purpose and power will continue until the establishment of the new heaven and new earth, after which there will be no more sin – 2 Peter 3:10-13.
  • Even though, through the hardness of the legalists’ hearts, the Law is being dismissed, Jesus asserts that it will continue to accomplish its purpose of both condemning the wicked and convincing the elect.
  • Yet, the legalist fails to appreciate the Law and its purposes by their management of it, their annulling it, and their amending it – Matthew 15:6-9.

B. It Fails to Apply the Law – v. 13

  • As a result, they devise creative ways around the Law in order to make them capable of being “kept.”
  • Jesus selects one area where the Scribes and Pharisees had taken God’s Law and “tweaked it” in order to make it palatable – “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries one who is divorced from a husband commits adultery.”
  • The Pharisees had taken Moses’ permission because of hardness of heart described by Jesus in Matthew 19:7-8 and amplified it to make it easy for a man to “divorce his wife”.
  • They had developed ways to divorce a woman in order to pursue and marry another that they preferred and had split hairs within the Law to justify it.
  • Jesus brings the absolute standard – without the exception provided in Matthew 19 – to emphasize their perversion of the Law.
  • The implication that went straight to their condemnation was fully felt by them.
  • In the next section, Jesus will launch into a story of a wealthy man who assumed that He was pleasing to God who died and went to hell.
  • He will be contrasted to a beggar who truly relied upon the mercy and grace of God for the forgiveness of his sins and went to paradise.


  1. What are some aspects of God’s Word that you choose to ignore?
  2. Would anything in your life change if you were to submit whole-heartedly to God’s Word?
  3. When you are confronted by God’s Word, is it a “fight or flight” mentality or one that chooses to surrender to God?

So What?

One of the most common struggles we have is our love for money – it is a common idol we must constantly be tearing down.

Do not confuse God’s kindness to you with His approval of you.

Our response to God’s kindness must be an overwhelming sense of unworthiness that leads us to confess Him as Lord.

You will never be able to exert yourself sufficiently to make it into the Kingdom of God – entrance is by grace through faith alone!

Don’t conclude that since you are “adequately keeping” some of the law that you are sufficiently keeping the Law.


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The Times of the Gentiles

September 12, 2021

The Travail of the End Times

August 29, 2021

Clarifying God’s Judgment of Israel