The Gospel of Luke - Part 54: Be Real in Jesus — Luke 12:1-10
(These notes are based on lesson notes prepared by Rob Mahon for connection class leaders at Hoffmantown Church.)

Review:

When we were last in Luke, we finished Chapter 11 where Jesus taught us how to pray, how to be powerful and how to be pure.

This morning we dive into Chapter 12 where we will learn to Live for Jesus.

What do you live for?
    —Do you live for yourself or for Jesus?
    —Do you live for today or for eternity?

Each of us must choose a framework for how we will live. Most people live to please themselves. Most people live for the present rather than prepare for eternity. In fact, in our society most people are perfectly willing to sacrifice the future for the sake of the present.

But Jesus calls us to another way of living. As disciples, we need to learn to live for God. In this chapter Jesus teaches us some important principles concerning how we do just that.

Chapter 12 will teach us to:

This Morning: we'll start with How to be Real In Jesus:
Under these circumstances, after so many thousands of people had gathered together that they were stepping on one another, He began saying to His disciples first of all, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. But there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known. Accordingly, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in the inner rooms will be proclaimed upon the housetops.” —Luke 12:1-3
Verse 1 is important because it helps us understand the context of Jesus teaching.

There are thousands of people coming to hear Jesus teach, hoping to see miracles. This verse gives us a glimpse into the power and appeal of Jesus’ teaching.

Matthew 7 tells us:

When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes. —Matthew 7:28-29
The New Living Testament reads:
After Jesus finished speaking, the crowds were amazed at His teaching, for He taught as one who had real authority—quite unlike the teachers of religious law. —Matthew 7:28-29
This verse reminds us that there is always a hunger in the hearts of people for Biblical teaching that is empowered by the Holy Spirit

Chuck Swindoll writes, “His words were authoritative but not officious, insightful but not sermonic. His hillside chat was an informal, reasonable, thoughtful, and unpretentious presentation. He distilled an enormous amount of truth in an incredibly brief period of time, and those who had endured a lifetime of boring and irrelevant sermons sat spellbound to the end.”

Even though there were thousands of people, Jesus keeps His focus on training the Twelve. It's easy to neglect the faithful few because of the demands of the many.  But Jesus doesn't fall into this trap. No matter how demanding the ministry became, He was always committed to “making disciples”.

The first point he teaches them, and us is to:

 

Avoid Hypocrisy.

...He began saying to His disciples first of all, “Beware of the leaven [yeast] of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.” —Luke 12:1
What are some different ways that hypocrisy is like yeast? “Yeast” or leaven is a small amount of fermented dough that is mixed in with the rest of the dough to cause bread to rise. There are several significant facts related to leaven:
    (1) it only takes a small amount,
    (2) it influences the entire batch of dough,
    (3) it is hidden once it is mixed in with the dough.

The words “hypocrite” and “hypocrisy” are found 27 times in the Gospels. Most of these (15) are in Matthew, (2) in Mark, (4) in Luke and (5) in the rest of the New Testament.  I have a handout list for a selection of these verses.

The “leaven” or hidden ingredient in the Pharisees was their hypocrisy:

Hypocrisy is defined as pretending to be something you are not. Hypocrisy comes from the Greek word 'υποκρισις [hupokrisis]. The noun form was used for a Greek actor who spoke while holding a mask in front of his face. This is a vivid image of hypocrisy. A hypocrite speaks through a mask; he gives a certain appearance while he feels something different in his heart. The Pharisees gave the appearance of having a heart for God. But all their religious activity hid hearts that were hard and resistant to the Lord. Jesus was very quick to condemn the sin of hypocrisy. This is what Jesus is referring to when He said,

Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far away from Me. —Mark 7:6
The hypocrite hides a heart that is hard toward God. But we don't fool God.
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” —1 Samuel 16:7
One day we will all stand before Him and what's in our hearts will be revealed.

Be real in Jesus. No one likes to be fooled by a fake. What's the number one reason people give for not going to church?” "Too many hypocrites"

But there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known. Accordingly, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in the inner rooms will be proclaimed upon the housetops. —Luke 12:2-3
Here is a powerful warning against hypocrisy: Jesus promises that what we try to conceal will be revealed. There are probably applications for both now and eternity in what Jesus says:

In Eternity: The Scriptures clearly teach that one day we will be held accountable for our lives. Notice the emphasis in the following verses on God revealing and judging secret things:

For nothing is hidden that will not become evident, nor anything secret that will not be known and come to light. —Luke 8:17

. . . on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus. —Romans 2:16

Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God. —1 Corinthians 4:5

And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. —Hebrews 4:13
Today: There’s also an application of this verse to our lives right now. Have you ever gotten caught doing something you shouldn’t be doing? God has a way of uncovering sins that we try to hide.

What are some things we can do to guard against being hypocrites?  Someone has observed that probably nothing turns off non-Christians more than “cosmetic Christians”. That’s a great description of hypocrisy.

C. S. Lewis said: “Anyone who has ever taught or attempted to lead others knows the tendency in all of us toward exaggerating our depth of character while treating leniently our flaws. The Bible calls this tendency hypocrisy. We consciously or subconsciously put forward a better image of ourselves than really exists. The outward appearance of our character and the inner reality (that only God, we, and perhaps our family members know) do not match.”

However, even if we are real, we can:

Expect Hostility:

Every disciple will be faced with situations where he/she has to decide whether to stand and be counted for the Lord –

Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. —2 Timothy 3:12
How should we respond to negative responses by others to our commitment to Jesus?

Don't Be Afraid:   Jesus says:

I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him! Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? Yet not one of them is forgotten before God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows. —Luke12:4-7
What strikes you from these verses?  Don’t fear people . . .

Most people are more worried about what other people think about them than what God thinks about them! Jesus tells us not to fear people but to fear God:

Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue. —John 12:42

For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ. —Galatians 1:10
Don't think of this as meaning you should be without fear. Rather, think of it as meaning that you should not be controlled by your fears. Don't let your fears about how people may respond keep you from standing up for Jesus. We should not fear men, but:

Do fear God! What do you think it means to fear God?

Some people get off-track because they have the wrong kind of fear of God.

Both views are wrong.

Chuck Swindoll says: "At the risk of sounding as if I am grinding an ax, I must say that this wholesome fear of the Almighty has turned up missing in our era. And when it is absent, we think we may do as we please. You can live as you please if you know you're not being seen and you won’t get caught. But if, down deep inside, you know there is a loving and holy God who will not let you get away with sin, you will avoid sin at all costs. That is exactly what the Lord wanted to establish first with the people of Israel — a holy righteous, pure, and respectful concept of His presence."

We need a healthy fear of God, but we never need to be afraid of Him. The Living Bible reads 1 John 4:18 as:

We need have no fear of Someone who loves us perfectly; His perfect love for us eliminates all dread of what He might do to us. If we are afraid, it is for fear of what He might do to us and shows that we are not fully convinced that He really loves us. —1 John 4:18 [LB]
Oswald Chambers said, “The remarkable thing about fearing God is that when you fear God you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God you fear everything else. 'Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord'” (Psalm 128:1).

We also need to understand:

Don’t Be Ashamed:

And I say to you, everyone who confesses Me before men, the Son of Man will confess him also before the angels of God; but he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God. And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him. —Luke 12:8-10
The word confess here is from the Greek word 'ομολογεο [homologeo] meaning "to declare openly by way of speaking out freely".

Without being rude or pushy, Christians need to “declare openly” their faith in Jesus, their commitment to Him, the message of the Gospel. Part of being true to Jesus is not being ashamed of Him or His message:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. —Romans 1:16

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God. —2 Timothy 1:8

But if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name. —1 Peter 4:16
Jesus warns us not to deny Him. What are some different ways we can be guilty of “denying” the Lord?

The Unpardonable Sin:

And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him. —Luke 12:10
This verse refers to what is known as “the unpardonable sin”. Parallel passages are found in Matthew and Mark:
Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come. —Matthew 12:31-32

“Truly I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— because they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.” —Mark 3:28-30
There are different opinions as to what Jesus meant by these words.  Here are a couple of fairly common views:

John MacArthur says

The Pharisees accused Jesus of casting out demons by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons. Jesus' response to their accusation led Him to conclude what He said in Matthew 12:31-32. In this passage, He refers to blasphemy.

The term blasphemy may be defined “defiant irreverence.” We would apply the term to such sins as cursing God or willfully degrading things considered holy. In this passage the term refers to the declaration of the Pharisees who had witnessed undeniable evidence that Christ was performing miracles in the power of the Holy Spirit. Yet they attributed the miracles to Satan. In the face of irrefutable evidence they ascribed the work of the Holy Spirit to that of Satan.

I agree with a host of biblical scholars that this unique circumstance cannot be duplicated today. The Pharisees had seen proof of Christ's deity. But instead of acknowledging Jehovah God, they attributed the supernatural power to Satan instead of the work of the Holy Spirit.

Unger’s Bible Dictionary says- “Attributing to the power of Satan those undeniable miracles which Jesus performed by the power of the Holy Spirit; it is questionable whether it was possible to permit this sin after the public ministry of Jesus.”

Kent Hughes says - “Sins against Jesus can be forgiven. Some blaspheme Christ but then repent — their blasphemy is not their final word. Many blasphemers have been saved. But those who blaspheme the Holy Spirit by attributing His work and witness to Satan are damned. This blasphemy is not so much a matter of blasphemous language but of a conscious, persistent, wicked rejection of the Spirit’s witness.”

It is the Holy Spirit who convicts us of sin.

And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment. —John 16:8
It is the Spirit who gives us eternal life.
It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. —John 6:63
It is the Spirit who indwells every believer.
But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. —John 7:39
I believe that the “blasphemy of the Spirit” is not so much a matter of words as it is of the heart and will of a person. I believe this refers to a person who resists and rejects all efforts of the Spirit to draw that person to Christ. This is not a sin that a Christian can commit because he/she has already responded positively to the working of the Spirit of God in his/her heart. The Pharisees who rejected Jesus and refused to believe in spite of all the miraculous works He did through the Spirit’s power were apparently guilty of this sin. The reason this sin is unforgivable is because being born again by the Spirit through faith in Christ is the only way God has provided for our salvation.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." —John 14:6
We need to Confess: — When is the last time you talked to a non-Christian friend or co-worker or neighbor about Jesus? Remember, the emphasis of this passage is not on being able to answer theological questions, but on declaring openly my faith in the Lord, telling others what He has done for me.

We need to Respond —Although, as believers, we cannot blaspheme the Holy Spirit, we can be guilty of resisting His work of convicting us of sin and directing us in the will of God. We need to pray that our hearts will be increasingly tender and responsive to the working of God’s Spirit within us.

__________

Next week — we will continue the study in this section when we will learn that we should not be anxious. I recommend that you don’t miss that topic.

Read Luke 12 again.