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Hard Sayings

Hard Sayings

July 14, 2024 by Pastor David Hubbard
Passages:Luke 12:1-7

Sermon Synopsis

Good morning, everyone! Welcome to our Sunday School class at
the Clay County First Church of God. We’re so glad to have each and
every one of you with us today, whether you’re here in person or
joining us from the comfort of your homes through Facebook Live.
We’re gathered here this morning, ready to learn, share, and grow
together. No matter where you are, we hope you feel the love and
fellowship that binds us all together.
Thank you all for being a part of this spiritual journey.
Introduction: Today, we are going to dive into a topic that is often
overlooked but is of great importance – the “hard sayings” of Jesus.
These are teachings that challenge us, make us uncomfortable, and
force us to confront the reality of judgment.
Luke 12:1-7
12 In the meantime, when there were gathered together an
innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trode one
upon another, he began to say unto his disciples first of all, Beware
ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.
2For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither
hid, that shall not be known.
3Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard
in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets
shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.
4 And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the
body, and after that have no more that they can do.
5 But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after
he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear
him.
6 Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them
is forgotten before God?
7 But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not
therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.
“Hard Sayings”
Jesus, in His infinite wisdom and love, did not shy away from
speaking hard truths. One such teaching warns us of the painful
consequences we may face on the day of judgment. This is a
warning that, unfortunately, few people heed or even care about.
Yet, it comes with the authority of Almighty God. I urge you to take
it seriously, for it is meant to guide us towards righteousness and
away from the path of destruction.
As we navigate through the Bible, it’s important to remember that
the chapter divisions and verses we see today were not in the
original manuscripts. They were added later for ease of reference
and study. Sometimes, these divisions may not seem to make sense.
For instance, the beginning of chapter 12 could fit very nicely in the
conclusion of chapter 11. But when Jesus spoke to the Pharisees, He
did not say,
“That’s the end of chapter 11; let’s start with chapter
12.”
Chapter 12 begins with a powerful confrontation between Jesus and
the Pharisees, leading to a judgment pronounced upon them due to
their hypocrisy.
Jesus, in His divine wisdom and righteousness, did not hesitate to
confront the Pharisees and pronounce judgment upon them. The
main reason for this judgment was their hypocrisy. After this
encounter, we pick up the history in verse 1, where Luke says,
“In
the meantime, when an innumerable multitude of people had
gathered together, so that they trampled one another.”
Everywhere Jesus went, huge crowds followed Him. People were
eager to witness every miracle He performed and hang on to every
word He spoke. Perhaps word got around that Jesus was dining at
the home of a Pharisee, and as the news spread, the crowds swelled
in anticipation of His appearance. Their eagerness to see Him was
so great that they began to trample one another just to get closer to
Him. This shows the level of excitement and anticipation people
had to see Jesus.
As we reflect on this, let’s consider our own eagerness to hear the
word of God. Are we as excited and eager as the multitudes that
followed Jesus? And let’s also remember to guard against hypocrisy
in our own lives, as Jesus warned the Pharisees.
Jesus began by issuing a warning to His disciples. It’s important to
note that when Jesus spoke of His disciples in this context, He was
likely referring not just to the Twelve, but to the larger number of
followers He had. His warning was clear and direct: “Beware of the
leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.”
This was not the only time Jesus used the metaphor of leaven.
Leaven, a substance used in baking, has the ability to permeate and
expand dough. In this metaphor, Jesus was speaking of a small
thing that, when introduced into a substance, can spread and fill it
up.
Jesus was teaching us that just a little bit of hypocrisy, when it
enters your life, is like the camel who puts his nose into the tent
and, before you know it, occupies the tent to such a degree that he
expels the owner.
In other words, Jesus was cautioning us that even a small amount of
hypocrisy—of Pharisee-ism, of play-acting, of pretending, of
deceitfulness—if you allow it in your life, you will not be able to
contain it. It will spread like cancer. It will fill your soul and destroy
your character.
As we reflect on this lesson, let us examine our hearts and ask God
to help us root out any trace of hypocrisy. Let us strive to be
genuine in our faith, transparent in our actions, and sincere in our
love for God and for others.
Jesus warned us,
“For there is nothing covered that will not be
revealed, nor hidden that will not be known.” This statement holds
a deep truth about our lives and our actions.
Let’s journey back to the beginning of humanity, to the very first
sin committed by Adam and Eve. Upon transgressing God’s law,
they immediately experienced an awareness of their nakedness, a
symbol of their shame. Their instinctive response was to hide, to
flee from God’s presence, hoping that even God would not see what
they had done. But can we really hide anything from God?
Consider the old story of a small town where a mysterious letter
was sent to the men of the town, stating,
“Flee, all has been
discovered.” Upon receiving this message, about twenty men fled
the town. This story may seem amusing at first, but it reflects a
deep-seated fear within all of us. We all have aspects of ourselves
that we are ashamed of and would prefer to keep hidden. We often
pretend these things are not part of our character.
Jesus cautioned us to “Be careful.” He warned us that deceit, like
leaven, can destroy us. Moreover, any attempts to conceal our sins
will ultimately prove futile because everything currently hidden will
be revealed. There is nothing that will not be made known.
Jesus further stated,
“Therefore whatever you have spoken in the
dark will be heard in the light, and what you have spoken in the ear
in inner rooms will be proclaimed.” This proclamation will not be
made through radio or television, but on that day, it will be shouted
from the housetops. It will not be a rumor that spreads from person
to person, but a shout so loud that everyone will hear the truth.
Let us remember that living a life of deceit is not only spiritually
damaging, but also futile. For in the end, all truth will be revealed,
and all hidden things will be made known. Let us strive to live
authentically, embracing the truth of who we are, and seeking
God’s grace to transform us into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ.
Jesus, in His infinite wisdom, warned us that all would be revealed.
He was referring to the Day of Judgment, a day when every idle
word we speak, every action we take, even those we thought were
hidden in the darkness of privacy, will be brought to light. This
includes everything we said in private that we did not want others
to know, and everything we did in the secrecy of our rooms that we
did not want others to see.
Many Christians are under the misguided notion that they do not
have to worry about this disclosure on Judgment Day. They assume
it is only the pagan, the corrupt, or the Pharisee who must fear the
ultimate disclosure of the truth of our character on Judgment Day.
However, the Bible makes it clear that every one of us will stand
before the judgment seat of Christ.
Yes, it is true that as Christians, we have passed from judgment to
life, and there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ
Jesus. On the last day, our judge and our defense attorney will be
Jesus Christ Himself. However, this does not mean that our actions
here on earth are without consequence.
Even though our entrance to Heaven is not based in any way upon
our good works, and our good works contribute nothing to our
salvation, every one of us will be evaluated on that day according to
our works. All the things we have hidden will be made clear so that
the truth about our obedience, sanctification, and profession of
faith will be made manifest before God, the angels, and all people.
So, let us live our lives in the light of this truth, striving each day to
walk in obedience to God’s commands, knowing that one day, all
will be revealed. Let us encourage one another in love and good
deeds, knowing that our labor in the Lord is not in vain.
We often hear complaints about the lack of justice in our world.
There are countless instances where justice seems to be thwarted or
not fully realized. However, the New Testament assures us that this
will not be the case at the Last Judgment. In that final reckoning,
perfect justice will prevail. There will be no room for injustice. It’s a
comforting thought to realize that, in the grand scheme of things,
justice will ultimately triumph.
Another liberating concept is the understanding that there is
nothing we can hide from God, either now or in the future. This is
beautifully expressed in the words of David:
“Oh God, You’ve searched me and know me. You know everything
about me. If I ascend into Heaven, You’re there; if I make my bed
in Hell, Thou art there. Before a word is formed on my lips, Thou
knowest it altogether.”
David then implores God to search him, know him, and cleanse him
from his hidden faults. He acknowledges his lack of awareness
about the extent of his own disobedience and corruption, and asks
God to reveal it to him so he can turn away from it.
While those who do not know God might fear His omniscience, we
as believers should find joy in it. God knows us completely, and
even though He is fully aware of our flaws and failures, He redeems
us completely.
So, let’s take comfort in these truths today. Despite the injustices
we see in the world, we can trust in God’s ultimate justice. And
though we may not fully understand our own failings, we can rest
in the knowledge that God does, and He loves and redeems us
nonetheless.
Jesus went on to say: “And 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 show you whom you should fear: Fear Him
who, after He has killed, has the power to cast you into hell; yes, I
say to you, fear Him!”
When we talk about the fear of God in Scripture, such as when the
Old Testament says,
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of
wisdom,
” we often interpret this fear as a sense of awe and
reverence. And while that is true, the word in our text is not
translated as “reverence” or “awe.” The operative word is “fear.”
As followers of Christ, we need to understand what it means to fear
God in a righteous way. This fear is not the fear that a prisoner has
for his torturer, but rather a fear of offending our Heavenly Father.
It’s about living before God with a deep sense of respect and
reverence.
Even though we are invited to come before Him boldly and we can
call Him Father, we must remember that He is not our buddy or pal.
He is the Lord God. When He appears, we find ourselves on our
faces before Him, trembling before His majesty.
It is said in the Bible that there is no fear of God before the eyes of
the ungodly. It’s astonishing how fearless the average person is of
God. How is it possible that a creature made in the image of God,
who lives unrepentant in rebellion against God, has no fear of what
he is doing? Let’s ponder on this as we go about our week.
Since October 12th, 1987, I have observed a common trend. Not once
has someone told me they came to faith in Christ because they were
overwhelmed by a fear of hell. It seems that many people go
through life without believing in hell, or if they do, they are not
afraid that they will end up there.
There is a prevalent belief that if there is a God, Heaven would not
be right if we were not included in its membership. This belief is
often reinforced by pastors and Sunday School teachers who tell
people that God loves them unconditionally. But is this what the
Bible teaches? Yes, the Bible does express the concept of God’s
unconditional love. Here are some key verses that highlight this:
John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only
Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have
eternal life.”
12
1 John 4:8: “Anyone who does not love does not know God,
because God is love.”
12
Romans 5:8: “But God shows his love for us in that while we
were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
12
1 John 4:16: “So we have come to know and to believe the love
that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love
abides in God, and God abides in him.”
1
1 John 4:9-10: “In this the love of God was made manifest
among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that
we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have
loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the
propitiation for our sins.”
1
These verses suggest that God’s love is expressed towards His
creations despite their disposition towards Him3
. His love is not
motivated by personal gain
4 and there is never a moment when God
does not love
5
. Everything God does is out of love
5
. However, it’s
important to note that interpretations can vary.
One thing I want to stress to you is that the kingdom of God is not a
children’s television show. It is ruled by a just and holy Creator, for
whom we should have fear. Jesus Himself said,
“You are afraid of
strong people. You are afraid of criminals who might attack, maim,
and even kill you and destroy your body. Don’t be afraid of them.
Rather, fear the One who not only can kill your body, but after
you’re dead, can send you to hell forever.”
In our daily lives, we prepare for everything – education, business,
careers, marriage, and old age. We take out insurance, worry about
our 401K, retirement, pensions, and social security. But how often
do we prepare for the ultimate moment of judgment? How often do
we worry about our relationship with Christ?
The Bible tells us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of
wisdom. Yet, it seems that people have lost their fear of God. When
asked if they believe in Heaven and Hell, most people affirm their
belief in Heaven, but not in Hell.
The Bible continually warns of a place called hell. There are over 162
references in the New Testament alone which warn of hell. Over 70
of these references were uttered by Jesus Christ himself! The word
‘hell’ is mentioned 54 times in the Bible – 31 times in the Old
Testament and 23 times in the New Testament. It is referred to as
‘Sheol’ 65 times in the Old Testament,
‘the pit’ 10 times, and
‘Gehenna’ 12 times in the New Testament. There are 18 references
that talk about the fires or flames of hell, and 3 different times,
complete and total darkness is associated with Hell. Seven times,
the Bible says there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. In total,
Hell is described and mentioned 167 times in the Bible.
The devil does exist–He is as real as Moses, Abraham, David, Peter,
Paul, John, and Jesus. He is mentioned in 7 Old Testament books
and found in 19 of the New Testament books. He is referred to by
every New Testament writer and by Jesus some 15 times. Hell is real
and the devil is real. And he wants people to think they have all the
time in the world.
The fear of the Lord is indeed the beginning of wisdom. As we go
about our daily lives, let us not forget to prepare for the ultimate
moment of judgment. Let us nurture our relationship with Christ
and remember the reality of Hell and the existence of the devil. For
in doing so, we gain true wisdom.
Jesus, in His wisdom, said: “Consider the sparrows, sold for mere
pennies, yet not one is forgotten by God. Even the hairs on your
head are all numbered.” This statement alone could amplify our
fear, couldn’t it? Jesus was emphasizing that God is aware of every
minute detail about us. Every strand of hair on our head is
accounted for. Every time a sparrow lands, it does not go unnoticed
by God.
The concept of God’s omniscience is beyond our comprehension.
How can God know everything there is to know about everything
that can be known—every thought, every word, every hair on our
head? It seems like Jesus could have used this as an opportunity to
intensify our fear of God, but then He added these surprising words:
“Do not fear.” First, He said,
“Fear,
” then He said,
“Do not fear
therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” We are to
fear God, but in that fear, we should not feel insignificant under
God’s gaze.
Even though God knows everything about you as a believer and as
His child, He places an immeasurable value upon you. On one hand,
we should fear Him. On the other hand, we should not fear, because
He has redeemed us in His sight. Do not fear, for you matter to your
Father.
From Genesis to Revelation, it is clear that we are to “serve the Lord
with fear, and rejoice with trembling”. Jesus said,
“Do not fear
those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him
who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell”. Jesus spoke more
on the fear of hell than on the glory of heaven. He thought it to be
timely and urgent. That makes me both love Him and fear Him! I
love Him because He is my Savior, and I fear Him because He is my
Judge.
It seems to be difficult for Christians today to get away from the
idea that Jesus was a passive, amiable, meek–and–mild being who
walked through the world making people feel good. Because
actually, when Jesus was here on earth, people were quite often
afraid of Him. It was overwhelming for people to come face to face
with the living God incarnate. In fact, it might be fair to say that
whenever someone stood face to face with Jesus and came to a true
understanding of who He really was, the normal reaction (from
believers and skeptics alike) was fear. He traumatized people.
Even the disciples were fearful when they faced the reality that He
was God. In Mark 4:37–41, we read that while the disciples were
crossing the lake in a boat with Jesus, a storm struck, and their boat
began to sink. The disciples panicked and awoke Jesus, who was
sleeping through it all. He calmed the storm, and rebuked them for
their unbelief. Verse 41 tells us that after Jesus calmed the storm,
they were exceedingly terrified. There’s at least one thing that’s
more frightening than a fierce storm outside your boat: It’s having
to face the holiness of God inside your boat.
In the next chapter of Mark, Jesus encountered a man possessed by
a legion of demons. When Jesus sent the demons into a herd of pigs
and they went into the water and drowned, the people of the town
came out and pleaded with Him to leave their country. Their
reaction to Jesus was not because they were resentful about the loss
of the pigs. If that had been the case, they would have demanded
compensation. Rather, they were terrified in Jesus’ holy presence.
They clearly sensed that the One to whom all judgment has been
committed, had come into their midst, and they were terrified of
Him. They did not want to face their own sin in His holy presence.
In Luke 5, Peter was fishing and couldn’t catch anything. Jesus
came along and told him where to let his nets down. Peter obeyed,
and his catch was so great that he couldn’t haul it in. When he
finally got help from another boat to bring in the catch, there were
so many fish that both boats began to sink. It was a demonstration
to Peter of Jesus’ deity. Peter “fell down at Jesus’ feet, saying,
‘Go
away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!’”. All he could
see was his own sinfulness when confronted with the power and
presence of our holy God.
We need to cultivate that same attitude, remembering that we not
only live our lives before the eyes of a holy God, but that His Holy
Spirit dwells within us. Being ever mindful of God’s presence is vital
if we’re going to live worshipful lives that glorify Him.
When we come to the subject of the fear of God, the Bible speaks of
“fear” of the Lord in some 295 verses! Scripture speaks of men
fearing God, His name, His Law or His Word. In the Old Testament,
there are 235 references to the fear of God. In the New Testament,
there are 43 references to the fear of God which, by the way, is the
same number of references as man’s love to God.
From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible proclaims that the fear of the
Lord is a fountain of life, and those who drink deeply of it shall have
the blessings of God in this life, and in the life to come. However,
those who reject the fear of the Lord; There is a way which seemeth
right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. The
fear of God is the predominant response to, and fundamental
attitude toward God, His Word, His Law and His name, that God
desires. This is why it is mentioned more times than any other
aspect of vital piety.
Given the scriptural importance of the fear of the Lord, most of us
must confess that although we have been going to church for some
years, we have never heard many, if any at all, sermons on the fear
of God! When was the last time you had a Sunday School lesson on
the fear of God? Have you ever read a book on the fear of God? The
typical Christian today has heard many sermons on the love of God
but not a whole lot about the fear of God. This is sad, as well as
unbiblical. Of course you should love God. That is not the issue.
What we are saying is that we must relate to God in more than one
way. Loving God is not enough according to the Bible. We must also
FEAR Him. If we take the Bible seriously, the fundamental aspect of
our relationship to God should be the fear of the Lord! Fear goes
hand in hand with love: love is the positive side, fear the negative;
love prompts one to do what pleases God, fear prompts one to
refrain from what displeases God.
Closing
The fear of the Lord combines the two qualities of love plus respect.
It is “loving respect” and “respectful love.” To fear someone in this
sense is to love them and respect them at the same time. We can see
this more clearly if we state it in the negative. Where there is no
respect, there is no love. Repeat after me: where there is no respect,
there is no love.
That applies to all human relationships. Where there is no respect
inside a marriage, there is no love either. Where there is no respect
in a family, there is no love either. Love and respect go hand in
hand.
So how does this apply to our relationship with God? This is a good
definition of the fear of the Lord. It is the choice we make to obey
God because we love him and want to please him. The fear of the
Lord is an ongoing attitude of our hearts that causes us to choose
over and over again to obey God even when it might be easier to do
something else. We make that choice because we love God and want
to please him. The fear of the Lord is not cringing fear, which is
respect without love. And it is not irreverent disrespect, which is
love without respect. Respect plus love equals the fear of the Lord.
fear of the Lord is not the opposite of love. It’s what real love is all
about. A healthy sense of fear can be a positive motivation for doing
right. This sort of loving respect is the basis of our relationship with
God. When I choose to fear the Lord, I am choosing out of respect
and love to do the things that please him. All that I do in my life
comes back to this principle. The fear of the Lord is therefore the
most positive attitude you can have toward God.
For those of you in attendance here today, I want to ask you 3
questions. Those of you watching by way of Facebook, follow right
along with us: For you in attendance, next week I want to hear your
answers to these questions. Those of you watching online, let us
know your answers in the comments on our page.
1. Can you think of a time when you showed love and respect to
someone? How did it feel?
2. How can we show our love and respect for God in our daily
lives?
3. What are some ways we can cultivate a healthy fear of the
Lord?
Prayer
Dear Heavenly Father,
We thank You for the wisdom and understanding that You have
imparted upon us today. As we close this morning, we reflect on
Your greatness and the reverence we owe to You.
We acknowledge, Lord, that in our journey of faith, there may be
times when we lose sight of the fear of God, when we take Your
grace and mercy for granted. We ask for Your forgiveness and pray
that You guide us back to the path of righteousness.
Help us, Lord, to always remember that fear of You is the beginning
of wisdom. Let this fear not be one of dread, but a profound respect
and awe for Your infinite power and unconditional love.
May we carry this fear of God in our hearts, not just in our words,
but also in our actions. Let it be a guiding light in our lives,
influencing our decisions and interactions with others.
We pray that You continue to watch over us, guide us, and direct us.
May we live our lives in a manner that is pleasing to You, reflecting
Your love and fear in all that we do.
In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

Luke 12:1–7

12:1 In the meantime, when so many thousands of the people had gathered together that they were trampling one another, he began to say to his disciples first, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.

“I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.

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