The Delicate Art of Swallowing a Camel

Intro to Sermon:

Matthew 22:35-40

Once upon a time, there was a house that had a sewage leak in the basement. The family had no idea where it was coming from, and as the mire got deeper by the minute, they made an emergency call to a plumber. The plumber came by, took a glance down the basement stairs, and turned to the husband and wife with his verdict. “First things first,” he said. “You need a water filter for your kitchen sink.”

The husband and wife, confused, asked how that would help with their basement situation.

The plumber shook his head and said. “It won’t, not directly. But it will make your water cleaner and help it taste better. You’ll be happier and healthier in no time. I guarantee it. I can install one tonight.”

The husband, getting a little angry now, and speaking a little slower, said “What does a filter have to do with sewage leaking into our basement?”

The plumber got a little indignant himself, and said “Nothing. But the quality of the water you drink is very important. Don’t you care about what your children are drinking? Trust me, I’m a professional.”

This plumber sounds absurd, but Christians should be careful about falling into the same trap. “All sins are equal in the eyes of the Lord” goes the mantra.

It sounds holy. And it sounds pious. It has a nice ring to it. But is it true? Is it actually Biblical?

Every sin is against a holy God, and against Him only do we sin (Psalm 51:4). We are all guilty and deserve death (Romans 6:23).

James 2:10-11 says that if you fail to keep the law in one point, you are accountable to the whole law. All of these together can sometimes tempt us to flatten all offenses and treat them all as equal, and to think that God treats them all as equal.

But we’re going to deconstruct this notion. And we’re going to start with everyone’s favorite punching bag: the Pharisees.

Jesus and the Pharisees

One of the warnings given against any kind of hierarchy of sin is that it will tempt us toward pride, to act like the Pharisee who looks over at the sinner, and thanks God that he is not like him (Luke 18:9-14). It would allow us to look down at the murderer when we are sinners ourselves.

But our pride is creative. It usually doesn’t need any help to inflate. While the sin and temptation to act like a Pharisee is perennial, we often are blind to what the sins of the Pharisees actually were, even though Jesus spells it out time and again.

What were some of his actual criticisms of the Pharisees?

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