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Public Performance Is Easier than Private Devotion

The power of authentic piety in a world that talks the talk
This sermon is part of the sermon series "Adventures in Missing the Point". See series.


If you are just joining us, this is the third week in a six-week series entitled "Adventures in Missing the Point." We have been learning about the Pharisees, those first-century antagonists. The first week, we learned that the Pharisees were not the caricatures that we may have grown up believing in. They were sincere men who were Orthodox in their theology and zealous in their commitment to Scripture. They were righteous in their lifestyles and dedicated to living untainted by the evil of the world. In other words, they were a lot like us. But, in their pursuit of religious activity, they often missed the point.

The second week we looked at Adventure #1: Knowing the Bible is easier than living the Bible. We saw how the Pharisees did some wrong things with the right motive—they created an elaborate system of rules in an honest effort to help them keep God's commandments.

Today we'll be focusing on Adventure #2: Public performance is easier than private devotion. As we'll see, the Pharisees frequently did the right things with the wrong motive.

Have you ever noticed how much pleasure there is in passing judgments on others? I'm not just talking about criticizing people, but presuming to know their motives—their heart and their character. Can we just be honest and admit that we enjoy it more than seems reasonable?

For instance, I am usually extremely confident that every other driver on the Interstate is less skilled than I am. And when their reckless actions involve me, those actions were deliberate and intended to both irritate and endanger me. When my wife or kids are having a bad day, I pass judgment that they are deliberately trying to get on my last nerve. If someone in a store gives me poor service, ...

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Ed Rowell is pastor of Tri-Lakes Chapel in Monument, Colorado, and author of Preaching with Spiritual Passion (Baker).

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Sermon Outline:


I. False piety

II. True piety