Study Notes

Luke 12:1-14

12:1 The leaven of the Pharisees

We've talked about leaven many times before. By corruption and fermentation, leaven causes bread to rise, and it spreads oh so rapidly and thoroughly. For those reasons, leaven is a Biblical symbol of sin, because it corrupts by puffing up.

The leaven of the Pharisees was hypocrisy. Hypocrisy spreads, just like leaven. It puffs people up, just like leaven puffs up the bread. It spreads rapidly and thoroughly, just like leaven. And ultimately, it corrupts the entire loaf.

Last week, we talked last week about the Pharisees' legalism. About how they were so concerned with their outside appearance, but their inside was corrupt and corroded. That is hypocrisy - claiming to be so righteous when in fact they were wicked. And it is so easy to point the finger at the Pharisees. But what is the number one complaint the world has against Christians today? "They're hypocrites!" Why is that? Because we become legalists and proclaim the "gospel" of sinlessness when we've been told to preach the gospel of forgiveness! No wonder the world calls us hypocrites! Make sure that when you're sharing your Christianity with someone, you're not saying, "You're a sinner, you need to be righteous like me." Say, "We're all sinners, and you need to be forgiven like me."

Jesus knew that hypocrisy was a stumbling block to us all, and that's why He sternly says this to "His disciples first of all",

Luke 12:1 ..."Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy."

12:2-3 All things covered will be revealed

The other day, I was at the TV station, and because of the stand-off with a gunman at a motel here in town, it was an exceptionally difficult morning news broadcast. Tensions were running a little high, and someone asked a question over the headset intercom. After answering the question, someone turned off their mic and said "I can't believe what stupid questions that person asks!" The only problem was, the person hadn't turned off their mic! And everyone heard every word.

That is a perfect picture of our own situation. We often believe that what we've said in secret will stay secret. It won't. We think that what we've done in private will never be revealed. It will. Moses said in Numbers 32,

Num. 32:23 "...Be sure your sin will find you out."

Isaiah spoke,

Isa. 29:15 Woe to those who deeply hide their plans from the LORD, And whose deeds are done in a dark place, And they say, "Who sees us?" or "Who knows us?"

And the psalmist wrote:

Ps. 90:8 Thou hast placed our iniquities before Thee, our secret sins in the light of Thy presence.

The Lord is all-knowing and all-seeing. You are never alone with your thoughts. There is no deed you do that the Lord does not see. Our hypocrisy might fool men, but it doesn't fool God. The Lord says,

Jer. 17:10 "I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds.

12:4-5 Fear God

So Jesus continues and says, "Stop being afraid of men, be fearful of God." You know, we're afraid to be real, we're afraid to show our weaknesses, we're afraid to confess our sins one to another. We're afraid of being laughed at, gossiped about, or ostracized. But because of that fear, we begin live in hypocrisy. We put on masks that say, "I've got it all together, I'm just fine". But when we do that, we stand condemned before God. Because that is hypocrisy, that is sin. Jesus says, "Forget that mask, stop being afraid of men, 'the fear of man brings a snare'. Be real before men and God." Caleb said in Joshua 24,

Josh. 24:14 "Now, therefore, fear the LORD and serve Him in sincerity and truth..."

The Bible says that the fear of the Lord is wisdom, knowledge, instruction, understanding, that it prolongs life, and is strong confidence. And ultimately,

Prov. 8:13 "The fear of the LORD is to hate evil..."

and keeps one away from evil. Your strongest defense against the flesh, against evil, against sin, is to fear the Lord. Forget about being a hypocrite and trying to look good on the outside. Fear God, and you'll find yourself being quite holy.

12:6-7 Your value to God

Now, after warning us against hypocrisy, after telling us to fear the Lord, Jesus speaks word of reassurance. That your fear of the Lord be seasoned with the knowledge of how much God cares for you. How He dearly loves you, how concerned He is for you, and how He values you. He is a stern but loving Father.

12:8-9 Confessing Jesus Christ

So, since God sees all sin, and God judges all sin, how can someone possibly be saved from sin? Romans 10 says

Rom. 10:9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved;

Now is your chance to confess Jesus before men. Because the day will come that we will stand before the Father, and Jesus will either confess or deny us to the Father. One of two things will happen. If you have confessed Jesus before men, then He will say, "Father, this person is perfect". As Jude writes,

Jude 24 Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy

But if you've never confessed Jesus as Lord and believed in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, if you've denied Him before men, then He will stand before the Father and say, "I never knew this person." And you will be condemned to an eternity in outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.

12:10 Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit

Now He speaks of the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit - the one unforgivable sin. You can blaspheme all you want against the Jesus Christ, but be warned that blaspheming the Holy Spirit is unforgivable. What is the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit? In a nutshell, it is refusing to allow the Spirit to testify of Jesus Christ in your heart. Jesus said of the Spirit:

John 15:26 "When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness of Me."

John 16:13-14 "But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He shall glorify Me; for He shall take of Mine, and shall disclose it to you."

The Holy Spirit is the One Who draws you into faith and knowledge of Jesus Christ. And, Jesus said,

John 16:8-9 "And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me;"

So, the work of the Holy Spirit is to convict people of sin, and to reveal the forgiveness for their sin, Jesus Christ. The Spirit of God bears witness to us of Jesus Christ. Now, you may have rejected Jesus Christ many times, as the Spirit was drawing you in, but you refused to listen. Aren't you glad God didn't forsake you when you rejected Him the first time He called you? Aren't you glad that Jesus said,

Luke 12:10 "...everyone who will speak a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him..."

But, if you continue to reject the Spirit's drawing you to salvation in Jesus Christ, there is no way for you to be forgiven. Rejecting the Spirit drawing you to Jesus Christ is the one sin that you cannot be forgiven for.

12:11-12 Speaking by the Spirit

Now, if you have not blasphemed the Holy Spirit, if you have accepted Jesus Christ into your life, Ephesians says,

Eph. 1:13-14 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation - having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance...

If you have been saved by Jesus Christ, you have been sealed by the Holy Spirit. (Here it is essential to point something out. The Holy Spirit is not an it, He is a person. He is God the Spirit. We are often guilty of speaking of the Holy Spirit using the pronoun "it", when in fact, we should be saying "He". Notice that here in Ephesians, Paul says, "the Holy Spirit of promise, WHO is given...". The Holy Spirit is not a force, or an entity, or an energy. He is a person. As much God as the Father and Jesus Christ.)

Now, Jesus says, when you're in a situation, whether being accused, or being reviled, or whatever, that you shouldn't stress out, and write a speech, have a plan, or rely on your own wisdom. He says that the Spirit will tell you what to say when you need to say it. He lives inside of you, and you can bring the right words out of you.

12:13-14 Who appointed me a judge over you?

Now at this interruption, Jesus begins to warn against coveting and greed. But first, He says an interesting thing:

Luke 12:14 ..."Man, who appointed Me a judge or arbiter over you?"

Very often, we desire some authority over us in our lives. And in a biblical sense, that's great, God established the lines of authority that we are to follow. But the world, the flesh, and the devil get in there, and corrupt what authority is supposed to mean and accomplish. Jesus says, "who made me the judge over your family dispute?" You see, as the Great Shepherd, Jesus had great spiritual authority. And as an Under Shepherd (for that is what "pastor" means), I too have spiritual authority in the church. But where are the boundaries of that authority? Am I entitled to tell you where to work, or how to spend your money, or what clothes to wear? Absolutely not! Husbands, you are the shepherds of your own homes, and that responsibility falls to you, as you and your wife submit yourselves to one another. It is not up to me to tell you what movies to watch, what to do in your spare time, or where to go on vacation.

As pastors and elders, the Bible outlines our authority every explicitly. We are to: Guard the flock (Acts 20), shepherd the church (Acts 20, 1Pet 5), work hard to help the weak (Acts 20), be an example to the sheep (1Pet 5), pray over the sick and anoint them with oil (James 5), preach and teach (1Tim 5), take care of the church (1Tim 3), and rule what goes on in the church (1Tim 5:17).

Sure, you can come to us to find out what the Bible says about your situation, or for discernment in making a decision, or for comfort in a crisis. We are here to support you spiritually. And in the church, we are the authority that God has placed over what is taught and practiced here. But please don't ever let yourself be put in the bondage of having your life and your home and your family directed by a "spiritual leader". This has in fact been tried by many, specifically in what is called "the Shepherding Movement". Leadership is brought into your lives to dictate, dominate, and legislate how you live. But it is always at best oppressive, and at worst, disastrous.

Next week, we will see how Jesus answers this interruption about the brothers' inheritance.