¡°DON¡¯T BE FOOLED BY THE LOOK¡± By Pastor YAU
Text: Matthew 7:13-14; Proverbs 14:12 March 3, 2013.
1) Warning against smoking: An Australian study concluded that plainer packaging on cigarette would make smoking less appealing to teenagers. In response, Australian government introduced legislation that required tobacco companies to replace logos and promotional text on cigarette packages with health warnings and images of diseased lungs. In effect, the Marlboro Man would give way to the Grim Reaper in an effort to reduce the number of deaths caused by smoking. What looks good on the outside is dangerous on the inside.
2) Warning against destruction: But cigarette packaging isn¡¯t the only thing that makes things look tempting on the outside but deadly on the inside. In the concluding chapter of Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7, Jesus gave warnings to his audients about the danger of choosing the path of life totally on the tempting outward look, instead of paying attention to the deadly consequence of bad choices. The differences of two paths, the two kinds of trees and their fruits, and the two kinds of materials used in building houses. (Matt 7:13-29) In preaching this Jesus tried to help people make better decision in regard of their life not on how they look.
BE CAREFUL OF GOOD LOOKING:
1) Good looking is attractive: ¡°When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, they married any of them they chose.¡± (Genesis 6:1-2) Besides the many biblical interpretations derived from these 2 verses, the obvious point here is children of those who feared God married to beautiful daughters of those who didn¡¯t fear God. This is also true today. Many young Christian men married to women who are not Christians but are good looking. The look of a person has become the focal point of many in choosing their life mates. Being beautiful is not something of anyone¡¯s choice. It is a gift of God and is a good thing. But getting married to someone just because he/she is good looking is essentially a flaw. But it is in our human nature.
2) Good looking has consequences: ¡°Then the Lord said: My Spirit will not contend with men forever, for he is mortal.¡± (Gen. 6:3) Without digging into difficult discussion in this verse, we see the serious consequence of making major decisions based on the look of people. Good looking may be good sometimes. But good looking may be a disaster if not matched with character. In the case of the Bible, the sons of God lost the Spirit of God in their life and that is a very serious loss nothing may replace.
3) Good looking can be hypnotic: In real life, we have read, seen or some of us have experienced the hypnotic power of good looking. We could be hypnotized by good looking people and have wrong relationships. We may be hypnotized by beautiful cars, clothing, jewelry and buy them not because we need them or can afford them. Our sensual nature responds to something or someone good looking. That may lead us to make bad decisions and choices otherwise we won¡¯t make in normal condition.
4) Good looking could be misleading: We all know that we should not judge a book by its cover, but we often judge people by how they look, often at first sight. When we focus on the appearance so much, we forget about other important elements of a person such as character, personality, dignity and honor. We need to spend time and put in efforts to know a person on the inside beyond his or her look on the outside.
LOOKING GOOD BUT DANGEROUS:
1) Attractive religious doctrines: I can never understand how could a man with a normal brain would believe in a religion that encourages killing innocent people with suicide bombing and receive their God rewards such as 70 virgins waiting for him in heaven. There are many other enticing religious beliefs that look good to some people but are dangerous and deadly because they will only lead people to lose their fair opportunity of salvation but suffer eternal loss of their souls. Just as it is important to take real medicine to heal our bodies, it is more important to believe in real doctrine to save our sin-sick souls. The Bible says it very clear, ¡°Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by that we must be saved.¡± (Acts 4:12) And that name is Jesus the Christ.
2) Attractive liberal morality: My heart sank when I read that the National Cathedral in Washington DC, a symbol of Christian faith, where many important Christian events were held and attended by presidents and dignitaries will perform weddings of gay people. With majestic building structure and elaborate colorful outfit on their priests, this church caters to political position at the expense of godly moral values which churches of Jesus suppose to hold dear. With leaders in political, religious, educational and entertainment leading the down-hill slope of everything-goes liberal moral trend, we are facing a very dangerous and deadly eroding process on the moral foundation of our nation. This position may look good in political sense, but it is very dangerous for the nation and her people.
3) Attractive secular philosophy: There are many teachings and values in secular philosophy that had infiltrated and permeated in our society even into Christian circle. Many people follow these philosophical values and beliefs without any conscious intention. False values like: more or higher is better; go and get it at all costs; wealth and power over morality and honor; pride over humility; I, me, myself is all I care; everyone else is doing it, why not me; honesty has no value; just to list a few. These and others are now the norm of the world. But these false values are the roots of all kinds of problems in government, business, family relationships society and even churches. God has clear teaching in the Bible values we need to adhere and follow. We are the light of this world. If we follow the world and her values, we lose our ability to be the light to lead them to God.
4) Attractive unlimited freedom: ¡°Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial; everything is permissible but not everything is constructive.¡± (1 Corinthians 10:23) America has been an inspiring light of freedom to the world. Freedom to pursue equality and happiness is in our Constitution. Thousands of our young people died for freedom of our own and others. We certainly treasure freedom over many other qualities of life. But the pursuit of freedom has been hijacked by this generation: Freedom without boundary. Too may bad and wrongs in the past are now legal or right: gay practice and marriage, abortion on demand, use of poisonous drugs, morally wrong life style are now allowed and protected in the name of freedom. God gives us a guideline on how to use freedom: when it is beneficial and constructive. Anything to the contrary is dangerous and deadly.
BEFORE YOU MAKE YOUR CHOICES: (Matt 7:13-14)
1) An appeal of the Lord Jesus: ¡°Enter by the narrow gate.¡± (7:13) This is the appeal to which Jesus has been moving through the whole sermon. He gives the call to decide about becoming a citizen of God and inherit eternal life, or remaining a part of this fallen world and receiving damnation. The way to life is on God¡¯s term alone; the way to damnation is on the terms a person wants because every way but God¡¯s leads to destruction. Jesus has been giving God¡¯s standard of life throughout the sermon. Our life is full of choices: what to wear, what to eat, where to go and what to do, etc. Many choices are trivial and insignificant, but some are essential and life changing. The most of all is our relationship with Jesus and our obedience to his teaching.
2) The choice between two gates: ¡°Enter the narrow gate.¡± (7:13) ¡°Enter¡± is in (aorist) imperative that demands a definite action. The command is not for us to study or admire or understand but to take action of entering. Jesus didn¡¯t command us to enter any gate but the narrow gate. All of us have to enter one gate or the other. Jesus ordered and pled that those who belong to him enter the narrow gate because that is his gate, his way. The narrow gate demands our search; it symbolizes single entry without any baggage from the world. We cannot bring the world through the narrow gate to heaven. John says, ¡°Do not love the world or anything of the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.¡± (1 John 2:15)
3) The choice between two ways: The two gates lead to two ways: The gate that is wide leads to the way that is broad. The gate that is small leads to the way that is narrow. The narrow way is the way of the godly, while the broad way is the way of the ungodly, and these are the only two ways in which all people will travel. The godly people ¡°delights in the law of the Lord and in His law he meditates day and night. And he will be like a tree firmly planted by the stream of water, which yields its fruit in its season. But the ungodly ¡°are like chaff which the wind drives away.¡± (Psalm 1:2-4)The broad way is an easy, attractive, inclusive, permissive and self-indulgent way of the world. The narrow way is a hard way, the self-denial way, the dependent-on God and lonely way because there are few who have found and are willing to keep traveling in it.
4) The choice between two destinations: Both the broad and the narrow ways are believed to lead people to good life, blessing of God, salvation and heaven. But only the narrow way actually leads to the above. There is no sign: ¡°TO HELL¡± posted at the entrance of the broad way to give any warning. This is the lie of all the attractive but dangerous secular philosophies, false religions and modern day liberal immoral practices tricking people into following. But Jesus said it only leads to destruction apoleia, means total ruin and loss of wellbeing, everlasting torment. ¡°The way of the wicked will perish.¡± (Psalm 1:6) There is only one true way that will lead to heaven and blessing and it is the way of Jesus: He is the only way. (John 14:6)
1) Attractive isn¡¯t always good: I assume most of us know this is true, but in everyday life, we forgot to apply this in our decision making. Many of us are fooled by the look of people, things and many other aspects of life; and we made terrible choices that led to many heart-breaking and painful consequences. Some of us even fall into the deadly traps of seemingly attractive religious beliefs and missed the opportunity to save our souls. Don¡¯t be fooled by ¡°looking good¡± again because they may not be good.
2) Good isn¡¯t always attractive: Many good advises of life are not attractive or easy to follow or fun to do, but they are good for our life, health, moral stand and future. Don¡¯t make important decisions just look at the package. You need to ¡°know¡± what it really is and what it may do to you on the long run. Choose the way God has set for you in His word. There is no need to look around in the world to find the best way of life: Jesus is the way, the only way.