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GENUINE IMITATIONS

(Luke 20:45-47)
March 12, 2017

Read Luke 20:45-47 An email ad popped up not long ago that read: For
Sale: Genuine Imitations of Luxury Watches. I thought I was back in Hong
Kong where street vendors were selling genuine imitation Rolex watches.
Problem is, a genuine imitation is still a fake, right? And as we have seen
before, Jesus was deadly concerned that His followers be the real thing.

So He issues a warning about the insidiousness of hypocrisy, a familiar


theme. Hes describing unbelievers but Hes addressing His own disciples! So
this warning against genuine imitations is for all of us who claim Him.

I. The Caution
45
And in the hearing of all the people he said to his disciples, 46 Beware of
the scribes. The scribes -- well-educated Pharisees -- knew the Law and
traditions comprehensively -- the rabbi class the most respected people in
Jewish society. As one commentator puts it: The scribes were the dominant
force in Judaism, not only theologically, but socially. Yet Jesus says,
Beware beware of the scribes. That was a shocker!

Tho the crowd is listening, Jesus is addressing His disciples. Within weeks,
these uneducated Galileans will be the dominant force among believing Jews.
And unlike the scribes, they must be genuine. The scribes are a deadly toxin.
Theyre not real. Their teaching is laced with strychnine. Beware the scribes
like saying today, Look out for Billy Graham or Rick Warren or Kevin
DeYoung. Those guys are poison. Thats how challenging this would have
sounded to these men. Of course, those men are men of God, but the scribes
only looked like men of God. They werent real. Genuine imitations.

Just because something looks like a sheep and baas like a sheep, doesnt
mean its a sheep. Could be a wolf in sheeps clothing. Mt 7:15, 15 Beware of
false prophets, who come to you in sheeps clothing but inwardly are
ravenous wolves. False prophets were not unique to the 1st century. Theyre
alive and well today. Just saying God and Jesus doesnt make you real!

So how can you tell? Well look at details shortly, but Deut 13 and 18 give 4
ways to identify a true prophet. First, his speaking will point toward God, not

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toward idols which today might be money, health, ambition, or some other
21st century idol. Second, his message is true to Gods Word. Third, if they
give a prophecy it will come true; if not they are to be put to death. Many
people are claiming to be prophets today; none even claim 100% accuracy.
One so-called prophet says the average is about 65% with a few as high as
90%. Doesnt meet Gods standard! Finally, they will be living a godly
lifestyle not extravagant, greedy, immoral or sensual.

So do we have false teachers today? Of course! The title Pastor, Rev, Doctor,
Bishop, Prophet doesnt mean someone is real. Theyll look good. You may
even get some help from them. But dig deep. Get details. Check them against
Scripture and check out their lifestyle. Mt 7:20 Thus you will recognize them
by their fruits. Beware! Thered be no need to beware if they were obvious,
right? You only have to beware of someone who looks real but isnt! Theyre
not genuine just genuine imitation!

One famous preacher with a huge following has said, Gods reason for
creating Adam was His desire to reproduce himself. . . . He was not a little
like God. He was not almost like God. He was not subordinate to God even.
Later he says, You dont have a God in you, you are one. Thats heresy,
Beloved. I have a file full of preachers who claim to be evangelical but who
deny the inerrancy of Scripture, the atonement of Christ and the exclusivity of
Jesus Christ. Beware! Be a Berean! Acts 17:11 Now these Jews were more
noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness,
examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Paul Himself
was their evangelist but they were checking him out! Thats what Jesus is
urging. Check them out. Spurgeon says, Discernment is not only a matter of
discerning truth from falsehood, but also a matter of discerning truth from
half-truth. Check things out, Beloved. Many are just genuine imitation.

II. The Characterization

So what characterizes hypocrisy? Whats it look like? Jesus gives 5 elements


here that characterize genuine imitations that we must watch for in our lives.

. Appearance The scribes like to walk around in long robes. Anything


wrong with long robes? Not at all. But there is something wrong with liking it
too much. The Pharisees made a show of conforming to Num 15:38-40 where
God commanded the people to wear a tassel in each corner of their toga as a
reminder of His commandments. The scribes lengthened their tassels to make

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an ostentatious display of their compliance. With their white linen robes and
long tassels, they expected people to rise as they passed by tradesmen
exempt. The power dressers of the 1st century. This is one reason preaching in
robes has never appealed to me. Im no different from any of you. Its a little
too close to Pharisaism.

But its not just religious dress that is the issue. It can be any dress in tended to
call attention to the person. So, anything wrong with pride in appearance. Of
course, not. We should look as good as we can. But not to attract attention to
ourselves. We must ingrain this into our children. Society will teach them to
value themselves by the attention they can attract. We must help them
understand it is Gods approval that matters, not attention gained for all the
wrong reasons by immodest dress.

In 2009 Kylie Bisutti beat out 10,000 other models to become a Victorias
Secret model her dream since age 14. But as a new believer, she began to
feel the inconsistency of the immodesty of her modeling with her faith. In
2011 she got married, and by Feb 2012, she gave up her lucrative VS job.
George Stephanopoulos asked why. She said she wanted to honor God and her
husband with her body and not conform to societys rules. And be a good role
model to young girls. She said her husband let her make her own decision but
said when she quit, He was very thankful very, very thankful! George
asked, Will you still model? Yes, but I just want to be more wholesome
about it. The jobs that I choose are always going to be honor the Lord.

So, whats the message? Let your appearance go? No but make sure that
your appearance glorifies God, not yourself that it attracts attention to
Him, not you. When the mirror is our best friend and we spend hours on dress,
clothes, hair, etc., dress has become an idol. And that makes us a hypocrite.
Dress for God, not for you and you wont have the problem the scribes had.

. Acclaim The scribes loved greetings in the marketplaces. We all need


approval, but when we hate to see someone else get recognized, or are in it
for the attention, weve crossed a line. The scribes loved to be called Rabbi
-- the acclaim of men rather than God. Easy trap to fall into.

We love titles; love to see our name in print; love acclaim. We feel slighted if
our contribution is overlooked which almost certainly indicates we were
doing it for the wrong reasons in the first place. My brother Jon got his
doctorate degree many years ago, but you would never know it to talk to him.

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We have several docs in our own congregation you may not know. Others
cant wait to get that title up on email, twitter and social media. Could it be
they love acclaim too much?

A cartoon shows a man and woman sitting on the beach. The balding,
paunchy, authoritative man appears grumpy as he sits on his beach towel. He
says to his wife, I hate the beach. No one salutes me. Couldnt live without
acclaim sure sign of hypocrisy. A genuine imitation. Maggie Thatcher had a
great perspective. She said, Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have
to tell people you are, you arent! Youre just genuine imitation!

. Ambition -- The scribes in v. 46, love the best seats in the synagogue and
the places of honor at feasts. Position meant everything to them. In the
synagogue they wanted platform seats. And at feasts, they fought to have the
seat closest to the host indicating their high rank. It was all about seeing and
being seen. The human heart wants to be first. Easy disease to contract; hard
to expel. If we dont protect #1, who will? God, perhaps?!

Ive watched otherwise sane people fight like cats and dogs to get an office a
couple of square feet bigger or one position closer to the president all driven
ambition! Its easy to fall victim. We want to throw our weight around because
weve been here or done that or hold this title or that position. Weve all been
there. I certainly have. Its a trap, Beloved. It is a house of cards.

Well end like the celebrity doing a benefit at a home for seniors. He asked,
Do you know who I am? One man answered, No, but ask at the front
desk they can tell you. The Xnss front desk is Col 3:3, For you have
died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Who are we? Nobody
outside of Christ. But a child of the King in Christ -- the only identity that
counts. It means we live for an audience of one. Just one that counts.
Remembering that leads to genuine lives, not imitation.

. Affluence The scribes 47 devour widows houses. This is an onerous


charge. Widows were the weakest members of society. They were to be
protected and cared for. Exod 22:22 You shall not mistreat any widow or
fatherless child. Isa 1:17b: bring justice to the fatherless, plead the
widows cause. And many other places (Deut 10:18; 14:29; 24:17-21; Jer
22:3). This was not happening in Israel. And its a challenge for us, too. We
have good intentions, but no organization. Are we truly doing all we can to
help those who cant help themselves? Im praying we can improve.

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But the problem for these guys went way deeper than that. They werent just
ignoring the problem; they were creating the problem. And they were doing
it for money. The desire for wealth drove them to cruel extremes. The Greek
word devour () means to eat thus to consume, to use up. These
guys were preying on widows. Jesus doesnt spell it out in detail, but He
probably had a raft of practices in mind. Some would offer to manage an
estate for a fee an exploitative commission, which they would always get,
even as the widows resources were consumed by bad investment policies.

Others were even more despicable and modern! Rabbis were legally bound
to teach without charge. They were supposed to support themselves while
teaching for free. But gifts were acceptable, and they knew fund-raising!
They taught that there was no greater act of piety than supporting a rabbi. One
said, Whoever puts part of his income into the purse of the wise is counted
worthy of a seat in the heavenly academy. They made unscrupulous appeals
to impressionable women who had been left alone to feather their own nest.
They cared little for whether their victims could afford to give or not.

Theirs was an ancient implementation of modern appeals by money-grubbing


shysters, urging people to give money they dont have to get some promised
healing or financial blessing that never comes. And who is more vulnerable to
those appeals than good-hearted, compassionate widows who must manage on
their own without someone to consult. Such illicit appeals in Gods name are
treacherous, and I hope you will never been victimized by them.

The creativity of these scams is endless. One woman was thrilled to receive a
personal letter from a Christian leader, indicating hed seen her face in a
vision. Who wouldnt want to star in a vision?! God had told him to write and
ask for money. He didnt mention that thousands of others had also been
personally called by the organizations computer and sent the identical
letter. Believing the letter was inspired by God, private to her, she sent the
money never bothering to ask how the guy came up with her name and
address. The desire for affluence is almost a certain sign of hypocrisy. Be on
the lookout for it in your life and the lives of those you think are men of God.

. Affectation The scribes offered long theological prayers. Anything wrong


with long prayers? No, but the scribes for a pretense make long prayers. It
wasnt real. It was genuine imitation. Pretense. Hot air. No value. Intended
only to enhance their reputation with the people -- which they did. But from

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Gods perspective, they never got past the ceiling. So easy to affect spiritual
words and phrases and actions around our church friends, isnt it? So easy.
Some of us have a vocabulary switch. Its one kind at church another kind
entirely around others. How can you tell its fake? Ask yourself would you say
and do the same things around your unsaved friends? If not, youre and fake
and a fraud.

A local organizer was leading public prayer one night before D. L. Moody
spoke to a crowd. But he couldnt get stopped! After 15 minutes, Moody
finally went, put his arm around the man and said to the crowd, Please turn
to page such or other and lets sing while our brother finishes his prayer.
Any prayer from the heart is wonderful! But prayers for show are useless like
a lot of our other spiritual jargon and practices intended to show ourselves off
rather than our Lord. The thing thats common to all these characteristics
of hypocrisy -- calling attention to self! We want to be sure they are not us!

III. The Condemnation


47b
They will receive the greater condemnation. Representing God to others
is our greatest privilege as a Xn. But it demands great humility. Jesus is clear,
here, that a hypocritical lifestyle on the part of a leader will lead to greater
judgment. Thats why James warns in 3:1, Not many of you should become
teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with
greater strictness. This simply affirms what weve seen elsewhere in Luke
there are degrees of punishment in hell, and there are levels of reward in
heaven meaning that how we live here has eternal consequences. So we need
to be real lives hidden in Christ who is our righteousness.

Conc Mahatma Gandhi, the great Indian non-violence leader, was deeply
interested in Christianity early in his life. During his student days he read the
Gospels and was deeply touched, feeling that Christianity offered a real
solution to the caste system that divided the people of India. One Sunday he
went to a nearby church to attend services intent on seeing the minister and
asking instruction about the way of salvation. But when he entered the
sanctuary, the British ushers refused to give him a seat and suggested he go
worship with his own people. Gandhi left and never came back saying, If
Christians have caste system also, I might as well remain a Hindu. Now
you could say it was his fault for judging the whole by a bad part problem is
we have a lot of bad parts. For many people, one chance is all we will get and

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the difference will be whether they find genuine believers or genuine
imitations. Which are we? Lets pray.