Matthew lists these two traps we must avoid in the kingdom of God (Matt. 16:6-12):
1. Pharisees-like focus on rituals and traditions. We must beware of opinions that cannot be backed up with scripture or areas where the Bible is silent. Rituals, traditions and opinions are areas where Satan loves to get in and cause friction and division amongst God’s people. This type of focus is often seen in groups that are more “conservative”. A conservative bent is not bad or sinful as long as rituals, traditions and opinions are recognized for what they are and not touted as “scriptural” or “Godly”
2. Sadducee-like focus on rationalism, ethical codes and noble principles without divine or spiritually supernatural components. This type of focus is often seen in Unitarian groups, human rights groups and even in some churches purporting affiliation with Christ. Often these groups are known as “liberal.” A liberal bent is not sinful or bad as long as rationalism, codes and noble principals are recognized for what they are and not used in place of what is given to us in God’s Word. How have you seen Pharisee or Sadducee mentality affect the Church and our communities today?
The solution to rituals and rationalism is revelation from God. When Jesus asked Peter who He was, he answered that He was Christ, the Son of the living God, which God the Father revealed (Matt. 16:15-17). Jesus as the anointed one is fully God. He builds the church and overcomes all evil forces. We can only confirm what has already taken place in heaven because Jesus is controller of the church (Matt. 16:18-19). With Jesus as head, we must set our mind and affections on God's interests, not our own (Matt. 16:23). Three things will jump start us (Matt. 16:24):
1. Deny yourselves (what is hindering you?)
2. Take up your cross (what are you avoiding?)
3. Follow Jesus (what is distracting you?)
When we lose our life for Christ, we end up saving it through a relationship with Christ (Matt. 16:25-26).
What is hindering your relationship with Christ (deny)?
What are you avoiding (take up your cross)?
What is distracting you (follow Jesus)?