“Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple, he is obliged to perform it.’ Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that sanctifies the gold? And, ‘Whoever swears by the altar, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gift that is on it, he is obliged to perform it.’ Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that sanctifies the gift? Therefore he who swears by the altar, swears by it and by all things on it. He who swears by the temple, swears by it and by Him who dwells in it. And he who swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by Him who sits on it. - Matthew 23: 16-22 (NKJV) As we continue with our exposition of the seven woes, we come to the fourth woe. Jesus goes into more detail here than any of the other warnings. He wants to make sure the point is being made. He wants to make sure we understand the point He is making. Often times within man made religiosity we lose sight of what is important for what is ritual. We lose sight of the forest for the trees we construct. We assign our values and lose sight of what God values. One such dying concept, rarely preached about anymore, is the holiness of God. The Holman Bible Dictionary states the primary definition of holy, which applies solely to God, is: "Something or someone who evokes “veneration or awe, being frightening beyond belief.” This definition does not sit well with Kumbya Christianity. It doesn't focus group test well. It is not seeker friendly. People would rather hear about how much God loves them, sit in a church that caters to their sins and needs, and never have to actually deal with the concept of a holy God. As Paul Washer once preached - everyone wants to go to heaven, most just don't want to see God when they get there. At least not the real God. At least not a holy God. The result of this shift away from holiness to user-friendliness is a church body that rapidly loses the fear of God. Who needs hymns about veneration and awe when we can sing about how special we are to God? How can the obvious false prophet parade do what they do except they have no fear of God? How can people sit in churches they know do not serve God except they have no fear of him. The same problem existed with the Pharisees, who had plenty of religion but lacked the fear of God so much they crucified Him! It seems they had a system where they would consider oaths binding if they were sworn by the gold inside of the temple of God but not if it was sworn on the temple itself. Likewise, if someone swore by the gifts offered on the altar they would consider that a binding oath but not if sworn by the altar itself. Jesus cuts them to the quick by exclaiming they are both fools and blind! What makes them blind fools is what it is that they value. To them the gold was something to take more seriously than the temple of God! The gifts that were offered was something to take more seriously than the altar of God! This may seem obvious but look around modern Christendom and you still see the same mentality. I have seen the most profane things standing on the altar of God as if it was not an issue. I have seen someone dressed as the Easter Bunny, a representation of a fourth century sex goddess, on the altar of God. I have seen churches rent themselves out to other denominations that do not follow the same God! The temple and altar treated as if holiness is irrelevant. As if we are not a in a spiritual battle. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age,against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. - Ephesians 6: 12 (NKJV) The loss of delineation between holy and profane has led to a dumbing down of the spiritual war Christians are in. That dumbing down starts in the pulpit and trickles down to the body. Far too often we deal with pastors who are more concerned about the faithfulness of the tithe then their own faithfulness to the holy nature of God. Once again, the gold being more valuable than the temple. Jesus makes it crystal clear here. Which is greater to us? The temple or the gold that is stored in it? The altar or the gifts that are offered on it? That which is temporal or that which sanctifies? The holiness of God or the religiosity of man? Where beloved is our heart? “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. - Matthew 6: 19-21 (NKJV) Where is our heart in our walk with Christ? Where is the heart of our church? What do we value? We need to get back to the veneration and awe of Almighty God. Whenever I speak of this there is always a seeker friendly believer raised on purpose driven theology that will ask if I really want to be afraid of who God is. My answer is always simple. I am afraid of forgetting who God is. Of blurring the lines so close where I start to think the gold is more precious than the temple or that the gifts are more holy than the altar. Where I start to confuse the things of this world and value them above the holiness of the God I serve. Woe would be me indeed. Rev. Anthony.