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By Curtis Pugh

Jesus Himself spoke plain words to the most religious people alive in His day saying: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte [convert], and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves,” (Matthew 23:15). Here Jesus spoke to the Pharisees about themselves and their missionary program. He first pronounced “woe” upon them. This word is used to express distress. He is saying that judgment without mercy is coming upon the religious leaders. Their expectation of happiness for eternity was not going to happen. Alas!

Next the Lord Jesus spoke of their missionary zeal. The lesson for us here is that the sending out of missionaries does not guarantee that either the senders or those sent are doing a good thing. Just because people go door to door in an effort to make converts does not mean what they are doing is right. Jesus uses a bit of hyperbole: intended and obvious exaggeration in speech to make a point. He said they would go around the world just to make one convert! That is zeal! That is dedication! That is sacrifice and commitment to a cause.

But Jesus is saying that their zeal, dedication, sacrifice and commitment are to the wrong message. Their goal is to make converts to their false religion! Oh, they made converts, but each convert was “twofold more the child of hell” than they were! In this statement Jesus first of all says directly to these religious leaders that they themselves were children of hell. They were headed for eternal punishment! They were religious, but lost! They had never been born again of the Spirit. This was the personal message to one of them who came to Jesus by night for Nicodemus was “a ruler of the Jews,” (John 4:1). Jesus told him “ye must be born again,” (John 3:7).

But these converts were twice the children of hell that those who evangelized them were! Their religious instructors were deceived deceivers and their end would be eternity in the Lake of Fire. But their converts were twice as bad. How can that be? How can these people be twice as bad off as the people who converted them?

While their instructors were religious hypocrites having only a false outward religion that was empty of any spiritual life or inward change, their converts only added to their former pagan ideas and practices the outward hypocrisy of their teachers. They continued in their observances of pagan feasts, celebrations and devotion as well as their old immorality and sinful lifestyle although they outwardly conformed and appeared to be changed.

It is also recorded that Jesus said to the Pharisees: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres [tombs], which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness,” (Matthew 23:27). Outwardly clean, but inwardly corrupt! Beware of mere outward religion. It leads to hell!

Grace Bible Baptist Church
26080 Wax Road
Denham Springs, LA 70726

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