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True Spirituality (Luke 11:33-54)

Sermon on 11 October 2020 by Pastor Gaius


What is the meaning of being spiritual? Are we spiritual? If not, what should we do?

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. – Romans 8:5-8

We can see clearly minding the things of the flesh and the things of the Spirit are very different. If we are obedient, we are minding the things of the Spirit. If we do not obey God, we are minding the things of the flesh.


In Luke 11:33-54, we can find 8 comparisons of the things of the Spirit and the flesh.

1. Outside & inside

While Jesus was speaking, a Pharisee asked him to dine with him, so he went in and reclined at the table. The Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not first wash before dinner. And the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also? But give as alms those things that are within, and behold, everything is clean for you. - Luke 11:37-41

During those times, washing hands before a meal was a ritual to represent cleansing. It was tradition, rather than hygiene, given that the water they washed with may not be clean. The Pharisees would wash, regardless of whether the water was clean or dirty. They were more focused on their outward appearance, rather than what was in their hearts.

Do we care more about our appearance or our hearts? God looks into our hearts.

2. Major on the minor & major on the major

“But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe and mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. - Luke 11:42

The Pharisees gave tithes dutifully, going down to meticulous and minor details of even giving one-tenth for every herb. However, the weightier matters of the law were neglected. They neglected justice and the love of God.

God is clear about what He requires of us. What He wants is justice and kindness.

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? - Micah 6:8

Let us not be too religious about using our own might to please God. He wants us to depend on the Holy Spirit, to follow the will of God, to listen and obey His will. We are not to serve God on our own terms, but on His terms.

3. Be seen & be secret

Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seat in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces. – Luke 11:43

The Pharisees like to do things to be seen, to be praised by people. But Jesus does not want us to practise our righteousness before others. Do we want reward from God or reward from man?

“Beware of practising your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. – Matthew 6:1

So that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. – Matthew 6:4

When giving to the poor, give in secret. Don’t do it in order to garner gratitude and praise.

But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. – Matthew 6:6

When we pray, don’t go into a public area and pray loudly to show others. We are not saying that praying in public is not acceptable, but make sure that before you even do that, you have already prayed to your Father in heaven in secret.

That your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. – Matthew 6:18

Some people pull a long face when they fast, so that others know and perhaps be seen as more spiritual than others. But we know, in God’s terms, this is not spiritual. We should run our day just like any other day. But at mealtimes, we retreat to a quiet place to pray.

Giving, praying and fasting are all good things, but how we do it is important.

4. Unclean & clean

Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without knowing it.” – Luke 11:44

It was considered unclean to touch a dead animal or person. Jesus called the Pharisees unclean and those who followed them would be unclean.

5. Loading burdens & lightening burdens

One of the lawyers answered him, “Teacher, in saying these things you insult us also.” And he said, “Woe to you lawyers also! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers.” – Luke 11:45-46

Have we ever set ourselves a high target for others to reach, when we can’t reach that target ourselves? Or maybe we can reach it, but we do not want to help them. If we see a need, remember that the Holy Spirit has allowed us to see this need in the first place. He wants us to help. We should not give what we do not want do to others.

Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30

In those days, a yoke is a wooden bar placed on the cows, to plough land as the cows move.

Jesus is different from the lawyers and Pharisees. He does not add burden to you, but instead, He gives you rest. Jesus is shouldering the yoke, therefore we find it easy. Jesus is always here to lighten our burden. As children of God, we should also lighten the burden of others. Let us not be like the lawyers and Pharisees. Do not add burden to others.

6. Evil & good

Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your fathers killed. So you are witnesses and you consent to the deeds of your fathers, for they killed them, and you build their tombs. Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,’ so that the blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be required of this generation. – Luke 11:47-51

The fathers of the Pharisees killed prophets. At the same time, they built the tombs of the prophets. This is hypocrisy.

For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil. – Romans 16:19

Those things that are evil – let us not even go near them.

7. Foolish & wise

Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.” – Luke 11:52

The lawyers and Pharisees had the key of knowledge, yet they chose not to use the key to go in, due to their pride. Worse, they stopped others from entering. They were blind but continued to lead others to fall.

As he went away from there, the scribes and the Pharisees began to press him hard and to provoke him to speak about many things, lying in wait for him, to catch him in something he might say. – Luke 11:53-54

They did not want to accept the knowledge of Christ. They were foolish. Further, they tried to catch Jesus on something He might say.

8. Darkness & light

“No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness. – Luke 11:33-34

Our eyes control our mind and body. When we see things that are not holy, our body is in darkness.

If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. – Matthew 25:8-9

Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness. If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light. – Luke 11:35-36

We have to check ourselves to make sure that our light does not become darkness.

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. – Matthew 5:16

God wants us to be light of the world. Our light refers to our good works. Our good works is not to be deliberately shown to people, but wherever there is light, it will be seen. The light of Christ will attract them. When they see this light, they will give glory to the Father in heaven. They should not be praising us but praising the Father. Let us be watchful of our daily service. Everything we do is not to draw people to ourselves but to God.


The Pharisees and lawyers are considered hypocrites by Jesus. Let us reflect. In terms of thinking, do we mind on the flesh or mind of the Spirit? Do we destroy others or edify them? When we do good works, do we bring glory to ourselves or do we bring glory to God?

Let us walk a life that is pleasing to Him and bring others to Christ, not by what we do, but by our life’s testimony.

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