Offended by the Sermon?

Jesus said in Matthew 11:6, “Blessed is he who does not take offense at me.” This is indeed so – blessed is such a person, not only here, but also eternally. For the anger at Jesus and at his word has severe consequences, even into eternity.

Being offended by a sermon is nothing new. Even Jesus had to deal with this, as is clearly shown in Matthew 15:12-14. There have always been different audiences listening to the preaching of the Word of God. While some were moved, edified, and blessed, others felt convicted and went away offended. Our Lord Jesus experienced this, and it has remained unchanged even today.

There is a reason that people are offended by the effect of God’s Word!

God’s Word is light, and light exposes and punishes.

God’s Word is like a fire and convicts the conscience. 

God’s Word is truth, and truth often wounds and hurts.

God’s Word is a judge of the thoughts and senses of the heart, and this judge either finds us guilty or exonerates us.

God’s Word is life and spirit, and this spirit convicts and creates clarity.

This is the profound effect of divine preaching, and it cannot fail that those listening either accept what they hear or completely reject it. 

In Matthew 15, it was the Pharisees who took offence at Jesus’ preaching. Again, their anger was caused by Jesus’ words. They had accused His disciples of not washing their hands before eating. Jesus rejected some of their statements and clearly showed how they set aside God’s commandments to make their own rules. He convicted them of their hypocrisy and reminded them of what Isaiah said: “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me; and in vain they worship Me. Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (verses 8-9).

He was not finished but addressed the crowd, making it very clear that it is not food entering the mouth that makes one unclean but what comes out of the mouth, such as untruths, hypocrisy, and false teaching. He did not go about it gently, as evil had to be firmly removed by the root. So being offended was completely understandable! The disciples heard about it and said, “Do you also know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” Regardless of the concern of His disciples, He said, “Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted” (verses 12-13).

Jesus meant the Pharisees when He referred to the “plants.” “Let them alone!,”  He continued in verse 14. “They are blind leaders of the blind. But if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch.” Falling into the ditch would be the end of the leaders and their followers, and Jesus sadly saw the approaching result. The disciples may have been horrified at their Master’s attitude. He had been so understanding and benevolent with the tax collectors and sinners, but He dealt ruthlessly with the spiritual leaders! These were not leaders in Jesus’ eyes, but deceivers!

Being offended by God’s Word is not harmless. I am reminded of an experience I had on one of my ministry trips. With the local pastor, we went to visit a sawmill. There, we met a man who was known to my colleague. After a short conversation, the brother handed him an invitation to the church service. The man was furious and started swearing at us. A lot of bitterness can dwell in a man’s heart against God and His Word! Sadly, we said goodbye and started on our way home.

Being offended by a sermon can harden our heart, and many a person has gone to the grave with this anger. It is inconceivable that someone with such offence can live quietly or even die quietly. Therefore, these people are really to be pitied because they make it so difficult for themselves and are lost forever.

Jesus so often tried to help those Pharisees. He wanted to convince them of the truth of the gospel and lead them to faith. But since He saw them become more and more hostile towards Him, He warned them with an especially serious word: “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come” (Matthew 12:31-32). In such a case, conversion becomes impossible because the reviving Spirit withdraws forever. That is where constant offence at God’s Word can lead.

Are you also suffering from being offended by God’s Word? You can become free as long as the Spirit of God is still speaking, admonishing, and striving for your salvation. Open your heart to the efforts of the Spirit of God and become free!

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