Woe to you… because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.” Matthew 23:13
We live in a day when false shepherds have infiltrated the church and caused great harm to God’s sheep. These false shepherds steal and kill and destroy the sheep. Jesus has great love and compassion for His sheep. All false shepherds will be accountable to Him and face His wrath. Here are seven woes for these false shepherds patterned after the seven woes pronounced by Jesus Christ in Matthew, Chapter Twenty-Three.
Woe to you false shepherds who have seated yourselves in positions of authority in the church. You are hypocrites who tell the sheep to obey God but you yourselves are lawless. You tell the sheep to love God and love others but you yourselves are loveless. You are imposters who pretend to love God when you are really lovers of self, lovers of money and lovers of pleasure. You hold to a form of Christianity but by your deeds you deny Christ’s Sovereignty. You love the approval of men but not the approval of God. How can you be Christ’s servants when you seek the approval of men? You love to be called “Pastor” when there is only one true Shepherd – Jesus Christ. You have made the church into a theater in which you are always the “star.” You love to be the center of the church and you receive more attention and care from the flock than all the weak sheep that truly need it. You have made the church into a cult devoted to your personality and welfare.
Woe to you false shepherds who masquerade as ministers of righteousness. You trust in your own righteousness but you do not submit to Christ’s righteousness. You boast about your ministry but you do not boast in the cross of Christ. You tell the sheep to be holy but you are unable and unwilling to help them be holy because you yourselves practice sin. You love to appear righteous to men but you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. You make a show of looking good to others but you are full of selfish ambition, greed and self-indulgence. You are whitewashed tombs which look consecrated on the outside but are full of rottenness and death on the inside.
Woe to you false shepherds who are zealous to make converts and when you make one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves. You draw disciples to yourselves and make them depend upon you and not on Christ. You promise them freedom when you yourselves are in bondage to sin. Since you are slaves to sin rather than enslaved to God, how much more are your disciples slaves to unrighteousness? Because you are lawless, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven and you also prevent others from entering in. You are the blind leading the blind and so make your disciples doubly blind. But since you claim to see, you will receive the greater condemnation.
Woe to you false shepherds who devour the poor. You are ravenous wolves in sheep’s clothing and your hearts are trained in greed. You tell the sheep they must tithe or else they rob God when you yourselves rob God by extorting money from His sheep. Should not your Sunday collections be given to meet the needs of the poor among you so there would be equality in the house of God? You are profiteers who sell your sermons and yourselves when you should be giving yourselves to the sheep without charge. You have made God’s house into a den of merchandise and prostitution and you cloak your thievery and harlotry with religious prayers.
Woe to you false shepherds who love all your “church” traditions but by your actions you invalidate the Word of God. You are devoted to your own prosperity but not to justice, mercy and faithfulness. You do not know God’s voice because you do not obey the Holy Spirit and you stop the sheep from hearing the Spirit by quenching the Spirit’s gifts given to the church. You say you honor God’s prophets of old but this day God is sending you prophets and teachers whom you will reject and persecute.
Woe to you false shepherds who say you preach the gospel when your false gospel only produces the fruit of man and not God. You tickle the ears of the sheep and turn them away from the truth with clever speech when you should be preaching the offense of the cross. You use flattery to seduce and deceive weak sheep for your own selfish gain. You falsely tell the sheep that God wants them to have a happy and prosperous life instead of preparing them for the suffering and persecution that lies ahead. The foundation of the church is Jesus Christ and Him crucified but your ministry is founded in greed and ambition. You do not know the gospel of the cross; otherwise you would repent and find life eternal. You honor God with your lips but your heart is far from Him. You have seen God’s works but you do not know Him or His ways. And in the Day of Judgment, He will not know you!
Woe to you false shepherds, you brood of vipers! You fulfill yourselves through your ministry instead of laying down your lives for God’s sheep. You exalt yourselves in the place of Christ in the church instead of humbling yourselves as the servant of all. You tell the sheep to submit to you but you are self-willed and not submitted to God. You love to have authority over the sheep but you yourselves despise Christ’s authority. You would not recognize Christ if He walked into your church! You are hired hands and mercenaries who minister for money, self-fulfillment and ambition. You are stumbling blocks who have caused God’s sheep to fall. Because of you, Christ is maligned and God’s holy purpose is twisted. Unless you repent, how will you escape the sentence of hell?
“You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.” Luke 16:15