Living by Grace

Dedicated to providing guidance in daily living through the power of God's grace as experienced in our union with Christ.

Spirit-Led Rebuke  

“Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?”     Matthew 23:33


Matthew 23 is a chapter filled with rebuke. Jesus is rebuking the scribes and Pharisees. Two times He called them fools. Five times He told them they were blind. Seven times He called them hypocrites. Eight times Jesus said to them, “woe to you.” And He called them serpents and a brood of vipers.


Contrast those words of rebuke with a description of Jesus that is found in Matthew 12:19-20.


He will not quarrel nor cry out, nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets. A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench, Till He sends forth justice to victory …


When we interpret Matthew chapter 23 in light of Matthew 12:19-20, the seemingly fierce rebuke in chapter 23 was probably spoken with a desire for redemption and not in a spirit of harshness.


All believers are living in this world with other children of God who are living hypocritical lives. Should we call them serpents, vipers, hypocrites, and fools to their faces?


Before we do that, we must follow the example of Jesus that He expresses in John 14:10 where He says:


The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works.


God may use us to speak words of censure to hypocritical believers. However, before we speak we must be sure that God wants to use us and that we can say censorious words with a spirit of redemption.


When we reprimand a person in anger or in an attitude of severe condemnation or in a spirit of spiritual superiority, we probably will alienate that person from us and from God. On the other hand rebuke that is prompted by the Holy Spirit can bring redemption from hypocrisy to a believer.


When we are filled with the Spirit, our words of reprimand can be redemptive.