Mat 11:18 `For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a demon;
Mat 11:19 the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, Lo, a man, a glutton, and a wine-drinker, a friend of tax-gatherers and SINNERS, and wisdom was justified of her children.'
SINNERS: G268, hamartōlos
1) devoted to sin, a sinner
1a) not free from sin
1b) pre-eminently sinful, especially wicked
1b1) all wicked men
1b2) specifically of men stained with certain definite vices or crimes
1b2a) tax collectors, heathen
I will not say that we should not worry at all about our sins, but it is my contention that the modern Church places far too much emphasis on sin. If we do an e-sword search for “sin” in the Gospels, we discover that “sin” (hamartia, G266) is mentioned by Jesus only once in the Gospel of Matthew, zero times in the Gospel of Mark, zero times in the Gospel of Luke, and eleven times in the Gospel of John.
The one time that Jesus mentions “sin” in the Gospel of Matthew, he says that: EVERY sin and blasphemy SHALL be forgiven!!! Huh? EVERY SIN? YES…EVERY SIN!
Mat 12:31 Therefore I say unto you, EVERY sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men; but the blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven.
Mat 12:32 And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever shall speak against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, nor in that which is to come. American Standard Version.
So does that mean that smoking is forgiven? Yes, smoking is forgiven. How ‘bout smoking MARIJUANA? Yes, it is forgiven. Drinking beer? Yes, it is forgiven.
Getting drunk isn’t forgiven, right? Getting drunk SHALL be forgiven. What if you are a mean drunk? Mean drunks are forgiven just like happy drunks are forgiven. O.K, I know that the little sins will be forgiven, but what about the really despicable sins? Surely “rape” won’t be forgiven! EVERY SIN SHALL BE FORGIVEN. Murder? EVERY SIN SHALL BE FORGIVEN.
Suicide cannot be forgiven right? You need to ask for forgiveness, and that would be impossible if you committed suicide right? Jesus didn’t say we needed to ask for forgiveness. Jesus mentions only ONE unforgivable sin. Suicide is not listed as an unforgivable sin. EVERY SIN SHALL BE FORGIVEN! I could go on and on, but I think you probably get my point.
Jesus heard about His enemies attempting to besmirch His character by condemning those he associated with, but it did not faze him.
…a friend of tax-gatherers and sinners?
Thank God that Jesus was friends with tax-collectors or we might not have the Gospel of Matthew. Also, thank God that Jesus is a friend of ALL sinners, or everybody ever born would spend eternity in hell!
If we read the Gospels closely, it appears that Jesus (God) actually “preferred” spending time with tax-collectors, prostitutes, gluttons and wine-drinkers rather than keeping company with the religious leaders of His day.
When the Pharisees came right out and complained about Jesus’ choice of company, Jesus made a rather snide reply of His own.
Mat 9:11 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?
Mat 9:12 But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.
Mat 9:13 But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
The Pharisees suffered from a serious religious error that Jesus tried to correct over and over again. The Pharisees believed that there were big sins that other people committed (i.e. tax-collecting, prostitution, and drunkenness), and that there were little sins that they committed (i.e. hypocrisy, arrogance, extortion, and pride).
Mat 23:14 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.
If we ever hope to escape from legalism, and we MUST escape from legalism, then we MUST begin to view our own sin from God’s perspective…whether WE believe our sin is big or small is really of no consequence. TO GOD, ALL SIN IS BIG!
Isa 64:6 But we are ALL as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
However, LEGALISM IS DEATH! Often times I will listen to a preacher, or a minister, or an evangelist and I will think, “Here is somebody who really knows the Word of God!” Then they will suddenly go on a rant about sin and keeping the law, and it really baffles me. How can somebody know the Word of God so well, and then miss the whole point of Jesus’ message to mankind?
Mat 23:23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, JUDGMENT, MERCY, and FAITH: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
I know that being judgmental of others is very, very easy. I have fallen into that trap more times than I can remember. However, when I begin to judge other people for their faults, I usually end up flat on my face. God has the ability to quickly put me back in my place by revealing my own obvious faults and weaknesses. I believe Jesus said it best:
Mat 7:3 And why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the beam of wood in your own eye?
Mat 7:4 Or how will you say to your brother, 'Allow me to remove the speck from your eye,' and behold, the beam of wood is in your own eye? Lexham English Bible.
As a matter of fact, if you have some besetting sin that you cannot seem to get rid of, you might ask yourself the following questions, “Am I being too judgmental of other people’s sins? Has somebody offended me so much that I will not forgive them? I have found that when I STOP being judgmental of others, my own sins suddenly stop having such a strong hold on me. I find that when people rant and rave about other people’s sins, they usually have a whole host of sins that they are attempting to hide from everybody else!
Luk 6:37 "Stop judging, and you will never be judged. Stop condemning, and you will never be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. God’s Word Bible.
Our flesh wants to CONTROL everything, but our born-again spirit wants to relinquish ALL control to God. There is a very simple method to determine whether we are walking in the spirit or walking after the flesh. Do we NEED to be in CONTROL? Then we are walking after the flesh.
Have we given all our circumstances, our problems, our friends, our relatives, our sins, and our flesh to God? Then we are walking after the spirit. When we come to this great impasse, and we realize that we are completely powerless against sin and the flesh, whether it is our own or other people’s sin, then we are on the road to permanent liberty.
Rom 14:4 Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.
You might be asking yourself, “If we are completely powerless against sin and the flesh, then how can we ever have permanent liberty?”
This is the same dilemma that the Apostle Paul found himself in when he wrote his epistle to the Romans, Chapter 7.
Rom 7:23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
Rom 7:24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
Rom 7:25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.
The answer of course is in Paul’s epistle to the Romans, Chapter 8. We must place our complete and total trust, NOT in the works of our flesh, NOT in our own willpower, but in the finished work of Jesus Christ, He condemned ALL sin and ALL flesh on the cross!
Rom 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
Rom 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
Rom 8:3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
Rom 8:4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
Walking in the spirit is simply having “continual” FAITH in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross.
Joh 19:30 After Jesus had taken the vinegar, he said, "IT IS FINISHED!" Then he bowed his head and died.
It really is FINISHED! It is always and forever FINISHED! I know it is extremely difficult sometimes, but we must be able to have an objective view of ourselves and of others. We need to realize that no matter how much we want to be in control, we can never be in control. The less control we have, the better off we will be. I know this is counter-intuitive, but it is the truth. We must give everything and everyone to God. If we can stop worrying and fretting about the future because we know that God is in total control…then we will really be free.
Php 4:10 But I rejoice in the Lord greatly, that now at length you have revived your thought for me; in which you did indeed take thought, but you lacked opportunity.
Php 4:11 Not that I speak because of lack, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content in it.
Php 4:12 I know how to be humbled, and I know also how to abound. In everything and in all things I have learned the secret both to be filled and to be hungry, both to abound and to be in need.
Php 4:13 I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.
It is funny that we spend so much time worrying about other people, and other people’s problems, and other people’s sins, and other people’s bad manners. If God can’t save somebody, what makes us think that we can save them? The best course of action for us, and for everybody else, is simply to focus on our own relationship with Jesus Christ. Then everything WILL work out just fine!
Joh 21:20 Then Peter, turning around, saw a disciple following. This was the disciple whom Jesus loved, the one who had also leaned on Jesus’ breast at the supper and asked, “Lord, who is going to betray You?”
Joh 21:21 Peter seeing him, said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?”
Joh 21:22 Jesus said to him, “If I desire that he stay until I come, what is that to you? You follow me.” World English Bible.
Do you see what Jesus was telling Peter? “Don’t worry about him, YOU follow me!”
We see that Peter got the message:
1Pe 2:20 For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.
1Pe 2:21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should FOLLOW HIS STEPS:
1Pe 2:22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:
FOLLOW: G1872, epakoloutheō
1) to follow (close) upon, follow after
2) to tread in one’s footsteps, i.e. to imitate his example
How do we follow His steps?
I heard a story about some new Christians complaining to a Missionary about how badly they were being treated by the people in their local town, and the Missionary asked them, “Have they spit in your face?” They were startled by the question and answered, “No, they haven’t.” Then the Missionary answered them, “They spit on the LORD, and then they beat Him, after that they crucified Him.”
JESUS IS A FRIEND OF SINNERS! He suffered for us, He died for us. Are we prepared to suffer, and perhaps die, for sinners? Can we suffer and die for people who mistreat us and persecute us? Can we FOLLOW HIS STEPS?
According to Church tradition, ALL of Jesus’ disciples followed in His steps ALL THE WAY!
The Apostle Paul was beheaded.
The Apostle Peter was crucified upside down at his own request.
The Apostle Thomas died after he was pierced through with spears by four soldiers.
The Apostle Philip was tortured to death.
The Apostle James was stoned and then beheaded.
The Apostle Simon the Zealot was crucified.
The Apostle Matthias was pierced by spears and then beheaded.
The Apostle Bartholomew (Nathaniel) was flayed alive.
The Apostle Jude was crucified.
The Apostle James the Less was beaten to death.
James, the brother of Jesus, was thrown off the walls of the temple, but continued to live, he was then beaten to death by clubs.
The Apostle Andrew was crucified. It is reported that he continued to preach the gospel to the crowds as he was hanging on the cross.
The Apostle John was boiled alive in oil…but he did not die!
The Book of Revelation tells us that a vast number of people, in these last days, will also follow His steps ALL THE WAY!
Rev 20:4 Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
I have identified three (3) unpardonable sins in the New Testament:
- Blasphemy against the Holy Ghost. Matt. 12:31
- Receiving the mark of the Beast. Rev. 14:9
- Falling away from the faith or Apostasy. Heb. 6:6
You can read more about them here:
In the end, I believe it will come down to this: GOD HAS NEVER WANTED ANYBODY TO GO TO HELL!
We do not go to hell because of our sins. We can only go to hell with our eyes wide open. We must knowingly reject the FREE gift of salvation and the LORDSHIP of Jesus Christ! When we understand that Jesus went willingly to the cross to save EVERYBODY, we can truly know that JESUS IS A FRIEND OF SINNERS!
Rom 10:9 If you openly say, "Jesus is Lord" and believe in your heart that God raised him from death, you will be saved.
Rom 10:10 Yes, we believe in Jesus deep in our hearts, and so we are made right with God. And we openly say that we believe in him, and so we are saved.
Rom 10:11 Yes, the Scriptures say, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be disappointed." Easy-to-read version.