Mat 22:15-16 Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his words. (16) And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances.
This morning I am preaching a sermon which is an overview of Matthew 22:15-46 in which the Lord’s enemies tried to ensnare Him with three questions. I wanted to notice here that these schemes began with the scheme of flattery as you can see in the verses quoted above. Listen to these great observations by J.C. Ryle, taken from his Expository Thoughts on the Gospels:
The first thing which demands our attention in these verses, is the flattering language with which our Lord was accosted by His enemies. ‘Master,’ they said, ‘we know that thou art true, and that you teach the way of God in truth, and neither do you care for any man; for you regard not the person of men.’ How well these Pharisees and Herodians talked! What smooth and honeyed words were these! They thought, no doubt, that by good words and fair speeches they would throw our Lord off His guard. It might truly be said of them, ‘the words of his mouth were smoother than butter, but war was in his heart; his words were softer than oil, yet they were drawn swords.’ (Psalm 55:21)
It becomes all professing Christians to be much on their guard against flattery. We mistake greatly if we suppose that persecution and hard usage are the only weapons in Satan’s armory. That crafty foe has other engines for doing us mischief, which he knows well how to work. He knows how to poison souls by the world’s seductive kindness, when he cannot frighten them by the fiery dart and the sword. Let us not be ignorant of his devices. By peace he destroys many.
Peace often ruins nations more than war. Sweet things occasion far more sickness than bitter. The sun makes the traveler cast off his protective garments far sooner than the north wind. Let us beware of the flatterer. Satan is never so dangerous as when he appears as an angel of light. The world is never so dangerous to the Christian as when it smiles. When Judas betrayed his Lord, it was with a kiss. The believer who is proof against [ie able to withstand something damaging] the world’s frown does well. But he that is proof against its flattery does better.
How many of us have been snared by the flatterer? In my early days as a pastor I know that I was not always wise in this regard. Some new person would come to a church service and then praise the sermon as “the best” they ever heard. They would fall all over themselves with commendations about our church. But in the end these kind either never lasted or they proved themselves to be enemies of the gospel.
Victims of domestic abuse learn by hard lessons that the “love bombing” of their abuser in the first part of their relationship was short-lived (often ending on the honeymoon) and was only designed as a trap to capture, possess, and control. We do well to train our children and other young people to beware of this flattering deception.
(By this evening you can find my sermon from today at sermonaudio.com/crc. As always, the links to it both at Sermon Audio and on YouTube will be posted on the Sunday worship service order at lightfordarktimes.com )