Hindering Others from Encountering God

March 14, 2021

David Sorn

One of the most serious sins we can commit is to hinder another person from encountering God. It’s a sin so serious in magnitude that Jesus once flipped over tables in the temple when he saw it happening.

Hindering Others from Encountering God

March 14, 2021

David Sorn

One of the most serious sins we can commit is to hinder another person from encountering God. It’s a sin so serious in magnitude that Jesus once flipped over tables in the temple when he saw it happening.



Do you ever picture Jesus getting mad?

You know like…throwing stuff all over the place because he’s so mad?

I bet most people don’t.

And yet, today, in our Bible passage, we’re going to see Jesus experience some righteous, Godly anger.

And He’s even going to throw some stuff. J

We are continuing to go through the Book of Luke in the Bible.

1 of 4 books in the Bible about the life, teachings, death & resurrection of Jesus

(Page 718)

(renovation app)

If you would allow me, I would like to make a slight switch around to our passages in Luke 19.

Our next passage of Scripture was meant to be the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem…

…where Jesus rides in on a donkey and they lay down the palm branches.

In Christianity, we call that Palm Sunday.

It’s the Sunday before Easter every year…because in history, it literally took place the Sunday before Easter

And since, I find it kind of neat that we are only 2 weeks away from the actual Palm Sunday (March 28th), I thought it would be neat to save the story of Palm Sunday for…Palm Sunday

So, we are going to skip ahead towards the end of chapter 19…

It’s the day after the Triumphal Entry of that Holy Week…so it’s Monday.

And Jesus is going to enter the Temple in Jerusalem.

Let’s take a look

(Luke 19:45-48) – NIV

45 When Jesus entered the temple courts, he began to drive out those who were selling. 46 “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be a house of prayer’; but you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’”

47 Every day he was teaching at the temple. But the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the leaders among the people were trying to kill him. 48 Yet they could not find any way to do it, because all the people hung on his words.

Both Matthew and Mark record this story for us in the Bible as well.

And Matthew adds this detail:

(Matthew 21:12) – NIV

12 Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves.

And so Jesus is SO mad about what’s happening in the temple courts, that he drives out all who were buying and selling

And, on top of that, he’s so mad, that he’s literally flipping over their tables…that were full of money.

And he says, “My house (the temple) will be a house of prayer, but you’ve made it a den of robbers”

Now, if all you’ve ever read is Children’s Bibles, or you grew up at a church that didn’t really teach much of the Bible, or you only read about Jesus in the news…

This version of Jesus probably really surprises you…shocks you even.

But if you’ve studied who Jesus is as we’ve been reading through the entire Book of Luke, this shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Jesus is, at times, very intense.

And Jesus…hates sin…especially in religious people

He’s usually quite gentle with sinners who don’t know God…

But with those who claim to be holy (but truly are not), His style is more of the table-flipping sort.

Listen, Jesus is not Mr. Rogers.

Not even the Romans would have murdered Mr. Rogers.

Think about that…


But let’s figure out why Jesus is so mad…because it’s not necessarily obvious without some Biblical and historical background

Jesus is at the temple.

The temple is a meeting place…where God’s presence was extra special

And it’s where God’s people offered animal sacrifices to pay for (to atone) for their sins.

It was a Holy place

A place of reverence

A place of prayer.

But now, it’s noisy and loud and crazy, and there’s a ton of money changing going on

See people had to buy animals to sacrifice…

And if the people had travelled from far away, they didn’t bring an animal with them on their long journey.

They’d just buy one when they got to Jerusalem

But there have been some new changes that have occurred.

For 1, the people of Jesus’ time had moved all of the animals and money changers into the actual temple courts.

It all used to be down in the Kidron valley, a little farther away.

Now, it’s in the temple courts!

But it gets worse.

And historians tell us that in the temple courts, the prices were sometimes 20 times more expensive!

It’s like, you ever been to Disney World?

You can buy a Mickey Mouse shirt at Disney World for $40, or drive 10 miles away, and there’s some knock-off store where you can get the same shirt for $4.

So in the Temple (God’s holy place), they’re jacking up prices…because they can!

And, on top of this, the priests wouldn’t allow the people to purchase animals for sacrifice with their Roman or Greek coins because those coins had images of pagan gods on them.

So, the Jewish leaders made the people first exchange their pagan currency for a local temple-approved Jewish currency.

But the money changers didn’t just exchange the money…

They charged outrageous fees for anyone who needed to exchange money.

And Jesus, is not having it.

These money changers and the sellers were hindering others from encountering God

Open your Bibles back up to Luke 19 for a second… (page 718)

Look at verse 46.

Do you see the footnotes where Jesus says, “My House will be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of robbers?”

Do you remember last week we talked about tracing those footnotes?

If you look down at the bottom of the page, the footnote will tell you that Jesus was actually quoting specific passages from the Old Testament.

And the first one, is from the Prophet Isaiah, chapter 56.

And God declares through Isaiah, that his house, his temple, will be a house of prayer

The Isaiah passage actually says, “A house of prayer for all nations.”

(Mark actually adds the “all nations” part in His Gospel)

And what’s interesting here is that this is all taking place in the outer courts of the temple.

These outer courts were also called “The courts of the Gentiles” (which means non-Jews)

(Show Temple Model Picture)

Let me show you a rendering of the temple someone has made.

Here’s the Holy of Holies

The Holy Place

Here’s where they did the animal sacrifices

But these outer Courts (right here), “the courts of the Gentiles” where were where people, from all nations, outsiders in those days, could come and seek God in prayer.

And it’s in this place, where outsiders were trying to find and encounter the one true God (and many had traveled great distances to be there), that all of this messy sin is taking place.

And Jesus IS NOT HAPPY about it

If you want to make Jesus mad, get in the way out of outsiders trying to find their way to Him.

Actually, don’t do that.

The last thing, that any church, or any Christ follower, should want to do is to hinder others from encountering God


In fact, what I want to do today is to show you two ways, from this passage, that we today can still end up unfortunately hindering others from encountering God

The first one you might find intellectually interesting, and I’m pretty sure the 2nd one is going to make you uncomfortable.

Let’s start with the first one J

Two Ways We Hinder Others From Encountering God

1. People can’t see God through our “noise”

I mean, think about this…

These outer courts were supposed to be a place where outsiders come and pray and encounter God in reverence and peace.

But instead, those courts are now chalk full with animals stalls and cattle lowing, and people shouting out their money exchange rates.

They’re turned this “House of Prayer” into the New York Stock Exchange…that’s also overrun by animals.

There’s no way anyone’s going to Encounter God in this environment.

And it begs an interesting question of application.

In what ways does the American church create so much “noise” that outsiders can’t encounter God?

I wonder sometimes if unbelievers can’t find Jesus in our churches simply because they can’t see Him through the fog of our entertainment.

They see the light shows, and trendy videos, and hear the funny stories.

But they’re never actually confronted with the Spirit’s Power or the Gospel itself (which is the Good News that Jesus can save you)

In other churches, the noise is not the entertainment, but their schedule.

I know plenty of Bible-believing churches who are noisy as all get-out with their calendars.

Every week is full of children’s programs, kids theater, youth sports camps, music programs, social programs, Christian scrapbooking, Christian knitting, and on and on.

And none of those things are bad

But our American churches are so busy with their internal programs that they’re not even stopping to think that 80% of their neighbors are bound for an eternity in hell.

And listen, Jesus is so grieved about this.

We’re hindering others from encountering God in the noise of our entertainment & busyness

Just like that noisy temple court years ago

If the Church in America is going to actually fulfill the Great Commission (to make disciples) again…

… we’re going to need to come back to the basics.

If we’re going to see great spiritual change, we need to reground ourselves in things like: Bible Teaching, Evangelism, Discipleship, Community, Prayer.

The world doesn’t need another show.

We’re already entertaining ourselves to death for 5-6 hours a day.

People need to Encounter Jesus when they come to Church or a spiritual gathering.

And I believe that’s really happening here, but we cannot get careless and start to believe that that’s happening because of anything we’re doing.

We’re seeing people come to Christ every week because of God’s movement and because of prayer.

It is prayer that brings true revival

Fancy programs and busy schedules don’t bring revival

People far from God don’t fall on their knees crying in repentance…because of flashing lights and a cool show at church…

Not even a beautiful building can bring revival my friends.

Remember what I’ve been saying to you for years:

This building is just a tool.

It gives us more space, more opportunity to do ministry.

But a building cannot resurrect the dead.

There are plenty of beautiful church buildings all across Europe that are empty.

In fact, they’re now museums.

People walk through and the curators talk about how people used to believe in God there.

See, prayer, not activity, not entertainment, not beauty, PRAYER is the engine room of the church.

‘my house will be a house of prayer…not a house of entertainment or social activities”

When we were at Northpoint Elementary, we were having prayer meetings before every service.

When we moved in here, we just put our Prayer Meeting at 8:30 in the morning…thinking we’d be at 3 services for a couple of weeks and then go back to 2

Well, there are well over 100 more people here every week right now than we thought there would be, and more people get saved every week, so, we’re going to be at 3 services for a while.

So, we need to get this right.

Prayer is that important.

And we want to make it accessible to everyone.

So starting next week you can come to a prayer meeting before every single service.


They’ll be 15 minutes before each service and will last for 15 minutes.

They’ll meet in the Meeting Room just out here.

You can drop your kids off in Renovation Kids before you come.

And I want you to come and pray

Pray for God to direct our Church…

Pray that God would make us holy…like Him

And pray that the lost would be saved.

Every week we see more and more people saved here

And they’re not just random people

They’re our people’s brothers, and mothers and friends, and co-workers.

And I believe, the #1 reason it’s happening is because of the group of people battling in prayer before the services.

So join us next week


All right, I told you that you might find that 1st part interesting, but here’s where you’re probably going to feel uncomfortable.

And that’s okay.

If you never feel uncomfortable in church, I promise you that your church isn’t teaching the Bible.

Two Ways We Hinder Others From Encountering God

1. People can’t see God through our “noise”

2. People can’t see God through our sin

The other reason Jesus was so mad was because of the sin of the religious people.

Can you imagine all of the people in Jerusalem for Passover?

Most of them have probably travelled from far away.

For some it may even be their first time in the Temple since last year…or for others even their first time ever.

And they’ve made it to this really holy place, and…what’s their first impression of God’s Holy Temple?

Their first experience was basically being robbed by the money changers…who were essentially stealing these people’s hard-earned money…in the name of God.

The temple has become…a den of robbers.

And Jesus is not happy

One of the greatest sins you can commit is to let the unholiness of your life deter someone else from wanting to pursue God.

In Matthew 18, Jesus that if you deter a little one from God, it would be better for you to have a millstone tied around your neck and drowned in the sea.

That’s how serious He is about hindering people from encountering God

Do you remember when we looked at the footnotes earlier?

Do you see the other one for verse 46?

The one associated with the “den of robbers” line?

It’s from Jeremiah, chapter 7, in the Old Testament.

Let me read that to you in context from Jeremiah:

(Jeremiah 7:9-11) – NIV

9 “‘Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, burn incense to Baal and follow other gods you have not known, 10 and then come and stand before me in this house, which bears my Name, and say, “We are safe”—safe to do all these detestable things? 11 Has this house, which bears my Name, become a den of robbers to you? But I have been watching! declares the Lord.

Too many people today, claiming that they are Christians, are doing the same thing.

We come into this house of worship, and we look no different from the world

How we treat other people, how we spend our money, how we spend our time, what we look at, what we lust at, how we sleep around, what comes out of our mouth, the unrighteous anger that comes forth from us, and on and on…

Many of us live no differently than anyone else in the world.

And yet, we come, and we worship God like nothing has happened.

Like we’ve done nothing wrong.

Like our sin isn’t a big deal.

But it’s a massive deal!

In part because the people around are unable to see the true God through the fog of our own sin.

All they see is that we claim to REPRESENT Christ as a Christian…

And yet look just like everyone else they know…no different.

Think about the people traveling into town for Passover, who walked into the Court of the Gentiles and saw all the currency exchange guys stealing money from people…

They probably would have walked right out of the temple in frustration before they ever even prayed one prayer to find God

They’re thinking, “If that’s who God’s followers are, I want no part of it!”

And how many people are looking at your life and saying, “If that’s what a follower of Jesus is, then why would I be attracted to Jesus?”

Our lives are hindering outsiders…they’re hindering our own coworkers, or our family members …from finding forgiveness in Christ.

And that just tears my own heart apart.

I know that there have been times where, in my anger, my judging attitude, in my pride…

I’ve turned maybe even my own family members or friends off to Christ.

God, have mercy on us.

Friends, yes God loves you, but this sort of sin is so displeasing to Christ.

Ephesians 4 tells us that the sin of Christians can still grieve the Holy Spirit

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that when we apply this Bible passage to modern-day that we somehow get to say, “Well, back then Jesus was frustrated at religious people for not living holy lives & turning off seekers, but today He just loves us and shows us grace.

When our sin hinders others from finding God, God is grieved by it.

I’m not saying that people need to look at you and see perfection.

No, but they need to see someone who’s different…someone who’s been changed.

They need to see someone who is, running the race marked out for them by throwing off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles!

Sure they’re going to see you sin (you’re human!), but they need to see that you’re constantly repenting (turning from sin) and choosing Jesus instead…because sin is hollow…and Jesus is EVERYTHING.


And so I want to give us space to repent (to turn from our sin and back to God)

To repent where we’ve been busy, and noisy, instead of a House of Prayer

For some of us, to repent of allowing our lives be a hindrance to God’s work.

I’ve told you, many times that in history, revival, is most closely associated with prayer.

Do you know the 2nd thing that revival is most closely associated with in history?


Listen, God does not sweep through a church and a city in revival when His own people in that city aren’t even taking their own sin seriously.

Holiness always comes before revival.

God is not going to continue to do what He’s doing in this place if we all shrug our shoulders about our own sin.

But if we would purify ourselves, in repentance, and in passion for Jesus…and people see that in US…there’s no limit to what God can do here.

And so here’s what we’re going to do

After I finish talking…for 2 minutes, we’re going to do absolutely nothing.

They’ll be no preaching.

No worship song

No gentle keyboard music in the background.

No noise. Just silence.

Space for you to encounter God

And I want you to talk with Him…

I want you to repent.

To ask Him to help you choose Him and His way again

And if you do that…I promise you Jesus will embrace you.

His supply of Grace is unending.

You cannot “outsin” the grace of God

Every time you repent and come back to Him, you’ll find His open arms

You’ll find true life.

But you won’t find it if you think it’s just granted to you by living in sin.

I assure you that all you’ll find is God working against you…

You’ll find God flipping over the tables of your life to keep you from hindering others from encountering God

And trust me, you don’t want that.

And some of you need to choose to turn your life over to Christ for the first time.

God sent his son Jesus to die for your sins.

In His Holiness, your sin separates you from Him.

But Jesus, in dying in your place, creates a bridge where you can be forgiven, and can know God.

And many times in the Bible when they tell people that they can be forgiven if they believe in Jesus, they tell them to “Repent and Believe”

Because if you just believe, but continue on in your own way, you haven’t believed.

And if you need to be forgiven…to have eternal life with God…this is the only way.

To believe on Jesus Christ and become his follower.

To repent of your old life…and Let Him be your King!

So we’re going to sit in silence for 2 minutes

For most of us, it’s a great time to talk with the Lord

And if it’s time for you to truly surrender your life to the Lord for the 1st time…

What I want you to do, is anytime during that time of silence or even during our last worship song, I want you to get up out of your chair and walk back to the lobby…

…where I will meet you out in the lobby and get you some next steps on how to get started in this.

It will be a “turning” if you will…like repentance.

You’re facing this way, and I want you to turn, and walk towards a new life in Jesus (at any time during the time of silence or the last song)

Let me pray.

Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN

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