Do not call anyone on earth “Father” for you have one father, and he is in heaven. The only person you are to call “Father” is your heavenly father. He is your one father. Of course, you can call your dad “father”. We are talking about your father spiritually. That means you aren’t to call your leaders “Father”.

This is because no one on earth can take the place of your Heavenly Father. He is the only one who can truly satisfy the desires of your heart. Trust in Him and follow His will for your life, and you will never be disappointed. Earthly fathers, even if they are “of the cloth” are still human. They can still disappoint you. They can still sin. God is your Father, not a man.

Yes, you can still have an earthly father, exactly like Jesus had Joseph. You can even have earthly spiritual fathers who may not be your biological father, but they are father figures to you and help you in your walk with Christ. Similar to a godfather.

Typically, you don’t call them “Father”, but by their names. This is because they are not really your Spiritual Father, but more of a “Father figure”. This person is hopefully a reflection of your Heavenly Father guiding you along the path that God would want you to be on. Kind of like how the Apostle Paul said, “Follow me as I follow Christ.” Still, they didn’t call him Father.

Why do several religions do this? It is because they are stuck following the rules of humans rather than the rules of God. They have become too caught up in their traditions and forgotten true worship. Perhaps you can help steer them back in the right direction!

Referenced Verses:
Matthew 23:9
Matthew 23:1
Isaiah 29:13
Matthew 15:8-9
2 Timothy 3:16
James 5:19-20


Video Transcript

Hello and welcome to Social Media Ministries, my name is Spencer Coffman. Thank you so much for tuning in today.

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Today we have a great message. I know I say that a lot, but they are all great. ‘Do not call anyone on earth father, for you have one father, he is in heaven’, Matthew 23:9. If you have your Bibles, check it out. If you don’t, all the verses will be referenced in the description below, come back later, look them up, read them, think about them, meditate on the scripture day and night.

‘You have one father and he is in heaven’, Matthew 23:9. Doesn’t get much more specific than that. One father, those are the direct words of Jesus telling you not to call anyone on earth father. Now of course you can call your dad father or your parent if it is not maybe your biological dad, you can call him father. This verse is referring to Father spiritually.

Let’s take a look at the context, so if you do have your Bible go to Matthew chapter 23. We are gonna go to verse 1. I am just going to start reading so follow along if you have your Bible, if you don’t, listen and think about it.

All right chapter 23 verse 1, ‘Then Jesus said to the crowds and his disciples, the teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat, so you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.’

‘Everything they do is done for people to see. They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long. They love the place of honor at the banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues. They love to be greeted in the marketplace and to have men call them rabbi.’

‘But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have only one master and you are all brothers. Do not call anyone on earth father, for you have one father and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called teacher, for you have one teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you will be your servant, for whoever exalts themselves will be humbled and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.’

It is pretty heavy stuff, let’s unpack it. The Pharisees and the teachers of the law in this time right here summed it up better than I could even sum it up, everything they do is done for other people to see. They love the high places in the synagogues. They love the places of honor at the banquets. They love to be greeted in the marketplace. They want the spotlight. Everything they do is done for show.

They have phylacteries wide and the tassels of the garments long. What in the world is a phylactery? All right let’s check out the footnote, it is boxes containing scripture versus worn on the forehead and arm. So if you know traditional Judaism, you can look at the Orthodox where they are in the black robes and garments, I don’t know what they are called, I am sorry, I don’t mean any disrespect but they have leather bands and then there is a box and they put scriptures in there and they bind them on their foreheads and they bind them on their arms. That is what that term phylactery is.

So these leaders of this time, the Pharisees, had them wide which means they put a lot of scripture in there. Like look at this, I am so important, I have so much in here. They didn’t do it because they really had that, they did it for show. There is a difference, they wanted the places of honor. They want the spotlight. These people, Jesus is saying don’t do what they do because they do not practice what they preach. That is the context here.

Don’t call them father because they aren’t doing what they are preaching. You have one father, you have one father, he is in heaven. Now as I give you these words from Jesus directly and I talk about this, one particular place or religion or practice may come into mind more than others depending on your background and your raising, but really when you read this verse, do not call anyone on earth father, you have one father and he is in heaven, the religion catholicism may come to mind.

Catholics refer to their priests and their pastors or ministers as fathers, they call them father. To call someone father goes against the words of Jesus right here, do not call anyone on earth father, you have one father, he is in heaven. Now, you can call your dad father because he is your earthly father, just like Joseph was Jesus’ earthly father. Are these priests your earthly father? Well you may say, well they are the fathers in church, so I call them father, but I know I have a heavenly father. It is confusing.

What do these priests and ministers do? Now I don’t want to dissect and tear down a religion and then leave you worse off than before. If you are catholic and you are watching this, I suppose you have probably gotten upset and shut it off by now, I hope you continue to listen.

Look at the preachers and the priests, the popes, the deacons, the bishops of today, how closely do they represent or resemble the Pharisees and the teachers of the law back in Jesus’ day? This goes all the way back. When you call someone on earth father it is a sin. You have one father, he is in heaven, do not replace him. This is very very important.

I know it is very very touchy, but it is important. Why do they do this? Why does an entire religion do this? Perhaps they don’t know? Well they know, the words are right here. But if they aren’t truly believers in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior they may not have been baptized with the Holy Spirit and then they are not able to understand and interpret the scriptures in the Bible. They may read it, but to them, it is words on paper.

I am really serious, it is words on paper. They don’t know what it means. They don’t have the ability to interpret that, so the catholic religion was structured on this, just like the Pharisees back then. They had said, who can read the law? Only us. We are the people who can read the law. You cannot. It is your job to come here and get the interpretation from us and that is how the catholic church was structured and founded, just like the Pharisees in Jesus’ day.

They said, you must come to the synagogues to learn the law and then many of the people were illiterate so they couldn’t read the law so they had to rely on the teachers and the Pharisees to give them the law and interpret it for them and help them understand what it meant. Nowadays in today’s day and age, it is very rare to find someone who is illiterate, so we all have the capability to read the Bible, the law.

Not everyone has the ability to understand and interpret it and that is I believe still today what some major religions are taking advantage of. They are saying you are not good enough to know and interpret it, so you must come to us. They are exalting themselves because Jesus said we can all do it, we can all understand it. All we need to do is believe in Him and be baptized by the Holy Spirit and we can interpret and understand the scriptures in the Bible. We will be given discernment.

Some major religions, not only catholicism but others too, they say no we can’t understand and interpret it and don’t know any better, you have to come to us. They are exalting themselves and that is wrong.

It goes all the way back to the Pharisees, these people don’t know, they have been taught to do so by the higher-ups in that religion, they have been conditioned to follow religious practices, and errors like this don’t even occur to them. They don’t even think about it, so hopefully this will kind of wake them up. If you know someone who is stuck in a religion, religion is not bad, it is the man-made practices of religion when traditions and practices take the place of true worship, now it is bad.

Religion is a good and healthy thing, it is excellent for you to go to church. What are you doing right now? You are watching this. This is a sermon. This isn’t really a religion, it is more non-denominational, but it is still a religious practice. You are spiritually growing. People nowadays say, oh I am spiritual, not religious. You know what? All of that stuff is just like this, Pharisees giving labels, being called rabbi and teachers, exalting ourselves. Spiritual, I am not religious, I am not this, I am this.

No, you are a Christian or you are not a Christian. You believe that Jesus Christ died for you or you don’t. Black and white. Now some of you may hate me for saying that, but they hated Jesus first. Now you could critique me for that. Oh, so you are saying you are like Jesus? I hope to be like Jesus, so do you. People have been taught to do things by religious leaders and over so many years catholicism has been around, really the Pharisees right here, what did this turn into? The catholic religion.

From Christ, it has been around since Christ. They say Christ founded the catholic religion. He didn’t come here to found religion and to give you traditions, He came to fulfill the law through prophecy. So not really to abolish religion, but to tell you that these traditions and customs don’t matter. That what matters is true worship of Him, Jesus Christ.

So if you are stuck in these practices of calling the priest father and of seeing and thinking and believing that they are worth more than you, that is not good. Yes of course they are a man in the cloth, but look at all the corruption in the catholic church and not just to pick on the one, take a look at all of the priests that are committing these horrible acts of crimes, terrible. Are you better than that? Well, we are all sinners in the eyes of God, so no one is better than anyone else. But if they are a man of the cloth they are supposed to be.

That is what Jesus is saying about these Pharisees, who are very much like a lot of the catholic priests of today. Now not all of them, even some pastors in Lutheran religions or covenant religions or Baptists have issues. Everywhere there are problems, the key is not to be like the Pharisees that Jesus is talking about.

Do you have pastors or preachers or fathers or ministers or priests or deacons or bishops or popes, whatever they are, resembling this behavior? They do not practice what they preach, they tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders saying, you need to do this and you need to do this and you need to do this or you are not good enough, but they are not willing to lift a finger to do it themselves? Everything is done for show for men to see, they love places of honor at the front, they do all this stuff, they say all these things, they perform these songs and dances?

They put on these garments for show but when you see them later they are at the bar drinking like crazy or they are cussing and swearing later on or they may be not practicing what they preach. They put on these garments and these dresses and then they act all holy, but then when they take them off they are a different person. Once a week they go to church and they confess and then they leave and they got a clean slate and they go out and sin again?

Who are we to confess our sins to? Not a priest, to God. There is another issue, we are not to call people on earth Father, that is what Jesus is saying. We have a direct line to Him, we can understand and interpret the scripture by believing in Him and allowing Him to come into our life with the Holy Spirit.

Let’s go to Isaiah. This is a very important verse. First, we are going to check out Matthew though, because Jesus touches on this again when speaking with the Pharisees in Matthew 15 verses 6-9. ‘He is not to honor his father with it, thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of tradition. You hypocrites, Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you. These people honor me with their lips but their hearts are far from me, they worship me in vain, their teachings are but rules taught by men.’

That is what Isaiah prophesied about the future generations, rules taught by men. That is what they are following. So if a religion is following rules taught by men, like for example, you have to say these prayers every time this day, whether it is Islam or whether it is Catholics, you have to say these prayers, you have to do these things, you have to come to confession, you need to whatever. Whatever these rules are that you have to do these works, works-based religions. ‘These people honor me with their lips but their hearts are far from me, they worship me in vain.’ Because it is rules taught by men.

Let’s go to Isaiah to check out the original here, Isaiah 29:13, ‘The LORD says, these people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made only of rules taught by men.’

Rules by men. We men are imperfect and now by men, it does not just mean man, like me, I am a male. A man means humankind, there could be females leading a church, a female pastor, maybe not in the Catholics or in certain religions, but any religion could have a female leader, catholics may not allow it right now but as time goes on they may adapt and change. You can go to Lutheran covenant baptist, you see female preachers/pastors all the time. Non-denominational churches, anyone can be called by God. Some traditional orthodox may deny that and say, no it is only men that can be called like maybe certain traditional faiths.

But the point is anyone can be called by God and so this isn’t referring specifically to men as teaching it, and that is bad. It is saying any mankind-created rule, whether it is male or female, if they are following traditions or rules taught by humankind that is wrong. You need to be following what Jesus said and that is up here in the New Testament. Up here meaning further in the Bible, in the timeline. ‘These people honor me with their lips but their hearts are far from me.’

So Catholics calling people father, they may not know any better, they have been conditioned to follow religious practices and errors like this, that doesn’t even register in their minds. They don’t have the Holy Spirit within them to provide them with that insight or revelation or light.

That is what you are for. You are a Christian. If you are a Christian, if you believe that Jesus is your Lord and Savior, it is your job to be the light. Those other people are living in darkness. You need to come into their life and be the light. It is your duty to assist them in correcting the wrongdoing, saying to them, hey you know, you put on all these robes and garments and you take the best position and you exalt yourself, you will be humbled and it may not be until you die.

Whoever at the gate of heaven says, why should I let you in? Well, I am a priest, I am a man of the cloth, I did all my prayers every single day, I did this, I did this, I did this. Sorry. When the tax collector comes up next to him and oh he is a tax collector, why should I let you in? I believe Jesus is my Lord and Savior and He died for me. Come on in. This guy will be humbled. Those who humble themselves are exalted.

Help other people in this. Show them the Word of God.

Let’s go to 2 Timothy 3:16, ‘Scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, not in anger or in contempt, but in righteousness.’ So you can use all of this scripture to teach and correct, to rebuke, to help them, doing it righteously, humbly, not judging them or condemning them. It is not your job, that is God’s job. Your job is to point it out. Hey, we shouldn’t call people on earth father because our father is in heaven. Okay, but we have been taught to do this in the church. Okay the church is the practice of man, we don’t follow that, we follow Jesus.

So correct and learn. Now don’t simply go and point out their wrongdoing and say, you have to stop this and then the person is going to be like, okay well now what do I believe? They don’t have anything to replace it with. Now they are worse off than they were before. You are leading them astray.

If you are going to correct them you need to bring them into something else, you don’t want to lead them astray and now they are worse off than they were. That is bad. If you need help correcting someone or helping someone come to see the light, comment below, we can help them, you can share these messages, we can bring them into the fold and help them believe in Jesus Christ as their savior.

Point out the practice, whatever their wrongdoing is. Hey, don’t be confessing your sins to another man and asking for forgiveness from them like a priest, saying your sins are forgiven. It is God, God can forgive, not men. Look at the New Testament, all over the Pharisees wanted to kill Jesus because He was forgiving people’s sins and they said, man cannot forgive sins but they didn’t realize He was God.

These priests are not God, they cannot forgive your sins.

God forgives sins. Jesus forgives sins. Don’t get stuck in the rules and teachings of humankind. Follow what Jesus said. Don’t condemn or judge them, but assist them, bring them back to the truth like James 5 says. It says, ‘My brothers if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this, whoever turns a sinner from an error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.’

Save these people from death. What is death? Well, we are all gonna die, but their death is gonna be eternal, not getting into heaven. Save them from death, cover over a multitude of sins. What are we covering over? They are sinners. We are all sinners. If you save them from being condemned for their sins, you are covering them over because not you, but Jesus is coming into their life and wiping out all their sins, washing them white as snow.

I know this message was a little intense. It could be a lot for some people. It might raise a lot of eyebrows and cause a lot of discussion but that is good. We want discussion. We want controversy. And then we want to be brought into the light of Jesus Christ.

You go out and be the light in other people’s lives. Don’t condemn, don’t judge, do it humbly, do it with righteousness, bring them to the light, point out errors but don’t be pointing out sawdust in other people’s eyes when you maybe have a plank in your eye as the Bible says. Do it with love and compassion. Bring them in and just show them with the Bible, bring them to Jesus Christ, and allow them to have the Holy Spirit to be able to interpret the scriptures in the Bible.

Remember God gave us this, He didn’t give it to leaders only, He gave it for all of us so we can all know and understand His words. I know it is heavy. I know it might be unsettling but pray on it, meditate on it, read the scriptures and truly think about it, talk about it with others, get involved in this. This is a heavy heavy message. Ask, is it truth? If this is the truth it will prevail and it can win others over to Christ.

Let’s pray. Lord Jesus and our heavenly father, we ask that you would use this to bring people from darkness into light. That all of those, each and every person out there listening and watching, would be inspired and would be curious. That they would investigate this and really realize, whether or not it is the truth, and when they do realize Lord we ask that they would start sharing it with others and bringing more people into the body of Christ.

Lord that we would help correct and bring people back into the truth. Lord, give them the courage to stand up for you and what we believe in and give them the desire to do it as well and also the opportunity. Give them the opportunity and the wisdom to recognize the opportunity and Lord help them to do it in righteousness and in love, rather than in judging and in condemnation. Lord help us to humble ourselves so that we can be exalted and be let into the kingdom of heaven.

Allow each and every person to continue to fully rely on you and to trust in you and if there is anyone out there right now watching and listening Lord and they aren’t a believer, they haven’t given their lives to Jesus and they haven’t invited you in, Lord keep knocking on that door and allow them to invite you in. I pray this all in the name of our heavenly father. Amen.

So if you are out there and you don’t believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, that He is the one way into heaven, talk about it with someone, comment below, send us a message, we can help you make that decision. Read the Bible, think about these words, share them with others, and together let’s bring more people into the body of Christ. God bless.