Scripture reading for February 24th: Mark 7:1-23, Psalms 40:11-17, Proverbs 10:13-14
Jesus’ disciples were criticized by the Pharisee’s for eating without washing their hands, according to the traditions of the elders. The Pharisee’s told them that they were “unclean” because of this and defiled. They asked Jesus why His disciples weren’t washing and Jesus spoke clearly to them about their traditions that were violating the heart of God’s truth.
“Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘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.’ You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.” (Mark 7:6-8)
Jesus proceeded to teach the crowd that had gathered that what goes into a man is not what defiles him, but what comes out of the inside that makes him unclean. (Mark 7:15) When someone eats something with unclean hands, that only goes into his stomach and then is eliminated from his body. Things from the outside don’t go into the heart but the stomach. In saying this Jesus was declaring all foods as clean. This was a radical departure from what the Pharisees understood from the Law! (Mark 7:19)
“He went on, “What comes out of a man is what makes him ‘unclean.’ For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance, and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean.'” (Mark 7:20-23)
Jesus spelled out what causes defilement. It was not food or failure to wash the hands. It was evil in the heart that came through the lips. Notice how many of God’s commandments are represented here with this list of evils. At least five are covered! Thinking and speaking evil defile a man and render him ‘unclean’ in God’s sight.
There is only one way to be free from this defilement and become clean inside. It is by repentance! We take responsibility for the evil things within us and ask God for mercy and forgiveness. After confession and repentance, we seek God’s power to live free from our sinful habits and please God by living in faith and obedience to His Word. With the inside clean, we will not be just putting on a show!
Scripture reading for February 2nd: Matthew 23:1-19, Psalm 22, Proverbs 6:20-26
Hypocrisy was one of Jesus’ pet peeves. The word for hypocrisy implies “play-acting”, and describes a person who learns a part to put on a show. Unfortunately, religious people are very prone to this type of thing and it made Jesus angry. He addressed the crowds that came to Him concerning their teachers and leaders. He told them that they should obey them and show them respect as they taught the law of God, but that they should not do as they did. They simply did not practice what they preached! (Matthew 23:3)
Hypocrites do what they do for men and not for God. They like to be seen as righteous and above the common person. They wear special clothes, like to have titles and social prominence and preeminence. In Jesus’ day, the liked the title of “Rabbi” which meant “teacher” and “father” which was a term endearing respect. Jesus reminded that they had one Father, who was in heaven, and one “Teacher” who was the Christ! If they truly wanted to be great, they should be the servant of all. (Matthew 23:5-12)
Hypocrites, by play-acting, actually hinder God’s kingdom from advancing because those who lead in this manner are really building up their own kingdom. They are still part of the devil’s crowd and have not experienced true redemption. They teach others to do as they do instead of humbly repenting of their sins and finding true freedom by learning from Christ and finding God as their heavenly father. They build large followings of people that use them as their “teacher” and “father” and learn to put on the same show for men!
Woe is the end result of a lifestyle of hypocrisy. Woe is trouble and heartache and ultimately weeping and gnashing of teeth. It is God’s displeasure for eternity as a consequence of seeking man’s approval by putting on a religious show. It is a condition that Jesus wanted no one to experience! My prayer for myself is that God would continue to reveal hypocrisy in my own life and lead me in His ways. I want to hear “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Wouldn’t you rather too?