Friday, February 1, 2013

Outward Religion

Mat 23:13  "But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people's faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.  Mat 23:15  Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves…Mat 23:23  "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. Mat 23:24  You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel! 

I quoted only a few of the woes pronounced on the hypocritical Pharisees by Jesus as he rejects them and the OC which they have broken.  The entire section is a diatribe against their hypocrisy and outward religion that requires no heart change and certainly no true love for God.  The applications that we can glean as Christians are many.  Here is a section from one of my sermons from this passage where I try to apply it to the way we sometimes follow their example. 

“Verse 24. Here is a great example.  Insects were unclean and thereby not to be eaten according to the Word of God to those under the OC.  So some Pharisees would drink through clenched teeth so that no insect would slip by and they become a defiled “sinner”.  The problem was that their hypocrisy far more defiled them than a bug in their tummy.   

And I hope as we close that we don’t miss the main point as well.  It is easy for us to make big things of that which is small and to make outward things a substitute for the heart.  We can make church attendance and tithing a substitute for godliness and growing in love for the Lord; we can make outward discipline a substitute for reaching our children’s heart; we can make not getting a divorce more important than having a godly marriage.  We can train our children to not marry an unsaved person or not touch them before they get married and yet set such a bad example of marriage that we have failed to really prepare them.  Yes, we want our children, for instance, to enter marriage as virgins but if that is the best we have done we have failed them.   

We can give our children three squares a day and clothe them and teach them how to do a budget and have a good work ethic but never convince them that you as a parent have been touched by the grace of God.  Oh, we have conformed to the law but we haven’t convinced them that we are transformed and conformed to Christ’s image.  We have substituted religion for godliness and condemn ourselves to the misery that comes in legalism.  We have made them good conservatives, taught them the evils of the welfare system, made them good farmers, supported them in all the schools activities, made them good athletes, good cooks, faithful to church and prayer and devotions, taught them to be tithers, haters of evolution and liberalism and such things.  But we many times fail in the most important thing which is to bring them to Christ and live Christ in front of them and so consign them to the same outward religion that will fail them in life just like it does us so many times. 

Like those Pharisees, these are the things we need to repent of.”

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