Sept. 1, 2007
Religious Hypocrisy According to Jesus
We are told in 2 Cor 13:5 to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith of Jesus Christ. Is our faith His faith, or is it in religion? In 2Ti_2:15 we are told to study the Word of God to see if It approves us, and the lives we live. His Word is a mirror, and when we look into It, we see an accurate reflection. The Word of God has no respect of persons and will show us what we are, and what we should be. Mat 23:1 Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, Mat 23:2 Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: Mat 23:3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. Jesus had been tempted and tested by the Pharisees and Saduccees and He had spoken with such wisdom and authority, they could not trip Him up. They had tried repeatedly to ensnare Him in His own words, to catch Him misspeaking the law, or violating the law, and could not. The lawyers mentioned in the New Testament Gospels are those who were students of the law of Moses, they were considered authorities in the Scriptures, with full access to them, and it was their duty to know what was written and explain it, teach it to others, and make additional copies of the Scriptures. They were also to teach this to the young, as well as decide questions of law. Over time, as situations arose, they added their own interpretation to the law, making rules and regulations, full of their own bias, and broadened the law so as to bloat it and make it impossible for men to fully adhere to. If you consider the Constitution of the United States of America, and the laws written at the foundation of this nation, and compare that with all that has been added, changed, amended, and twisted and perverted, you see the original intent of small government, freedom of the people, and limited taxation with representation has all but obscured its humble, honest beginnings. I am troubled to see America so closely following the path Israel took, for she is carefully following the path Israel trod and it's leading to judgment. Mat 23:4 For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. Mat 23:5 But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, James says in his writing that it is the doer of the Word that is justified, or declared right, not the hearer. They teach hard but do not adhere to their own teaching. They were all about appearances. A phylactery was leather boxes strapped to their foreheads, but they made them conspicuously larger than necessary and slipped parchments with Scriptures written on them inside. They did this because of what the law commanded. Deu 6:8 And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. God said lay up in your heart and be always mindful of My Word. Teach it to your children, study My Word, meditate, think on it, until it becomes such a part of who you are. In the New Testament parallel, Paul exhorts us to arm ourselves with the same mind Christ had, for we have the mind of Christ in this Word of God. (Deu_11:18-21). God had them strapping Scriptures to their foreheads as a way of saying, think on My Word, learn it, eat it, let it become part of you. I want to share MY mind with you. They missed it. When carnal man takes up the Holy Scriptures, the result is legalism, harshness, and bondage. It's all about outward appearance and stature. Because they have no communion with the Spirit, they miss the true intent of this precious Word. They also liked to have long, flowing robes, which they were meticulous about caring for. Would to God they had shown
the same care for the poor around them. Scripture laid out in the law what the garment of the priest was to be and how it was to be decorated, and they greatly enlarged on this, making it flashier, more luxurious which reflected their pride, and need for attention of others. They wanted those who passed by them to look at them in awe, and reverence them, and flatter them. They were advertising flesh, not God. They wanted the appearance and reputation of being a 'man of God, and of the Word; a teacher'. A modern parallel would be those who buy the most expensive and largest Bibles they can find, (not because they are hungry for the Word, ) and carry them prominently visible, with them into church, and dress flashy or with expensive garments, seeking to provoke others to look at them as 'godly' because they look prosperous, and expect others to take it for granted if they carry a Bible, they know what it says. Some know what it says, but don't understand what it means or how it applies to their own life. How many that carry the Word actually know what it says and fast and pray and seek God for the power of His Holy Spirit to really live according to what It says? Lots of folks can quote Scriptures, but how many really understand how the Scriptures apply to them and seek to live and walk in the Word? Mat 23:6 And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, Mat 23:7 And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. The Pharisees, the Scribes, and the Sadduccees taught the law, but added so much to it, they made it a heavy burden on those who would seek to follow the law. Their own traditions and teachings were often at odds with the intent and meaning of the law of God. The Pharisees focused so much on appearances, on their clothes looking religious, on being at the best tables elevated above everyone else in the upper rooms during the religious feasts, having the best seat in the temple services so they could be seen by and look down on all. They were to be addressed as "Teacher, or Master" which is what Rabbi means. This elevated them intellectually and positionally above people. But Jesus says this is wrong. The Lord is the Teacher, and the ground level at the cross, thank God. He tells His disciples, do not elevate yourselves this way. Do not conduct yourselves in such a manner as to think dressing religiously, and think of yourselves as a teacher or smarter than others in Bible knowledge earns you anything. (Rom_2:17-21) The Lord tells us not to exalt ourselves as the Pharisees do. Don't seek the best seats, don't position yourself in places to seek attention and praise of men, don't set forth a religious appearance, so others will think you are something, because this, the Pharisees did. Don't think you have a lock on interpretation of Scriptures and no one else can tell you anything. Don't think you don't need to be preached to, and taught yourself. Don't think more highly of yourself than others. To serve Christ, you must have the heart of a servant, who willingly reaches out to others. We are to remember Who is in charge. The Pharisees sought the glory and praise and never directed it back to God, as Moses did. The prophets down through the years, they always tried to turn the people back to God, never seeking a name for themselves. But this was not the way of the religious hypocrite. It's all about using God, or their image of Him to build up themselves in the eyes and minds of others. If you are sitting under a ministry of flesh as described here, you'd best get out from under it because flesh begets flesh. Spirit begets Spirit. Mat 23:13 But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. In instructing men and women, they would teach with harshness, and rigid authority, and make the law a burden on people. When somebody gets saved, we don't need to come at them with rules and regulations and start trying to tell them how to dress, how to walk, and talk, and don't do this, can't do that, get rid of that. How many new Christians have been overwhelmed by people doing this and just give up and went back? That is so dangerous. If they do not make it right with God, their blood will be on someone's hands. It would be better a millstone hung around their necks and them thrown in the sea rather
than make one of His babes fall. You can't feed a newborn a hamburger or steak, you can't lay all that on a new Christian! Besides, they are not to pattern themselves after men's traditions and ideals, but after CHRIST. The devil loves it when religious folks do this to a new Christian, because it overwhelms them, and makes them feel like they can't do this, and they choke before they get to know the love and power of God to keep and change them. And often, the rules and regulations men lay down are at odds with God and His Word. Sister, if you refuse to cut your hair because mama or grandma says it's a sin, you are following men's traditions. You are allowing people to conform you to their image when we are to be conformed to Christ's alone. The Word says the woman's hair is her glory, and it ought to be long. But Paul also said not to be contentious over it. Don't judge others for things like this. Don't think it makes you a symbol of holiness if your dress is to the floor, your sleeves to the wrist and your hair is almost as long as your dress. The Mormons, and Seventh Day Adventists dress the same way. One will tell you you're on your way to hell if you do not worship on Saturday instead of Sunday, and one will tell you there is another gospel that goes with the one you have. I'm not saying it's wrong to dress this way or let your hair grow. I think long hair is beautiful. There are some ladies whose hair won't grow like that, and it's not our place to condemn them. It's not to even be an issue of contention among us because if it is is a horrible stain on our garments, saints. It's the reasoning behind what we do that can be right or wrong. Are we measuring others by our yardstick? Do we take pride in the outward appearance that clearly sets us apart from the world, and makes us look holy, or do we take pride in our Christ? Do we secretly condemn others in our hearts who don't dress or look like we do? We sin, if we do this. What so ever is not of faith and motivated by love is unacceptable. We need to be getting into the Word and into God's presence and letting HIM conform us into the image of Christ! He will work on the heart. Are we so lazy we'd rather follow men's traditions, and live the way we do because they say it should be that way, or have we sought God; have we had an experience with God ourselves that has influenced our behavior? Do we dress the way we do because our heart is in awe of HIM and He says no flesh shall glory in His presence? Mat 23:14 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. I want to share something I read in Josephus' writing, and Adam Clarke's commentary on this one and I'll leave it at that: “This sect,” says Josephus, (Ant. l. xvii. chap. 3), “pretended to a more exact knowledge of the law, on which account the women were subject to them, as pretending to be dear to God. And when Alexandra obtained the government, (Jewish War, b. I. ch. 4), they insinuated themselves into her favor, as being the exactest sect of the Jews, and the most exact interpreters of the law, and, abusing her simplicity, did as they listed, remove and dispose, bind and loose, and even cut off men. They were in vogue for their long prayers, which they continued sometimes three hours; that perhaps they sold them, as do the Roman priests their masses, or pretended others should be more acceptable to God for them; and so might spoil devout widows by the gifts or salaries they expected from them. Adam Clarke in his commentary ads this: Now this being only a hypocritical pretense of piety, must be hateful to God, and so deserve a greater condemnation.” Mat 23:15 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.
Mat 23:16 Woe unto you, ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor! They believed in witnessing to others, but also heavily influencing their new converts with their narrow, religious opinions. They taught they were the only nation that was right and good. They considered other people as dogs. Again, they missed the point. Although God's law made provision for the love and care and acceptance of the stranger, the Pharisees missed that totally. God made room in His Word for others to come into the love and relationship with God. (Exo 12:48-49; they were all to be under the same God, the same law, the same inheritance.) Our life is supposed to be centered around Jesus Christ, and we have been given the precious gift of the Holy Ghost to teach us who He is, and prepare us to meet Him. Everything we say and do must be motivated by love of God and for God and for God's creation, for the souls our Jesus died on the cross and shed His blood for. If we lack that, we must return to the Source and ask Him to help us, to fill us with His love and compassion. Jesus was moved with compassion, He was not harsh and arrogant. He did not drive the people. If we love Him, we will keep His commandments. We will honor His Body, worldwide, we need to pray to discern the Body, because they don't all look the same. Ladies who live in South Africa or Jamaica do not look like ladies who live in Tennessee. The point I'm trying to make, is if we have such narrow religious views on appearances, and it doesn't stand up in the slums of Africa, in Kenya, or Nigeria, or the Sudan, where they are luck to have one or two outfits to cover their body with, and we in America are so blessed, would we not do better to share what we have, than to condemn or criticize others who don't look like we do, don't worship like we do? I have been in churches where if you didn't look like them, they thought you lost and in need of converting. It's judging by the sight of the eyes, and it's carnal. We've all been guilty of it, but we need to let God help us.