Friday, January 18, 2008

Woe To You

So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
Matthew 23:28 (ESV)

"Woe to you Scribes and Pharisees." Jesus says this phrase eight times in Matthew 23:13-33. He calls the Jewish leaders hypocrites, He calls the snakes, He calls them blind guides, whitewashed tombs, and tells them that they are fit for hell. This dialog is a continuation of the passage that we looked at in my last post, and once again we need to examine ourselves to make sure that we are not doing the same things that the Pharisees were doing.

According to this passage some of the practices of the Pharisees were: they "locked up the kingdom of heaven from the people." What they were doing here was ignoring what God said and making up their own lists of rules for the people to follow. Their legalism was keeping both themselves, and those who followed them out of heaven. We need to be sure that we are not making up rules for people to follow that have noting to do with the gospel of grace. We cannot earn our way to heaven, and we shouldn't be trying to make others do this either.

Another thing they were doing (which goes along with the one above) was to pay a tithe on everything while ignoring the rest of the law. Jesus was not condemning them for their observance of the tithe; He was making the point that they needed to also observe the more important parts of the law: mercy, justice, and faith. The problem was that they were so concerned with how they looked to men (their outward appearance) that they were neglecting the way the looked to God (the inner man). Jesus tells them that they were outwardly clean, but inwardly they were full of greed and self indulgence. He told them they were like whitewashed tombs, beautiful to look at, but full of dead men's bones.

We need to pay attention to this ourselves, because it is easy to appear righteous to men, but we cannot fool God. Jesus told Nicodemus that he must be born again (John 3) and this applies to us as well. We cannot keep the law externally and earn our place in heaven. That is what the Pharisees were trying to do and Jesus condemned them, and this is what we try to do today as well. We must humble ourselves before God and allow Him to transform us from the inside out. Print This Post


Anonymous said...

Great reminder.

I also believe that there's the other danger where we make rules up for ourselves to follow. You know, like the "If I do (a), then God will surely bless me" type?

In the process we stifle our own walk, and do not learn and do not grow in maturity in Christ Jesus.

Shabbat Shalom.

Chris said...

That is a very good point; thanks for contributing.

Have a great weekend!

beethoven said...

Wow! Just a few weeks ago when we had our covenant marriage seminarsthe speaker is discussing things related to this article. Hmmm things getting repetitive at this time. Maybe its a reminder for me of the obstacles and challenges that came through my life.