Religion That Kills

Jesus was invited by a Pharisee to dine with him, and Jesus didn’t wash before dinner, an extra-biblical ceremony instituted by the Jews.  The Pharisee was “astonished” and challenged Him, and Jesus responded, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness.  You fools!  Did not he who made the outside make the inside also?  But as alms give those things that are within, and behold, everything is clean for you.  But woe to you Pharisees!  For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God.  These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others” (Luke 11:39-42).

Externally, the most religious people in the time of Jesus were the Pharisees.  They were so zealous for the law of God that they created laws on top of God’s law to make sure that they were as strictly obedient as they could be.  For example, God’s law didn’t go into such specifics about tithing mints and herbs, but they did so anyway.  The problem that they had was not that they were too obedient, but that it was all for show.  They prided themselves in being “holy”.  It was all outside; they were rotten inside.

It’s a religion that kills.  God does care about our obedience, but if that obedience is for our own glory, then it’s no obedience at all.  And disobedience deserves God’s wrath.

In a sense, sheep, we are like Pharisees.  We’re hypocritical.  We make sure we pray before meals, but we ignore many who go hungry.  We lift our hands in worship, but also use our hands for sin.  Sheep, “These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.

In another sense, we’re not like the Pharisees.  If you’re a Christian, you are not like a Pharisee, because you trust in Christ and have been saved by His grace.  It’s only through His obedience, from birth to the cross, that we are saved through faith in Him.  We no longer have a false religion that kills, but a true religion that gives life.

Today’s readings:

  • Psalm 18
  • Genesis 18:16-33
  • 1 Chronicles 21:1-17
  • Luke 11:37-12:12
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