Monday, March 8, 2010

Woe to you (Part 7)

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness." (Matthew 23:27-28)

This warning is very similar to Jesus' previous warning in verses 25-26. The Pharisees were those who were morally righteous on the outside but on the inside Jesus says they are "full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness." Back in Acts Paul speaks similar words before the Sanhedrin: "God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! Are you sitting to judge me according to the law, and yet contrary to the law you order me to be struck" (Acts 23:3)? Those who were supposedly upholding the law and condemning Paul were the very same people who were breaking the law to strike Paul. This is what the Pharisees do. This is sadly what all of us do.

Christian, are you living a manner that is worthy of your calling? Are you living a holy life set apart from worldliness? Jesus tells us to "be holy for I am holy." We are not under a standard of other human beings but God's perfect and holy standard. Remember the Pharisee and the tax collector who went up to the temple to pray? The Pharisee prayed "God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get" (Luke 18:11-12). Have you ever prayed in this manner? Comparative praying is what we will call it. Now look at the tax collector: "Standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner'" (Luke 18:13)! Wow. What humility. Jesus knows the heart and declared that the tax collector went away justified (Luke 18:14).

Who are you in the parable? Charles Spurgeon simply said it this way, "Pride cannot live beneath the cross." I'll close with the words of Jesus at the end of the parable: "For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted" (Luke 18:14)

Grace upon grace,
JRL

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