Bible Reading Blog — February 1, 2016

1 Feb

Today’s Readings — Numbers 1-6 & Mark 7:1-7

“This people honors me with their lips but their heart is far from me.” This quotation from Isaiah in the mouth of Jesus is one of the most challenging sentences in the gospels because we always have the suspicion that we would fall into this category. Obviously, we praise God and thank Him but sometimes we are harsh or cutting with our words toward others. We thank God for His blessings but we complain about what is not going right for us. We worship God but also love other things too much. Are we guilty of this hypocrisy Jesus speaks of here in Mark?

We are all to some degree going to fall short of perfect holiness. This is why it is such a great thing that our acceptance before God is based on Christ’s righteousness granted to us by faith and not a righteousness of my own. Still, though, to be a hypocrite is a terrible thing. It dishonors God, it hurts others and it hurts us.

It is important to note that the hypocrisy Jesus points out here is not the common struggle with sin we all face. Instead, Jesus levels His focus on those who replace the clear teachings of God’s Word with human traditions. He says this is the lip service that so dishonors God. And this kind of hypocrisy can run in two different directions. Some hold to religious tradition. Insistence on certain styles of dress or certain music, insistence on things other than grace alone and faith alone for salvation and life. We are all familiar with the religious traditionalist. But there are also strains of cultural tradition which similarly arouse the rebuke of Jesus today. The kind of traditionalism which elevates national pride over Christian allegiance is one such example. Another example is the culture which jettisons clear teachings of Jesus because they are considered outdated or unnecessary. All the while some who ignore the teachings of Jesus still claim His name.

It is not the sins we all struggle with which defines us as hypocrites, it is our insistence that we love Jesus while simultaneously ignoring His Word or subordinating His Word to our own notions of reality that is at the heart of hypocrisy.

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