THE KIND OF RELIGIOUS LIFE JESUS CONDEMNED
Presuming you have a strong desire to serve God in the ministry, the purpose of these instructions, are to guide that spiritual zeal by the knowledge of the Scriptures, to insure that you stay on course; as Paul told Timothy, that the aim "...of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and faith unfeigned: from which some having swerved have turned aside...desiring to be teachers..." (1 Timothy 1:5-7). But they don't know what they're talking about.
Paul said that Israel had a "...zeal of God, but not according to Knowledge [Scripture]...For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God" (Romans 10:1-3).
Ancient leaders of Israel were exalted "Because that unto them were committed the oracles [utterances] of God" (Romans 3:2). It was necessary for Jesus to denounce the degenerate teaching and practices of the religious establishment. He warned His followers against leaven (ferment) of groups who strongly professed loud prayer, fasting twice a week, strict tithing, giving alms, Temple attendance, keeping God's law, abhorrence of adultery, observance of holy days, sacrifices, etc.
Therefore, we must beware lest we become the modern day counterparts of the Pharisees and Sadducees, whom Jesus called hypocrites (a Greek word referring to the mask worn by actors). Jesus called these religious play actors a bunch of snakes on their way to hell (see Matthew 23:33). Let's now examine the pollutions of these phony pretenders:
"For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:20)
- THEY DEVISE HEARTLESS POLICIES AND IRKSOME REGULATIONS, BUT ARE SHAMELESSLY INCONSISTENT
- "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 own fingers." (Matthew 23:4)
- THEIR PROGRAMS ARE DESIGNED FOR HUMAN APPLAUSE
- "But all their works they do for to be seen of men..." (Matthew 23:5)
- OSTENTATIOUS, ATTRACT ATTENTION TO SELF
- "...they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments." (Matthew 23:5)
- GREEDY FOR HONORS; COVETS PUBLIC PRESTIGE
- "And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues." (Matthew 23:6)
- LOVE OF RECOGNITION, SOCIAL STATUS, AND ECCLESIASTICAL TITLES
- "And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi." (Matthew 23:7)
- TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE WEAK, HELPLESS, OR OLD; UNJUST ACQUISITION OF THEIR PROPERTIES
- "...ye devour widow's houses..." (Matthew 23:14)
- RELIGIOUS PRIDE, SHOWY
- "...they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men..." (Matthew 6:5) and "...for a pretense make long prayer..." (Matthew 23:14)
- FAKE SPIRITUALITY FOR THE GLORY OF MEN
- "...when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto me to fast." (Matthew 6:16)
- RIGID IN TRIFLES; BUT IGNORING THE ESSENTIALS
- "...pay tithes of mint, and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgement, mercy, and faith..." (Matthew 23:23) and "...ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgement, and the love of God..." (Luke 11:42)
- EXTREME MISCARRIAGE OF JUDGEMENT; LACK OF COMMON SENSE
- "...strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel..." (Matthew 23:24)
- HUNG UP ON EXTERNALS, EMPTY FORMS AND RITUALS
- "...ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess..." (Matthew 23:25, 26)
- ELEGANT, BUT LIFELESS ORATORS, FULL OF SPIRITUAL DEATH
- "...ye are like unto white sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness." (Matthew 23:27)
- HOLLOW FORM; MORALLY APOSTATE
- "...ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity." (Matthew 23:28)
Your goal is true spiritual reality!
LOVE FROM A PURE HEART!
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