So lately I've been studying the book of Matthew and one day I decided I wanted to study more about what the bible had to see about hypocrisy, how Christ felt about it and some of the things He said about it. The Pharisees and Sadducees were the religious leaders of the time. They knew ALL about the law but completely missed it when it came to a relationship with Christ. They pretty much harassed Him and followed Him around all the time. Christ didn't have any problems calling these guys what they were - hypocrites. He told them flat out "You also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness." Matt 22:38
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering in to go in." Matt 23:13
Jesus Christ had no problem calling out the Pharisees and making it clear they were hypocrites. The Pharisaical spirit still exists today and it is a spirit I can't stand! It's also known as the spirit of religion, and in my city it is a stronghold. Honestly, if I could pick something that really makes my skin crawl it is a religious spirit. What is a religious spirit?
It's a spirit that focuses more on the outward appearance then on the heart. Take the Pharisees for example. They knew the law inside and out, they looked very religious, they prayed and made sure everyone knew about it, they fasted and made sure everyone knew it. They wanted recognition for their works and their knowledge. They were SO focused on the way that they looked on the outside they neglected the very thing God looks at the most - the HEART.
And Jesus Christ had no problem calling them out for the hypocrites that they were. He didn't go easy on the words he used for them either. These are some of the names he had for them:
- Blind guides
- Blind men
- Brood of Vipers
Over and over in Matthew 23 Christ mentions several words constantly : blind and hypocrites. The Pharisees were synonymous with those two words. He told them plainly "First clean the inside of the cup and dish, then the outside also will be clean" Matt 23:26
Sometimes I feel like we as Christians miss this part. We are more focused on the outward appearance of things that we neglect our hearts. Christ desires from us a heart that is pure.
"Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false?" Psalm 24:3-4
Those that have pure hearts are the ones that will see Christ face to face.
I grew up in a culture where the depth of a person's relationship in Christ was measured by how much you shook during service and by what you wore, etc. You had to wear a skirt to participate in anything and if you didn't, you weren't allowed to participate. It didn't matter how passionate or on fire for God you were, if you didn't meet certain criteria then in the minds of the people you were practically a heathen. I saw so many people and some of my closest friends walk away from the Lord and never look back because of this. The spirit of love was completely lacking.
NO, I am NOT talking about compromising holiness or not having standards. But these things do NOT make us more holy before the Lord! This topic stirs up my heart because in a city where there are more backsliders and false converts then there are believers, and in talking to people who claimed to have once been saved there is a common denominator behind all of it - religion. They experienced religion but did not experience a true relationship with Christ.
"The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." 1 Sam. 16: 7
It is not our job to change the hearts of people. It is the job of the Holy Spirit. I believe that when people have a true conversion and experience with God then change WILL come. When people truly have an encounter with the Lord they no longer want to be like the world or look like the world for that matter. We must trust in the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. I'm TIRED of religion. I want to see this city lit up for Christ!
What do you think? Can you relate to this post?