LEGALISTIC HYPOCRISY…


Matthew 15:1-11 “Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying, 2 “Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.”

3 He answered and said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?  4 For God commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’  5 But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God” —   6 then he need not honor his father or mother.’ Thus, you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition.  7 Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying:

8 “These people draw near to Me with their mouth And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. 9 And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'”

10 When He had called the multitude to Himself, He said to them, “Hear and understand:  11 Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.”  NKJV

I have met and been around Christians who rigidly adhere to external restrictions as evidence of their faith and piousness.  They have their “do’s” and “don’ts” and religiously keep their list and demand that everyone else complies or be branded a heretic and apostate.  They compare themselves with others and so long as their ledger sheet has them keeping more of their religious requirements, they feel good about themselves and beat their chests saying, “Thank God I am not like them.”  The stench of that attitude surely ascends to heaven and most assuredly does in the minds and hearts of those who have not yet come to Christ in their communities.

David, in Psalm 39:1, declared, “I said, I will guard my ways, lest I sin with my tongue; I will restrain my mouth with a muzzle, while the wicked are before me.”  I was once a legalist and a very devout Pharisee early in my Christian walk.  I became that because of my misunderstanding of the message being taught by ministers and older Christians. 

As the LORD opened my eyes and taught me a fuller understanding of His truth, I rejected that mindset and embraced Grace in a way I had never truly known it.  I do not mean I began to wink at sin, but I understood the reality of our LORD’s word in verse eleven above.  It is tragic to have a list of rules, regulations, restrictions, prohibitions, and outward demonstrations and fail to “guard the tongue”.

James 3 addresses the power and danger of an unbridled tongue.  If we keep all the rules but allow our mouths to issue forth words that destroy, are filled with anger, and profane we fail spiritually.  We are allowing the hypocrisy of legalism to defile and that is truly a tragedy.  It is no wonder that the writer of Proverbs would declare in Chapter 18:21 that “Death and life are in the power of the tongue…”  No wonder much is said about the tongue in Scripture both in the Old and New Testaments.  It is said that the “eyes are the window to the soul.”  I would like to add that the “tongue is the window to the heart.”

Blessing and cursing cannot proceed out of the same fountain and when we fully grasp that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks, we will seek the help of the Holy Spirit to guard our words and mend our minds so that we have the mind of Christ and every thought, word, and deed are brought into the obedience of the LORD.

God bless you as you embark on today’s journey.

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