Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Wednesday, October 1st Mark 7:1-13

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Isaiah 63-64; Proverbs 25; 1 Timothy 6
Today's scripture focus is Mark 7:1-13

Mark 7:1-13English Standard Version (ESV)

Traditions and Commandments

Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands properly, holding to the tradition of the elders, and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.) And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written,
“‘This people honors me with their lips,
    but their heart is far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
    teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’
You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”
And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ 11 But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”’ (that is, given to God)— 12 then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, 13 thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.”
Accompanying John MacArthur sermon: Scripture-Twisting Tradition
Accompanying David Legge sermon: The Heart of the Problem
Accompanying Robert Rayburn sermon:  The Heart of the Matter

We're so quick to judge the Pharisees harshly and accuse them of being religious hypocrites.  But Rayburn has a toe stepping reminder for us:
The Lord’s criticism of them has made it easy for us to think of the Pharisees as the kind of people who would kick dogs and foreclose on poor widows. As a matter of fact, they were, as a rule, deeply committed people, zealous for religion, with very high views of God, Scripture, God’s law and the importance of a holy life. There was a great deal and a great deal of fundamental importance in the faith of the Pharisees with which the Lord Jesus had no disagreement at all. He even on several occasions commended aspects of their religious life. The Pharisees, if you will forgive the anachronism, were the conservatives of the church, not the liberals. The liberals were the Sadducees. The Pharisees were the Calvinists, the upholders of the inerrancy of Scripture and the sovereignty of God. In more ways than you want to know the Pharisees were like us!

This is important for us to recognize and appreciate. For as long as we think of the Pharisees as notoriously evil, as evil in a way that surpasses the generality of men and women, we will not be inclined to see the most important thing about the Pharisees, which is that their spirit and their sins live in each one of us and that what Jesus found to condemn in them he can find in everyone of us far too much of the time. By demonizing the Pharisees we limit the application of the Lord’s remarks to people whom we think must be very different from and far worse than ourselves.....

the hypocrisy that the Lord Jesus discovered in the Pharisees is so common in human life and in religious life that it is virtually impossible to believe that it wasn’t a major problem in first century Judaism. It is always a major problem! It became a problem almost immediately in the Christian church of the new epoch and has surfaced repeatedly in Christian circles ever since. We too often forget that the Judaism of Jesus’ day was nothing more or less than the Christian church of that time. Its errors and sins areour errors and sins. When we criticize the Pharisees, we are criticizing a spirit and a viewpoint that can just as easily be detected in the church today...

Hypocrites are rarely self-conscious in their hypocrisy. The Pharisees were not playing at their religious observance; not in any self-conscious way. They were in earnest. Jesus admits they were. Scholars today point out that you can find all manner of statements in the writings of the rabbis of the time, including Pharisees, about the importance of the sincerity of the heart, about the grace of God, and about the importance of love...

What you and I are to carry away from this famous text is most assuredly not contempt for the Pharisees, but instead a concern that we might be like them in precisely those ways we do not recognize or see for what they are. Look at these men. They loved the Bible. They studied it carefully. They were churchmen. They cared about the ancient faith. They were generally admired by the people for the seriousness with which they lived life and sought to practice righteousness. They were blind to their hypocrisy. They didn’t see that they were neglecting the weightier matters of the law. It didn’t occur to them that with all of their regulations they had in fact substituted their own religious viewpoint for God’s. But they had. The Son of God said they had and told them precisely how they had. They had neglected the heart. They had concentrated on the outside instead of the inside: a very easy thing for people to do. Unbelievers do it all day every day. But even Christians do it far, far too much. We create for ourselves a form of godliness but it lacks the true power that comes from love, humility, and the longing for God’s will in the heart....

“Above all else guard the heart, for from it flow the issues of life.” So we read in Proverbs. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks,” said the Lord Jesus. He also said, “Make the heart good and you will make the life good as well.” It is life itself to take that admonition seriously. It is the heart that we are to offer to God, our attitudes, our aspirations, our longings, our commitments, our thoughts of him and others. When we strive to do that two things become immediately clear to us: what failures we are and how desperately we need both the forgiveness of God and the renewal of our hearts. The proof that the Pharisees were not, in fact, truly attending to the heart was that they felt they could please God without Jesus Christ. But with forgiveness and renewal we will then be content with nothing less than to say to Jesus Christ, in the words of the motto of John Calvin: “Lord I offer my heart to you, promptly and sincerely.”

MacArthur also shares some strong words:
God’s name, I think, is taken more times in vain in churches than anywhere else. The blasphemy in the sanctuary is worse than the blasphemy in the street. Empty ceremony, superficial worship, thoughtless praise, errant doctrine, love of error, indifferent prayer, phony ritual, these things abound....

All true worship comes from the heart because we love God, because we love Christ and it issues in obedience to Scripture. We don’t need tradition, we don’t need the church to interpret everything for us. There is one revelation of God that is absolutely true and it’s the Scripture and not anything beyond this. And if we love God, we love His Word. If we love His Word, we love to obey His Word. True religion is humble love for and delight in God. Humble love for and delight in Christ. Humble love for and delight in the Holy Spirit, in the beauty of the holiness of our Lord, in the glory of His majesty. And this humble love leads us to love the Word and love to obey the Word.

We obey as an outpouring of love for Him, and we love Him because He first loved us.

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Mark 7:14-23
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Isaiah 65-66, Proverbs 26, 2 Timothy 1

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