Archive for the ‘hypocrisy’ Tag

The Authenticity of our faith   Leave a comment

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;  not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;” Rom. 12:9

My father often told me “There’re 2 kinds of people you should never give a job to do : Christians and relatives“. My father said that not because he was not a Christian and did not like his relatives but because he had bad experiences with those persons who should have been trustworthy. For the sake of keeping a good relationship with his relatives and for love sake, he refrained to express his frustration towards them. So he warned his children to beware of giving jobs to relatives and Christians. He even started to point out the danger of dating some so-called Christians. Did you ever have a similar experience?

I’m particularly interested with my dad’s statement concerning Christians because trickery, ruse, hypocrisy, dishonesty and avarice should not be found in Christians. The name of the Lord is slandered among non-Christians because of such behavior.

Paul warned the Thessalonians :

and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister.The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before.” 1 Thes. 4:6

Living wisely according to James is:

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. ” James 3:17

In His 3 years of ministry on earth, Jesus had a loaded agenda to preach the Good News, heal the sick and prepare His disciples. Another item He had on His agenda was to reveal the hypocrisy of religious people, the Pharisees. For decades the Lord of heaven has seen how those religious leaders burdened his sheep and abused them and when Jesus came to earth He expressed the anger of God kept all these times for that moment. Jesus has been preaching about love and been doing good all around Him but as what concerns the religious leaders, He did not use velvet gloves but was particularly hard towards them.

Matthew recorded a whole Chapter (Mat 23) of what Jesus said about those fake spiritual leaders.  All throughout His ministry, the Pharisees tried to trick Him (Luke 20:23) and Jesus rebuked them publicly.

It is important for Christians to be genuine.

As per the secular definition of hypocrisy: “it is the practice of claiming to have higher standards or more noble beliefs than is the case

It is play acting or pretending someone you’re not. Jesus said “Everything they do is for show” Mat. 23:5

God sees us through and knows whether we are genuine in our faith or just behave like the Pharisees. If at work we pretend to be saints and tell our colleagues the right thing to do but in secret we do the very thing that we said is wrong, then we’re acting like an hypocrite and condemning ourselves. If we set some standards and judge others by them, we’ll also be judged accordingly.

Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others.The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.“And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own?  How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.” Mat. 7:1-5

Pretending to be humble, abstaining from pleasures/fasting/praying/giving to the needy for people to see is something God abhors.  Using ruse or trickery for self gratification is an attitude that is not Christ-like.

Are you authentic in the way you are with your spouse/friends/colleagues/neighbors/relatives? Does your closest relative think you’re the same person at church and at home?

Is your ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ an absolute truth or is it a lie?

Jesus said: “All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.

0 or 1 is used in computing to take decisions, it can either be yes or no and in an absolute sense computers will never be able to understand anything else (even in AI) . There’s no existence of fractions between 0 and 1 in computing.

Computers cannot take decisions on ‘Maybe’. Computers do not know anything between ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. Saying ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ in the same circumstance are double behaviors.  If you want to play double with a computer and say ‘Yes’ and ‘No’, it will tell you it’s False. The computer will say True only if you always say ‘Yes’ or always say ‘No’. Christians cannot have double behaviors but should have one behavior no matter the circumstance – integrity (being one). This is particularly a challenge for me because I have failed many times by playing double with God and people.

Here’s a D- test which identifies hypocrisy:

Duplicity, Double talk, Deceit, Dishonesty, Double dealing.

Posted August 24, 2019 by Cedric in My writings (English)

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Legalism and Justice [Part 3]   Leave a comment

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In Part 1 and Part 2 of “Legalism and Justice”, we’ve seen what are some forms of legalism and what are the characteristics of the legalists. We’ve also read how harshly Jesus dealt with the legalists(Pharisees) and how Jesus used scripture to correct the wrong interpretation of verses used to support legalism. The devil has been twisting the scripture in an attempt to make Jesus fall (Mat 4) and this is what he still does through the legalists. We may discern forms of legalism when the motives behind the teachings are not Love, Mercy, Faithfulness and Justice. Discipline in the church is not a form of legalism when love is the motive.  God Himself discipline the one he loves (Heb. 12:10). However, when love is not the motive behind discipline then we may find ourselves participating in ‘stoning the adulterous woman’.

As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery.  The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?..They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” John 8:3-9

It would be unfair to the victim of the adultery(the spouse) not to receive justice. If this case was brought in our modern court with Moses law to be applied and you were to judge, what would you do?

The Greek words used in this phrase suggest the following interpretation  “Let the one among you who has never sinned similarly throw the first stone!

I would prefer not to participate in the judgment of a case in which I had myself made a similar offense. If I condemn others of an offense that I did myself but no one caught me yet, then I’m condemning myself along and acting like an hypocrite. If we consider for instance Jesus’ teachings about lust and adultery very few religious people would find themselves eligible to pass on a judgment. I spoke several times badly of liars without realizing that I have in the past lied.

But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Mat. 5:28

What did Jesus say about judging others?

Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven.” Luke 6:37

Do not judge others, and you will not be judged.  For you will be treated as you treat others.The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged“And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye?  Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.” Mat. 7

Jesus in this verse is warning against judging others. It is not prohibited to judge others but it holds great responsibility. It is sinners like us who pronounce judgments in courts. Court judges simply apply what the law of the country say and they are themselves subject to be judged by others should they commit a similar offense. No one is above the law. If holiness was the prerequisite to judge, then the notorious criminals, drug traffickers and murderers would not be put to jail. The statement let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone” is a great reminder that the Holy One of heaven is looking down on us and that our judgement is not flawless since we’re ourselves sinners and thus offenders of that same system in a way or another.

Jesus made a call to the guilty conscience  of the Pharisees and this made all of them uneasy since it appears that all those people who brought this woman were not beyond reproach. The oldest left first as he probably was the greatest offender.

When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest” John 8:9

I guess that if there was indeed a man among the mob who never committed adultery, then he would be right to execute the stoning but there was none left! How hypocrite can religious people be! Only Jesus was left with that woman for only Him never committed such sin and only him could stone that woman. Remember that each time you judge someone, God is watching.

The world dictionary defines hypocrisy as “the sin of pretending to virtue or goodness“. It is pretending to be someone you’re not or having some qualities what you do not have. It is imitating like an actor whose virtue and goodness are seen only on stage but behind stage – at home he is a vilain. Hypocrisy consists of deceit, dissimulation and above all it is the absence of integrity for integrity means being one (in Mathematics integer), consistent and coherent.  So this was how Jesus qualified the Pharisees. In the scene of the adulterous woman, He unmasked their role and hypocrisy.

 Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”“No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

The accusers now dispersed, Jesus now recommends the woman to leave behind this sinful life and live in the righteous path.

 

Posted March 26, 2019 by Cedric in My writings (English)

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Legalism and Justice [Part 2]   Leave a comment

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They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them..” Matthew 23

Hypocrisy is usually a character of the legalist. At some point the legalist will tell to people what they should do but they themselves might not be doing what they say.  Severe to others but indulgent to themselves. They have a false humility i.e. they make as if they do not seek for glory, leadership position or privileges when this is what they are actually seeking. They may be soft spoken persons but in the inside they are wolves in sheep clothing. Their soft tone, humble way of clothing themselves or even the way they walk are deceits. This was how Jesus described the Pharisees who wore wide boxes (phylacteries) on their arms or forehead. These boxes contain scriptures and making them wide was probably a demonstration that they were well versed in the scripture. Boasting about one’s knowledge of the Scripture or the law is another characteristic of the legalists.  They loved to be greeted with respect when they walked in public places(market place) Jesus said. In other words, they sought for recognition. They might also feel insecure if someone aims to learn more about the law/scripture or wish to enter God’s kingdom without going through them.

This is what Jesus said about this: “You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to

They want to be those who guide people to heaven but Jesus called them blind guides. In other words they want to be a mediator between God and man but there is only one Mediator – Jesus. This is why Jesus said never to call a man rabbi or father for there is only one Teacher – Jesus and only one Father – God.

This is a gross mistake of the catholic priests who take the name of ‘father’. The pope for instance is a modern time Pharisee according to this verse and also do all his adherents/followers. Is it on same ground of super spirituality that the catholic priests are not allowed to marry(Peter was married) – for fear of being defiled with sexuality ? The leader among the disciples, Peter was married(1 Cor . 9:5) and it’s hard to understand how the Vatican came with this ascetic doctrine of forbidding man to marry – which has caused so many of them to become pedophile or rapists. These priests probably taught about holiness but they themselves lived in immorality. Asceticism is therefore another characteristic of the religious legalists.

Since the legalists think that they have the key to the knowledge of God or are an authority to God’s affairs, they allow themselves to add or remove to scripture. This is why many false doctrines emerged. For instance, the Pharisees twisted the scripture when they said: ” ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gold of the temple is bound by that oath.’”. To this teaching Jesus pointed out that their reasoning did not make sense.

As regards tithe, the Pharisees took it so seriously that they even gave a tenth of their spices—mint, dill and cumin. To this Jesus responded “you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness“.

One can be so absorbed in practicing the law that he forgets that the spirit behind the law is justice, mercy and faithfulness.

Tradition in the church is one of the common source of arguments. Traditions are man-made and many leaders consider them as similar to God’s Word. For instance, celebrating Christmas, Easter, Mother’s day are not commands in the bible but are traditions brought in the church. For the Pharisees, it was a tradition that hands should be washed before eating. Of course this is a healthy thing to do. There’s nothing wrong to wash our hands before eating or celebrating mother’s day to honor our mother or Easter/Christmas to remember Jesus’ coming, death and Resurrection. However, eating without washing one’s hands makes someone prone to diseases but not a sinner. Not celebrating Christmas, Easter or Mother’s day does not make one a sinner. This is what the Pharisees said:

Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!” 

Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’[and ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death. But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is ‘devoted to God,’  they are not to ‘honor their father or mother’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition” Mat. 15:2

Once again Jesus showed the Pharisees that their teachings were contradictory. The Pharisees probably taught that one should honor his father and mother and failing to do so was such a gross sin that it was subject to death penalty. However, the Pharisees in their hypocrisy reasoned that since they have already spared aside some gifts/money to God then they are unable to use that gift to help their needy parents. They considered that this gift set aside were already reserved/devoted for God and was therefore not right to use it otherwise. In modern time, this might also do to our commitments. For instance, if we reason that we have already committed ourselves to give 6 months of our time in mission and have to leave behind our sick and needy parents then we’re behaving like the pharisees. God does not need our money or sacrifice. Obedience, love, justice are better than sacrifice. Be careful in the way you deal with money in church affairs. If you feel confused in how to spend your time, money or resources in spiritual matters, think about the spirit behind the law: Love, justice, faithfulness and mercy.  What would Jesus do?

 

 

 

 

 

Posted March 22, 2019 by Cedric in My writings (English)

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The vileness of Hypocrisy [Part 3]   Leave a comment

Hypocrisy

Hypocrisy

We have seen previously what hypocrisy is and how much God abhors it. How then to deal with it?

Jesus said:“So practice and obey whatever they tell you, but don’t follow their example. For they don’t practice what they teach. They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden.” Mat. 23:3

The tongue

First thing to deal with, is the tongue. Think whether you practice what you tell others to do. The heart also needs to be transformed for “out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks“.

Your aspirations

Are you in the right place?

Jesus said:

And they love to sit at the head table at banquets and in the seats of honor in the synagogues. ” Mat 23:6

Be true to yourself. Stop doing things to please others or to receive compliments. If you acknowledge that you’re in the wrong position, resign. The Pharisees wanted to be at the head table and seats of honor. Not so with a servant of Christ.

Paul said:But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.” 1 Cor. 15:10

Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead” Gal 1:1

Your zeal

Redirect your zeal and objectives.

What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you cross land and sea to make one convert, and then you turn that person into twice the child of hell you yourselves are!” Mat. 23:15

If the fruits of your ministry bring no glory to God but to self, reconsider your ways. Make sure that those you have influenced or who follow you are no longer “children of hell” but built up in Christ.

Your external appearance

“Everything they do is for show. On their arms they wear extra wide prayer boxes with Scripture verses inside, and they wear robes with extra long tassels.” Mat. 23:5

The way you dress, speak or behave to impress others have their roots in hypocrisy. Proving that you know the whole scripture and can recite long verses is for your own good. There’s no need to prove it to others. It will be an act of super spirituality. Many dress up in white, fast to be seen or make long prayers to appear religious. It could also be the impulse to buy things you cannot afford to level up yourself with others. Whatever is done to impress others is hypocrisy.

The advantages

Get rid of the advantages which make you live in hypocrisy.

They love to receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces, and to be called ‘Rabbi.” Mat 23:7

We saw that the Pharisees liked to have privileged seats and receive honors. Abandon all advantages usurped through hypocrisy. Do not receive compliments or gifts that will make you puff up with pride.

Don’t let anyone call you ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one teacher, and all of you are equal as brothers and sisters... And don’t let anyone call you ‘Teacher,’ for you have only one teacher, the Messiah. The greatest among you must be a servant. But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Mat. 27:8-10

The subtle desire to control

As mentioned above, hypocrite people seek their own advantages. They seek their own interest and fear that someone else gets above them. They are selfish and don’t really care for others. What then is the remedy?

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” Phil. 2:3

This is what the Pharisees did:

What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you shut the door of the Kingdom of Heaven in people’s faces. You won’t go in yourselves, and you don’t let others enter either” Mat. 23:13

What sort of vileness can there be in someone’s heart that leads him/her to make it difficult for people to know more about God? This is a crime that God will personally deal with. The Pharisees and teachers of the law were those who had access to knowledge and should have been shepherds to feed God’s flock. They were rather ravenous and pitiless wolves who destroyed the flock. They acted as barriers to those who wanted to know the truth about God. The Pharisees made simple truths about God become complex and thus making God someone difficult to come close to. Through long and many prayers, alms giving, scripture recitation, fasting, different kind of abstinence and self-denial, the Pharisees made it a burden for people to draw near to God. Many such ordinances appeared to be glorifying God but were in themselves man-made laws.

They don’t practice what they teach. They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden” Mat. 23:3

With much indignation our good Lord called them brood of vipers.

Yes to law but no to love

For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.” Mat. 23:23

When the Pharisee saw Jesus disciples eating crops(Mat 12) on the Sabbath day or whenever Jesus healed on the Sabbath, they considered Jesus a law breaker. Hypocrites have no sense of justice, mercy, love and faith in them. Give them a stone and they will kill the first adulterer they see. They will mercilessly judge others because they have a high opinion of themselves. Since they think they are saints they will pass on judgement to remove the speck from people’s eyes (Mat.  7:5).

Let us first judge if our heart is right (1 Cor 11:31) before pin-pointing the flaws of others. Basically, humility is the cure to hypocrisy.

 

 

Posted June 13, 2015 by Cedric in My writings (English)

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The vileness of Hypocrisy [Part 2]   Leave a comment

Hypocrisy

Hypocrisy

You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that! 2 Tim. 3:1-5

People will appear to have a form of godliness in the last days. Through their habits, deeds and behavior we would be influenced to believe that such people are saints. It has been the case in Jesus time and it’s even worst today. Jesus said of the Pharisees:

Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues;  they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.” Mat. 23:5

Religious hypocrisy is a sin our Lord abhors. Only God knows how many such ‘Christians’ are present in our churches. They want to be called ‘Teacher’, ‘Pastor’ or ‘Elder’ and act unnaturally to usurp this place.

Adam Clarke said on Mat. 7:5:

A hypocrite, who professes to be what he is not, (viz. a true Christian), is obliged, for the support of the character he has assumed, to imitate all the dispositions and actions of a Christian; consequently he must reprove sin, and endeavor to show an uncommon affection for the glory of God. Our Lord unmasks this vile pretender to saintship, and shows him that his hidden hypocrisy, covered with the garb of external sanctity, is more abominable in the sight of God than the openly professed and practised iniquity of the profligate.”

As Jesus said, we’ll know them by their fruits.

They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.” Titus 1:6

I’m myself subject to be a hypocrite by saying these words since it is very easy to preach something to others and not practice it oneself.

James said:

Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.” James 3:1-3

Are there more pastors than sheep following the Shepherd ? More teachers than students at the feet of the Master? More elders than children at the Father’s bosom? We must first be disciples in order make disciples. Many aspire to preach and few who preach because they have been inspired to do so.

Hypocrisy proliferates more when someone wants to elevate self. He requires yeast to puff up. Such a minister has to pretend to be what he is not and is like chameleon which changes with its environment.

 

Posted June 11, 2015 by Cedric in My writings (English)

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The vileness of hypocrisy [Part 1]   Leave a comment

Hypocrisy

Hypocrisy

Hypocrisy is pretending to hold some standards, beliefs, convictions or feelings. Basically, it is the dissimulation of one’s true feelings, thoughts and personality. It is a lie that people are made to believe about self. They are flatterers and back stabbers. Many reasons can lead someone to harbor hypocrisy. Some advantages can be lost if one unveils his/her true thoughts. Masking one’s true identity requires ruse and divert skills to deceive.

Jesus was damning severely this kind of attitude. It was the one thing our Lord zealously unmasked. Two whole chapters (Mat. 15 and Mat. 23) are dedicated to portray the hypocrisy in the Pharisees. It is a sin our Lord hates. He associated hypocrisy with yeast. Yeast (a fungus) makes a bread larger by filling it with air (through fermentation). While it’s true that the volume increased, the weight remained almost the same.

Watch out!” Jesus warned them. “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees…Then at last they understood that he wasn’t speaking about the yeast in bread, but about the deceptive teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees” Mat. 16:6-12

On the outside a hypocrite person appears to be worthy of trust and good but inside there’s a fountain of wickedness.

Then the Lord said to him, “You Pharisees are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and wickedness! Fools! Didn’t God make the inside as well as the outside?…Yes, what sorrow awaits you! For you are like hidden graves in a field. People walk over them without knowing the corruption they are stepping on” Luke 11:39-43

When we know that someone has an attitude of hypocrisy, his/her presence is not appreciated. We do not trust a person who has multiple facets. Jesus made absolutely no deal with the Pharisees. If He associated with them, He could probably have had more influence. He rather stood against them and this led to His death. Jesus is the absolute truth and the devil is the father of lies. Hypocrisy is the most malignant lie as it is often mixed up with half truths.

When Jesus’ disciples were hungry and plucked corns on the Sabbath day(Matthew 12), the Pharisees criticized that Jesus condoned instead of condemn this act. This is what they said:

At about that time Jesus was walking through some grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, so they began breaking off some heads of grain and eating them.  But some Pharisees saw them do it and protested, “Look, your disciples are breaking the law by harvesting grain on the Sabbath.”

The legalists, the Pharisees, had a point. Their arguments were somehow ‘lawful’ and right. Through it, they could easily judge and condemn a law breaker without feeling guilty. The law is the law they will argue. Give them a stone and they will kill the adulterer. They were masters of applying the law but they themselves violated it in other ways.

Adam Clarke said of this verse:

The Jews were so superstitious, concerning the observance of the Sabbath, that in their wars with Antiochus Epiphanes, and the Romans, they thought it a crime even to attempt to defend themselves on the Sabbath: when their enemies observed this, they deterred their operations to that day. It was through this, that Pompey was enabled to take Jerusalem. Dion. Cass. lib. xxxvi.
Those who know not the spirit and design of the divine law are often superstitious to inhumanity, and indulgent to impiety. An intolerant and censorious spirit in religion is one of the greatest curses a man can well fall under.”

If you had to exceed the speed limit to save the life of a member of your family, what would you do? I will not deny that I violated the law if I exceeded the speed limit. However, I believe that the spirit behind each law is to protect humanity, instill love and peace.

In Mark 3:4, Jesus said:

Jesus said to the man with the deformed hand, “Come and stand in front of everyone.” Then he turned to his critics and asked, Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?” But they wouldn’t answer him

Basically, what Jesus wanted to remind the Pharisees is that doing something good or love has preeminence over the law. Love is the spirit behind each law. Whenever there’s a conflict behind laws, think about the love way.

Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law. For the commandments say, “You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not covet.” These—and other such commandments—are summed up in this one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law.” Romans 13:9

If you love people, you will not steal them or hurt them. If you love your spouse you will not commit adultery. So yes, it is absolutely right to say that all commandments can be summed up in one – Love.

But you would not have condemned my innocent disciples if you knew the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’For the Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath!

Adam Clarke said on Matthew 12:7:
“There are four ways in which positive laws may cease to oblige.
First, by the natural law of necessity.
Secondly, by a particular law, which is superior.
Thirdly, by the law of charity and mercy.
Fourthly, by the dispensation and authority of the Lawgiver.”

 

Posted June 10, 2015 by Cedric in My writings (English)

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The danger of Legalism in the Church   Leave a comment

 

The Pharisee and Legalism

The Pharisees and Legalism

At about that time Jesus was walking through some grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, so they began breaking off some heads of grain and eating them. But some Pharisees saw them do it and protested, “Look, your disciples are breaking the law by harvesting grain on the Sabbath.” Matthew 12:1

It was forbidden by the tradition of the elders to break heads of grain on the Sabbath because it was a kind of reaping and reaping was considered work. Among the miracles Jesus did, 7 of them were made on the Sabbath day.
I do believe Jesus purposefully chose this special day to reveal the legalistic heart of the pharisees. He did not recant, feared for His life or reputation. He did what He had to do. This chapter of Matthew 12 would leave many of us perplex or question Jesus’ respect of the law. Many misunderstood His acts and considered Him a law breaker. His words were:

Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved…But I warn you—unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven!” Mat. 5:17-20

The attitude of the Pharisees

1. Legalistic

The Pharisees wanted to be seen righteous and pin-point the wrong in others. They were prideful, put themselves on a footstool to judge and were merciless. Jesus said to the people that their righteousness should be better than the righteousness of the teachers of the law and Pharisees. The righteousness of the pharisees and teachers of the law were rooted in pride and was unholy. Their heart were full of wickedness and were not led by love. There’re many Christians in our churches who are stigmatized and forbidden to participate in church activities because of their past sins. Even if the sinners repented, those who have a legalistic behavior make them feel inadequate and guilty.

Jesus described them as such:

“You Pharisees are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and wickedness!...What sorrow awaits you Pharisees! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore justice and the love of God. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.“Luke 11:39-42

They did not want to see the love behind the law. All of God’s law were given for 2 reasons: To lead the Jews towards loving God and to love people.

2. Hypocrisy

They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden.” Mat. 23:4

Have you met with people in the church who criticize and do not do anything to lift a finger to ease the burden? If you did meet one of them, you’ve probably met someone who have the Pharisaical symptom.

Hypocrites! For you shut the door of the Kingdom of Heaven in people’s faces. You won’t go in yourselves, and you don’t let others enter either” Mat 23:13

Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens,but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faithOutwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness.” Mat. 23:23,28

The Pharisees want people to see them as righteous but within their heart they are full of bitterness, hatred and lawlessness.  They can be strict on matters concerning money but they neglect what is more important: Justice, mercy and faith. Instead of encouraging people to know God, they mislead them. They are not shepherds but wolves.

3. No demonstration of mercy, grace and love

As mentioned above, they are those who will stick to the law, principles and traditions(Mat 15:12). While their arguments are right and lawful, they completely ignored that the ultimate goal of these laws or principles were to point to love, which is the most important thing.

In many countries we have the supreme/fundamental laws of the constitution. On these are derived other “minor laws”. When it happens that a fundamental law is in conflict with a “minor” law, the supreme law supersedes.

All of God’s commands can be resume in 2 laws:Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” Mat. 22:40, Gal. 5:2

James described this law as being the Royal law of the scripture.

Yes indeed, it is good when you obey the royal law as found in the Scriptures: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you favor some people over others, you are committing a sin. You are guilty of breaking the law.” James 2:8

If we love our neighbor, we will not cheat him, steal or hurt him. If we just loved, we would be obeying God’s will.

Minor laws have limitations as they cannot deal rightly with every cases.

We have 3 legal cases below:

A.

The law in Exodus says:

If you come upon your enemy’s ox or donkey that has strayed away, take it back to its owner. If you see that the donkey of someone who hates you has collapsed under its load, do not walk by. Instead, stop and help.” Ex. 23:4

Still in Exodus 20, the Sabbath day was a day of rest and no one should work on it.

As per law, for an enemy’s ox, you’ll have to bring it back to its owner.

If you had a sheep that fell into a well on the Sabbath, wouldn’t you work to pull it out? Of course you would. And how much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Yes, the law permits a person to do good on the Sabbath.” Mat. 12:11.

But what would you do if it was your sheep which fell in a pit on the Sabbath day? Would you let it suffer or would it be unlawful to do good on that day?

The Pharisees did not care about killing someone or destroying completely that person. They were stubborn and looked only at the “minor” law and ignored the supreme ones. Jesus pointed out that a person was more valuable than a sheep. What God expected by putting these laws was to instill love towards people and Him.

But you would not have condemned my innocent disciples if you knew the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For the Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath!

Jesus called His disciples “Innocent”. That was hard to digest for the Pharisees. If it is  for us, I guess we need to reconsider the way we see the scripture.

B.

Legally speaking, the woman who was caught in adultery (John 8) was to be stoned. It will astonish many of us about what Jesus did. Jesus wanted to make the accusers realize that none of them had the right to judge or condemn because they were not sinless. Jesus did not cover the sins of that woman or approved it in any way. He told her her sins, forgave her and recommended her to sin no more. Jesus took the matter personally because the issue was not between the Jews and that woman but between Him(God) and the sinner.

These pharisees were quick to apply the law and find all kinds of flaws in people around them. No act of mercy or grace, they were just ready to stone the sinner!

They accused Jesus of breaking the law or somehow tolerating sins.

The arguments of the Pharisees made sense, it was legal and no one could escape their condemnations. However, the Author of these laws reoriented them towards the spirit behind these laws.

C.

Why was David innocent even if he allowed his men to eat the sacred loaves that were legally reserved only for the priest?

Haven’t you read in the Scriptures what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He went into the house of God, and he and his companions broke the law by eating the sacred loaves of bread that only the priests are allowed to eat. And haven’t you read in the law of Moses that the priests on duty in the Temple may work on the Sabbath?

Jesus did not deny that the law was broken. His divine justice was rooted in love. David will not be condemned on judgment day for breaking that law. His men were hungry, David did what he thought was an act of love even if he had to break that “minor” law. Is not it strange how futile arguments can raise up because of food? I admire the way Jesus stood as an advocate and defended His Disciples. Many of us will be surprised on Judgment Day when Divine Justice will be applied.

Jesus also mentioned that the priests were not breaking the law when they worked on the Sabbath.

The priests in the temple did a great deal of servile work on the sabbath day; killing, flaying, burning the sacrificed beasts, which in a common case would have been profaning the sabbath; and yet it was never reckoned any transgression of the fourth commandment, because the temple-service required and justified it. This intimates, that those labours are lawful on the sabbath day which are necessary, not only to the support of life, but to the service of the day” Matthew Henry

4. Man-made traditions, philosophies and principles

Some Pharisees and teachers of religious law now arrived from Jerusalem to see Jesus. They asked him, “Why do your disciples disobey our age-old tradition? For they ignore our tradition of ceremonial hand washing before they eat.?” Mat. 15:1

Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ…Don’t let anyone condemn you by insisting on pious self-denial or the worship of angelYou have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world. So why do you keep on following the rules of the world, such as, “Don’t handle! Don’t taste! Don’t touch!”? Such rules are mere human teachings about things that deteriorate as we use them. These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires ” Col. 2:8

Let us be careful of not falling in the trap of following man-made traditions, principles or philosophies. Many of the world principles help doing things right. They contribute in doing things orderly so as to avoid problems. As Paul said, many rules seem wise and make people appear righteous or more spiritual. Some of these principles encourage discipline in different aspect but they have never been instituted for the church. We should be careful of not making worldly principles become biblical principles. Many of the world philosophies entered the church to make it work like a business. When these man-made principles are not respected, it causes useless dissensions and divisions. In several churches, a lot of emphasis is laid upon the church organigram, management and leadership and by doing so it is choking the church. The Spirit is not able to work because man is leading the church by his wisdom.

Jesus never tolerated sin, He rather helped people get out of it. This should also be our attitude when church discipline is applied. We should deal rigorously with sin. However, it should be done out of love and humility. If Jesus had to choose between the law and love, His choice would clearly be an act of love and the pharisees would choose the law. What would you do ?

 

The Pharisees and Jesus

The Pharisees and Jesus

 

Posted February 8, 2015 by Cedric in My writings (English)

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