Religious Hypocrisy

Video Talk

Isaiah 58:1-8 ESV

“Cry aloud; do not hold back;
lift up your voice like a trumpet;
declare to my people their transgression,
to the house of Jacob their sins.
Yet they seek me daily
and delight to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that did righteousness
and did not forsake the judgment of their God;
they ask of me righteous judgments;
they delight to draw near to God.
‘Why have we fasted, and you see it not?
Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’
Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure,
and oppress all your workers.
Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight
and to hit with a wicked fist.
Fasting like yours this day
will not make your voice to be heard on high.
Is such the fast that I choose,
a day for a person to humble himself?
Is it to bow down his head like a reed,
and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him?
Will you call this a fast,
and a day acceptable to the Lord?

“Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of wickedness,
to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him,
and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up speedily;
your righteousness shall go before you;
the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.”

This just happens to be one of my favorite biblical passages. I guess one of the main reasons is that I hate hypocrisy. And that is what this is largely about. And I love serving my Lord and showing his love to other people, which is what is encouraged here. But this love is not human love, but it is the love of God which comes from God and is within those of us who follow Jesus Christ with our lives. So this love considers what is best for others, it is not selfish, and it works to meet people’s legitimate needs, not just physical needs, but their spiritual needs, too, speaking the truth to them in love.

Now there are a lot of Christians (or people just professing faith in Jesus Christ) who are big on religious practice but they are short on love and on following the Lord in obedience, and on living godly and holy lives to the glory of God. And so they go through the motions of religious exercise, sometimes to be noticed by others, or they do so hoping God will be pleased with their performance. But he sees right through performance, and he gets right down to the heart of the matter, which he did here.

For there are a lot of religious people who perform certain religious exercises, some of them with good motives, and some of them not. But some of them perform these religious exercises, like fasting, for example, hoping to get God’s approval, and hoping he will be pleased with them. But some of these people are not truly worshiping the Lord. For they are still serving themselves, and they are still sinning against God and other humans, and they are not walking in obedience to the Lord and to his commands. So, they are like the Pharisees, perhaps.

So, the Lord is letting all of us know here what pleases him and what does not, and he does this in the New Testament, too, particularly where he warned his disciples against the Pharisees and their hypocrisy and how they were not to do the things that the Pharisees did. For our religious exercises, if they are not of God, and if all we are doing is going through the motions, but our hearts are not right with God, because we are still walking in sin, those religious exercises mean nothing to God, and he is not pleased.

So, what our Lord desires is our lives on his altar as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to him, no longer conformed to the ways of this sinful world, but being transformed in heart and mind to be like Jesus in character. And he wants us setting a godly example for others to follow of what it means to be a follower of Christ. And it involves daily dying to sin and denying self and following Jesus Christ in obedience to his New Covenant commands. And then we are to lead others to do the same.

And then we are to love people with the love of God in being hospitable, and in caring for and meeting people’s legitimate needs. And I always add a word of caution here because there are so many con artists out there in the world, and so many scammers, and so many liars and deceivers and manipulators who know how to work (manipulate) people and the system, so this calls for much spiritual discernment and the leading of the Holy Spirit to know who is real and who is not, and who is telling lies, and who is telling the truth. And some of these people work together in teams as professional scam artists.

But love people, even your enemies, and even those who do evil against you, and pray for them, and do good to them, even if they despitefully use you and take advantage of your kindness and your generosity. Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily, and your righteousness shall go before you, and the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then God will bless you, in other words, and he will be with you, and he will lead and guide you all the way.
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For Our Nation

An Original Work / September 11, 2012

Bombs are bursting. Night is falling.
Jesus Christ is gently calling
You to follow Him in all ways.
Trust Him with your life today.
Make Him your Lord and your Savior.
Turn from your sin. Follow Jesus.
He will forgive you of your sin;
Cleanse your heart, made new within.

Men betraying: Our trust fraying.
On our knees to God we’re praying,
Seeking God to give us answers
That are only found in Him.
God is sovereign over all things.
Nothing from His mind escaping.
He has all things under His command,
And will work all for good.

Jesus Christ is gently calling
You to follow Him in all ways.

Men deceiving: We’re believing
In our Lord, and interceding
For our nation and its people
To obey their God today.
He is our hope for our future.
For our wounds He offers suture.
He is all we need for this life.
Trust Him with your life today.

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