Religious Pretence

Religious Pretence

 

 

Isaiah 1: 11 – 22

 

 

Jesus says in Matt. 5:20 “For I say to you that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (NKJV). When a sick person visits a medical doctor, his/her sickness is diagnosed and drugs for healing prescribed. Verse 2-3 diagnose Judah’s sins and 10-23 the prescription for the healing. Isaiah compared the rulers and the people of Judah to the rulers and people of Sodom and Gomorrah.

 

 

God was not happy with their sacrifices, but He was not revoking the system of sacrifice He had initiated with Moses. Instead, God was calling for sincere faith and devotion. The leaders were carefully making the traditional sacrifices and offerings at holy celebrations, but they were still unfaithful to God in their hearts. These sinful people were using religion as a cover to commit greater abominable things. Sacrifices were supposed to be an outward sign of their inward faith in God but the outward signs became empty because no inward faith existed.

 

 

Like many of us today, they place more faith in the rituals of their religion than in the God they worship. In Matthew 5:20, the Pharisees’ weakness was that they were content to obey the laws outwardly without allowing God to change their hearts (or attitude). Jesus is saying today that the quality of our righteousness or goodness should be greater than that of the Pharisees. They looked pious, but they were far from the kingdom of God. God judges the heart as well as our work for it is in the heart that our real allegiance lies. Jesus is saying here that believers need a different kind of righteousness altogether (love and obedience), not just a legal compliance. Our righteousness must be God-centred, not self-centred. Our righteousness must be based on reverence for God, not on approval from people and our righteousness must go beyond keeping the law to living by the principles behind the law – the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

 

Examine your religious practices: Do they spring from your faith in the living God? God does not take pleasure in out outward expressions. Rather, He wants our inward faith towards His and in His word. (Deut. 10:12-16, 1Sam. 15:22, 23;Psalm 51:16-19 and Hosea 6:6).

 

 

 

MEMORY VERSE:
Isaiah 1: 19 “If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land.”

 

 

PRAYER:
Holy Spirit, help and strengthen me in my heavenly race. Quicken me to be willing and obedient to Your Word that I may eat the good of the land and, at last, inherit the Kingdom of God. Amen.

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