Their problems ran far deeper than eyes could see. They talked a good game. To the casual observer they presented a suitable picture. In fact, gamblers would have bet that they were righteous. They did everything to indicate as much, and they made sure that everyone noticed. A superficial look would never have detected how deeply they were infected.
The probing eyes of the Lord saw right through their actions. It was clear in their misuse of Scriptures. They had rigid rules and regulations that were not determined by the word of God. They clung tenaciously to their traditions but held the principles of the Lord with a loose grip. If ever one came in conflict with the other, theirs won out. This was a clear indication that something much more fundamental was amiss.
There were vertical and horizontal consequences. It tainted their family relations and rendered their worship null and void. Their teaching was all wrong which leads us to the root of the problem. They had a heart condition. As religious as they may have looked and sounded, they were far removed from God at their core (Matthew 15:1-9). They were strict but wrong, and that had far-reaching implications.
It is a common thread that runs throughout Scripture. The heart must be a top priority. God and His word are both scrutinizing ours. The Pharisees and scribes made a bad miscalculation when they focused on the externals without paying attention to the internals. Hypocrite is the word that Jesus repeatedly used to describe them (Matt.23). Good show. Bad heart. It is a problem at the depths.
The Jews on Pentecost asked a question that altered everything (Acts 2:37). They were told what to do and why (:38). It all started when they heard about the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ which set off a chain reaction that began at their ears, pierced their hearts and changed their lives. The seed will do that when it lands on good soil (Luke8:15).
When we allow the word of God to do its work, it will reveal what is inside of us (Hebrews 4:12-13). That is neither easy nor comfortable. When it dissects us, we will see whatever is within whether it is good or bad. Our intentions are unmasked and our thoughts are judged. As agonizing as that can be, it is crucial that we take a good long look through the lens of Scripture. Only then will we see us as God does, and He is looking.
Call to Praise Scripture: Luke 10:25-28
His Word on it: 1 Corinthians 13:13
Sermon: “A Matter of Life and Death”