What I read today
Genesis 29-30; Psalm 15; Isaiah 15; Matthew 15; Romans 15
In Matthew 15 verses 10 to 20, Jesus calls out the Pharisees in a loud and distinct manner. The Pharisees had constructed rule after rule that determined whether or not you were truly obeying God’s law. The rules had become so hard to follow that you could be called a lawbreaker at the drop of a hat.
The masses simply couldn’t understand the rules and could never have any hope of actually following them. In fact, the place that was supposed to represent forgiveness and grace now became words of condemnation and punishment.
But Jesus went a step farther in his condemnation of the Pharisees.
For some reason, reasons I’m not smart enough to understand, God had forbidden the eating of certain individual animals in the old testament. I don’t know why he did it, he just did.
But the Pharisees had gone a step further, now they said that by not eating these foods you were “saving yourself” or “earning your way to God.”
That was never the intent.
So Jesus once again calls them out.
Jesus said that it wasn’t what a person ate or drank that made a person unclean. No, it was what was inside your heart and mind that made you unclean.
Oh, the Pharisees weren’t ready for that one.
Here’s the list of things that Jesus said made us unclean:
- Evil Intentions
- False Witness
Look hard at that list. Be honest now and tell me how many of those items listed above are you guilty of violating.
The Religious elite of Jesus day didn’t get it. Their rules and doctrines were their way of saying, “hey, we earned our way into God’s presence.”
Jesus was saying, no, you don’t earn your way into Heaven. You can’t make it there on your own merits.
They forgot that in Deuteronomy God said the following:
Deuteronomy 9 states the following:
When the Lord your God thrusts them out before you, do not say to yourself, “It is because of my righteousness that the Lord has brought me in to occupy this land”; it is rather because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is dispossessing them before you. It is not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart that you are going in to occupy their land; but because of the wickedness of these nations the Lord your God is dispossessing them before you, in order to fulfill the promise that the Lord made on oath to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.
And in Deuteronomy 7 he says this:
It was not because you were more numerous than any other people that the Lord set his heart on you and chose you—for you were the fewest of all peoples. It was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath that he swore to your ancestors, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who maintains covenant loyalty with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations, and who repays in their own person those who reject him. He does not delay but repays in their own person those who reject him. Therefore, observe diligently the commandment—the statutes and the ordinances—that I am commanding you today.
In other words, it’s not about the rules. It’s not about what you do. It’s about God’s promises and God’s Grace.
We don’t follow the rules to get to heaven. We follow the rules out of our thanks for the Grace that God has freely provided us.