Genuine or Hypocrite? – Matthew 15:1-9

by Pastor John Fredericksen

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When your author first became concerned about where he’d spend eternity, he first went to his denominational pastor asking if he could tell him how to have eternal life. This pastor did not have the foggiest idea, but he vehemently opposed my going to another church, and made a huge public ruckus.

When the scribes and Pharisees came from Jerusalem to question and oppose the Lord Jesus Christ, His answer was surprising. He confronted them about their inconsistencies in placing their traditions over the written commandments of God. Then, He plainly told them, “Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias [Isaiah] prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth Me with their lips; but their heart is far from Me” (Matthew 15:7-8). This strong rebuke was intended to jar these spiritually dead men out of their cold lethargy, and into a living relationship with Him.

Only going through the motions of religious activity without a genuine, heartfelt desire to have a close, pleasing relationship with the Lord is hypocritical behavior in any dispensation. We can attend church services, dress up nicely, act spiritually, even read our Bible, then go out and live just as sinfully as the world. When this happens, we resemble the scribes and Pharisees, who the Savior so sharply rebuked. The Apostle Paul warned the saints at Ephesus about persisting in a cold, unemotional, spiritually dead internal condition. He explained that even believers could eventually become so spiritually hardened that their “understanding [becomes] darkened” and so blinded to God’s truth that they could become “past feeling” (Ephesians 4:17-19). These examples are intended to encourage us to be genuine in our walk with the Lord, fervent in spirit, and intentionally cultivating a close walk with the Lord. We can accomplish this through regular study of His Word, with a consistent pattern of putting biblical truth into practice in our lives each day.

It is more than appropriate, when we read about biblical examples that had hearts far from the Lord, for us to ask ourselves about the condition of our own heart. Is our heart only lukewarm for Christ? Is our heart likewise far from the Savior who died for us? Are we only going through the motions of religious activity? If our hearts are not in the right spiritual condition, we can choose right now to begin to respond with genuine zeal and obedience toward our Savior.

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Start each day with short, devotional articles taken from the book Daily Transformation by Pastor John Fredericksen. As Pastor Fredericksen writes in the introduction:

"We welcome you, as you journey with us..., to not only learn information, but to benefit from examples of faith and failure, and seek to apply God’s Word to every day life. Together, let’s transition from only studying theories of doctrine, to applying God’s truths in a practical way every day. May God use these studies to help you find daily transformation."