Theme: PRECEPTS FROM THE LORD JESUS CHRIST
Text: “Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands? He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” – Mark 7:5-7.
Comment: Having observed that the disciples ate without washing their hands, the religious leaders of the Jews found fault, eliciting the above response from our Lord. He made them to understand that ritual should not replace righteousness – which means right relationship with God and right relationship with men in thoughts and actions. The truth is that godliness is more than mere formally correct behavior, as many of them who scrupulously observed the ceremonial aspects of the law were still far from God – and from happiness -because of their evil heart condition.
The Pharisees loved to display their piety by enlarging the borders of their garments, making long prayers and so on, for which they were widely regarded as godly persons. They however did not deserve this honour, hence Christ declared, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity”. – Matthew 23:27, 28.
There are many people today who merely attend services, make themselves visible in Church activities but whose lifestyle or conduct is the opposite of Christianity. We should pray not to be so inclined. Christ said, “For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 5:20.