Monday, June 13, 2011

White-Washed Tombs

Matthew 23:27-28  "How horrible it will be for you, scribes and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You are like whitewashed graves that look beautiful on the outside but inside are full of dead people's bones and every kind of impurity.  (28)  So on the outside you look as though you have God's approval, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

The bible does out line a STANDARD of conduct of how believers should act and behave. Unfortunately, many denominations and churches around the world are like the Pharisees. They make up and follow not the STANDARD of God but made up Religious do's and don't's.

Jesus called the Scribes and the Pharisees hypocrites and compared them to a bunch of Whitewashed tombs. Now Jesus could blurt such powerful words out because He lived the Word and was the Word.  Only when you walk in the truth can you reveal the world of hypocrisy to others. Jesus knew that the Pharisees where bound up in their own made up doctrine and beliefs. They had taken the word of God and turned it into something religious and binding.

The Pharisees would dress up the Tombs of the prophets and famous leaders. The fancier the tomb the more popular and prestigious the person in it. Only the rich and well off were buried in the nicest tombs. No matter how much you dress up a tomb on the outside; lying on the inside are still dead, decomposing bodies.

I have been blessed enough to pastor two churches thus far in my life time. Through all the taped messages and the written sermons , there was a central theme. " Jesus desires a relationship with us not our religious do's and don't's." When we have a true relationship with Christ His standards become flowing out of our lives. We have taught our family and church families this overwhelming truth. God is not moved by our man-made religious ceremonies. He is moved by our open heart to Him and our desire to know Him deeply. Out of our relationship with Him comes holiness and righteous living. If we are passionately following Jesus then our hearts are being convicted and our lives are changing.

Many declare their holiness or righteousness by the religious acts they perform.  Then those acts are pressured and placed on others. God's word is clear on what is right and what is wrong. We need not to add to it. The Pharisees had a man-made rule of washing their hands before a meal. They noticed that Jesus' disciples did not perform this religious act. They questioned Jesus on it in hopes of trying to point out some kind of sin.

Matthew 15:1-2  Then some Pharisees and scribes came from Jerusalem to Jesus. They asked,  (2)  "Why do your disciples break the traditions of our ancestors? They do not wash their hands before they eat."

It was their tradition to wash their hands and this ritual became a part of their walk before God. God never told them to do such a thing. He never wanted their rituals but their hearts.

Going to church does not make you an automatic Christian. Just like standing in the middle of a garage does not make you a sports car or swimming in the ocean does not make you a dolphin. Wearing a suit and a tie to Sunday morning services does not make you a holy believer or wearing a long dress past your ankles does not make you a holy woman. Reading your bible for 8 hours a day or praying for 6 hours a day does not make you a super christian either. Mankind puts such stipulations on the things of God. Yes, we should pray, yes we should read his word, and yes we should gather together to worship our Lord, but those things are just religious acts unless our heart is in the right place.

This was what Jesus was pointing out. He was showing the Pharisees a truth. They had a heart condition.  Their religious acts and man-made traditions caused them to stray away from their true God.

The disciples had something different than what the Pharisees had; they had a true relationship with their Savior. They had a sense of humility, and they passionately wanted more of their Lord in their lives. This is the true Christian walk. Nothing I do on the outside of my life will put me in right standings with my  God. It is what I do on the inside of my life that my Lord looks at the most.

For instance, I serve the Lord not because I know it is the right Christian thing to do. I serve the Lord because He lives in me and I have a relationship with Him. I know Him and He knows me. Out of my love and passion for my Lord comes my ministry and my service to Him. To do those things without Him are just religious acts. I witness because of Him. I pray for people because of Him. I travel to different countries because of Him. I love because of Him. His love is deeply planted within me and it pours out to others.  This is the Christian walk! This is the Message of Jesus my Savior and your savior!

God is not looking for painted up Christians but believers who are willing to surrender all for and to Him. Believers who desire not religious acts or ceremonies but who desire Him and His ways. I personally don't want to be a white-washed Tomb. How about you?


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