Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Hypocrisy of Legalism

Reading this morning from Luke 13, these verses
10Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. 11And there was a woman who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. 12When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, "Woman, you are freed from your disability." 13And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God. 14But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the people, "There are six days in which work ought to be done. Come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day." 15Then the Lord answered him, "You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger and lead it away to water it? 16And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?" 17As he said these things, all his adversaries were put to shame, and all the people rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by him.
All these "Thou shalt nots" that the Pharisees had about the Sabbath. They even berated Jesus for healing on the Sabbath AND they got made at people for coming to Jesus for healing on the Sabbath. Jesus likened it to how we care for our livestock on Sabbath days. Just because its' the Sabbath doesn't mean our livestock doesn't need to be cared for.

So to today. People still like to put rules around Sunday worship.
  • You are a good Christian if you come to church properly attired.
  • You are a good Christian if you go to two worship services.
  • You are a good Christian if you attend Sunday School
  • You are a good Christian if you bring your own bible to church.
  • You are a good Christian if you don't shop on Sundays
  • You are a good Christian if you never eat out on Sundays
  • You are a good Christian if you do no house work or field work etc on Sunday
  • You are a good Christian if you ________________
You understand what I mean right?

Some rules are good to have. Rules that continue to point us to God and worshipping him in FELLOWSHIP with other believers. But just because you follow all the rules doesn't make you a better Christian than joe next door. All it does is make you a good rule follower.

Now doing your best to show Sunday (the Sabbath) as important is a good idea.
For instance, I know some people who won't go to church on Sunday because they are tired. Tired from working or being up late or driving and so forth. So why not, if God is important to them, don't they rearrange their lives a bit to make Sundays more "doable" for themselves.
i.e. getting to bed on time. not working too hard on Saturday. having their wife drive. even moving closer to church if they need to. Those types of rules, that help a person be prepared for Sunday worship are good things.

The Pharisees were good rule followers. But they didn't seem to really know the heart of God.

Do you know the heart of God?
Do you strive after him?
Do you want to gather with other believers and truly worship God?

I have to admit, I've had moments where it was "oh man, I don't want to go to church this morning." I've been there. Or.. I want to shopping or to this movie or.... so on and forth. But then I have to stop and think..... who am I focusing on here? Am I focusing on myself, or on the things of God?

This is what the Pharisees failed to do. They focused on themselves, and not on God.

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