Are We Hypocrites? Part 3 of 4
Verses 25-26 - 25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.
The Pharisees looked good on the outside but inside they were actually filled with sin.
Haitian church is often pretty lively compared to church in Canada or the UK. The music is loud, sometimes the people are dancing as they sing or with their arms fully extended. The preaching is filled with passionate yelling and the pastors often bring a cloth to wipe the sweat off their foreheads while they are preaching. So, there can be a lot of passion and excitement in a Haitian church service.
But the problem is that, definitely not all the time, but sometimes all that passion and excitement is not really from the heart. Because those same people who are passionately singing on Sunday morning, they may have been at the witchdoctor’s house the night before. Or that pastor who was preaching so hard the sweat was rolling down his forehead may not have actually said anything of substance. It looks good, it looks real, but sometimes it’s all just a show.
But Jesus’ focus is exactly the opposite. He says, ‘First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.’ Christianity is not about a big exciting show, Christianity is about a changed heart. It is the fulfillment of God’s promise in Ezekiel 36:26, ‘And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.’ Christianity is not about external things. Christianity is about a transformed heart that truly loves God and truly loves others.
So, where are our hearts? Do we truly love God? Do we truly love others? Or do we love football more? Do we love gossip more? Do we love our own comfort more? Let us clean our hearts, so that we love God and love our neighbours, truly, then the external things will take care of themselves.
But how do we do this? How can we clean our hearts? Should we go to a monastery in the Himalayas and sit with our legs crossed, humming? Should we pray 5 times a day in the direction of Mecca or Jerusalem?
We can only do this by the power of God. Look at the verse from Ezekiel: I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. It is God who gives the new heart and it is God who gives the new spirit. It is not something that we do in our own power. It is something that God does in us by His grace when we repent of our sin and place our faith in Jesus’ death on the cross for us. He died to take our punishment so that our relationship with God can be restored and we can be transformed by His Spirit living in us.
This is the difference between Christianity and all other religions. All other religions are about what you can do to save yourself. Buddhism is about following the eightfold path to enlightenment. Islam is about doing enough good to outweigh your bad so that, hopefully, Allah will allow you into paradise. But Christianity is not about us, what we can do, it is about what God has done for us in Jesus Christ. And all we have to do is accept it and be transformed by God’s power.
So, if you look at your heart today and you see that it is filled with selfishness and sin and you don’t want to be that way any longer. Ask God and He will forgive your sin and He will transform your heart by the power of the Holy Spirit. Today, this very moment, just ask Him.
But, maybe you’ve already done that. Maybe your heart has already been changed by God’s grace. And yet, you still see sin within. Its changed, yes, but not completely. And here is where sometimes we can get lazy. We can think, ‘Well God changes my heart, He’s changed it already. So, I can sit back, relax, and let God keep changing me.’ But let’s look at what Peter says in 2 Peter chapter 1. He says in verse 3 ‘His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness...’ Ok, this is kinda what I just said, its God who gives us everything, its God who changes our hearts. We have everything because of God’s power and not because of our own work. Amen. Hallelujah. But he doesn’t stop there. He goes on to say in verse 5: ‘For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness…’ etc. So, God has given us everything we need to live holy lives, He has transformed our hearts and He has given us His Holy Spirit who defeats the power of sin in our lives. But this is not an excuse to be lazy in our pursuit of holiness, it is a reason to diligently strive to grow in holiness.
It’s like when you are running a race and you can see the end. It’s just a few meters in front of you, you know you’re going to win. So, you run harder. God has given us everything we need for life and godliness therefore let us strive with the strength and power that God gives to grow in holiness. Not in our own strength but with the strength and the grace that God provides to us.
So, if you are already a Christian today and your heart has already been transformed by God but you still see sin in your life and in your heart, don’t be lazy. But with the power of God that is already in you make every effort to supplement your faith with godliness, godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.
And be encouraged because we can have victory over sin in our lives. Paul says in Romans 6:14 that sin will not have dominion over us. The sin that we struggle with today, we don’t need to struggle with it forever. Even though we may never be perfect in this life, we can still grow, by God’s grace.
So, let’s be encouraged and let’s make every effort to continue to grow in true holiness that comes from the heart. Let us not be like the Pharisees and focus only on the external things. Rather let us clean the inside of the cup, by the power of God, that the outside also may be clean.