Sunday, October 30, 2011
“Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias 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. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:7-9 KJV).
The title “Christian” was such a hateful, derogatory term in the first century A.D. It was used to describe a small number of people who lived such “Christ-like” lives, conversations that communicated God’s grace instead of the world’s vile standards. Today, over two billion people identify themselves as “Christian.” Nevertheless, we have not lost sight of what the Bible says about nominal believers.
Unbelieving Jews and saved Jews look alike on the outside. In Jesus’ day, millions of Jews practiced Judaism. While they had the outward physical circumcision of their fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, very few had the inward spiritual circumcision of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Physically, they were all Jews. Spiritually, most of them were not Jews—they were not God’s spiritual children, but Satan’s children (John 8:44). These lost Jews had never been born-again (they had not received the spiritual circumcision of Romans 2:28,29).
In today’s Scripture, the Lord Jesus Christ describes these “nominal believers” (cf. Mark 7:6). Scribes and Pharisees (Israel’s religious leaders) loved to keep the Mosaic Law and feel “religious,” but the Lord Jesus claimed it was vain worship. They appeared to do everything that God told Israel. However, they disobeyed the commandments they hated and embraced the tradition of men (Matthew 15:3-6; Mark 7:8-13)!
Jesus quoted Isaiah 29:13 to describe these “hypocrites.” Despite their godly façade of Matthew 23:27-36, they were not God’s children (“their heart is far from [God]”).
God is not fooled. He knows the hearts of those who are saved and those who are lost. Are you a nominal Christian, in name only? Have you truly trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour, thereby being rightfully called a “Christian?” Or are you just a church member who merely professes to be a Christian? Friend, it makes an eternal difference!