15 May 2018
GraceNotes – A Journey of Discovery
Scripture: Matthew 23:16-22 (Click link for scripture in Bible Gateway)
16 “Blind guides! What sorrow awaits you! For you say that it means nothing to swear ‘by God’s Temple,’ but that it is binding to swear ‘by the gold in the Temple.’ 17 Blind fools! Which is more important—the gold or the Temple that makes the gold sacred? 18 And you say that to swear ‘by the altar’ is not binding, but to swear ‘by the gifts on the altar’ is binding. 19 How blind! For which is more important—the gift on the altar or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20 When you swear ‘by the altar,’ you are swearing by it and by everything on it. 21 And when you swear ‘by the Temple,’ you are swearing by it and by God, who lives in it. 22 And when you swear ‘by heaven,’ you are swearing by the throne of God and by God, who sits on the throne. (Matthew 23:16–22 (NLT)
The Jews had developed a hierarchy of oaths. I know, it sounds silly, but it’s true! They had decided that if they said, “I promise by God’s Temple” they didn’t have to keep the promise. But if they said “I promise by the gold in God’s Temple” they did have to keep their word. Behind these oaths they were calling on God as a witness to their honesty. Jesus got so frustrated by their ridiculous mental maneuverings that he nearly lost it! We’re almost as silly these days ourselves, friends. You really don’t know who to believe. Politicians tell lies and call them “alternate facts.”
It’s superstition, not spirituality, to think that God participates in this kind of deception. 1) God is not a petty tribal deity who can be manipulated by saying certain phrases in a certain way (That’s witchcraft!) 2) The God who created the universe and sustains it and us and everything else by his will and his Word is simply not into our superstitions of “If I don’t do this or that, then God will let me slide on the other!” or “If I do this little good thing here, God will overlook that bad thing over there!”
God will not be manipulated by our superstitions! God will not “overlook” our sins because we try to balance them with a little good deed here or there. God does not overlook sin and sins. God does, however, forgive sin and sins! God is a redeemer. God is a restorer. The pathway to that forgiveness and redemption is honesty from the heart, and not “swearing on a stack of Bibles!” Honest acknowledgement of our sin, and a sincere change of our thinking, leads to complete forgiveness, thorough cleansing, and full restoration to fellowship with God.
Father, Please make us aware of our sins and “superstitions!” Keep us on the pathway of conviction, confession, and repentance that leads to life and joy! In Jesus’ Name!