Don’t Be a Hypocrite

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Understanding the Word

Matthew 23:13–36 (ESV)

13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in. 15 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.

16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ 17 You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred? 18 And you say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.’ 19 You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20 So whoever swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 21 And whoever swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it. 22 And whoever swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who sits upon it.

23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 24 You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!

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.

27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, 30 saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. 33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? 34 Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, 35 so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. 36 Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.

Understanding and Applying the Word

After warning his disciples about the Pharisees and scribes in the first twelve verses, Jesus turned to the religious leaders and told them what he thought of their religion. Jesus pulled no punches and repeatedly called the scribes and Pharisees “hypocrites.” Even today, no one would like to be labeled in this way. In Greek culture, the word hypocrite was used to speak of the actor who played many roles in stage performances. An actor would change roles by simply changing masks.

In calling the Pharisees and scribes hypocrites, Jesus condemned them for saying and teaching one thing, but living differently. Often, their external actions may have seemed holy and righteous, but their true inner identities were far from what their external actions indicated. All they did was for religious observance or to be noticed by others. They were not sincere followers of God who were motivated by love. The danger in their teaching and in their own lives was that it was easy to mistake external rule keeping with true devotion to the Lord.

We must be careful even today that we do not fall into the mistake and trap of these leaders. Religious observance for the sake of religion does not please God. Our Lord desires worshipers who follow and obey out of love and a sincere heart. This is only possible when we realize we cannot do that on our own and that we need the Lord to change us from the inside out. When we repent of our sin and call out to be saved, God pours out his Spirit into our lives and gives us new life as a new creation. Through our transformed life and the continual presence of the Holy Spirit, we are able to love the Lord and worship him in sincerity.

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What Is Our Motivation?

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Reading the Word

Luke 14:12–14 (ESV)

12 He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. 13 But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

In Luke 14:7-11, Jesus addressed the issue of guests seeking to be honored by their hosts. In today’s reading, Jesus turned to speak to the host. One should not simply invite those who are able to repay through reciprocal invitations in the future. Instead, one should invite the “poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind.” These represent those who are not able to repay, which shows true generosity on the part of the host. Such genuine love and giving to others will be rewarded by God in the end.

We must remember that our motivations for our actions are just as important as the actions themselves. Why did you help someone? Was it to be recognized? Was it so you could tell people about it later? Or, was it because you wanted to please the Lord and show others the same love that God has shown to you? In the end, the only thing that will matter is what God thinks of what we have said and done. He knows both the external actions and the internal motivations. May God’s approval be our heart’s desire.

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The Light of the World

Thanks for reading Shaped by the Word. I am at a conference this week and unable to post devotional content. I am still posting a suggested Scripture reading each day. My regular posts should resume tomorrow (Thursday).

John 8:12-20 (ESV)

12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” 13 So the Pharisees said to him, “You are bearing witness about yourself; your testimony is not true.” 14 Jesus answered, “Even if I do bear witness about myself, my testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going.15 You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one. 16 Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is true, for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father who sent me. 17 In your Law it is written that the testimony of two people is true. 18 I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me.” 19 They said to him therefore, “Where is your Father?” Jesus answered, “You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” 20 These words he spoke in the treasury, as he taught in the temple; but no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come.

The Woman Caught in Adultery

I am away at a conference for a few days and will not be able to post devotional content. I will post daily Bible readings from the life of Christ. Thanks for reading!

John 7:53-8:11 (ESV)

53 They went each to his own house, 1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.2 Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. 3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst 4 they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. 5 Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” 6 This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. 7 And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. 9 But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

Read Your Bible Every Day in 2019

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Tomorrow is a new year. We all know what that means: New Year’s resolutions. Most of us have made them. Many of us will make them again this year. Why not make one that will have an eternal significance? Resolve to read your Bible every day in 2019.

If that is something you would like to do, I would like to help. Subscribe to this page and follow along with the daily posts. Each day will include a passage from Scripture and some of my personal thoughts on what the passage means. The entire post will take no more than a few minutes to read. I know you can do it! And I know you will benefit from reading God’s word every day.

In 2019, we will read through the life of Jesus Christ together from the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). Please join us. All you have to do is subscribe to the page and take the time to read the new posts each day. It is going to be a great year!

Read Your Bible Every Day in 2019

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Read the Bible every day in 2019! Subscribe to this page and follow along with Shaped by the Word as we read through the Life of Christ beginning January 1. Be sure to invite your friends!

The Life of Christ in 2019

Bible Study Coffee Cup

Want to read the Bible every day in 2019? Subscribe to this page and follow along through the Life of Christ beginning January 1. Be sure to invite your friends!

1 Year Later

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A few days ago marked the one year anniversary of Shaped by the Word. I have enjoyed reading the Bible and writing down some of my thoughts over the last year and I am thankful that there are a few people who take the time to read my posts. The site has continued to grow steadily and I hope that it has helped to encourage daily Scripture reading for those who have subscribed.

To those of you who are regular readers, I would like to get your feedback. What do you like about the site? What would you suggest to improve it? Do you find the posts helpful? Do you wish they were longer? Do you wish they were shorter?

Comment on this post or send me an email through the “Contact” page with your thoughts. I would really like to know how to make this more beneficial for all of us. Thanks again for reading. I look forward to hearing from you!

 

Satan Thrown Down

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Reading the Word

Revelation 12:7–12 (ESV)

7 Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, 8 but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. 9 And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. 10 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. 11 And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. 12 Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”

Understanding and Applying the Word

One question the interpreter must answer about this passage is if it describes a future or past event. If past, this is a description of the original upheaval in heaven when Satan and his followers were cast out. From that time on, they work to deceive mankind.

Many, if not most, would interpret this passage as speaking not of Satan’s original fall, but of a future battle against the forces of heaven. In this view, Satan and his followers wage one last battle in heaven, but are defeated and cast out of heaven completely. However, Satan and his followers then work furiously to disrupt things on earth.

This passage tells us that Satan, the accuser of believers, will one day be defeated. He will have a time when he disrupts the world, but his time is short. God will end his ways once and for all at a future date and Satan and his angels will be cast into the lake of fire (cf. Revelation 20:7-10). God’s plans are set and the deceiver of this world’s days are numbered. Let us rejoice in that truth!

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!

The Woman and the Dragon

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Reading the Word

Revelation 12:1–6 (ESV)

1 And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. 2 She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. 3 And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. 4 His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. 5 She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, 6 and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days.

Understanding and Applying the Word

This great sign of a woman and the mention of sun, moon, and stars reminds those familiar with the Old Testament Scriptures of Joseph’s dream in Genesis 37. Here we have a description of the nation of Israel represented by the pregnant woman who will give birth to a child. This child is Jesus the promised deliverer. The dragon is Satan who attempts to destroy the child and sabotage the redemptive plans of God.

Satan may attempt to destroy the plans and purposes of God, but he cannot and will not. In fact, as we read throughout Scripture, Satan’s attacks against God only serve to further God’s plans. We see this especially at the cross where Satan stands behind those who would crucify Jesus. However, Jesus’ death was needed as a sacrifice for mankind’s sin.

We serve a sovereign God and all things work together for his purposes. He protects those who belong to him and we can be encouraged that his plans cannot be thwarted by anyone or anything.

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!