Eternal Savior Lutheran Church

A member of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

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Lafayette, CO 80026
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August 26 – Pentecost 13 – Pious Rejection Of God’s Word – Mark 7:1-13

Introduction:  Grace be to you and peace, from God our Father, and from our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.  Our text is the Gospel Lesson just read, from Mark 7.  We begin with prayer.

Dear fellow disciples of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ:

  • It is a terrible aspect of our fallen sinful nature that God’s Word often strikes us as being unreasonable and unwise – or at the least distasteful to us.  When we are confronted with this experience we have some options and some decisions to make.  Of course, we could simply acquiesce to God’s Word, accounting Him to be wiser than we are – and this is the principle message of the Old Testament Lesson we just heard.  But this is not our first impulse.  Of course, there are always some who have no concern whatsoever for what God says – and they have no problem simply admitting that they don’t agree with God’s Word. 
  • Within the church what commonly happens is that people don’t want to appear disrespectful toward God, but still cannot tolerate His Word – and so they go to work figuring out a way to appear “pious” and “godly” while at the same time rejecting, circumventing, and ignoring God’s Word.  This is Jesus criticism of the Pharisees – in response to their nit-picking at His disciples.  This behavior in rejecting God’s Word but still acting as if respectful of God is grotesque hypocrisy that is absolutely repugnant to God.  And we must take great care not to do this – lest God’s judgment fall upon us.
  • We see in our lessons that:

 

I.  Religious And Pious Rejection Of God’s Word Has Always Been Quite Common, Even Within The Church

 

A.  We See In The OT Lesson This Phenomena In The OT Church Of God

 

                    1.  Acting submissive but in hypocrisy

 

OT Lesson:  “Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor Me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of Me is a commandment taught by men.”

 

                    2.  Hiding evils from God in impenitence

 

OT Lesson:  “Ah, you who hide deep from the LORD your counsel, whose deeds are in the dark, and who say, ‘Who sees us?  Who knows us?’  You turn things upside down.”

 

                    3.  So also they were creating “gods” for themselves to their own liking

 

OT Lesson:  “Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing made should say of its maker, ‘He did not make me’; or the thing formed say of Him Who formed it, ‘He has no understanding’?”

 

B.  The Same Dynamic Was In Full Force Within The Judaism Of Jesus’ Day, Creating More Man-Made “Laws” While Rejecting God’s Word And the Lord Jesus Christ’

 

Text:  “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘this people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me; in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’  You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men. . . .  You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition. . . . thus making void the Word of God by your tradition that you have handed down.”

 

C.  So Also This Same Dynamic Is Alive And Well Within The Church Today

 

1.  Some rejecting the God of Holy Scripture, The Almighty Creator, and “re-inventing” a god to suit themselves – evolutionists, for example

 

2.  Others void God’s commandments and justify wicked behavior – like abortion, homosexuality, easy divorce, and other heterosexual immorality

 

3.  Still others are eager to void God’s Word in our Epistle Lesson [Eph. 5], regarding the proper relationships and roles of husbands and wives because it conflicts with our cultural sensitivities or our sinful desires

 

Statement:

  • The reality is clearly stated – the “Potter,” God, should not be regarded or treated as the clay.  Yet when we reject His Word this is exactly what we are doing. 
  • And when we reject His Word and “redefine” ourselves, our roles, and what is “righteous” behavior, we are putting ourselves in the place of the Potter – asserting that we are better able than He is to determine who and what we are. 
  • And when we try to put a “religious” veneer on this kind of behavior, it is simply intolerable to God – and His hand of judgment must fall upon us. 

 

Application:

  • So, rather than succumb to the temptation of continuing to justify ourselves, we are rather called to repent of our innate rebellion against God’s Word – and to seek His gracious forgiveness and mercy in Christ Jesus.  The worst thing that we can do is to fall into the trap of the Pharisees – and think that our own wisdom and discernment will prevail against God’s Word.
  • But if we repent and confess God will forgive us and have mercy on us.  And if we are truly repentant we will cease and desist from our rebellion against His Word, and will submit to God’s Word out of reverence for Christ. 

 

Transition:  And surely this is God’s will for us, so:

 

II.  Let Us Take Care To Understand God’s Word And To Humbly Submit To It – Out Of Reverence For Christ

 

A.  First And Foremost Let Be Sure To Understand Christ’s Blessed Gifts Of Redemption

 

Epistle:  “Just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word, so that He might present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.”

 

B.  And In Reverence For Christ, Let Us Also Submit To His Blessed Ways Of Love – Which Are Counter Intuitive To Our Sinful Nature, And Counter Cultural To Those Captured By The Darkness Of This Fallen World, Remembering What Will Ultimately Befall them

 

OT Lesson:  “the wisdom of their wise men shall perish . .  . the discernment of their discerning men shall be hidden . . . those who hide deep from the Lord their counsel, whose deeds are in the dark.”


Statement:  Again, we have choices and options when confronted by the Word of God – and much of what influences us is dark, wicked, and impious.  And the temptation of self-justifying hypocrisy is always present.

Application:  Instead, let us turn to Christ in repentance, and rejoice in His cleansing forgiveness and mercy.  And let us grow in love and reverence for Him – so that we are constantly compelled to submit to His Word of wisdom and love.

 

Conclusion:  The temptations are great, and they are all around us – but pray God that He enable us to resist them and to remain in the blessedness of His love.  Amen.

Votum:  And the peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds in the true faith, which is in Christ Jesus, even unto life everlasting, Amen.