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Monday, August 20, 2018

2018.08.20 Hopewell @Home ▫ Matthew 7:13-23, 16:18-28

Questions for Littles: What do the scribes and Pharisees ask about in vv1-2? What question does Jesus ask back in v3? What had God commanded, according to v4a? What had God threatened, according to v4b? But what did the scribes and Pharisees say to people (v5)? What did their saying end up doing to God’s commandment (v6)? What does Jesus call them in v7? Who had prophesied about them? With what did Isaiah say they draw near (v8)? But where was their heart? What did Isaiah say about their worship (v9)? Why was their worship empty and pointless—who/what was coming up with their way of worshiping God? 
From the Scripture for this week’s sermon, we learned two of the most important reasons for being Reformed: to be free from the commandments of men, and to serve the Lord sincerely and truly.

The scribes were the Bible scholars of the church, and the Pharisees were the local religious leaders of the church. As far as their understanding of what the Scriptures taught, Jesus said that they actually understood the Bible rightly (cf. Mt 23:1-3), but where they fell into serious error was in coming up with their own things to add to Scripture (Mt 23:4), which resulted in focusing on the outside instead of the heart (Mt 23:5-7). The only solution is to cut all man-made teaching and authority out of the church (Mt 23:8-12).

That’s exactly the issue in our passage in Matthew 15. It’s not like their ideas sound bad on the face of things: make sure to wash your hands before you eat, and devote a certain portion of your wealth to the service of God that you refuse to use for anything else.

But the folly of adding their own ideas alongside God’s Word can be seen in the results. When our ideas are treated in the same way as God’s Word, our ideas are being given too much weight. So it’s not surprising that when push comes to shove, God’s Word then ends up being given too little weight.

Focusing too much upon hands that are soiled with dirt ends up in their neglecting the more important problem of hearts that are soiled with sin. Focusing too much upon guarding funds for serving the church ends up in their neglecting the more important duty of taking care of their parents.

There is something even worse than messing up our theology or messing up our obedience: messing up our relationship with God.

When we go away from God’s law to our own definition of what love is, God says about us, “Your heart is far from Me.” My heart far from God?! What could be worth falling into such a condition?!

When, in addition to what God has commanded for worship, we add what feels worshipful to us, God says about us, “in vain they worship Me.” If God says our worship is worthless, how can it even matter if we or anyone else likes it?

Ultimately, this is the entire point of being Reformed: Scripture alone defines our doctrine; Scripture alone defines love and obedience to God; Scripture alone defines how to worship God. Why? Because we want to draw near to Him with the whole heart, and we want to render unto Him worship that He values.

Adding any ideas of men, however well-meaning or good-looking to us, just isn’t worth the cost!
What negative criticism have you heard of being “Reformed”? How would you answer that now?
Suggested Songs: ARP119B “How Can a Young Man Cleanse His Way?” or TPH119B “How Shall the Young…?”

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