Monday, January 27, 2020

2020.01.27 Hopewell @Home ▫ Matthew 15:1-20

Questions from the Scripture text: Who came to Jesus from where (Matthew 15:1)? What do they accuse his disciples of transgressing (Matthew 15:2)? Why—what were they doing? What does Jesus accuse them of transgressing (Matthew 15:3)? Why were they transgressing? What had God commanded (Matthew 15:4a)? What penalty showed God’s seriousness about this (verse 4b)? But what did they say one could do with something—thereby making it unavailable for honoring father or mother (Matthew 15:5)? What does the tradition end up doing to the commandment (Matthew 15:6)? What does Jesus call them in Matthew 15:7? Who had prophesied about something similar? With what had God said they were near to Him and honored Him (Matthew 15:8)? In what way were they far from Him? What did He say about their worship (Matthew 15:9a)? What made their worship empty (verse 9b)? Whom did Jesus call to Himself in Matthew 15:10? What did He say did not defile a man (even though the old tradition said so, Matthew 15:11a)? With what Scriptural teaching was this idea in competition (verse 11b)? What is the eternal problem with the Pharisees (Matthew 15:12-13)? What is their situational problem (Matthew 15:14)? Who else doesn’t see very well for the moment (Matthew 15:15-16)? What doesn’t defile a man (Matthew 15:17)? What does defile a man (Matthew 15:18-20)?
Only God decides what is true religion. Tradition about religion always eventually displaces God’s Word about religion. Only God decides what are good works. Manmade ideas about good works always eventually displace God’s Word about good works. Only God decides what is true worship.

Regardless of what sounds like it is coming out of man’s mouth and off of man’s lips, if he has decided for himself how to worship, he has put himself in the place of God. He may be full of sentimental notions about the idea of God that he thinks he is honoring, but God’s own verdict is, “their heart is far from Me.”

In Isaiah 29:13, God is judging His people by blinding their eyes. With open Bibles, they are yet blinded—unable to see that the Lord commands the specific way of drawing near to Him and fearing Him, but still making vain attempts to draw near and honor Him. Now Jesus takes this and says that the Pharisees are voluntarily doing this to themselves. Whether our traditions are newer or older, whatever is manmade instead of Scripture-derived in worship always does this: makes our hearts far from Him and our worship worthless.

There are two more issues that we must see in what happens here, especially in Matthew 15:12-14: legalism and powerlessness.

One aspect of legalism in worship is that, when manmade ideas are introduced into the service, others must suddenly obey men rather than God. In corporate worship, so long as the church only does what Scripture commands, all are being led by God and obeying God. But as soon as a manmade idea enters public worship, the whole congregation is being made to do what man has invented.

We are in a spiritual war, and the weapons we must use cannot be fleshly but must be spiritual (Ephesians 5-6; 2 Corinthians 3-5, 2 Corinthians 10). Whatever comes from us is fleshly. It cannot reach up to heaven. It cannot make worship true. It cannot do anything to reduce filthiness or guiltiness. It cannot do anything to produce spiritual life. Our ideas are lifeless, powerless, helpless. Only what God has given carries with it the attending of God’s own power and therefore has in it life, and power, and help. This is one reason the favorite call-to-worship in the Reformation was Psalm 124:8, “Our help is in the Name of Yahweh, who made the heavens and the earth.”

Indeed. He alone is our help. So, on His day, let us rejoice and be glad in Him!
Why is it dangerous for us to have anything in public worship that is not commanded by God? If the worship is commanded by God, what does this say about the way in which we ought to be participating in it?
Suggested Songs: ARP22C “I’ll Praise You in the Gathering” or TPH266 “Thou Art the Way”

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