January 23

Matthew 15:1-20


It isn’t unusual for a person who is bound up in religious pride to come against the one who has freedom in Christ. What do we do about the religiously proud? In verse 14, Jesus says, “Let them alone.” In the Amplified version, it says, “ignore” or “forget” them. Don’t pay them any attention. In the Greek, the meaning is, “to send away or bid to depart, as in a divorce.” Another meaning is “to leave by not taking as a companion.”  It’s interesting that the Pharisees called Jesus “a friend of sinners.” It seems as though Jesus would rather have dinner with a sinner than a proud religious leader. Stay away from the spiritually arrogant that have no real spiritual understanding – they will drag you down the wrong path. 


Jesus saw the Pharisees as leading the blind into a pit. Leading a blind person into a pit sounds like a terrible thing to do, and this is the illustration Jesus used for the proud. In Deuteronomy 27:18 it says, “Cursed is the one who makes the blind to wander off the road.” That’s exactly the picture Jesus is painting of the self-righteous – the blind leading the blind off course. 


Christ revealed their lofty, superior attitudes that pointed to duty when accusing the disciples of a wrong by not washing their hands. This was not a hygiene issue, this was a Jewish purifying ritual issue. The disciples weren’t following the rules! 


Jesus turned the accusation back on the Pharisees, referring to the Law on honoring parents. He said the Pharisees made the commandment of no effect by their traditions. The tradition was that money that should be used to care for aging parents was “set apart” for God, but then actually used for themselves. In verse 9, “… teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” 


We have to be careful not to become a “know-it-all Christian.” Any person can get off track when they start to get puffed up with their knowledge. A humble person will receive God’s grace to stay on track. We will have discernment between what is actually a commandment from God instead of a commandment from a person. God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6). Our aim is to stay at His feet, amen? 


Exodus 7-8


Sin is a bondage that doesn’t want to let us go. In Romans 6, Paul gives us a message that before we were Christ’s, we were slaves to sin. That means that sin was in control. God wants us freed from sin and brought under the lordship of Christ instead. 


When I read about Pharaoh and the plagues, I think about when we were under the consequences of sin. If we turned just to get out of the punishment, we may have turned, but we haven’t surrendered. God wants the full surrender.  


When a person doesn’t yield, he or she is like Pharaoh, and the hearts closes; it hardens. 


The Bible says God hardened Pharaoh’s heart. Why would God harden Pharaoh’s heart and cause more difficulty on the Egyptians? Verse 5 says, “And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord.” God was showing Himself, not just once, twice, or three times. Over and over, to win their hearts, God sent signs. 


With each plague, God tells Pharaoh, “Let My people go.” God is directly giving Pharaoh an order to let the children of Israel go to worship for three days; but Pharaoh, over and over, resists the Almighty God. 


We also see Moses interceding for Egypt, and we see the plagues leave after Moses stands in the gap. Pharaoh still resists. 


Even when the Egyptian magicians said, “This is the finger of God,” Pharaoh still resisted Jehovah (Exodus 8:19). 


God was trying to get the Egyptians to know Him. He also was trying to convince the Israelites. In Exodus 8:22, “in order that you may know the I am the Lord in the midst of the land.”


It’s far better to obey God quickly than to drag it out. What a great lesson for us to live in God’s abundant life!


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