THE spiritual disciplines of prayer and fasting are fertile grounds where hypocrisy blooms. The radical teaching of our Lord, Jesus Christ, not only exposes this sin but offers both spiritual and practical escapes so we may detour from this path of hypocrisy. The teachings of the Master were directly opposed to the popular practice of his time. The principles Jesus taught were relevant not only in his time but remain a timeless truth which honors the Lord!
We need to remember the exact...What, exactly, is the issue? What verse is to be applied? Avoid the excess (misguided application of a biblical truth); detect the extreme (no text in support of and wrongly applied); refuse to excuse. After getting the context and content of the scripture we must also leave space for the mysterious...meaning, leave this to God! The application of this truth is to be taken individually and congregationally. Let the instruction from the word become a conviction of the heart...a supernaturally planted conviction of the Holy Spirit that releases us from religious rigidity into the freedom in Christ as we freely relate to Abba!
Jesus rescues us from the artificiality of religion into a life-transforming freedom while we relate to ABBA in spiritual authenticity! In our attempt to be spiritually authentic, we bear the pain, see the ugliness of our own hypocrisy and go through the process that teaches us to desperately become dependent upon God to lead and walk with us on the right path of grace instead of religious rules.
Here are our directions...first we learn the don’ts, then we understand and apply the dos to the issue. Hopefully, we end with a concrete action from whatever conviction the Spirit of God brings into our hearts and in our church. Out of these we become testimonies of authenticity and grace amidst the strong presence and popular approval of a lifestyle of artificiality and a perverted version of freedom and authenticity. At the end of the discourse, we will leave a big space for all of us to pray in silence...allowing an initial application to the reflections of Jesus.
Underline the restriction and comparisons
• Don’t be like hypocrites (v.5)
This refers to persons who live in a lifestyle of hypocrisy. Learn to identify and detect them by their acts of praying publicly to be seen by men.
• Don’t be like them (v.7-8)
“Them” refers to a system practiced by other religions...some use the word gentiles. You don’t only identify the person who lives a hypocritical life but need to discreetly distance ourselves from the influence of religious groups that tolerate such hypocritical practices. There is no perfect religious group...this is about discerning spiritual influence. Charles Spurgeon was quoted “If you meet with a system of theology which magnifies man, flee from it as far as you can”.