Woe to the Pretenders of Godliness

Some teachers of the truth should be listened to but not imitated. Simply holding a leadership position in a church or preaching a good sermon does not mean we are godly. The Pharisees were often a picture of this. Not everything they said was false. They taught the law of Moses, and this is why Jesus said of them, “Observe what they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach but do not practice” (Matthew 23:3).

Sometimes bad people teach good things. The problem is they do it all to be seen by others. Even the titles some choose for themselves reveal their desire for self-glory. Jesus told the disciples not to be called “rabbi” because they were all brothers, and they had one rabbi, Jesus. Some desire to be called fathers, but there is only one Father in heaven. Know this, “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Matthew 23:12).

The greatest among professing Christians will be those who serve. Too many self-proclaimed Christians seek worldly exaltation; even their evangelism twists their followers into self-glorying children of hell (Matthew 23:15).

They are blind guides who make absurd exceptions to the word of God to please themselves. However, the word of God continues to condemn them even though they use linguistic manipulations to attempt to escape its grasp.

They love to virtue signal the minor things, but they neglect the heart of Christ’s teachings. As Jesus said, “They strain out gnats but swallow a camel” (Matthew 13:24). They are clean on the outside but filthy inside; externally spiritual but internally dead.

They claim allegiance to Jesus, but they would have nodded in approval if they were there on crucifixion day. Today, we see their disdain for him in how they twist his teachings to fit their desires. All of the evil they do will fall upon themselves. Whoever digs a pit will fall into it (Proverbs 26:27).

The question remains, is this us? If we read this and see none of this in ourselves, we are the most vulnerable. Every servant who has a tender heart for the things of God will recognize their propensity for hypocrisy. They will cry, “Jesus, keep me near the cross.” A message like this will not cause them to expand their chest and say, “Thank you, Lord, that I am not like the people described here.” Instead, they will beat their breast and say, “Lord, have mercy upon me, a sinner.” We must humble ourselves before the Lord. If we continue to exalt ourselves, there is only one suitable warning. Woe to the pretenders of godliness, for they will not stand on the day of judgment.

-D. Eaton

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