Jesus warned us to be aware of the “leaven of the Pharisees” which is hypocrisy; superficially religious people who put on a mask portraying an image they are not. So if you want to quench the fire in someone’s life, if you want to turn people away from a loving relationship with God, then wearing the mask of hypocrisy is the best way to do it!
In today’s society, so many people both young and old, but especially young people, when asked if they attend church reply “No way, what a bunch of hypocrites”. Jesus said that people would know us by our love and that in doing good, showing kindness, mercy and grace we would produce fruit to harvest. So here is today’s trillion dollar question, “Do you have this kind of effect on the people in your life or are you wearing a mask that portrays you as somebody you are not?
It’s time to look into a mirror at our own natural faces; examining ourselves to see what we are really like. If we see someone who attends church, prayer breakfasts and does regular 5:00 am devotions but does not really love others, help or care about their neighbors then maybe it’s time for us to repent of the “leaven of the Pharisees”.
When having dinner with one of the Pharisees, Jesus opted out of ceremonially washing his hands before eating as was the Jewish custom of the day. When questioned why He didn’t wash His hands Jesus replied “Now, you Pharisees make the outside of the cup and dish clean, but your inward part is full of greed and wickedness.”
The Old Covenant was full of rules and regulations that the Jews tried to keep and when they couldn’t they began to re-write adding additional laws to accommodate their sin. In contrast, the New Covenant that Jesus made with us was of the Spirit of God which was designed to fill the believer with love, grace and mercy towards other people. The New Covenant was not the rigid, cold letter of the law written on stone but rather warm, living letters written on the soft tissue of the human heart!
Paul wrote to the Christians living in Corinth “clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh that is, of the heart.” 2 Corinthians 3:3.
The body of a Christian is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Before Jesus came the Holy Spirit would fill and reside in the temple but now we become holy vessels to house the Holy Spirit. All the vessels used in the temple were considered “holy” because they were set aside and only used in service to God. The word “holy” means “set apart” so we too are to be “holy or set apart” for God’s use.
Just listen to the Holy Spirit’s inspiration in Paul’s writting “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down but not destroyed.”
What great promises of God! Remember what Jesus told his disciples the night he went to die on the cross “In this world you will have tribulation but be of good cheer because I have overcome the world.” Our physical bodies are growing old and subject to tribulation however, our great hope of eternal life rests in the fact that Jesus did not stay in the grave! His bones will never be found because He lives and because He lives we too will share in eternal life.
“For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” God has given His Spirit to us as a guarantee of our inheritance. The Holy Spirit is like a seal put on an important document which can only be opened by the one with the authority to open it.
“So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:6-10.
The only way to please God is to have faith in Him, remove our masks and love one another in word and deed; thus we put a smile on His face!