Not the unwashed hands but the unwashed heart

<Matthew 15: 1-20>
<Mark 7: 1- 23>

Jerusalem was the headquarters of Christianity.
The words of the Pharisees and Jews hold weightage and they came to Jesus about the traditions that were broken on ceremonial hand-washing before eating.
They hold fast to their traditions, rituals and many rules taught by men, but Jesus saw that their hearts have been against the Lord. These people knew God’s commandment, yet do things according to their own ways and making others follow their ways as well.

EMPTY WORSHIP
Jesus rebuked against empty worship.
Empty worship has the danger of giving men spiritual bondage through the works of traditions and rituals. These traditions and rituals include the typical routines of praying, serving in ministries etc.

– Men may become satisfied by outward works and outcomes, rather than the state of their inner hearts- the heart that binds to God.
– Men go into a self-driven zeal to worship the Lord, which stems from our pride when we have the ability to do what is right by our own hands.
– Empty worship are usually set by human standards that increases in self reliance and nullify God’s sovereignty more and more.
– There is nothing wrong with traditions that strengthen our faith and help us to remember God’s goodness. Yet, we need to be wary of those that are drifting us apart from loving God and loving men. Those that are stringent in actions and carries motive that is not purely for the glory of God.

“Outward worship must firstly come from your inward worship of the spirit with the Lord.”- Deaconess Hooi Ching

“Salvation is not in the works but in Jesus Christ alone.”- Deaconess Hooi Ching

“All you need to do is come to do the Lord who made these commandments, with a repentant heart.” -Deaconess Hooi Ching

HEART FOR THE GOSPEL
The one thing that the Pharisees and Jews are missing out is a heart that works for the gospel.

– There are two kinds of response when one hears the true gospel: feeling offended or feeling broken. For the offended, their pride is being challenged and they become defensive in their arguments to justify their own interest. For the broken, it is for one that is able to respond to God’s grace in the face of seeing their own sins. This is the genuine heart that God values and favours.
– God is not concerned about our unwashed hands, but the unwashed heart. Our heart is always threatened by the attacks of sins and we are unable to wash it ourselves because we cannot control our fallenness. We need the blood of our Savior, Jesus Christ, to influence our hearts.
– The way to sanctify ourselves again is not to jump into the process of washing, but to firstly receive forgiveness from Christ. Paradoxically, our sins are washed when we see how sinful and helpless we are on our own. God gives all who are repentant a new heart and a new spirit to obey His commandments in our inabilities.

“Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.

Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against them.” – Romans 4: 7-8

“God does not give bondages. He gives freedom.” – Deaconess Hooi Ching

BEING LOVED AND LOVING RIGHT
“If you love Me, obey My commandments.”- John 14:15
God loves us the same, whether we had the past of being offended or broken, whether we have been weak to following practices and works, instead of seeking for the Holy Spirit’s voice. When we come to Him in contriteness right now, he blesses us with a brand new start, a brand new heart that desires and pursues His likeness.

– The important thing now is to introspect and pray on our intentions and the starting point of our decisions. Are they stemmed from the heart for God or the heart for self-benefit?
– Be challenged by God to grow in our magnitude to love and uncover the hidden sins in us so that we can deal with it in truth.
– We need to meet Pharisee-like people in our lives today. It is not for us to judge these people because God is always doing new things every day. So we need to continue loving the different people God put around us because His salvation has the ability to cover the unexpected.

“We may all be victims of becoming Pharisee-like. But let us strive to be recovering Pharisees. Even though God condemns but He is also full of forgiveness to reveal to us how much is required to be repaired within us. Do not fear but let God’s blood continue to cover us.”

Message by Deaconess Tay Hooi Ching from Life Church and Mission Singapore for Emmanuel Youth Fellowship.

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