‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’ Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. “Listen,” he said, “and try to understand. It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.” Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you realize you offended the Pharisees by what you just said?”Matthew chapter 15, verses 8-12; from the New Living Translation (NLT)
Ever given much thought to the words that come out of your mouth? That your words have an impact on others? Even your relationship with God? Some say, “It’s not what you say, but what you do that matters!” There’s no doubt about it, what we do matters! But did you know? That what you say also matters? It’s not what you intend to say, but what you actually say that matters! Jesus, Himself, said that what we say matters: It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.
It’s a given–we can be and are often Masters of Deception when it comes to our words. But eventually, sooner or later (usually sooner) our words will reveal our heart. That’s exactly what Jesus is saying. Let’s get the context of today’s passage. It all started over washing your hands. (Remember 2020?) But it was more than washing hands. It was all about their teaching; i.e. their words! The Pharisees were big on what they believed it meant to believe in God. If a person wanted to connect with God–and hopefully God connect with them–it was to be found only in their words/teachings!
Now, fast forward to the twenty-first century. The current Pharisees of our day is Progressive Theology. I seriously doubt that they consider themselves Pharisees. To the contrary, they see themselves as the liberators; liberators of ancient and out-of-touch-with-the-times teachings. But remember the true heart of the Pharisees: If a person wanted to connect with God it was to be found only in their teachings! It should seem to the rational thinking person, that progressive theology is built around a single verse: John chapter 15, verse 17: “Love one another.”
The words that come out of their mouths are that nothing else matters, except that we Love one another! Nothing wrong with love others, is it? Absolutely not! But. . .I said BUT–that’s not all the Jesus said, nor what The Bible teaches us. So their words are more about morality–but without salvation. Their words are more about connecting with God–but without dealing with our sin problem that prevents us from connecting with God. And thus they flung wide open the doors to what was taking hold people’s thinking in the 1960’s–the idea of situational ethics. The situation determines the ethos.
Their words are about being liberated! And who doesn’t want to be liberated? I sure do!!! But I have a serious question for my Progressive friends: How does the approval of a person’s preferential sin liberate them? Oh, and that brought up another serious question: You talk a lot about justice, mercy, and kindness. But how can this happen without admitting we all have a sin problem? You want to “fix” systems but ignore the root cause. I remind you of what Jesus said about the Pharisees of His day: ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’
Now, I know I’ve just struck a nerve with my Progressive friends. And some might want to say to me what the disciples said to Jesus: Do you realize you just offended the Progressives? And’s another problem in our culture. Everyone is afraid of offending everyone else. And Progressives would chastise us Traditionalists by saying that you can’t love if you offend someone’s feelings or beliefs. Umm…wonder what Jesus thought when his disciples pointed out the obvious?
And so I speak to all of you readers: Be both careful and wise with your words. The words that come out of our mouths carry weight–and have an impact on others. While Progressives talk only about love (by the way, the fundamentalists talk only about sin), their hearts are far from God. Words do matter. Choose your words–words that are filled with both Truth and Grace! And remember, that there will always exist and tension between The Truth and Grace. So, let God deal with that tension.
2 thoughts on “IS IT IN OR IS IT OUT?”
Brother Randy, I’m in total agreement about what you’ve written about how our words express the true content of our hearts and how progressive theology fails to take into consideration the concept of individual sin or for that matter our fallen sin nature. But I would not compare progressive Christians to Pharisees. Jesus’s biggest problem with the Pharisees, in my opinion, wasn’t so much what they said but the fact that they were hypocrites. They said and did what they did to gain the praises of men ,not God. The Sadducees on the other hand, rejected most of the writings of the Old Testament and in an attempt to make life easier for themselves, they went along with their Roman overlords. This to my understanding would make the progressive wing of Christianity more like the Sadducees, reject the supernatural, miracles, the ongoing manifestations of the Holy Spirit and comply with the Zeitgeist of this culture in order to be politically correct. That’s my take for what it’s worth.
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