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Looking Godly Over Loving God

The Gospel of Mark  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  43:27
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Introduction:
Good morning. If you have your Bibles let me invite you to open with me to the book of Mark chapter 6.
We will begin reading in verse 53 and then read through chapter 7 verse 13.
Mark 6:53–56 ESV
53 When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored to the shore. 54 And when they got out of the boat, the people immediately recognized him 55 and ran about the whole region and began to bring the sick people on their beds to wherever they heard he was. 56 And wherever he came, in villages, cities, or countryside, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and implored him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well.
Mark 7:1–13 ESV
1 Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, 2 they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. 3 (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands properly, holding to the tradition of the elders, 4 and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.) 5 And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” 6 And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “ ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; 7 in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ 8 You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” 9 And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ 11 But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban” ’ (that is, given to God)— 12 then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, 13 thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.”
Lets Pray
Verses 53-56 reminds the reader once again of Jesus’ popularity.
When he arrives to the other side of the sea… he is immediately recognized
People run to him no matter where he goes.
They run to him in the villages
in the cities
and in the countryside.
Everyone knows now, that Jesus is something special.
He is a healer.
Every where he goes, the effects of the fall are reversed in people’s lives.
Its as if the eternal kingdom of God is being experienced in the here and now by everyone who comes into contact with this Jesus.
But, not everyone is impressed.
In fact, some were infuriated.
Jesus was non-traditional.
He kept company with the worst of sinners.
His background was non-impressive.
He was not much to look at.
Yet he drew the crowds.
This was so infuriating to the religious status quo of the day…,
It was so frustrating, that some Jewish leaders even traveled in from the big city of Jerusalem to confront Jesus.
Its clear from this passage that the Pharisees and the Scribes are looking for something…
They are looking for something that they can use to discredit Jesus and his ministry.
In Mark chapter 7, they think they find something.
Mark 7:1–2 ESV
1 Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, 2 they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed.
Why was this a big deal?
COVID was not a recognized reality back then.
Hand sanitizer was not a thing back then.
In fact germs weren’t really a known thing back then.
Verse 2 is only notable if you recognize the Jewish tradition behind it.
Mark recognizes that non Jewish readers in Rome would be reading his gospel so he adds an explanatory editorial note here in verse 3.
This is also to our benefit. Verses 3-4 offer explanation.
Mark 7:3–4 ESV
3 (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands properly, holding to the tradition of the elders, 4 and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.)
Mark explains that Jews in that day held to what he called “the tradition of the elders”
And he says this “tradition of the elders” includes all kinds of rules about washing hands, cup, pots, vessels, and even dining couches so that they become ritually pure.
These traditions, however, are not laws that you can find anywhere in the Old Testament Scripture.
The Pharisees took the Old Testament Scripture and then they added and passed down their own oral tradition and then enforced it as authoritative for all of Israel.
The oral tradition was called the Mishnah.
It was a collection of man-made instructions which added to God’s law.
It was described as a “fence around God’s law”…, but it was a man-made fence.
It was a man-made fence, that they treated as if it were the authoritative words of God.
Jesus and his disciples, however, are caught ignoring the oral tradition that had been passed down.
So the Pharisees and the Scribes think they have caught Jesus in a morally questionable position.
Mark 7:5 ESV
5 And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?”
Now this is where the meat of the message begins.
How is Jesus going to respond to these highly religious people accusing him and his disciples of sin?
Jesus’ response here is different then anything we have seen from Jesus thus far.
Jesus’ response here is sharp,
its pointed,
and it quite literally cuts to the heart of the issue.
We have seen Jesus respond to the worst of sinners with gentleness....,
....but here to the religious elite he responds sharply.
He speaks clearly, and he pulls no punches.
Mark 7:6–9 ESV
6 And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “ ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; 7 in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ 8 You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” 9 And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!
The Pharisees question Jesus about man-made tradition.
And Jesus responds with God inspired Scripture.
He quotes from the book of Isaiah, but not without first defining the heart condition that he is about to address.
He refers to the Pharisees with the words, you hypocrites”
Listen to insight from one commentator on this word:
The Gospel according to Mark Recovering the True Intent of the Law (7:1–23)

When Jesus refers to the Pharisees as “hypocrites,” he takes a term from the theater meaning to play a part on stage. Especially in Greek theater, actors wore various masks according to the roles they impersonated. The word “hypocrite,” accordingly, comes to mean someone who acts a role without sincerity, hence a pretender.

The Pharisees in the gospels represent one of the most problematic and spiritually dangerous positions possible… It is the heart condition of a hypocrisy….
It is living the Christian life as a pretender.
And when we read Jesus’ confrontation of the Pharisees as hypocrites, we should read closely not so that we can condemn them as insane for missing who Jesus was, but we should read closely so as to not find ourselves in their same spiritual state.
We are going to look at three characteristics of the Pharisees in this text, three characteristics that we should search our hearts for, and repent of.

Truth #1 The Pharisees Loved to Look Godly More Than they Loved God

Mark 7:6–7 (ESV)
‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me;
7 in vain do they worship me'
There are all kinds of non-godly motivations for doing godly-looking things.
The Pharisees gave lip service to God,
all the while their deepest motivations were not out of an affection for God.
They spoke about God
They spoke about God-honoring things.
They spoke in Godly ways.
But they spoke not out of a genuine love for God, but rather as an effort to convince others that they were godly.
And because their lip service was essentially a lie, their worship was vain.
In other words. It was empty and worthless.
Their lip service to God was an attempt to secure other people’s affirmation and praise.
Now this sinful tendency manifests itself in several ways.
Let us not look to the Pharisees as if their heart disposition is unique to human existence.
This passage is in your Bible to warn you that this is one of the prominent ways that sin manifest itself.
This tendency shows up in the young hotshot preacher, who starts to care more about how he is perceived, more than whether the word of the Lord is heard.
But it also shows up in your temptation to hide all of your struggles from anyone else in order to preserve some sort of image of yourself that you would like pertrayed, rather than to actually be sanctified into the image that God has prepared.
This tendency shows up in the person who is always confessing sin in order to draw attention to themselves....
AND it also shows up in the person who absolutely never confesses sin because of how it might make them look.
In both cases, a love for looking Godly trumps love for God.
In both cases, we make ourselves out to be pretenders so that our our reputation may be in tact.

Truth #1 The Pharisees Loved to Look Godly More Than they Loved God

but that’s not all that we see in this text.
Mark 7:7–9 ESV
7 in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ 8 You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” 9 And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!

Truth #2 The Pharisees Valued Their Own Word More Than God’s Word

The Pharisees had a very high estimation of the value of their oral tradition, but they had too low of an estimation of the value of the Scripture’s that God inspired.
The Pharisees took what was the Word of God and they turned it into something it was never intended to be.
Rather than a word to submit to and be humbled by....
they turned it into a word that bolstered their own pride…
they turned it into a word they would Lord over others.
They used the Scriptures like a tool in their hand to wield in ways that seemed suitable and advantageous to them, rather than an authoritative word from God that they were to submit to.
They added to God’s word and twisted God’s word and ignored God’s word.
Ultimately they set themselves above God’s word.
We here in this church are convinced that our greatest need is not any man’s tradition or any man’s opinion,
We need to hear and respond to the authoritative Word of God as he has preserved it for us in the Scriptures.
You might have asked before what the greatest difference between a protestant church such as this one and a Roman Catholic church.
One of the greatest differences is our emphasis on Scripture alone as authoritative and sufficient for defining our doctrine and guiding our lives....
....whereas Roman Catholic doctrine elevates the tradition of the church passed down by the magistrate as an equal authority to the Scriptures.
This results in practices like penance, confession, the celibacy of the priesthood, prayers to Mary, and so on.
And we would say with Jesus, “You leave the commandment of God and hold fast to the tradition of men.
But this doesn’t just happen in whole religions of people… it happens in the individual heart.
Though we may not appeal to an oral tradition called the “tradition of the elders”.... or the tradition of the priesthood
We all find ourselves appealing to our own traditions as authoritative all the time.
I appeal to the “tradition of Brandon” all the time.
The tradition of Brandon takes all of my desires
and it takes all of my cultural expectations
and all of my assumptions of what I think should be
The tradition of Brandon seeks to justify the ways in which I do not submit to the word of God.
The tradition of Brandon puts me in the position of authority rather than God.
Beware of this sin of the Pharisees… the sin of putting yourself in the position of authority rather than God.
The biggest danger sign in the life of any disciple, is when they absolutely know God’s will for a situation......,,
they absolutely know what obedience looks like in light of God’s word…, and rather than submitting to God’s will… they chart their own path and write their own rules.
I get most fearful for the spiritual well being of a church member, when they know what the gospel implies for a situation and they willfully refuse God’s word.
Jesus actually transitions in verses 10-13 to provide an example of this
In verses 10-13, Jesus transitions to provide a pointed illustration of the Pharisaical heart.
Mark 7:10–13 ESV
10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ 11 But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban” ’ (that is, given to God)— 12 then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, 13 thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.”
In verses 10-11 Jesus quotes from God’s law about the very clear command of Scripture to honor father and mother…
and he transitions to address a scenario where this command is being ignored.
Now again, there is a word here that we are not familiar with in our context, and again Mark provides a brief editorial note.
Its the formal word “corban” and Mark defines it as “that is given to God”
According to the oral tradition of the elders…
To declare property or possessions as corban, was to dedicate them to the temple for use in a sort of a will.
It was an honorable thing…, no doubt something that these Pharisees encouraged people to do for their own benefit.....,
but occasionally people who declared the possessions as corban under the guidance of the religious leaders would come into a situation where they needed to sell or use those possessions.
In the case Jesus sites, the Pharisees would have encouraged someone to declare their property as corban, but then when their parents became ill or were needed to be cared for… the Pharisees would not allow the individual to use their possessions or property to care for their parents.
In other words, the Pharisees insisted that the individual uphold their promise of corban which was a man-made tradition, at the expense of actually caring for and honoring their parents which was a God-ordained commandment of the Lord.
Mark 7:12–13 ESV
12 then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, 13 thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.”
This is just the example that Jesus highlights, but it simply illustrates the common practice. .... “making void the word of God by your tradition”.
It is the picking and choosing of God’s commands that suit you…, and twisting things so that you can ignore those that don’t.
At the root of Jesus’ example here of corban… the Pharisees are ignoring Scripture and twisting tradition for their own benefit even at the expense of others.... and then justifying their decision as if it were a godly one.
This leads me to a final characteristic of the Pharisees seen in this text.

Truth #3 Pharisees Served Themselves More than Others

Hypocrisy in all of its forms is about self-preservation, self-glorification, and self-service even if it is at the expense of others.
All our pretending and all our ignoring of God’s word has consequences for not only ourselves, but for those around us.
The Pharisees used those around them as pawns in their own plan to pamper and praise themselves.
Hypocrisy may seem like a sin that occurs between just you and God, but its consequences are far reaching.
As we love looking godly more than God,
As we value our word more than Gods
We ultimately prioritize ourselves so much that we miss the needs of others all together.
Self-service becomes the ultimate service.
Church family beware of the Pharisaical heart, that does religious things but misses the heart of Jesus all together.
Beware of the Pharisaical heart, that pics and chooses which words of God will be authoritative.
Beware of the Pharisaical heart, that does religious things with an eye for being served rather than serving others.
Jesus responds to such a heart sharply and pointedly.
Now I want to transition into a three implications for how Jesus addresses these Pharisees.
Firstly,

Implication #1 God sees not only your actions, but he also sees your motivations.

He sees everything that you don’t want anyone else to see.
He sees things in you that perhaps you don’t even see in yourself.
Hypocrisy only ever fools others and yourself....
but it never fools the Lord.
Secondly,

Implication #2 God desires your affections, not just your actions.

God does not simply desire that you make moral decisions.
God is not concerned that you check off religious boxes.
He wants your heart.
He wants to be your greatest love.
He doesn’t want to be just the means to some other love,
like the affirmation of someone else,
or the praise of someone else,
or some particular kind of life you dreamed for yourself,
God doesn’t just want your obedience… He wants your obedience as an overflow of love for him.
The Pharisees pursued obedience, out of love for self, and they missed God altogether.

Implication #3 Jesus Came to Save Hypocrites

Jesus words here are not words of final judgment.
They are words of warning.., but they are words of warning that can lead to repentance and forgiveness.
Words of warning are actually words of Grace....
Jesus is speaking the truth to them about their need for a Savior, even though they do not think they need a Savior.
Jesus is exposing the wickedness of their hearts that they do not believe is actually there.
He is diagnosing a cancer, that they refuse to believe is present, and therefore are seeking no cure.
Pretenders are some of the hardest people to confront, because in order for the show to go on, they must not be honest, they must not let you in, and they must not let you speak a word that might be authoritative over their life.
Jesus speaks to cut straight through all the pretending, not to just heap condemnation, but to expose the need for salvation.
Jesus’ message from the beginning of Mark… has been that the Kingdom of God is open to any and all who repent and turn to King Jesus.
Tax collectors, sinners, and hypocrites of all kinds are welcomed to the table with Jesus where they can find forgiveness and receive a new heart.
Jesus would go on to die on the cross in the place of hypocrites like you and me… he would send his spirit to transform all those who believe…
and later in the story that included one of leading Pharisees, whom we know as the apostle Paul.
There is no hypocrite so deep into their pretend godliness, that God cannot save, transform, and lead into true godliness.
In fact, the gospel message frees all of us from the need to pretend.
It frees us from the need to appear sinless.
The gospel message is the message that none of us is righteous, no not one.
None of us is godly enough.
None of us have it all together.
None of us have no sin to repent of.
But Jesus came and he did perfectly what we weren’t able to do.
He loved God, not just the appearance of Godliness.
He obeyed the word of God perfectly.
He served others rather than himself completely to the point of death even death on a cross.
The gospel message free us from trying to get people to look at us and be impressed… and it leads us to try to get others to look at Jesus and be impressed.
as we close this morning we are going to sing the song
“show us Christ”
Though we normally sing this before the sermon… I felt like these words would be an appropriate response this morning.
Prepare our hearts, O God Help us to receive Break the hard and stony ground Help our unbelief Plant Your Word down deep in us Cause it to bear fruit Open up our ears to hear Lead us in Your truth
to root up sins of hypocrisy in our lives, we need God to search us, to break up what is hardness of heart, and to set our eyes a fresh on Jesus and not ourselves.
so lets pray, and lets respond with this kind of praying.
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