April 30 2023
Today, Sunday April 30
A Message for the Religious Hypocrite
“But to the wicked God says: "What right have you to declare My statutes, Or take My covenant in your mouth, Seeing you hate instruction And cast My words behind you? When you saw a thief, you consented with him, And have been a partaker with adulterers. You give your mouth to evil, And your tongue frames deceit. You sit and speak against your brother; You slander your own mother's son. These things you have done, and I kept silent; You thought that I was altogether like you; But I will rebuke you, And set them in order before your eyes.
Psalm 50 begins by reminding us that God is the “Mighty One” and one day He is coming as the “Judge of the whole earth”. “God has already spoken” (v. 1) to us through His creation and His Word and He will “gather His saints together before Him” (v. 5) and He will speak in judgement (v. 6).
He first speaks to His people Israel in verses 7-15. He condemns their heartless worship as they bring their sacrifices and go through the routine and rituals of their religion. This should speak to us today as we so apt to lose our first love and think we can satisfy and please God with our mouths, our money, our service, our acts of worship without our love and our heart!
Now in verses 16-21, God has a message for the religious hypocrite. This message was addressed to "the wicked," the Israelites in the covenant community who were reciting the creed with their lips but deliberately disobeying God's law. After breaking God's law, they would go to the sanctuary and act very religious so they could cover up their sins. They helped to make the sanctuary a "den of thieves"—the place where thieves go to hide after they have committed their wicked deeds (Jer. 7:11; Matt. 21:13).
God inspired the Apostle Paul to basically give this same message in Romans 2:17-24: “Indeed you are called a Jew, and rest on the law, and make your boast in God, and know His will, and approve the things that are excellent, being instructed out of the law, and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, having the form of knowledge and truth in the law. You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal? You who say, "Do not commit adultery," do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law? For "the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you," as it is written.”
Jesus personally gave a message to the religious hypocrites of His day in Matthew 23:13-15: “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows' houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.” Matter of fact, this entire chapter of Matthew is devoted to His condemnation of religious hypocrites.
It is almost as though both Paul and Jesus are quoting from Psalm 50. God here points out that they had no respect for God's Word. “Seeing you hate instruction And cast My words behind you? (v. 17).” They not only consented to the sins of others but participated in them and enjoyed doing so (vv. 18-20). To "hate instruction" means to reject an ordered way of life patterned after God's Word, to reject a responsible life.
The Lord specifically named stealing (the 8th commandment, Ex. 20:15), adultery (the 7th commandment, Ex. 20:14) and deceitful speech and slander (the 9th commandment, Ex. 20:16). These are not "old covenant sins," for believers today who live under the new covenant can be just as guilty of committing them.
Once again, the silence of God is mentioned (v. 21; see v. 3). God is longsuffering with sinners, but these wicked people interpreted God's silence as His approval. (See Isa. 42:14; 57:11; 64:12; 65:6; Mal. 2:17; 3:14-14.) Their thinking was so confused that they ended up creating a god in their own image (v. 21). God was in the hands of ignorant sinners! They had forgotten God (Rom. 1:22-28) and didn't want Him to interfere with their lifestyle. They had a false confidence that they could sin and get away with it.
I’m afraid that this same condition exists in many of our churches today! Our churches are full of religious hypocrites. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing. They are deceitful, slanderers, gossips, and God will call them to judgment one day! May the Lord keep us from becoming one of them, and also give us discernment so we don’t let them take places of leadership in our church!