“Today more than ever we Christians need to learn how to sanctify the ordinary!
In this cynical generation, people have become overstimulated to the place where their nerves are jaded and their tastes corrupted. Everything is common and almost everything is boring. The sacred has been secularized, the holy vulgarized and worship converted into a form of entertainment”
– A.W. Tozer
“And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. Yea, truth faileth, and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey: and the Lord saw it…”
“Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to his disciples, saying, “The scribes and the Pharisees sat on Moses’ seat. All things therefore whatever they tell you to observe, observe and do, but don’t do their works; for they say, and don’t do.”
Matthew 23:1-3 (WEB)
There is much contained in the Words of Jesus. His words are full of truth and that truth pierces to the core of a man’s heart. In this discourse, it is striking to note the audience to whom He spoke.
“Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to his disciples”
The word that follows is important to all who call themselves by His Name. His warnings are given to everyone in general “and to His disciples”. It is a word to us, to all generations who desire to walk rightly before Him. There will always be those who ascend to prominent religious positions, speaking good things. Jesus declares what things people should hearken to and DO.
“All things therefore whatever they tell you to observe, observe and do”
True disciples are to recognize God’s word even if it is spoken by some who may live hypocritically or carelessly. God’s Word is true regardless of its source. The emphasis in this warning from the Lord is found in a very short word… DO. A disciple is one in whom the word of the Lord influences their living. It is not the mental aspect; it is not merely the enlightenment of the mind while leaving one’s conduct unaffected. Doing is the revelation of true discipleship. Many hear, many teach. It is the focus of the Holy Spirit to bring us into the realm of becoming through obedience.
“…but don’t do their works; for they say and don’t do.”
Jesus considered their lack of works as their works. Their works were to talk of the things of the Lord without doing. Their non-doing became their works; much like not deciding inadvertently becomes a decision. True faith is the agency through which the works of God are born. The essential nature of faith is to reveal the Life and the Works of its Author. James declares:
“But he who looks into the perfect law of freedom, and continues, not being a hearer who forgets, but a doer of the work, this man will be blessed in what he does.”
The subtlety of Pharisee-ism is a fearful and easy thing into which any disciple can fall. We can become comfortable in our beliefs rather than in our relationship with Him. Disciples follow Him. They participate in the doing of His Will on the earth. They are involved in the works of Christ for He is their Head, and they are His hands, feet, and heart in this world. Because they are of His Body, they move with Him.
May we be warned in our own walk. Let us heed the exhortations of Him to flee the Pharisaical ways of speaking without doing, of teaching without being a demonstration in our own lives. The truth of our words is to be evidenced in our homes, in our workplaces, and in our fellowship with those who are His.
“…but don’t do their works; for they say and don’t do”
“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance, a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion.”
“So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty”
“If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you”
THE SECRET Place OF ABIDING
“And He that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please Him“
The Son found the strength to obey through the power of prayer The religious tend to substitute prayer for obedience, but those who pray fervently will find in Christ the power to obey.
“And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt”
“He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, Thy will be done”
If Jesus needed the power of prayer to face the enormity of the Cross, how much more do we need prayer for His grace to walk obediently! Obedience and prayer must be in parallel; when one is lacking the other will also be lacking.
“Have you noticed how much praying for revival has been going on of late – and how little revival has resulted? I believe the problem is that we have been trying to substitute praying for obeying, and it simply will not work“.
“We settle for words in religion because deeds are too costly. It is easier to pray, “Lord, help me to carry my cross daily” than to pick up the cross and carry it. But since the mere request for help to do something we do not actually intend to do has a certain degree of religious comfort, we are content with repetition of words”
“The church that is not jealously protected by mighty intercession and sacrificial labors will before long become the abode of every evil bird and the hiding place for unsuspected corruption. The creeping wilderness will soon take over that church that trusts in its own strength and forgets to watch and pray”
– A.W. Tozer
“Heresy is not so much rejecting as selecting. The heretic simply selects the parts of the Scripture he wants to emphasize and lets the rest go. This is shown by the etymology of the word heresy and by the practice of the heretic. “Beware,” an editorial scribe of the fourteenth century warned his readers in the preface to a book. “Beware thou take not one thing after thy affection and liking, and leave another: for that is the condition of an heretique. But take everything with other.” The old scribe knew well how prone we are to take to ourselves those parts of the truth that please us and ignore the other parts. And that is heresy“
– A.W. Tozer
“I wonder if there was ever a time when true spiritual worship was at a lower ebb. To great sections of the church, the art of worship has been lost entirely, and in its place has come that strange and foreign thing called the “program.” This word has been borrowed from the stage and applied with sad wisdom to the public service which now passes for worship among us”
– A. W. Tozer
“Have you noticed how much praying for revival has been going on of late – and how little revival has resulted? I believe the problem is that we have been trying to substitute praying for obeying, and it simply will not work. To pray for revival while ignoring the plain precept laid down in Scripture is to waste a lot of words and get nothing for our trouble. Prayer will become effective when we stop using it as a substitute for obedience“
– A.W. Tozer