God gave us the cogent example of the Pharisee in the Gospels to demonstrate how human wisdom and human interpretation of God’s word leads to spiritual blindness. The Pharisees were experts in the letter of the law but they did not have a clue about the significance of Christ – whose identity originates in the Old Testament to prophets like Moses, who wrote the Torah.
Consider the lesson contained in the reaction Christ demonstrates towards the Pharisees.
If you too are so focused on keeping your outside clean for others to think you have it all together, yet you continue to neglect God’s goodness to your spirit, through his love, forgiveness, grace and mercy at Calvary, then, like the Pharisees, you too are guilty of hypocrisy.
Matthew 23:23 "Woe to you, experts in the law and you Pharisees, hypocrites! You give a tenth of mint, dill, and cumin, yet you neglect what is more important in the law — justice, mercy, and faithfulness! You should have done these things without neglecting the others.
23:24 Blind guides! You strain out a gnat yet swallow a camel!23:25 "Woe to you, experts in the law and you Pharisees, hypocrites!You clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.
23:26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup, so that the outside may become clean too! (NET Bible)
I know someone who is desperately afraid of going to the doctor. His apprehension subjects him to incredulous fears associated with the process of finding out the status of his health. Day after day he experiences physical symptoms that force him to contend with the fact that his body is in need of medical attention. Yet his fear allows him to stay nestled in the confines of uncertainty. He continues to go on about the daily routines his life has constructed. Amidst all the vocational, social, political and ecclesiastical activities he fervidly attends to during the course of weeks and months that have passed – with an astounding zeal for life, the fact of a physical struggle continues to plague him. He lacks a willingness to get honest and get tested.
All around the city of Atlanta there is an advertising campaign for children and adults to “Get Tested” for HIV. Billboards, TV commercials and print media all serve to push this message socially . The ad seems to present the point from the perspective that it is better to “know your status” and be treated rather than NOT know and do more harm to yourself and others. A life of promiscuity and/or sexual irresponsibility, compounded with the guise of sexual crimes, all seem to give rise to this fear and more and more people are physically,mentally, emotionally and spiritually spent. The rippling effects of this crippling dilemma is rectified IF there is a willingness to get honest and get tested.
We can understand how medical testing yields physical, mental and emotional treatments BUT what testing applies to spiritual treatments?
LIFE ISSUES i.e. TRIALS i.e. PROBLEMS i.e. HARDSHIPS i.e. DIFFICULTY i.e. UNCERTAINTY i.e TRIBULATION
The human race deems life issues as a NEGATIVE and not a POSITIVE. This is largely due to how the world order views these guaranteed life phenomena. The world has developed a safeguard to greatly support the negative associations with “life issues” so much so that when they materialize in a person’s life, an immediate barrier presents itself between him/her and the world.
For example, when someone is plagued with sickness – PROBLEM – she not only has to deal with the mundane processes associated with treatment and the pursuit towards wellness. The issues magnify with the steady stresses of the employer, finances, loss, dissociation from society and certain peer groups and family and all the fears of loneliness. Meanwhile, people continue to make the world “go around” with their selfish and self-centered idealism towards preservation, progress and upward mobility while isolating themselves from the sick and shut-in. It is selfishness to the core that makes an associate retreat and withdraw from a person plagued with illness while being fully aware of their own ability to offer the sick with the resource of certainty – a certain affirmation that you will do all that is within your power to support the sick. That ideology is now absent in several American cultures today – and sadly, the church (without naming denominations) is in this number. It would seem obvious that they (the local church) would be inclined to serve the sick, poor and widowed most willingly. This is not to say that the existing church programs are not serving “Life Issues.” Oh no! Their service history supports the blatant reality of a need for more involvement from their neighboring local church bodies thereby exposing the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace that Paul clearly addresses.
Ephesians 4:2(NET) with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,
4:3 making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
At the end of the book of Joshua, the author makes a compelling appeal to Israel before his apparent death.
Furthermore, Joshua was prophesying to Israel that they would need to have courage and consistency in dealing with “Life Issues” in the future.
Joshua 23:6-11 (NET)
(6) Be very strong! Carefully obey all that is written in the law scroll of Moses so you won’t swerve from it to the right or the left,
(7) or associate with these nations that remain near you. You must not invoke or make solemn declarations by the names of their gods! You must not worship or bow down to them!
(8) But you must be loyal to the LORD your God, as you have been to this very day.
(9) “The LORD drove out from before you great and mighty nations; no one has been able to resist you to this very day.
(10) One of you makes a thousand run away, for the LORD your God fights for you as he promised you he would.
(11) Watch yourselves carefully! Love the LORD your God!”
His instruction is concise: “REMEMBER WHAT GOD HAS SAID, WHAT HE HAS DONE AND CHOOSE HIM DAILY – in war and peace” One example is pertinent here – JERICHO. Jericho was a city that Israel needed to go through to get to the Jordan River. It was God’s Determined will that Israel would cross the Jordan River and enter the Promised Land. Jericho was an immediate “Life Issue” to Israel because of its great army and wall that was designed to protect its inhabitants. Israel was ill-equipped to handle Jericho’s might militarily. However, Joshua was in complete relationship with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who meticulously brought the Israelites out of Egypt, through the Red Sea and preserved them in the wilderness. The story concludes with the Israelites marching silently for 6 days around the wall as God instructed them. Victory prevailed on the 7th day as they marched silently, blew the trumpet and began to shout on Josh’s command. Simultaneously, the walls of Jericho tumbled down. God permanently dealt with the barrier.
The Israelite‘s testing i.e. “Life Issue” in the Old Testament offers Bible readers a glimpse into God’s character. The tests were all designed to get them to line up with His will for them. Israel’s history with God gives rise to the importance for humans to practice willingness to be honest and get tested.
Every “Life Issue” has a Divine purpose. Get Tested! It saves.