How’s it going?! My name is Joshua Boyd and I am an intern here at Bethel Richland. It’s great to have you with us today!
Our reading is in Luke chapter 11, and let me tell you, there is a lot going on in here so if you haven’t read all the way through it yet I would highly recommend that you do so. I will be focusing on verses 39 and 40 which read “Then the Lord said to him,.”
Here, we see Jesus talking to a group of Pharisees, and He’s calling them out, saying they clean the outside of their cups but leave the inside dirty. What He means here is that the Pharisees have spent all of their time changing their outward behavior but have left their hearts unchanged. And that is not what God wants to happen. He is after our hearts.
The purpose of the Law is to reveal our depravity, to show us that we cannot live up to God’s standard. In this He wants us to fall on our knees before Him and repent, asking Him to change us because we cannot do this on our own. But the Pharisees didn’t get this, they spent their whole lives studying scripture in and out, learning it through and through and doing everything they could to follow the laws laid before them, all the while neglecting their hearts. Inside they remained unchanged.
Now something that we do today is hear the title Pharisee or read it and immediately think “those are the bad guys.” But I want you to take a step back for a moment and reflect on your life. Do you actually love others? Do you, in your hearts, love your enemies? Do you obey scripture because you love God? When you read the Bible are you seeking to interact with God?
We are really quick to point fingers today at the Pharisees when many of us are Pharisees ourselves. We get so caught up in doing Christianity that we forget to be Christians.
Now don’t get me wrong, it is vital for us to do the commands of Christ. But if we only do them and never experience a change of heart then we miss the whole point. As I’ve been wrestling with this message this past week I’ve had to seriously evaluate my own life as I very often fall into this myself. But in that I have been able to recognize this and take it to God.
I have been able to repent for being a Pharisee, for cleaning the outside of my cup, for trying to do Christianity on my own. And I ask Him to change my heart, because I can’t do that. And as He has been changing my heart I no longer do the commands of Christ because I am obligated to, but because I love God and those around me.
We can’t get to the point of loving God and loving our neighbor on our own, we must go to God in prayer and ask Him to change us, to use the Spirit to work on our hearts and give us the capacity to love. We need to ask Him to clean the inside of our cups for us, and as this happens the outside will be cleaned. God doesn’t just want our works, He wants our hearts. He sent His son to die on the cross so that we could be restored to a relationship with Him!
Why would we ever settle for a legalistic religion when we can love and be loved by God?! When we can actually have a relationship with Him and interact with Him every day.
Christianity is so much more than a set of rules to follow. We must not fall into the trap the Pharisees fell into, we need to make sure that our cups are clean both inside and out.
So again, I invite you to take some time to evaluate your life, to look at your cup and assess if it’s totally clean or if it’s just the outside that has been cleaned. And if it’s just the outside, take it to God, acknowledge that you can’t clean the inside on your own, that you need the Spirits sanctifying work in your life. Ask Him to do this, ask Him every day. He will answer that prayer. He will clean the inside of your