New Hope Church

Day 21 – Lenten Devotional


Jesus confronted religious leaders who misused Scripture

Luke 11:52  “Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering.”

Jesus was always willing to confront the misuse and misunderstanding of the Old Testament Scriptures as taught by the religious leaders and teachers of the time. There are over 100 verses in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John where Jesus was correcting a wrong interpretation of the Law, Prophets and Psalms in some way.

During the time of Christ there were deceptive and misleading professions of Scripture that were steering the people away from the great grace and mercy of God and toward man-made rules, regulations, duty, and traditions.  The Jewish teachers of the time burdened the people with a works oriented salvation; dependent upon what works YOU do versus the work that GOD does (Luke 11:46).  These religious leaders devised hundreds of additional man-made rules over the years and set them on a scale equal to Scripture, so that breaking one of their laws of “tradition” was just as sinful as being disobedient to the Law of God in Scripture.They held to a God of justice that must be appeased by dutiful obedience rather than a God of grace who would, as David said in Psalm 51:1, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.”

Jesus held some of His greatest criticism for those who distort the word of God and instruct others to do so. He said of them, “You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Matt 12:34)  Further Jesus called them, “… blind guides. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” (Matt 15:12-14) Jesus chastises them, for they “…invalidate the word of God for the sake of your tradition.” (Matt 15:6)  Read Matthew 23 for His serious condemnation of such “teachers!”

Sad to say that this works related burden still infects the body of Christ today.  This should be a great concern for all grace filled Christians. 2 Timothy 2:15 Paul calls Timothy to “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.”   The “good news” Jesus professed was a gospel of grace, not works!

REFLECT:  Are you willing to defend the Word of God and challenge those who misrepresent this great treasure?  Are you familiar with leaders who burden others with man-made traditions that add duty and works instead of grace and mercy?

REPENT:  Change your ways. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you a discerning heart so that you may have the courage to help others who have misunderstood the grace of God.

RESTORE:  Remember the five “Solas” of the Reformation; through Scripture alone we know that, we are saved by the grace of God alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone, for the glory of God alone!

Ephesians 2:8-10  “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”

Pastor Tom Bellhy