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Blinded by Cheap Substitutes

Blinded by Cheap Substitutes
Words of Faith 3-13-17
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2017
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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John 18
[28] Then the Jews led Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness the Jews did not enter the palace; they wanted to be able to eat the Passover.

Jesus was condemned on a charge of blasphemy (Mark 14:60-64). Because the high priest had no authority to execute a death sentence, Jesus was transferred to Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor.
Before we give consideration to the interaction with Pilate we notice this single descriptive verse. Those Jews who were prosecuting the case against Jesus refused to enter the palace of Pilate. Why? According to the rules of religious purity set by the rabbis to do so would make them ritually or ceremonially unclean. This would prevent them from eating the Passover feast. The rabbis had ruled that entering the house of a gentile caused a person to be unclean. It was a minor barrier that had become part of the meticulous observance of ceremonial law.
How ironic it was that these religious leaders were so concerned about their technical religious purity at a moment in which they were plotting the murder of one of their own people. Even more striking is the fact that the one they sought to murder was the Messiah Himself.
We cannot help but pause once again to note the strange way that human religion sometimes twists our thoughts and bends our perspective. These deeply religious people were about to break one of the “big ten” commandments by manipulating Roman law, yet they were worried about breaking a religious rule concerning the house you enter.
There is a powerful reminder here. Sometimes our religious activities can blind us to what is really important. As we pursue our spiritual walk it is easy to get into our own pattern of religious rule keeping. Our religious rules may vary from tradition to tradition or region to region but they form a comfortable life of holy habits.
We may feel observant of the Lord if we attend church, pray before meals, teach in Sunday School, avoid profanity, have a quiet time, don’t watch much television, tithe to our church, and avoid bad health habits. All these can be wonderful expressions of the Lord in our life but they can also become a cheap religious substitute for listening to God and obeying Him.
That is what happened to the religious leaders in Jerusalem. They had settled so long for a cheap substitute that they no longer were able to hear God. They determined what they wanted to do for their political and financial purposes without any consideration of what God may want. Then they found comfort in their rules, washings and ritual prayers. We must take care not to fall into the same trap.
How do we avoid the delusion of religious trappings? It is not by avoiding church activities, study or prayer. Rather, we must be intentional to stay in regular touch with God by listening to Him.
We need to pray more with our heart open and our mouth closed. We must study His Word, not so much by habit as by the illumination of the Spirit. We need to be careful not to hide within our religious observances such that we do not hear the needs of people or the leading of God. Religious rules are not nearly as helpful as a reliable relationship with God in Christ, and sometimes they can destroy us.

Lord, I am here to listen. Help me to hear You and obey Your leading. In Jesus’ name.

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© Jeffrey D. Hoy 2002, 2017
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy - Faith Fellowship Church (EFCA)
2820 Business Center Blvd.
Melbourne, Florida 32940 (321)-259-7200
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The Words of Faith devotion is published five days a week by E-mail excluding Federal holidays. Please feel free to forward this devotion to a friend who might be blessed by this devotion. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is quoted from the New International Version (R) of The Holy Bible. Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved. Words of Faith (c) 1997, 2010 Jeffrey D. Hoy. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to forward this copyrighted material or use portions of it with appropriate notation of the source for non-profit purposes.