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Anatomy lesson 7: religious hypocrisy projects reversed moral thinking.

Rev. Enoch Thompson | August 10, 2023 | Matthew 23:16-22


"Woe to you, blind guides! You say, 'If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.' Matthew 23:16 (NIV)


The popular expression, “to put the cart before the horse,” is an example of reversed thinking. Reversed thinking majors on minor issues and minors on major issues. It values the less valuable in the expectations of God and makes priority what is less valued by God. When our religious beliefs and practices make us think in reversed processes concerning God, nature, and humanity, we practice a religion that is only a pretence and not the real thing.

The Lord cites three doctrines that the Pharisees were teaching, all of which showed that their religious mind had been polluted and corrupted by their hypocrisy, otherwise, they should have seen the wrongness of what they were feeding the people. They pretended to be religious by being less morally upright.

A neglect of the care of old dependent parents in the name of godly religion is absurd and unacceptable. Valuing the objects, (buildings, festivals events, ordinances, and rituals) over and above a vital spirituality which recognizes and honours God in daily living and pays attention to real human needs is flawed moral and practical reasoning. Making the material gains associated with worship more important than the God who is worshipped with those substances (the gold on the altar) is vain distorted reasoning, it is reversed moral thought! Yet this is where pretender-worship and worship systems can lead us.


Are we any different from the Pharisees of yesterday? Don’t we make a big show of the wedding and have little commitment to the marriage? Don’t we make a funfair of big donations to the Church, and care less about how the money was generated? Don’t we spend more time grooming ourselves and less time in God’s Word and prayer? Are you a new Pharisee, a person of reversed thinking?


Dear Lord Jesus, this lesson is painful, it strikes at a trend I struggle with; allowing the lesser things to carry the higher value. Lord, please forgive my hypocrisy through reversed thinking, and help me think like you think, by your Word and by your Spirit. Lord, please heal your Church, starting from Church leadership to the very last child in the Church. For your dear Name’s sake, Amen.


SHOWERS! BLESSINGS!! ____________________________

DAILY word study: SWEARS

In Matthew 23:16, Jesus rebukes the scribes and Pharisees, saying, "Woe to you, blind guides! You say, 'If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gold of the temple is bound by that oath.'" The term "swears," rooted in the Greek "ὀμνύω" (omnyó), encompasses a solemn declaration or affirmation made with the invocation of divine witness.

Jesus' critique underscores the Pharisees' misguided approach to oaths, where they prioritize the superficial act over its spiritual essence. By differentiating between temple and gold, they distort the deeper significance of their pledges. This rebuke urges us to contemplate the root meaning of our own affirmations and commitments.

How can we ensure that our "swears" embody the profound sincerity of invoking the divine as a witness, aligning our commitments with their genuine spiritual significance?

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