And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” Mark 7:5-8
Dear Jesus, we tremble at the thought of you speaking these words to us. What could be more sobering and tragic than to hear you say, “You talk about me a whole lot, using plenty of spiritual language and Bible quotes. You’re very quick to recognize and correct false teaching. You’re even quite zealous to apply what you know to others. But your heart is very far from me.”
It would be one thing if such a rebuke came to us because we were acting like Mosaic Pharisees and scribes—distorting and misapplying Old Testament law; putting people under the yoke of performance-based spirituality; replacing your commandments with our traditions. But it’s an altogether different thing to be a Gospel Pharisee and scribe.
Forgive us Jesus, when we love exposing and damning legalistic, pragmatic and moralistic teaching, more than we love spending time with you in prayer and fellowship.
Forgive us for loving the theology of the gospel and the doctrines of grace, more than we actually know and adore you.
Forgive us when we invest great energy in defending the imputation of your righteousness but have very little concern for the impartation of your transforming grace in our lives.
Forgive us when we are quick to tell people what obedience is not, but fail to demonstrate what the obedience of faith and love actually is.
Forgive us when we call ourselves “recovering Pharisees” or “recovering legalists,” but in actuality, we’re not really recovering from anything.
Forgive us when talk more about “getting the gospel” than we’re actually “gotten” by the gospel.
Forgive us for being just as arrogant about grace theology as we were obnoxious about legalistic theology.
Forgive us when we don’t use our freedom to serve one another in love, but rather use it to put our consciences to sleep.
Forgive us when our love for the gospel does not translate into a love for holiness, world evangelism and caring for widows and orphans.
Forgive us for having a PhD in the indicatives of the gospel yet fail so miserably when it comes to the imperatives of the gospel.
Forgive us when we love “the gospel” more than we actually love you, Jesus, as impossible as that may seen.
So very Amen, we pray, Jesus, with convicted and humbled hearts. Change us by your grace and for your glory.