The Evil Inside of Me
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. (Matthew 23:25-28 ESV)
Too often, when I read Jesus’ confronting words to the scribes and Pharisees, I envision those types of people, when I, in fact, fit the description and am guilty of all charges.
David did this, too. When the prophet Nathan told David of a man who had committed a selfish, unjust act, David demanded vengeance. Then Nathan turned to David and said: “You are the man.”
We often want justice for other people’s sins, while praying for mercy for our own.
Jesus’ words to the scribes and Pharisees made a direct hit to my heart today. He described these men as giving attention to the outward actions, while ignoring the true issue – the inward motivation of a sinful, selfish heart.
Like many religious people today, the scribes and Pharisees lived a life of legalism according to the letter of the law. But Jesus revealed that a person’s heart, as well as his actions, is seen and judged by God.
There are two words that are often used in scripture to define sin: Transgression and Iniquity.
A transgression (trespass) is an outward action or choice to cross the line and sin.
Iniquity is our inward motivation to sin. It is our heart, thoughts, attitudes that, left unchecked, lead us to eventually transgress.
Many people only see their transgressions as sin, but Jesus said: “Even if you hate your brother in your heart… Or look at a person with lust in your heart…you have already sinned.”
The Holy Spirit desires to draw our attention not merely to our transgressions, but also to our iniquity, in order that Jesus can set us free from both the outward actions and the inward motivation of sin.
God declared a powerful truth through the prophet Isaiah – one that clearly depicts the forgiveness and freedom we have in Jesus Christ:
He was wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquity.
Did you see the significance of what God said?
Jesus was wounded (outward bleeding) for our transgressions (outward acts of sin).
And…Jesus was bruised (inward bleeding) for our iniquity (inward motivation to sin).
The blood of Jesus is powerful enough to not only forgive you of your sin (outward and inward), but to set you free from the bondage of sin!!
As Paul said; “Sin shall not have dominion over you any longer!”
Today, allow God to go past the obvious, outward transgressions to confront the secret, inward motivations of your heart.
He whom the Son sets free is free indeed!
May the words of my mouth (outward) and the meditation of my heart (inward) be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my Strength and my Redeemer.