In his exposition of Mark 7:1-23, Sproul tells us that the Pharisees had fallen into the trap of legalism (gotquestions.org), which is a form of idolatry. Because of their idolatry, the Pharisees earned biting criticism from Jesus.
What had the Pharisees done? They had put the traditions of men ahead God’s Law, the Bible. Instead of allowing the Law to be a blessing, they had substituted their traditions and burdened the Jewish people with numerous, useless regulations.
Why had the Pharisees done such a thing? Pride. The Pharisees followed their traditions to display their holiness, to show themselves as better than what God’s Law required. Thus, they multiplied their traditions — their regulations on behavior — to the point of madness. Yet, because their regulations gave them prestige and power over the people, they refused to give them up.
Are we guilty of the same sort of foolishness? Yes. Here are some examples.
- The rules some Conservative Christians have against technology, movies, dancing, and so forth provide the usual example. If a prohibition is not indicated by the Bible, then we have little cause to restrain the behavior of others using the Bible as an excuse.
- When we debate, we hold up our facts as sacrosanct and the other guy’s facts of hooey. The Truth is sacred, not the one who pretends to uphold the truth. Just because you or I want to believe something is true does not make it true. Yet, we will ostracize people because they don’t say the right things, wear the right clothes, go to the right schools, and so forth.
- We often make laws based upon “the science”. Yet, we don’t have scientific proof. Instead, we claim to be “following the science”, or we claim a consensus of the science. Calling our beliefs scientific does not make them holy. Unfortunately, many would use “the science” as an excuse for regulation madness.
How do we avoid regulation madness? There is no easy way. Doing good and avoiding evil requires both wisdom and understanding. It is not enough to study the Bible. We also have take the time to understand the issues and sometimes the science. In addition, we have to fight for healthy debate. When one side tries to shut up or shout down the other side, we must consider the possibilities that the bullies don’t actually believe their own case.
What are some issues that should alarm us?
- Coronavirus (COVID-19). The unwillingness of some of our political leaders to reopen our society because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Are our leaders following the science or promoting a political agenda? Should Prince William County reopen its schools or not?
- Illegal immigration. Here the argument is over opening our borders. Are the proponents virtue signaling or caring? Do the proponents want cheap labor or immigrants who will strengthen our country. Do the opponents want to protect our culture, or are they just bigots? Do we want the officials in Prince William County to work with U.S. Immigration and Customs (ICE) or not?
- Global warming. Many of our political leaders want to spend trillions to fight global warming. Is global warming real? The theory has been around for decades. Is there any proof that man is causing the temperature of the world to rise? Do we want the officials in Prince William County to teach our children that Global Warming is real, scientifically proven? Do we want the officials in Prince William County to spend large sums of our money on energy efficiency?
Of course, there are many more issues like these. Because we are finite creatures, we don’t know too much, but we dearly want to see ourselves as the center of the universe. We want to be gods, but God is God. We are not. That is why we need to be humble. For our own sake and for each other’s sake, we need to listen to each other.
In our relationships with each other we need to remember what Jesus taught. The greatest are not necessarily the most powerful. The greatest among us serves his neighbors with the greatest devotion.