Damning Effect

February 20, 2021

He answered and said to them, "Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? For God commanded, saying, 'Honor your father and your mother'; and, 'He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.' But you say, 'Whoever says to his father or mother, "Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God" - then he need not honor his father or mother.' Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: 'These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men'" (Matthew 15:3-9).

. . . “You have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition.” Again, each word in this indictment of Jesus is revealing, affirming, and damning.

This was a stinging indictment against the scribes and Pharisees that revealed the hollow charade of their mission to rebuke Jesus regarding hand washing. By their traditions the elders made the Word of God ‘of no effect’, without authority, null and void in the minds and hearts of the people who revered them as ‘men of God’.

This last week I read several articles regarding a man I had highly regarded as a great Christian apologist. It made me heart-sick and grieved to read about his alleged sexual misconduct. Often I would sit spell-bound as I listened to his debates, addresses, and Q & A sessions with Christian leaders, university students, and critics. His arguments were powerful and persuasive, his logic flawless..

Sadly, we have become accustomed to such news. Do I grieve over the victims? Yes. Do I grieve over his family? Yes. But more than anything else I am grieved over the shame he has brought to the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, the stumbling block he has set before weaker brothers and sisters in the faith, the hindrance he has created to the advancement of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ around the world, and the damning effect his misconduct will have on those already on the broad road to destruction. It has become yet another example of making the Word of God 'of no effect' to untold millions of people.

If anything, these revelations are a spot light on my own life. I know I am a sinner -  saved by God’s grace? Yes, but a sinner none-the-less. I know my sins are confessed and forgiven, but their scars remain in my mind and heart and physical body.

“Lord Jesus, I am so sorry we have done this to You again, dishonoring You before a world that watches us. Your name has been shamed by us, and for that I am embarrassed, ashamed, and grieved. But by Your grace I pray we will bring You honor and glory and praise in the days to come, beginning with our own personal repentance. We desperately need You, Lord. Forgive us I pray, in Your holy name. Amen.”


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