Crooked Christianity | Mark 7:6–8
6 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;
7 in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’
8 You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”
All sinners ultimately reject the Word of God. Romans 1:18 says that, we “suppress the truth” in our unrighteousness. That chapter continues with exchanges taking place—trading the glory of the Creator for images of the creation, the truth of God for a lie, and those given over to all forms of debauchery. Even so, here, religious leaders do exactly this but in the name of God!
Their religion is hypocritical. The term Jesus uses in v. 6 is from the Greek theater, referring to playacting. In other words, the Pharisees put on the mask of religiosity, but are themselves devoid of true religion. Jesus’s words become picturesque in Matthew 23:27; “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.”
Their religion arises awry. The leaven of their hypocrisy is false worship. They claim to worship God with their words, but they never want God near their sinful hearts. In an effort to keep Him at arm’s length, they abandon the commandments of God and allow man-made traditions fill the void. This gives them a more comfortable version of their religion, one where they have authority and are never truly challenged spiritually.
Jesus goes on to demonstrate just how much God abhors this kind of religion. The question for now is whether your worship is also in vain. Do you only give lip-service to God when it’s convenient, when others expect it of you or when you expect something from God? Do you pray while trying to keep your heart away from Him?
While we all fail at keeping the great commandments on some level, we need to be honest with ourselves if we are using religious jargon to paper over major sins. Many will give Jesus religious reasons on the last day, but only those He genuinely knows will enter the kingdom (Mt 7:21–23). Don’t playact at being a Christian—“ Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near” (Is 55:6).