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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 Lord Jesus, this is, definitely, an “in your face” text—one that convicts me as I begin my day. Understandably so, you had a low threshold of tolerance, when it came to religious hypocrisy and legalism. I am quite capable of both.

But it would be one thing if such a rebuke came to us because we were acting like Mosaic Pharisees and scribes—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 “grace-scribe.”

Forgive us, Jesus, when we love exposing false gospels more than we love spending time with you in prayer and fellowship.

Forgive us for being just as arrogant about grace theology as we were obnoxious about legalistic theology.

Forgive us when talk more about “getting the gospel” than we demonstrate that we’ve been “gotten” by the gospel.

Forgive us when we call ourselves “recovering Pharisees,” or “recovering legalists,” when in actuality, we’re not really doing very much actual recovery.

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 we talk more about what obedience isn’t, that what obedience is.

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 failing 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 seem.

Change us by your grace and for your glory. So very Amen we pray, with convicted and humbled hearts.


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Scotty Smith

Scotty Smith is the founding pastor of Christ Community Church in Franklin, Tennessee. You can follow him on Twitter.

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