“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!” –Matthew 23:23-24
These words are some of the most stunning in Scripture, not only because they expose the religious sentimentalism which has supplanted just love in our age, but because they mark the capstone teaching of the Christ, the final emphatic words his disciples hear before He dies, in His humanity, on the Cross. The same Christ who taught us that the fulfillment of the Law is love clearly taught that the how-to guide for love is the Law. God being one and indivisible, so justice and love are also one and indivisible. There is no love in a lawless person, for the man who looks intently into the “perfect law of freedom” is a man who hears and obeys the God whose love wrote the Law to prevent oppression and foment rendering the good due another. Being the foremost man of Psalm 1 even at age 12, Christ’s sustenance was the Law (“every word”). Just so for His disciples whom He is conforming to Himself, as Acts 6 clearly testifies. Christ capstones the importance of Law-ful love in His seven woes by announcing that the religious leadership stood condemned before the Law for being lawless men—men who defied the call to embrace justice, steadfast love (mercy), and faithfulness. In the past three centuries, the gushy sentimentalism of Pietism, combined with the Cain-like thinking of Dispensationalism have conspired to produce a lawless church which, astride the beast of materialism and tyranny, trampled down the very lives of men, women, and children. Just as Twain told us with his Connecticut Yankee, the combination of an established church and a political aristocracy conspired to manipulate, coerce, and enslave the minds of people to do its bidding: great injustice. What modern history proves more than anything else is that the man of lawlessness is not a person, but a type which represents those whose love has grown cold, who are lovers of money and lovers of themselves. May God free the minds and hearts of many men and women from such mind-numbing slavery to the harlot and the beast. If Christ condemned Pharisees who at least knew enough about the Law to concede his points, how much more will He condemn the harlot which has so prostituted itself to worldy gain that it has no taste whatsoever for the Law. Even the Pharisees themselves will rise up with Sodom to condemn such a church as this. Those who hunger and thirst, like Haman, for a platform rather than for justice will soon find that platform turned into a gallows, and justly and rightly so. The great irony of the act which precipitate’s history’s closing will be the beast turning on the very harlot which sanctimoniously rationalized its violence on the image bearers of God. Those who have eyes to see and ears to hear know to “come out of her,” just as the first disciples were told to escape Judea before Titus fulfilled the seven woes of Matthew 23, striking down all those men and women of Deuteronomy 29 who had a form of godliness, but denied the power of humility, confession, and repentance. I had my own wake-up call at the hands of unscrupulous and sanctimonious men and women who robbed my children of three months of education in the midst of the pandemic. Joined by self-proclaimed “shepherds” who refused to follow the Deuteronomical command to conduct “thorough inquiry,” preferring to maintain their religious platforms by favoring the rich, and thus becoming “judges with evil thoughts.” They became God’s means of opening my eyes to the fact that our instutitions are filled with those whose “mouth is full of lies; whose right hand is deceitful,” namely those who decieve in word and action. They became the means of understanding David’s own observations in the Psalms which Paul sententiously captures with “a Jew is not a Jew who is merely one outwardly.” Like Jeremiah, I have rightly lost sympathy with the sanctimoniously impenitent. Those whom God “will never be willing to forgive” have no claim on fellowship with or forgiveness from the just who live by faith, something Augustine also recognized (CoG Bk 21, Chap 27). There is no rest in the deceptive pretense of sentimentalism, no sanctuary which can protect those who mask their covetousness with a facade of godliness. There is only rest in the God who will bring justice to victory so that the meek will inherit the earth. Those who hunger and thirst for justice will be filled.