Thursday, July 17, 2014

Mr. Outside and Mr. Inside

Life of Christ 111

Note: This is the second in an eight part mini-series on the errors of the Pharisees

Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside, Glenn Davis
and Felix Blanchard, dual Heisman
winning running backs that won 3
national championships for West Point
in the 1940's
          The first error with which Christ reproached the Pharisees was that of placing a premium on the external to the neglect of the internal. 'And the Lord said unto him, Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness. Ye fools, did not he that made that which is without make that which is within also?' (Luke 11.39-40).
          This is exceptionally strong language, even for Christ, but He clearly was justified in His choice of words. How foolish is it, indeed, to painstakingly ensure the outside of a dirty cup is carefully washed while all the while ignoring the filth on the inside. Certainly, I want any dish I pick up to be clean on both the outside and the inside, but, of the two, the inside is the more important.
          In this we see the same theme that has come up so often in His ministry, and that is the importance of the heart. He must needs repeatedly emphasize this, not because Jesus didn't care about the external, but because the Pharisees didn't care about the internal. What we see so often in American Christianity is the unbalanced mistake of being in a ditch on one side of the road or the other. Contrarily, what we see so often in Scripture is a balanced approach, one which takes into account the importance of both the inside and the outside.
          Let us take the thorny example of women's dress, for instance. Take a walk through any mall in America and you will see attractive women parading around in all sorts of short, tight, low, high, revealing attire. Worse than that, however, is that you can see similar attire on almost any contemporary church youth group activity. Woe betide any preacher who dares to address the subject, for he is quickly shouted down with references to legalism, liberty, grace, and nunya business as if the Bible is completely silent about the subject of how women ought to dress.
The simple truth is that the Bible does address it. 'In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel' (I Timothy 2.9). We may disagree over where to draw the line in relation to modest apparel but we cannot disagree that there is a line, and that God's Word explicitly commands women to dress modestly.
However, by the same token, there are some religious groups in my experience who go take great care to ensure that their women dot all the I's and cross all the T's when it comes to modesty, and yet sadly and completely fail to emphasize much at all the importance of the heart. Woe betide the preacher who dares to address the subject, for he is quickly shouted down with references to weakening standards, greasy grace, and neo evangelicalism as if the Bible is completely silent about the condition of a woman's heart.
The simple truth is that the Bible does address it. 'Whose adorning let it not be that of outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price' (I Peter 3.3-4). We may disagree over what exactly a meek and quiet spirit means, and what are the evidences and foundations of an incorruptible heart, but we cannot disagree that these are an absolute necessity, and that God's Word explicitly commands women to cultivate them.
I don't think God's people ought to ink themselves with gang tats, wear clothing with swear words, or run around half naked. There is an emphasis on modesty and propriety and a clean cut exterior in the Word of God that is sorely lacking in today's culture, both secular and Christian – but you can dress up your exterior to a modest and Christian fare thee well and still be as wicked as the devil inside.
The Pharisees were foolish in Jesus' view, not because they emphasized an external cleanliness, but because they did so while completely ignoring the inward 'hidden man of the heart.' The solution to this great pharisaic error is not to abandon any teaching or correction in relation to the visible part of life, but to place, without fail, a tremendous emphasis on the invisible part of life.
Holiness is being like Christ. That doesn't come natural to humanity. We are greatly blessed in that He has furnished us with the Holy Spirit enabled grace to do what is unnatural, and to progress in holiness. But a holiness that is never seen by others isn't a genuine holiness, and a holiness that is only tacked up like a false front isn't a genuine holiness either. Let us make clean the outside of the cup, but let us, at the same time, make clean the inside of the cup.

If you don't you are a fool.

No comments:

Post a Comment