Suggested further reading: Matthew 23:23-28
We should notice the false conscientiousness of our Lord's
wicked enemies. We are told that the Jews who brought Christ before
Pilate would not go into `the judgement hall, lest they should be
defiled, but that they might eat the passover'. That was scrupulosity
indeed! These hardened men were actually engaged in doing the
wickedest act that mortal man ever did. They wanted to kill their own
Messiah. And yet at this very time they talked of being `defiled'
and were very particular about the Passover!
The conscience of unconverted men is a very curious part
of their moral nature. While in some cases it becomes hardened,
seared and dead, until it feels nothing, in others it becomes morbidly
scrupulous about the lesser matters of religion.
Let us pray that our consciences may always be enlightened
by the Holy Ghost and that we may be kept from a one-sided
and deformed Christianity. A religion that makes a man neglect
the weightier matters of daily holiness and separation from the
world and concentrate his whole attention on forms,
sacraments, ceremonies and public services is, to say the least, very
suspicious. It may be accompanied by immense zeal and show of
earnestness, but it is not sound in the sight of God. The Pharisees paid tithe
of mint, anise and cummin, and compassed sea and land to make
proselytes, while they neglected `judgement, mercy and faith'
(Matt. 23:23). The very Jews who thirsted for Christ's blood were
the Jews who feared the defilement of a Roman judgement hall
and made much ado about keeping the Passover! Let their conduct be
a beacon to Christians as long as the world stands. That religion
is worth little which does not make us say, `I esteem all
thy commandments concerning all things to be right, and I hate
every false way' (Ps. 119:128). That Christianity is worthless which
makes us compound for the neglect of heart religion and practical
holiness by an extravagant zeal for man-made ceremonies or outward forms.
For meditation: Christianity is more than keeping a set of