THE DECREES OF THE KING
What is true worship?
Our Text: Matthew 6
Our Focus: Matthew6:1-18
The true righteousness of the coming Kingdom of God must be applied to our everyday lives of today. Christ had rejected the Pharisees and their interpretation of the Books of Moses. Christ would now show how they practiced, their worship of God.
This chapter can basically be broken down to two sections:
1.) The principles of relating our worship to Our God.(Matt 6:1-18
2.) Our relationship to material things.(Matt 6:19-34)
There were certain acts of worship, where by putting on an act, the Pharisees would make an outward appearance for the view of other lesser men. They took great pride in showing others how they worshipped. Jesus called them “hypocrites” and that’s what they were.
Jesus warns us all of the danger of hypocrisy.
What is “hypocrisy”?
THE SIN OF USING RELIGION IN AN ATTEMPT TO COVER UP YOUR OWN SIN.
A hypocrite is “NOT” a person who falls short of high ideals or occasionally sins.
A hypocrite “IS” a person that deliberately uses religion to cover up their sin and to promote his or her own gains. A hypocrite is “Lost”.
Hypocrite in the Greek meant an “actor”!
The Pharisees were insincere and dishonest men who practiced their religion for the applause of men.
Christ will teach here that true righteousness comes from within the person. Christ Jesus will apply these scriptures to several areas of our lives. As we study this chapter we need to grade our own selves to see how we match up to these Pharisee. Remember these words from the previous chapter:
Mat 5:20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Christ Jesus was teaching His disciples and He begins by telling them to be careful. (take heed)
Mat 6:1 [Take heed] that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.
Mat 6:2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
Mat 6:3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:
Mat 6:4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.
What are “alms”?
The Webster dictionary says of “alms”: Any thing given gratuitously to relieve the poor, as money, food, or clothing, otherwise called charity.
The Strong’s dictionary of Greek terms says: compassionateness, that is, (as exercised towards the poor) beneficence, or (concretely) a benefaction: – alms (-deeds).
Though the same rules could apply to your tithe, but this is not a tithe. In most cases the world will show a sense of admiration to those that give to the poor. This was the purpose of these Pharisees. They wanted the world to see how they helped take care of the poor of their communities.
Giving to the poor was one of three most important disciplines in the religion of the Pharisees. The other two being praying and fasting.
Jesus did not condemn these things at all but He cautioned us all to make sure our hearts are in the right place. If we do these things to gain the favor of men or to try to gain favor with God we have done them for the wrong reasons.
1.) No amount of giving can buy your salvation:
Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Eph 2:9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
2.) To live for the praise of men is foolishness because the glory of man does not last:
1Pe 1:24 For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:
If we do as these Pharisee did we are perverting the act of “mercy”. This approach to giving was so apparent that the entrances to the Temple were lined with beggars. These Pharisee would make a show of giving to these beggars.
These poor people were sincerely in need no doubt but they were caught up in the deception of these Pharisee.
Verse 2 states “they have received their reward” and are paid in full. There can be no further reward of God. God owes them nothing. These men were not “giving”, they were “buying” praise. They wanted the praise of men so bad they were willing to pay for it. Sounds a whole lot like Satan doesn’t it!
Our sinful nature can defile even the act of doing good. If we desire the praise of men we will call attention to what we are doing. If our motive is to serve God in love and to please Him, then we will give our gifts without calling attention to ourselves.
Three things will happen when this is done right:
1.) We will grow spiritually.
2.) Others will be helped.
3.) God will get the Glory as it should be.
It is not always wrong to give openly!
Act 4:34 Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold,
Act 4:35 And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.
Act 4:36 And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus,
Act 4:37 Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
We can see that Barnabas did not give in secret but he had the right motive and did it in the right manner. This is the same Barnabas that travelled with Paul.
We can also see again how the act of giving is done wrong:
Act 5:1 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession,
Act 5:2 And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
Act 5:3 But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?
Act 5:4 Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.
Act 5:5 And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things.
Act 5:6 And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him.
Act 5:7 And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in.
Act 5:8 And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much.
Act 5:9 Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out.
Act 5:10 Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband.
Act 5:11 And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.
Here the act of giving was used to make people believe that these two people were more spiritual than they were.
To the New Testament Church God has these words:
Jas 3:13 Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.
Jas 3:17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
We also have these words of true success in the eyes of God:
2Pe 1:5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
2Pe 1:6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
2Pe 1:7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
2Pe 1:8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2Pe 1:9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.
2Pe 1:10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:
Mat 6:5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
Mat 6:6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
Mat 6:7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.
Mat 6:8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.
Mat 6:9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
Mat 6:10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Mat 6:11 Give us this day our daily bread.
Mat 6:12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
Mat 6:13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
Mat 6:14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
Mat 6:15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
At the time of Jesus, the Jews were much in the habit of praying in public places. At certain times of the day they always offered their prayers. Wherever they were, they suspended their employment and paid their devotions. This is also practiced now everywhere by Muslim, and in many places by Roman Catholics. It seems, also, that they sought publicity, and regarded it as proof of great piety.
A true relationship to God will be made known by true heart devotion to God, backed by all charity to men, by absolute sincerity and humility in the prayer life, by laying up heavenly treasures and by absolute confidence in the Heavenly Father to supply all real needs and overcome all troubling circumstances. This is what we call “faith”.
The Bible says:
Pro 15:8 The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD: [but the prayer of the upright is his delight].
If you want to put a smile on the face of God, talk to Him. He loves to hear from His children!
Isa 55:6 Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:
Isa 55:7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
If you want to see God’s mercy then pray to Him!
Jer 29:12 Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.
God will listen to you when you pray to Him!
Jas 5:15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.
Jas 5:16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
There is nothing out of our reach when we pray! If we say we love our family and friends and we have not prayed for them then we show God that we have no love for them.
Christ Jesus gives us four main instructions to guide us in our prayer life.
***1.) We should have a consistent, personal, and private prayer life “before” we can have a public prayer life. (Vs 6)
It is not wrong to pray in public!
The Bible says:
1Ti 2:1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
1Ti 2:2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
1Ti 2:3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;
1Ti 2:4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
Unless we are eating alone this prayer should most always be made in public:
Joh 6:11 And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would.
Act 27:35 And when he had thus spoken, he took bread, and gave thanks to God in presence of them all: and when he had broken it, he began to eat.
When we are seeking God’s help:
Joh 11:41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.
Joh 11:42 [And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.]
To be a hypocrite is one who will pray in public but will not pray in private(prayer closet) to our Father in Heaven. The observer could think you are practicing a prayer life that you do not have. You will be a hypocrite.
Our Lord prayed privately and He is our example:
Mar 1:35 And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.
Other great men of the Bible also prayed privately:
2Ki 4:32 And when Elisha was come into the house, behold, the child was dead, and laid upon his bed.
2Ki 4:33 He went in therefore, and shut the door upon them twain, and prayed unto the LORD.
Dan 6:10 Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.
Dan 6:11 Then these men assembled, and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God.
We do not have to believe that these Pharisees went out in public to say all their prayers but we should believe that they were proud to be observed while they prayed and that they chose a more public place to pray. They were glad to be seen praying in public. It is the wish to be seen that is wrong here. Pretending to have a personal relationship with God is the worst of all hypocrisis. If praying in public is to gain you a reputation then you are wrong and are in sin.
Our Lord is not condemning these prayers but is trying to purify the act of praying!
***2.) We must pray sincerely! (Vs 7-8)
The fact that a request is repeated does not make it a “vain repetition”.
Our example is a prayer of Our Lord:
Mat 26:36 Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.
Mat 26:37 And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy.
Mat 26:38 Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.
Mat 26:39 And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.
Mat 26:40 And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour?
Mat 26:41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
Mat 26:42 He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.
Mat 26:43 And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy.
Mat 26:44 And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, [saying the same words].
We have also the prayer of the Apostle Paul:
2Co 12:7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.
2Co 12:8 [For this thing I besought the Lord thrice], that it might depart from me.
For our words to be vain is when we pray without a sincere heart and not truly seeking God’s Will.
Reciting memorized prayers could be an example of prayers just to be in the act of prayer not having the desire for fulfillment.
An example by pagan worshippers:
1Ki 18:26 And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made.
The vain and heathenish repetitions which we are here warned against, are most dangerous, and yet very common; which is a principal cause why so many, who still profess religion, are a disgrace to it.
A godly man once wrote: “All of us have one routine prayer in our system; and once we get rid of it, then we can really start to pray”.
If we examine our selves we will find this to be true.
GOD ONLY ANSWERS PRAYERS THAT COME FROM THE HEART OF THE BELIEVER!
Therefore we should be extremely careful in all our prayers to mean what we say; and to say only what we mean from the bottom of our hearts.
***3.) We must pray in God’s Will! (Vs 9-13)
God gives all His disciples a model of true prayer. Jesus did not gives this prayer to be memorized and to be recited a certain number of times. Jesus does tells us all the areas that should occupy our prayers. Jesus said “pray after this manner”. This prayer is a pattern for us to learn by. This prayer is not a substitute for our own words and supplications. The purpose of prayer is to glorify God’s name and to ask His help to accomplish “His Will” for us, while we are still on this earth.
A.) Prayer must magnify the Father’s Name: “Our Father which art in heaven”
A prayer must begin with God’s interest and not our own. We have no right to ask for anything that will dishonor God’s Name, nor to delay His coming Kingdom, nor to disturb His Will on this earth.
If the Father is truly not your Father you have no right to ask anything of Him until you have accepted the Lord Jesus as your Saviour.
Joh 14:23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
Joh 14:24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.
Joh 14:25 These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you.
Joh 14:26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
Joh 14:27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
Joh 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
Joh 14:7 If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.
When we pray we must realize that we are all part of God’s family of believers. You have to be a believer!
Therefore a person’s first prayer must be that personal sinner’s prayer of forgiveness:
Rom 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
Rom 10:10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
Rom 10:11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
1.) Remember God is the Creator and thus the Parent of us all.
2.) Our Father is the Preserver of the family and the Provider of all needs.
3.) He is the Father of all those adopted into His family, true followers of Him.
Rom 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
Rom 8:15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
Rom 8:16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
Rom 8:17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
B.) True prayer will involve worship: “Hallowed be thy name”
We must worship Our God.
Joh 4:23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
God ask this question in Ezekiel:
Eze 22:30 And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: [but I found none].
To be saved is to be this man. To be saved is to pray for the will of God in our own lives to fulfill this request of God. To start then, is to first worship Him.
1Pe 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
1Pe 2:10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.
C.) Prayer must be about the work of God and His Word: “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven”.
We must pray that the fulfillment of God’s Will, will be realized on this earth. If we put God’s Will first, then and only then can we bring our own needs to Him.
God will provide us with the means to do whatever it is that He would have us do but we should have that same desire in our own hearts, without doubt of His power to do so.
Mat 21:22 And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, [believing,] ye shall receive.
Our mistakes are these in most cases:
Jas 4:1 From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?
Jas 4:2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.
Jas 4:3 [Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts].
Jas 4:4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
D.) Our prayer can then concern itself with our daily needs: “Give us this day our daily bread”.
This is more important than we first realize, for it shows that we are dependant on God for even our basic needs and we certainly are.
When the nation of Israel was escaping from Egypt. God set in motion a means for them to have food daily. They had no means to store food for a long period of time. They were sustained by a daily supply of “Manna”.
Joh 6:32 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.
Joh 6:33 For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.
Joh 6:34 Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.
Joh 6:35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
Not only do we need food daily to sustain our physical bodies we need the Word of God daily to sustain our spiritual lives. That Word comes to us through Jesus Christ!
Joh 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
That “Manna” had to be gathered every day reminding those Jews of God’s “day by day” provision for all our lives.
God may not drop “manna” down from Heaven to us now but He does allow a means for us all to be fed daily. To the believer we should not forget the bountiful hand of God.
E.) Next our prayers must contain confession. “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”:
God expects people to be forgiving. Through the blood of Jesus, God has pardoned us from all our sin. How then can we not forgiving to those we come in contact with.
Mat 18:21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?
Mat 18:22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
We can see that God has tied forgiveness directly to temptation. If we cannot forgive then our hearts are not right with God and we can be sure the devil will try his best to take advantage of the situation.
“Lead us not in temptation” does not mean that God tempts His children.
Jas 1:13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: [for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man]:
Jas 1:14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
Jas 1:15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
We are asking God to guide us in all manner of our life in this flesh, to allow His will to be done in our lives. We must be forgiving as he is forgiving and we must avoid situations that will place in temptation.
1Jn 5:18 We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.
Mat 4:5 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple,
Mat 4:6 And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.
Mat 4:7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, [Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God].
****4.) We Must Have A Forgiving Spirit:
Jesus “does not” teach us that His forgiveness is based on whether we will forgive others. This would be salvation based on works and this would be contrary to the Doctrine of Grace. For if not for the “mercy” of God their could be no “Grace”.
If we have truly been a recipient of God’s “grace” then we will be in readiness to forgive others.
Eph 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
Col 3:12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;
Col 3:13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
Col 3:14 And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.
Christ was teaching His disciples true righteousness not the righteousness taught of these Pharisee.
A Good Example Matthew 18:21-35.
Praying is a family affair: “Our Father”. When the family cannot get along with each other how can we claim to have the right relationship with Our Father Who Is In Heaven.
When we are saved we are born into the family of God. Our prayer life tells if we are truly a working part of this family. If I am not in fellowship with God, I cannot pray effectively.
Rom 8:16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
Rom 8:17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
If in salvation, I am indwelled with the Holy Spirit and I do not pray for my brother and sisters in Christ and yet I pray when called on in public, I am truly a hypocrite. God forgive me when I don’t pray as I should.
If I am to be a witness to others I must be in fellowship with my brothers and sisters in Christ. We can see that this is a sign of being in fellowship with God and it is important to our prayer life.
If God answered the prayer of a hypocrite, He would dishonor His own name! By granting his request it would encourage that person to remain in sin. God will not answer the prayer of a sinner!
Psa 66:18 [If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me]:
Psa 66:19 But verily God hath heard me; he hath attended to the voice of my prayer.
Psa 66:20 Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me.
When we see the lost desire to be heard of God, we owe it to them to pray for them, to intercede on their behalf, for we have one that does this for us, his name is Jesus.
Mat 6:16 Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
Mat 6:17 But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face;
Mat 6:18 That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.
The only fast God required of the Jewish people was the annual day of atonement:
Lev 23:27 Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD.
Lev 23:28 And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the LORD your God.
Lev 23:29 For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people.
These Pharisees fasted on each Monday and Thursday:
Luk 18:11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
Luk 18:12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
Because these were the same two days that the Synagogues met for service we can see that they had an opportunity to display themselves.
Their fasting was not just meat and drink but they also would not wash or anoint themselves, they went barefoot, and they sprinkled ashes on their heads. They would make their faces unsightly to show that were suffering in their fast. They displayed themselves in an ungodly manner just to win the praise of those that observed them. They were seeking admiration from the people of the synagogue.
To simply deprive ourselves of food, or drink or even sleep is not what fasting is all about. Unless there is a devotion of the heart to God there is no spiritual benefit.
True fasting is a secret thing between you and God. If we have to look miserable to be in the family of God then how can we be a witness to the love of God. If there is no joy in salvation then we are truly a miserable people.
No wonder Jesus gives us this example:
Mat 23:27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.
Mat 23:28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
To use the ways of the hypocrite will rob us of our character:
1.) We pray but we will never have an answer to that prayer or any prayer.
2.) We fast but we will show no improvement in our spiritual lives.
3.) Instead of the eternal approval of God we receive the shallow praise of men.
4.) We miss the blessings of God in this life and lose the rewards of God when Jesus returns and any that could be in store in the New Heaven.
5.) We will be a negative influence in this world we live in. This is a noticeable thing world wide and the world will point out every hypocrite in a way to the show darkness in the Church.
If we are to overcome the wickedness of hypocrisy we must first be honest with God in our secret life, giving, praying, fasting and all things from the heart. The most important part of the Christian life is that part that God only sees.
When our reputation becomes more important to us we have becomes hypocrites!