“And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts” (Mark 3:5, KJV).
Certainly, you have heard of a loving and compassionate Jesus, but probably not an angry Jesus. The verse above shows us plainly that a group of folks did indeed make Jesus angry. Who were these folks and what did they do?
It is interesting to note that it was neither sinners nor sin that caused Jesus to be angry and grieved. Rather, Jesus looked at the people with anger and was grieved because of the hardness of their hearts. Who were these people? The context of this passage tells us they were the scribes and the Pharisees, those who were supposed to know God fully.
Their hearts were so hardened that they had abandoned the One who gave the Law. Instead, they focused on the law to the degree of establishing and enforcing an entire religious system from it. They saw God’s power clearly at work in Jesus’ life but rejected Him because He did not conform to their system and presumptions.
Scribes and Pharisees were not average Jews; they were perceived to have had a deeper devotion to God. The effect of the religious spirit is abominable. A religious spirit leads us to create a religion of itself outside the Word God has given to us. We do so to such an extent that our distorted understanding becomes the very obstacle to receiving God’s Word or experiencing His love. Jesus was grieved at how hardened His own people had become.
Can you see why the religious spirit is a weapon of mass destruction amongst God’s people? Is this hardness of heart by the religious spirit still present in the church today?
APPLY THE WORD
Whenever our understanding of scripture, doctrine or tradition becomes an obstacle to experiencing God, we are caught up in the religious spirit. Watch your Christian walk carefully.
Ask the Father to keep you from this devastating spirit. Pray that you will never focus on the system, rules or traditions to such an extent that you miss the One who called you in the first place.
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