Luke 14:1-14: Jesus Confronts False Religion
We all know that false religion exists. What are some of the facets of false religion? True religion is revealed by God, false religion comes from anywhere else, either from man or worse some demonic source. False religion because of it false view of God comes up with things that they think God will approve like suicide bombing; or because of their false view of salvation come up with strange ways of gaining forgiveness like self-flagellation. Since these false religions are not built on the correctly interpreted truth of God’s word they are full of grand gestures of devotion that God does not require; list of rules that accomplish nothing; they can be full of the trappings of religion like expensive buildings, complicated liturgies, generations of tradition, clerical dresscodes, etc. A classic contrast between true and false religion is found in Micah 6:6-8, ‘With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?’ Notice in v6-7 how those who do not know God’s character and how that shapes what He requires of us think God wants to be worshipped. Ironically we see an increasing of laws God has not required because of our false view of God and a despising of the God of our own making. It is quite common for legalists to quietly hate the God they invent. Firstly, it is all about doing the proper ceremonies and making sure the sacrifices are done. This is true but their thinking on it is not correct they think it is all about bribing God with the most expensive sacrifices like a calf. In their hearts because they have a wrong view of God they think that God wants thousands of rams, 10 000 rivers of oil and even the blasphemous and idolatrous sacrificing of their firstborn children like the pagan religions. In our sinfulness, in our ignorance, in our mistrust of God we add to, we exaggerate, we distort what God really requires. So the prophet Micah responds, outlining what a life of faith working itself out in love looks like, the pursuit of justice, kindness, and humility. False religion flows naturally from our fallen hearts; John Calvin calls the human heart an idol factory. We constantly take the truth of God and what He requires of us and recast it according to our own distorted views. This can happen in Israel and outside Israel, in the church and outside the church.