Religious Pretense Vs. a True Heart for Elohim

Jeremiah 7:21–8:3, 9:22 (23)–23 (24), “The Sacrifice of the Wicked Is an Abomination” (Prov 15:8).

This message of Jeremiah reveals that the purpose of sacrifice and of all outward acts of worship should be to deepen the inward sense of religion and to stimulate one to a holy or set-apart life. Jeremiah, speaking for YHVH, decries the uselessness of religious activity when accompanied with unholiness and unrighteousness. Furthermore, he denounces the mere mechanical performance of acts of worship; of the superstition that the temple ritual could be a guarantee of security from the judgments of Elohim, while the Israelites were divorced from obedience to YHVH’s Torah. Only whole-hearted repentance could avert a national disaster brought on by YHVH’s judgments (Soncino Pentateuch, p. 439).

What is the true meaning of religion and what was the true purpose of the temple in Israel? Its purpose was to transform people into living temples that would be set-apart or holy unto YHVH Elohim. If they acted one way while in the temple and another way while outside the temple, then the temple activities had only become a mockery of YHVH, a farce and a repugnance to the very one they had supposedly come to worship. Humans may kid themselves by their religiosity, but they cannot deceive the Holy One of Israel who sees all and who reads their hearts and minds. He is not moved by mere outward show of religious piety. What are your true heart motives for pursuing the religion of the Bible? If it is for any reason other than out of a deep, abiding love for Yeshua, for a desire to draw close to the Father in a personal one-on-one way, to walk in righteousness as an act of faith and worship toward him, then your motives need to be reevaluated and readjusted.

Let us define some important words that sadly all too often relate to religious folk. They are…

Pretense, which is “a claim made or implied, but not supported by fact; ostentation.”

Ostentation, which is “an excessive display; pretentiousness.”

Hypocrisy, which is “a feigning to be what one is not or to believe what one does not; the false assumption of an appearance of virtue or religion.”

What does the Word of Elohim have to say about hypocrisy? Please review the following biblical passages:

  • Job 13:16; 15:31,33,34; 20:4,5; 27:8–10
  • Psalm 78:34–37
  • Proverbs 15:7; 21:27
  • Isaiah 1:13,15; 29:13–16; 48:1–2; 66:3–5
  • Jeremiah 3:10; 7:4, 8–10
  • Hosea 10:1,4
  • Matthew 6:1,2,5,16,24; 7:5,15,21–23; 15:7–9, chapter 23
  • Luke 11:39,42,44,52
  • Romans 16:18
  • Galatians 6:3
  • Titus 1:16
  • James 1:8,22–24,26; 2:14–26; 3:17
  • 2 Peter 2:1–3,17,19
  • 1 John 2:4,9,19; 4:20
  • Revelation 3:15–18

Now let’s review some statistics relevant to the state of the American Christian church from George Barna’s book, The Index of Leading Spiritual Indicators—A Statistical Report on the State of Religion in America. This book was first published in 1996, yet how much has the American church changed for the better since then? Here are some startling statistics:

  • 85% of Americans claim to be Christian
  • 10% of Americans are “Bible Christians”: that is, they fully accept biblical authority, total trust in Christ for salvation, are evangelistic and are active in a church, and believe in moral absolutes.
  • 25% of Americans are “Conventional Christians”: they claim total trust in Christ for salvation, are involved in a church, they exercise a privatized faith, believe in moral relativism and appreciate the Bible.
  • 28% of Americans are “Cultural Christians”: they have a universalistic world-view, their religion is works based (i.e., they believe that good people will go to heaven), they are moral relativistic, nominal church involvement and are Christian in name only.

Of those who claim to be Christian, only 40% believe in a literal Satan; 63% believe in the accuracy of the Bible; only 30% read their Bible in a week; only 57% agree that good people will go to heaven; only 31% believe in a fiery place of torment after death; 37% believe hell is only symbolic; only 9% knew what the “Great Commission” was; 63% had no idea what “John 3:16” referred to; and only 35% could accurately define the meaning of the word gospel.

YHVH sent the prophet Jeremiah to warn the nation of Israel of impending doom if it failed to repent of its disobedience to him. He then cites many examples of various sins that had become odious in YHVH’s nostrils. In their smugness, the Jews felt secure because they possessed the temple in Jerusalem. Surely YHVH would not allow the Jews to be destroyed for the sake of his spiritual house. Yet Jeremiah warned that this security was a false one and to prove his point he calls to their attention the example of the Northern Kingdom or house of Israel, which had already been taken captive a couple of generations earlier. What parallels do we see in the Christian church that are similar to those of the Southern Kingdom or house of Judah of Jeremiah’s day? How many Americans take comfort (and pride) in the notion that America is a “Christian nation” and that certainly YHVH would allow nothing disastrous to happen here? Some take comfort in America’s military and economic might. Others feel that a pre-tribulation rapture will carry them “out of here” when the going gets tough. Is it possible that some might be in for a rude awakening one of these days when things don’t go as planned? We know from history that the temple in Jerusalem—as if it were some lucky talisman—did not protect the Jews who. The stark reality of this came to rest on the Jewish people as they watched their beloved temple go up in flames, even as their conquerors were dragging them off in chains to be slaves in a foreign nation. Could the unexpected happen to America, or any other country? Is YHVH any more duty-bound to protect us than he was the Jews of that day?


6 thoughts on “Religious Pretense Vs. a True Heart for Elohim

  1. It seems to me that much of what you poignantly address here is relevant to what, I personally think, is one of the greatest mitzvot (commandments/instructions) of all, even greater than, though not exclusive of, the great mitzvah to keep Shabbat set-apart:

    “You must not take the Name of Adonai your God in vain, for Adonai will not hold him guiltless that takes His Name in vain.” [Exo. 20:7]

    I suppose one could say that to do so would be pretentious, ostentatious, and/or hypocritical.

    (And by “the Name”, I am not here emphasizing here the spelling and/or pronunciation of His name, which so many make too much of an issue, relatively speaking, but the character, authority, and esteem of His name.)

    Do you agree?

    If so, do you not also agree that there is so very little teaching on the meaning and the implications of this particular, very significant, and great mitzvah, not to take His name in vain, and why do you think that is so? Many will speak of kor teach on the the first, second, and fourth of the “The 10 Commandments”, but few, if any, speak of or teach on the third of these great commandments. It seems to me that to rightly understand this mitzvah would help us so much more in the kavanah (motives) and halachah (walk) of our lives because it addresses life in such a deep and pervasive manner, similar to the greater mitzvah:

    “You shall have no other gods (elohim – powers) before Me” [Exo_20:3].

    If our minds were renewed in keeping with the meaning and implications of this mitzvah not to take His name in vain, I think the Ruach HaKodesh (set-apart Spirit) would so much more effectually remind us of the Truth, convict us, and help us to be so much more set-apart, as it is said:

    “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword—piercing right through to a separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” [Heb 4:12]

    Here, I think, is a more specific yet very significant example of this mitzvah, not to take His name in vain, that is frequently not understood and, therefore frequently, by omission, not kept, or maybe worse, by commission, disobeyed, which, as is often the case, applies to both followers of Christianity and Judaism:

    “And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” [Matt.15:9].

    Thanks for any replies.

    Shabbat shalom.

    • Truth is always, Nice Work for those who desire Truth….even in correction what makes us sad will bring life.. So I will say nice work to you.
      Shabbat Shalom.
      Oh How much we need the discipline that is FREEDOM.

      Blessings to All.

  2. You are right there is a lot of pretending in the body of believers and many need to repent. Seek Yeshua, be filled with the Holy Spirit and Elohim will receive you. Shalom

  3. Yes, Yes, Yes…by the way I love that our Messiah’s name begins with Yes! Our Elohim is a positive God and we must take Him at His Word…I was reading a novel and in it the author addresses Him as Yeshua and I cried just to think that for so much of my life I was ignorant of the Name of the Father and the Son! And how we were told not to swear falsely in this name…it hurts when I hear sheeple not even wanting to know His name…in fact I read a book called “Shattering the Silence.” It was so informative about the name…I couldn’t stop crying…so Yes, I agree with you…you break one commandment, and you’ve broken all…this is why we need Yeshua’s grace to empower us to keep Torah once it is written on our hearts and minds…Hallelu-YAH!!

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