Luke 11: Regulations or Relationship?

December Devotional Readings

The Book of Luke has 24 chapters. It starts with the story of the birth of Christ and ends with His death and resurrection. This makes it the perfect Bible reading plan for the month of December. Read a chapter a day and you’ll have an overview of the story of Jesus by Christmas!

God's Word is not meant to be a procedures manual of rules and regulations. It's about a relationship with God. It's not enough to know it. We must live it.

Open your Bible and read Luke 11

It’s an astounding phenomenon, no doubt familiar to every mother since Eve.

After a series of instances in which I mistakenly thought my children heard me, I began asking them, “What did I just say to you?

You know the drill. There’s eye contact. They might even nod or respond with an, “Okay, Mom,” but their actions betray them. It’s not necessarily outright defiance, but a lack of comprehension due to a failure to truly listen to my instructions. 

Eventually, asking them to repeat what I say proves ineffective. Somehow, they’re capable of mindlessly repeating my words without applying them. 

It’s a symptom of humanity. We all do it. And Jesus addresses this issue in today’s reading of Luke 11. 

Hypocritical Experts in God’s Word

At the end of this chapter, Jesus is talking to Pharisees. Pharisees were experts in the Mosaic Law. They knew God’s instructions well. So well, in fact, that they challenged Jesus on His own Law-keeping (v. 38). But it was evident they lacked comprehension (v. 33-36). 

In verses 39-52, Jesus acknowledges that the Pharisees appear righteous on the surface, but they go through the motions and arrogantly recite the Law in condemnation of others. He identifies a glaring problem: Like a child who hears Mom’s words and can even repeat them but fails to live accordingly, the Pharisees have completely missed the point. 

Boldly exposing their negligence, Jesus highlights 6 woe-worthy characteristics of the Pharisees:

  1. Majoring on the minors. They mastered tithing, but neglected the heart behind the Law – justice and the love of God (v.42). 
  2. Marketing themselves. Humility wasn’t found in their company (v.43). 
  3. Spiritually contaminating others. People unknowingly believed spiritually destructive lies based on the Pharisees’ teaching and example (v.44).  
  4. Burdening others in condemnation. This was a “speck and log” situation as they liberally doled out impossible rules and regulations without any willingness to be accountable themselves (v. 46). 
  5. Honoring dead prophets hypocritically. On the surface, it looked like they revered the prophets of old, yet they despised the truth the prophets had spoken and persecuted the living prophets (v. 47-51).
  6. Hindering others. They had “taken away the key of knowledge” and replaced it with rules and regulations they imposed on others but refused to obey themselves. This prevented others from understanding the truth (v. 52). 

It’s not a glowing report. 

Let His Words Change You

God’s Word was not given to us as a spiritual procedures manual, “Rules and Regulations for a Righteous Life”. It’s always been about a relationship with God. 

We often read or listen to the Bible with our minds without ever allowing it to penetrate our hearts. We know what it says, can even quote it to others, but it hasn’t gone beyond the surface. 

Or, we receive God’s Word as a rule-book and attempt to reform ourselves with a self-imposed legalism instead of absorbing it as the life-changing, spirit-transforming message of God. 

We don’t need self-reformation; we need regeneration

We don’t need information; we need transformation

We don’t just need to hear God’s Word; we need to live God’s Word

“… blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it (Luke 11:28, NASB).”

This message ties in perfectly with yesterday’s reading. Are you truly hearing what God is saying to us in His Word? How are you hearing it? The way you live your life and the fruit that you bear expose the truth about how well you’re listening. 

Let’s stop merely answering “What did I just say to you?” with our mouths. Instead, let’s demonstrate our comprehension with our actions.

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