Read through the Gospels in a Year: Luke 11:37-54
Read the New Testament in a Year: 2 Thessalonians 1:8-12
“You Pharisees clean the outside … but inside you are full of greed and wickedness.” Luke 11:39
As religious leaders, the Pharisees often challenged Jesus because they felt threatened by his teachings. Jesus taught that spiritual cleansing and renewal took place in a person’s heart and showed on the outside in acts of mercy and justice. But the Pharisees taught a religion of mostly man-made rules and ceremonies. On the outside they appeared pious, but on the inside many were filled with sinful thoughts and intentions. Jesus says “Woe …” to them several times to warn that God’s punishment on them would be terrible.
False religion often focuses on the outward rather than the inward. It appeals to people’s tastes, senses, and material ambitions rather than to hearts yearning for cleansing and renewal.
Truly following Jesus calls for God’s cleansing from the inside out. It involves consistent time in prayer, reading His Word, and personal fellowship with God and other believers (maybe join a small group hint hint ;). You need others to go in this journey with you.
One mistake Christians can make is to put more time and energy into outside activities than into inside disciplines. Think of the religious leaders of Jesus’ day who went terribly wrong because they emphasized the outside over the inside.