What Jesus Did! 'The Problem of Religious Pretense' — Luke 11:45-49

Saturday, August 5, 2023

"Teacher," said an expert in religious law [after Jesus' accusations against the Pharisees], "you have insulted us, too, in what you just said."

"Yes," said Jesus, "what sorrow also awaits you experts in religious law! For you crush people with unbearable religious demands, and you never lift a finger to ease the burden. What sorrow awaits you! For you build monuments for the prophets your own ancestors killed long ago. But in fact, you stand as witnesses who agree with what your ancestors did. They killed the prophets, and you join in their crime by building the monuments! This is what God in his wisdom said about you: 'I will send prophets and apostles to them, but they will kill some and persecute the others.'"

— Luke 11:45-49 NLT

Key Thought

Religious pretense and hypocrisy are damnable. That's not my opinion or the accusation thrown at believers by unbelievers. That is Jesus' verdict! Rather than seeking the character and the heart of God, religious pretense looks for forms and ignores character; it looks for self-justifying laws and crushes people. Let's seek the heart of God and hunger and thirst for his righteousness rather than settling for some man-made collection of legalistic requirements that make us look good. Let's use God's truth to bless and enable people to be what God calls them to be rather than setting impossible standards and then criticizing people when they fail. Jesus calls us to righteousness; his standard of righteousness is displayed in his own holiness and compassion, truth and love, and he has given us the Holy Spirit to help us live righteously. [1]

[1] John 14:16-17 NASB; Galatians 5:22-25.

Today's Prayer

Father, please prevent me from being a self-justifying, pretentious religious legalist. I want to have a heart for people like your Son demonstrated. I want to honor you with holy character and personal integrity. I want to bless others as I live my life of faith. Please, dear Father, help me never become an expert at religious law who is ignorant of your passionate desire for holiness and your consuming love for your children. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

  • John 3:16-21
  • Hebrews 3:12-13
  • 1 John 3:15-18


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Illustration of Luke 11:45-49 NLT — "Teacher,"

About This Devotional

What Jesus Did! is a series of one-year devotional guides through each gospel, using one short scripture passage each day and following the Gospel in sequential order. Each devotional consists of a scripture passage and a reflection and a prayer which open up the day's scripture and show how it challenges you to live for Jesus.

What Jesus Did! is written by Phil Ware and is available in book form.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.