Heart of a Serpent

Matthew 23:33
Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?

The passion of Jesus is evident as He upbraids the scribes and Pharisees.  Their position as religious rulers meant they had a greater opportunity to harm other people with their perversion of God’s ways.  Their poor examples as followers of His Father could lead others astray, and He didn’t want people to be fooled.  Everything they were about opposed Him, though they stood under the guise of religion.  And rightly He calls them serpents, for they do the devil’s work, the same work of that first serpent who is always trying to subvert the kingdom of God.

Jesus’ long list of the deeds of these so-called vipers cuts to the core of who they were and what they were trying to do.  As Christ exposed all that was within them, they couldn’t honestly deny it but would still push Him away and continue to destroy anything that opposed them, just like Jesus says—the children of their fathers who killed the prophets of God.  They only wanted a semblance of religion so they would appear a certain way, but inwardly they were seeking to satisfy every fleshly desire they had without regard for what God was really saying.

But if we do the devil’s work, we’ll only end up with the same fate as him.  How could the Pharisees think they could ever stand before God when Jesus just proved there was no righteousness within them?  He showed them that they were not even keeping the law, as they pretended to do, the law they were supposedly defending against the likes of Jesus, and so they were left unjustified.  They had nothing at all to stand on, and when they rejected Christ, their fate was sealed.

What kinds of things do our own lives bear out?  If Jesus would make a list of the kinds of things in our hearts like He did to the Pharisees, would we be ashamed of the darkness He found within us?  Are we doing anything that opposes the kingdom of God and siding with that sneaky serpent?  God will hold us accountable for everything that we do, and if we refuse to accept Christ as our own, we have no escape from hell.  But if we’re willing to recognize the truth about ourselves and submit to the leading of God, we can escape that condemnation reserved for the devil and his own.  And when we are followers of Christ, let us strive to live pure and holy lives that bear out the faith we profess to have in Him.

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