Scripture Reading:  Acts 5:17-25

“But the high priest rose up, and all who were with him (that is, the party of the Sadducees), and filled with jealousy they arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison.”  (Acts 5:17,18)

It is amazing how jealous some religious people can be of others.  Religion is about people’s efforts to earn God’s favor.  It is the great enemy of the gospel.  The gospel is the polar opposite — it is about what God has done for us in His Son.  Religion leads to pride, while the gospel leads to deep humility.  Religious people are filled with self-righteousness because they view themselves as more righteous than others.  The gospel points us to our unworthiness and leads us to deep gratitude for God’s gracious provision of salvation.

These religious leaders were filled with jealousy, not for the honor of God, but for retaining their power and influence over the people.  They resented the way people were responding to the teachings of the apostles.  They wanted to do away with the apostles because they threatened their religious traditions and establishment.  These religious people were filled with religious pride.  They were entrenched in religious traditions, which were more important to them than the pure teachings of the Bible were.

Pride in religion and religious traditions leads to jealousy and conflict.  I’ve seen it many times in the course of my ministry.  People resist change and they become angry when their non biblical traditions are challenged.  Religious people are filled with pride and often with self-centeredness.  Their religion is more about their personal preferences than about the glory of God.  This was the case with the religious leaders in the days of the apostles.

The gospel produces a spirit of love, humility, submission and service.  As stated earlier, it is the polar opposite of religion.  The gospel is about grace; religion is about works.  When we focus on our own self-righteous works, we will become proud and self-centered.  For this reason, we must constantly preach the gospel to ourselves!

Lord Jesus, my default mode is always toward religion and self-righteousness.  Forgive me when I forget the gospel.  Allow me to live my life out of love and gratitude for what You have done for me through Your Son Jesus Christ.


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