Matthew 15: True and False Faith (7)
Pray Psalm 132.6, 7.
Behold, we heard of it in Ephrathah;
We found it in the fields of the woods.
Let us go into His tabernacle;
Let us worship at His footstool.
Sing Psalm 132.6, 7.
(Finlandia: Be Still My Soul)
The word throughout the chosen nation spread,
to Ephrata, and in the fields of Jaar:
“Now let us go,” the faithful people said,
“and worship where our Savior’s dwellings are!
Around His footstool let our worship spread.
Come, gather to Him, all from near and far!”
Read and meditate on Matthew 15.1-39.
1. In this chapter, who demonstrates false faith? What makes their faith false?
2. Who demonstrates true faith? What makes their faith true?
In Matthew 15 we’re in the middle of Jesus’ earthly ministry, and Matthew uses this chapter to clarify the matter of faith – what it is, and what it isn’t.
The scribes and Pharisees believed in God – they had faith – but theirs was a false faith because it was admixed and corrupted by traditions and objectives that have no basis in the Word of God and His covenant. The religious leaders used faith as a weapon to control the people, rather than as a means to shepherd and edify them, and to lead them into the fellowship of the Lord. They set aside the Word of God – even as they gave lip-service to trusting it – so that their traditions and programs could go forward. They had faith in their programs and their goals, and they were misguided in believing that this was what God wanted for His people.
But their false faith did not sneak up on God, Who called them out long ago, and warned us to beware of those who draw near to Him with their mouths, but whose hearts are far from Him. They may seem very holy; they may be running very efficient programs; and many people may be following their lead. But false faith is false faith, and wherever men depart from the Word for their own projects, programs, and prowess, there true believers will turn away.
True faith is a matter of the heart, of what we earnestly long for and desire. If our heart is pure in seeking the Lord and His Kingdom, what we allow into our souls – heart, mind, and conscience – will only edify us and bless others. We must guard what comes into our soul, lest we, like the Pharisees of old, drift from our proper moorings and set aside the Word of God.
True faith persists, not so much for one’s own sake, but for what is right and good and loving – what is according to the good and upright plan of God. This is the lesson of the Gentile woman who pestered Jesus to heal her daughter, pleading only for crumbs of grace, and that not for herself.
True faith results in worship, as we see from the crowds who surrounded Jesus as He healed them and their friends. True faith sharpens our focus on Jesus, so that we marvel at His greatness, and by seeing Him more clearly, give glory and honor to God.
And true faith grows – sometimes slowly, like the disciples who hesitated when Jesus expressed His desire to feed the multitudes. They did not remember the lesson from the feeding of the 5,000; but Jesus gave them a second opportunity to trust in His Word explicitly, and to obey and serve Him regardless of how impossible the task seemed.
How does our faith measure up to the examples of true faith Matthew presents in this chapter? Let it be our earnest prayer every day that the Lord Jesus might increase and purify our faith, for then we will be His disciples indeed.
1. How can you know when you are practicing true faith?
2. How can you guard against lapsing into or following false faith?
3. What are some areas of your faith in the Lord where you most need to grow?
Be it unto thee as thou desirest. This latter clause contains a useful doctrine, that faith will obtain anything from the Lord; for so highly does he value it, that he is always prepared to comply with our wishes, so far as it may be for our advantage. John Calvin (1509-1564), Commentary on Matthew 15.28
Lead me ever more deeply into Your Word, O Lord, and increase my faith, so that I…
Pray Psalm 132.11-18.
Praise God for King Jesus, Who is advancing His Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven; and commit your day to seeking and serving Him in all your ways.
Sing Psalm 132.11-18.
Psalm 132.11-18 (Finlandia: Be Still My Soul)
Remember, Lord, the oath You swore to David;
do not turn back, do not deny Your Word:
“One of your sons, with your throne I will favor,
and He shall keep My cov’nant evermore,
and walk within My testimonies ever;
thus He shall ever rule as Israel’s Lord.”
God dwells among us, and He will forever,
to meet our needs and clothe us with His grace.
He has to us sent Jesus Christ, our Savior,
and made us His eternal resting-place.
His foes are banished from His presence ever,
but we shall reign with Him before His face.
T. M. Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).