“I tell you the truth, corrupt tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the Kingdom of God before you do. For John the Baptist came and showed you the right way to live, but you didn’t believe him, while tax collectors and prostitutes did. And even when you saw this happening, you refused to believe him and repent of your sins.” (Matthew 21:31-32, NLT)
Jesus came to Jerusalem prior to his execution and taught in the Temple. The Jewish religious leaders rejected His teachings and plotted against Him.
Jesus told three parables in Matthew 21 and 22 to expose those who rejected Him and His teachings and these verses are the conclusion of the first of these three parables, the Parable of the Two Sons.
In this parable Jesus told about a father who asked one of his sons to go work in the vineyard and the son refused to go, but then later changed his mind and went and worked.
Then the father asked the other son to go work in the vineyard and he agreed to go but never actually went to work in the vineyard.
Jesus then asked which son obeyed his father and the people answered with the first son.
So tax collectors and prostitutes were like the first son who refused to obey but later changed his mind, They were repentant sinners. But the Jewish religious leaders were like the second son who agreed to obey but never did. They were pious pretenders!
And we call their bad behavior “giving lip service.”
Jesus said this pseudo-obedience is a very serious matter.
Pretension is the highest form of unbelief in the Kingdom of God because it presumes God doesn’t know your evil heart while leading people to believe your heart is pure and righteous.
The pretender professes to know God when he actually doesn’t know Him at all!
According to Jesus, people who are sinful and rebellious and then repent will get into the Kingdom of God before people who are sanctimonious.
Lip service may get you accolades from people but it gets you nowhere with God.
If you really know God, then you know that you can’t get anything past Him!
God knows everything!
He knows everything about you!
He knows your intentions, your motives, and your desires!
So, we must be authentic in our relationship with God. God can redeem a repentant sinner and transform him into an obedient child of God. But a pious pretender remains lost in his disobedience!
A repentant sinner knows he has been disobedient and needs redemption, believes God for it, and receives God’s grace.
The pious pretender doesn’t think think he has been disobedient and needs redemption.
The pious pretender thinks he’s already righteous.
The pious pretender never asks and believes God to extend to him His saving grace…
And, consequently, the pious pretender never receives God’s grace!