Moralism Is Not the True Gospel. Christian reflection by John MacArthur
"These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh" . Colossians 2:23
In Matthew 23:13–39, Jesus pronounced a series of woes on the religious leaders of His time. Again, these were the most moral people of His society, people who were obsessive about keeping the smallest of Old Testament laws and Jewish traditions.
They even gave a tithe of the little seeds in their spice cabinets (v. 23). Yet Jesus’ discourse against them was the harshest sermon He ever gave.
He condemned their moralism as mere hypocrisy: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.
Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (vv. 27–28). Jesus never used harsh words like that against the outcasts, the prostitutes, the tax collectors, or the criminals of His day.
In fact, He spent His time ministering graciously to such people—so much so that the Pharisees accused Him of being “a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!” (Luke 7:34).
Moralism was never the message of the Old Testament prophets. It was never the message of the Messiah. It was never the message of the apostles. It is not the message of the New Testament.
It has never been God’s message to the world. In fact, God’s assessment of moralism is given in Isaiah 57:12: “I will declare your righteousness and your works, for they will not profit you” (emphasis added).
Where has moralism crept into your spiritual life?
John MacArthur is a profound teacher of the word of God, a zealous preacher of Christian doctrine, a renowned writer and speaker, and Pastor and Teacher at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California