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But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless. Matthew 12:7

Read Hosea 6:4-11

The Lord Jesus gave a third proof as to why His disciples were not guilty of breaking the commandments. He used Hosea 6:6 to do so. There we read:

For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.

By this reference, Christ showed the excellence of goodness and mercy in comparison to going through the motions of sacrifices and self-made rules. The Pharisees were guilty of transgressing the second table of the law while adhering to their self made bylaws. They were hypocrites. Calvin correctly wrote that, with all their religious fanfare, they adulterated the fruits of a godly life. This showed they really did not know the Scriptures.

If they had really understood them, they would have known that mercy is more important than sacrifice, and would then not have condemned the disciples. The keeping of the Sabbath did not mean that people must go hungry. It is important to know the real meaning of the Bible, rather than to always take it literally. It is possible to focus on the letter or literal meaning of the passage and at the same time miss the spirit or application. Without spiritually understanding the Word, we easily end up thoughtlessly condemning others.

The disciples had not made themselves guilty of transgressing God’s law, yet they were condemned by the Pharisees. The performance of outward religious formalities without charity and mercy does not have any value before the Lord. The main requirement is love to God. Without true repentance and faith, mercy is absent. The Pharisees did not have genuine love. Is this also true of you?

Thought: True mercy is a heart issue.

Psalter 428:8 (based on Psalm 119) Thy Word is as a lamp unto my feet, A light upon my pathway unto heaven; I’ve sworn an oath, which gladly I’ll repeat, That I shall keep, as always I have striven, Thy righteous judgments, holy and complete, When unto me Thy helping grace is given.


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