Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness – Romans 10:1-4
Paul describes people who were figuratively burning with a desire to please God. However, as Paul writes, their zeal was “ignorant and misguided.” (Easton’s Bible Dictionary) Some Jews studied the Law of Moses to the point that they memorized the words. Others loved to hear the Law read. However, they failed to make application of what they knew and put it into practice.
The Pharisees of Jesus’ day knew The Law to the degree that Jesus said of them: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you.” (Matthew 23:3) Jesus says if someone wanted to know what the Law said, ask a Pharisee. They knew the words of the Law, but Jesus condemns them because they didn’t live by the Law. Jesus called them two-faced hypocrites, because they said that one command or another of The Law didn’t apply to them. Those, they said, were for somebody else.
In Mark 7:1-8, The Pharisees asked Jesus why His disciple didn’t wash their hands before they ate. Those people weren’t concerned with germs; they were concerned with keeping the traditions of their fathers. Jesus replies to them:
Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written,
“This people honors me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.
You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.
These people wanted to be right in God’s eyes, but they wanted to do so on their own terms. To them, keeping the traditions of the elders was more important than keeping The Law. Jesus says of them in verse 9: “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! ”
People today are no different than the Jews of Jesus’ day. Many have a strong desire to do God’s will, but they either don’t know, don’t understand, or don’t care what God says. Many are duped by the devil because he wears sheep’s clothing. Satan lures people into a false sense of security. One of his greatest frauds is convincing people they are right in God’s sight, no matter what they believe or practice. After all, one way to Heaven is just as good as any other. Jesus says in Matthew 7:13: “The gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.” Many are on the road to destruction thinking they are going to Heaven, but don’t know until it’s too late.