In January of 1979, I was travelling through New Zealand. In the small community of Orewa north of Aukland, while standing in front of a small corner grocery store, waiting for a bus. The owner of the store came out carrying two big cardboard shipping boxes of apples with a logo on the box that I immediately recognized. The apples came from a small town just north of where I live in British Columbia. A grocery delivery-truck was pulling up and parking in front of the store just as I was about to say to the store owner, "Hey, that is where I'm from, and those apples are shipped and delivered just down the road from me." Before I could say anything, the grocer said to the truck-driver very loud and emphatically, "Don't bring this brand anymore, they are always rotten in the middle!" Needless to say, I did not pipe up one bit.
I've never forgotten that loud and vocal declaration of rottenness. A few times over the years, as I've driven by that particular apple company's warehouse, I sometimes say, "I wonder if the apples are still rotten in the middle?" I remember the apples were so red and polished on the outside. It would be hard to see that they were rotten on the inside. These beautiful apples were hiding the fact that they were not what they seemed.
What is happening on the inside of your soul? Are you spotless on the outside and rotten in the middle so to speak? Matt. 23:27 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of the bones of the dead and every kind of impurity. Do you feel like things could be a whole lot cleaner on the inside?
To simply act as if we love God, will be discovered by God, because He knows what and who we are on the inside. The word hypocrite, from the Greek word 'hypokrites', means "an actor." Are we just pretending to love God and acting out a role in our Christianity, or, are our motives pure and upright toward the Lord? Prov. 20:11 Even a young man is known by his actions — by whether his behavior is pure and upright.
This is the phony pretence Jesus was trying to reveal in the heart's of the spiritual leaders when discussions of the law came up. Matt. 15:8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. The priests, scribes, and religious activists of the day could put on a big outward display of self-righteousness and flamboyant rhetoric, but they had no Godly substance within their hearts. Matt. 6:5 Whenever you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by people. Truly I tell you, they have their reward. Jesus was exposing the rottenness in the middle and was trying to show us our need for an inward transformation that could only come from God Himself.
God the Father, is after a relationship with His creation and is not interested in a bunch of automatons who are set on automatic religious response. The Lord wants a life-giving heart to heart relationship that brings out the eternal best in who we are. God has made a way through Christ and the cross to make it possible for us to get cleaned up on the inside and replace the rottenness of soul with real life.
Unlike the Scribes and Pharisees, we should never interpret the Word of God to suit our personal views, then, turn around and expect God to honor our interpretation as if God Himself wrote it. It is our pride that makes us create our own rules and laws that were never God's intention. Isa. 29:13 The Lord said: These people approach me with their speeches to honor me with lip-service — yet their hearts are far from me, and human rules direct their worship of me.
Our Heavenly Father is continually moving toward us so that we draw closer to Him. If we turn our hearts to God and let Him heal our insides through the blood and sacrifice of Jesus, then, it will no longer be said of us that we are always rotten in the middle. On the contrary, the righteousness and grace of God will have filled our core with His life. Amen!