7 Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: 8 ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. 9 And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ (Matthew 15:7–9, NKJV)
This is one of Christ’s most stinging rebukes of the religious class of His day. Jesus literally “went to the heart of the matter”, exposing their religious pretense (hypocrisy). The scribes and Pharisees meticulously bound their traditions upon people, treating their traditions as if they were the commandments of God (Matt. 15:1-3). To compound their sin, their traditions also served to convince people they could disobey the commands of God without consequence (Matt. 15:4-6). Such elevation of men’s religious traditions above the word of God is sinful, producing vain worship – empty expressions of devotion to the Almighty. We must have hearts that receive all of God’s word, never elevating any human religious tradition above a “thus saith the Lord”.