When Jesus says to the crowds and His disciples about the scribes and Pharisees, “all that they tell you, do and observe”, or when Paul says that “every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities” (Rom 13:1), are we to understand them to mean that we are to uncritically obey such authorities regardless of what they say? See Act 4:19-20, 5:29. See also Mat 23:3b and think: does not the context make clear that we are not to obey them if what they say to do is in accordance with their deeds that are contrary to what God commands? In what way then does Jesus’ complete statement in Mat 23:3 make clear that “all that they tell you” that we are to “do and observe” is in reference only to those things within the sphere of the authority of the role or office that they are lawfully exercising, and whatever they might say that is contrary to the greater commands of God from whom their authority derives is not lawful and ought not to be followed? Indeed, what does the context make clear is the main issue: that the scribes and the Pharisees were commanding the people things contrary to the law of God, or that they were commanding them things that they themselves were unwilling to obey? See Mat 23:3c, 13,14,15,23, etc… Again, in light of the most severe condemnation meted out by Jesus upon anyone in Scripture, what is the great danger to believers in any age, and especially to teachers, of hypocrisy and not leading by example?
What stands at the head of their hypocrisy that Jesus charges against the scribes and Pharisees in Mat 23:4? What “heavy burdens” did they lay on men’s shoulders? See Eze 34:2-4, Mar 2:23-24, 7:1-5, Luk 13:10-16, Act 15:10. By what means did the scribes and Pharisees “tie” or “bind” those heavy loads that they then laid on men’s shoulders? Think: how may the tying together of Biblical truths by fastidious study into a rigorous theology result in one being led by the letter of the law that is a burden upon men? What does this teach us about the danger of over-thinking God’s truths to the exclusion of simply putting it into practice? Cf. Deut 29:29. Although not necessarily wrong in itself, what had the scribes and Pharisees neglected in their adherence to God’s law that made their application of it a heavy burden upon the shoulders of the people? See Mat 23:23. Why is such a burdensome yoke upon His people so loathsome to the Lord, and why should the Jewish religious leaders have known better that made it especially shameful for them to impose such burdens upon the people? See Exo 6:6-7, Isa 10:24,27, 14:24-25. How very different is this from the nature of God Himself, especially as demonstrated in the example of our Lord Jesus? See Exo 28:9-12, Deut 33:12, Psa 147:2-3, Isa 9:6, Mat 11:28-30, Luk 15:5, 16:1-8. How was Jesus’ example emulated by His disciples in the early Church? See Act 15:28-29, Rom 14:1-6,13, 1Co 9:19-23, Col 2:16,20. What does this teach us our own example should be? See Rom 15:1-2, Gal 6:2. Is it possible that we could be like the scribes and Pharisees in placing heavy demands upon people for conformity to our own theology or religious practices, that perhaps extend beyond those of the Lord, but we are unwilling to lift even a finger to help them out of the mire of their sins and ease their burden? What is the root sin of such an attitude? See Luk 18:9-12. What reminder is the remedy for such an attitude? See Eph 2:3, Tit 3:3-5. What does Tit 3:5 also remind us is desired by the Lord more than our religious sacrifices? Cf. Mat 9:13, 12:7, Luk 6:36-38.