“These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:8-9).
Having just severely rebuked the scribes and Pharisees for inconsistencies in their religious practices and for having their priorities upside down, Jesus here addresses them as hypocrites, using this quotation from the prophet Isaiah to communicate God’s attitude toward them.
The Lord emphasizes two points in poignantly describing how God feels: heart and doctrine. The scribes and Pharisees failed in these two areas. Jesus’ implication is that His followers cannot be like them. Acceptable service to God cannot be just lip service.
Heart refers to commitment and sincerity. While God wants us to follow the commands given, He wants more. He wants heart—that is, depth and sincerity. He wants total commitment from us.
Doctrine refers to the teaching God has given about how He wants us to conduct ourselves, both in worship and in our everyday lives. To please God. those people of old had to follow God’s commands. The same is truth for us today. We cannot follow commandments laid down by men. God remains our Creator and Guide; so, His commandments are the ones that will keep us in a covenant relationship with Him.