The PHARISEES were the most considerable sect among the Jews, for they had not only the scribes, and all the learned men of the law of their party, but they also drew after them the bulk of the people. They had their appellation of Pharisees, from parish, to separate, and were probably, in their rise, the most holy people among the Jews, having separated themselves from the national corruption, with a design to restore and practice the pure worship of the most High. That they were greatly degenerated in our Lord’s time is sufficiently evident; but still we may learn, from their external purity and exactness, that their principles in the beginning were holy. Our Lord testifies that they had cleansed the outside of the cup and the platter, but within they were full of abomination. They still kept up the outward regulations of the institution, but they had utterly lost its spirit; and hypocrisy was the only substitute now in their power for that spirit of piety which I suppose, and not unreasonably, characterized the origin of this sect.
They looked the part, they acted the part, but they had no recognition of Jesus Christ, who which was God in flesh. Ridiculed, despised and rejected. They had the Truth in front of them the whole time but yet they chose to look the other way. Jesus states in the book of Matthew 23…
“Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, 2 “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, 3 so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. 4 They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. 5 They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, 6 and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues 7 and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others. 8 But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. 10 Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. 11 The greatest among you shall be your servant”.
Jesus begins to tell the crowds and His disciples to watch out for their religious ways. In later scripture, Jesus calls the Pharisees “you serpents, you brood of vipers”. In earlier chapter of Matthew 15 He warns His disciples and now in chapter 23, He decides to make this public announcement.
In Acts 26, Paul testifies to King Agrippa about being a former Pharisee.
“4 “My manner of life from my youth, spent from the beginning among my own nation and in Jerusalem, is known by all the Jews. 5 They have known for a long time, if they are willing to testify, that according to the strictest party of our religion I have lived as a Pharisee.
12 “In this connection I journeyed to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. 13 At midday, O king, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, that shone around me and those who journeyed with me. 14 And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ 15 And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. 16 But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you.
We all can look the part, but are we living it out? This reason alone is why most people will not attend a church they think “If they think their better than me, and doing the same things I’m doing, why should I go”? That is a great question. Everyone will be judged for what they do, God is a just God, meaning He is fair. The main answer is not to use people around you as a measuring rod, whoever you look up to, being a member of the church, a pastor or a good friend that is “holier than thou” is not the right thing to do, we all fall from time to time and your friends, family and others around you will disappoint you in what you think they shouldn’t do. We all must come to the saving knowledge of Christ and that is what this is all about, don’t look at others as being judgmental or using them as a measuring rod. God is the measuring rod, if you want to be holy go after Him, if you want to do more for the kingdom, go after Him!
Living under law instead of Grace
Paul had to repent – make a
transformation of mind leading to transformed action – instantly. Paul lived a
moral life, so he didn’t have to repent of immorality – but of misguided
religious zeal and wrong ideas about God.
Modern Day Pharisee
Jesus came to give life for those who would call on His name, break the religious spirits that so many people still hold onto today. He is here but yet they choose to look the other way. We can’t make Heaven our home by being a “good person” as we read above that Paul still needed to repent and he was a “good person”. If you are finding yourself in Paul’s place by holding onto a law or a rule that has made you so heavy burden, cast it at His feet, if your tired and weak, searching to find rest, He is here, Call on His name!