If there was any one group of people that Jesus could not stand, it was hypocrites: The Pharisees.
The Pharisees were a religious and political denomination within the Hebrew religion and political world that insisted on very strict observance of their interpretations Biblical law.
However, at the same time, the Pharisees forgot the true spirit and intent of the law and became self-indulgent, self-righteous, snobbish, and greedy.
People with pharisaical attitudes led Jesus to remark:
Matthew 23:27-28 (NIV) “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.”
Jesus went on to declare that people with pharisaical attitudes would not go to heaven when He stated comments such as:
- John 7:32-34 (ESV) “The Pharisees heard the crowd muttering these things about him, and the chief priests and Pharisees sent officers to arrest him. Jesus then said, “I will be with you a little longer, and then I am going to him who sent me. You will seek me and you will not find me. Where I am you cannot come.”
- John 8:21 (ESV) “So he said to them again, “I am going away, and you will seek me, and you will die in your sin. Where I am going, you cannot come.”
However, to His followers – believers – Jesus said they would eventually go to where He was going.
- John 12:26 (ESV) “If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.”
- John 13:33-36 (NIV) “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.”
- John 14:19 (ESV) “Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.”
Where was Jesus going? He was going back to heaven to be with God once more.
Acts 1:9-11 (ESV) “And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
Why did Jesus issue His Ominous Death Sentence to the Pharisees that they would not go to heaven but tell His believers that they would? I think there are at least seven main reasons.
1. Pharisees are any people who sit in judgment and call the good works of the Son of God and or the ongoing works of God’s Spirit evil.
Matthew 9:34 (NIV) “But the Pharisees said, “It is by the prince of demons that he drives out demons.”
- Pharisees are quick to jump to conclusions and harshly counter any person who holds thoughts outside of their narrow view of religion.
- Pharisees limit or discredit the power and workings of the Holy Spirit of God and do not consider the Spirit’s ongoing function and characteristics in the modern world.
- Pharisees attribute good works – that do not follow their “letter of the law” interpretation – to the devil.
2. Pharisees are any people who follow established rules of mechanism and codes (written or not) of rules based on works negating God’s intent. i.e. “Legalism”
Matthew 12:2 (NIV) “When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.”
Luke 11:39-40 (NIV) “Then the Lord said to him, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also?”
- Pharisees are people that follow a strictly ridged traditionalism to a “letter of the law” interpretation.”
- Pharisees view doctrine as only correct and scriptural if it follows “the ridged traditional interpretation of human opinion based upon past teaching – having no room for new thought, views, ideas, or understandings of scripture.”
- Pharisees view their own traditions as untouchable.
- Jesus answers the Pharisees by saying they needed to place more value in the moral, ethical, and spiritual intent of God.
3. Pharisees are any people who aggressively and at times brutally oppose those who they perceive to be contrary to their traditional views of doctrine and work tirelessly to tear down all who differ from their strict interpretations.
Matthew 12:14 (NKJV) “Then the Pharisees went out and plotted against Him, how they might destroy Him.”
John 5:18 (NIV) “For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.”
- Pharisees have zero tolerance for different viewpoints and ideas that challenge their “letter of the law” interpretations.
- Pharisees intimidate others for having a different opinion and understanding of scripture then their traditionally held strict interpretation that threatens their “letter of the law” views by extending retribution, of various kinds, designed to destroy or undermine the good works being accomplished.
- Pharisees are dangerous to confront because they strictly adhere to human ideology grounded in keeping the status quo and view all new concepts or interpreted analysis of scripture as threatening their perceived scriptural authority and power.
4. Pharisees are any people whose behavior is infectious and when lived continually over time makes permanent.
Matthew 23:15 (NASB95) “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.
Luke 12:1 (NIV) “Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.
- Jesus calls people like this “children of hell.”
- Jesus warns his true followers to avoid such people.
5. A Pharisee is any person who obstructs others from a true personal understanding of God.
Matthew 23:13 (NASB95) “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.
Luke 11:52 (NIV) “Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering.”
- Pharisees block the true attainment of assuring faith by people seeking a real relationship with God, publicly calling anyone who has a different insight as a false teacher.
- Pharisees devalue all non-traditional understandings of God’s truthful intent.
6. Pharisees are religious people characterized as pretentious, arrogant, and self-righteousness.
Matthew 23:12-14 (MKJV) “And whoever shall exalt himself shall be abased, and he who shall humble himself shall be exalted. But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of Heaven against men. For you neither go in, nor do you allow those entering to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and pray at length as a pretense. Therefore you shall receive the greater condemnation.”
- Pharisees direct this attitude towards any person that does not hold to their strict interpretation of scripture.
7. Modern day Pharisees are any people who have disregarded the true character and intent of the assignment of the Christian (individually) and church of the Lord (as a whole).
- The paramount activity of the child of God is reunion of a lost world to God, compassion to all people, sharing the message of hope, demonstrating real love to all people, and helping others in need. However, people with a Pharisees mind, tells people that the church can only help their own kind. This ideology does not conform to scripture. The commands of scripture direct goodwill to all people where love, compassion, sharing, and helping are concerned.
- People with Pharisees thinking fail to understand that the command to be helpful does not rest solely with people of the same faith and belief just because a few passages of scripture do include helping the needed within the church.
- People with Pharisees attitudes fail to understand and fully appreciate the intent of God, by picking and choosing instead of applying all passages concerning Christian generosity as a whole in order to comply with the intent of the commands of God.
Are you really a true believer or a modern day Pharisee?
Are you acting like Christ or acting like a Pharisee?
Lesson: Modern Day Pharisee
Given By Guy Lewis
January 16, 2011 PM Assembly
Payson Church of Christ
Study by: Guy Lewis, Payson, Arizona
September to December 2010