We can deceive ourselves as a church in two ways. One is by imagining that we are a wonderful church because we have many rich, educated and cultured people in high positions in our church but most of whom are ungodly. The other way is by imagining that we are a wonderful church because we don't have any rich, educated people, but only a bunch of poor, uneducated people but most of whom are ungodly! Both churches are Babylonian - with different colours. Don't imagine that poor people are all spiritual or that rich people are all unspiritual. Poverty does not equal godliness.
Don't make people twofold the children of hell. Which is more important, the gold or the temple that sanctified the gold? Therefore, whoever swears by the altar, swears both by the altar and by everything on it. And whoever swears by the temple, swears both by the temple and by Him who dwells within it. And whoever swears by heaven, swears both by the throne of God and by Him who sits upon it.
The Pharisees interpreted Scripture with their minds, without any revelation from God. So they would modify God's Word according to their own ideas and preach that as God's law. There are Pharisaical preachers doing that today too. They don't understand the spirit behind God's Word, but preach it according to the letter - and " the letter kills " 2 Corinthians These preachers don't see their inconsistency either, when they disobey that same word in some other area.
Here is one example. Some church-leaders teach that the wearing of jewellery is a sinful luxury and look down on any sister who may be wearing even imitation jewellery that costs just rupees. But those same preachers may have spent more than a million rupees in building their own house with many luxurious fittings in it. But they don't see their inconsistency and hypocrisy there. They ease their conscience by saying that Scripture does not speak against the use of expensive marble flooring in a house, but only against jewellery 1 Timothy ; 1 Peter !!
But Scripture actually urges us to avoid all unnecessary luxuries. There are many other examples like this. Such church-leaders do not have the revelation of the Holy Spirit on the Word. Instead, they interpret Scripture to suit their own convenience and judge others. Pharisees take some small aspect of a commandment in Scripture, and emphasise that.
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They " major on minors ". There is a lot of preaching like that today. Such preaching will make a church full of legalistic people who are proud of their obedience in minor matters but who are unconscious of their utter disobedience in major matters. Jesus did not tell the Pharisees not to tithe dill and cumin etc.
What He did say was that the major matters in God's Law needed more emphasis than tithing. I studied through the four gospels once and wrote down all the subjects that Jesus emphasised : He preached on repentance, poverty of spirit, gentleness, purity, mourning for sin, paying one's taxes, being born again, worshipping God in spirit, love, humility, marital faithfulness, breaking with human traditions, etc. But He never once spoke on how people should dress or whether women should wear jewellery or veil their heads.
He did speak however on living a simple lifestyle and on not loving money. I then studied the epistles to see what subjects were emphasised much by the Holy Spirit, and what subjects were emphasised very little , or not mentioned at all. Thus I discovered what I should emphasise most in my preaching and what I should give less importance to. If you study Scripture like that, you will be balanced in your teaching and you will avoid becoming a Pharisaical preacher.
The Pharisees were unjust and unfair in their dealings with people. They had no mercy towards those who had failed and they were not faithful in their private lives. But with all these lacks in their lives, they still considered themselves holy, because of their fastings and prayers and Bible knowledge, etc. They were like a bride going to her wedding whose bridal gown was all dirty and messy but who was only concerned that she should walk gracefully into the wedding. If there is selfishness, pride, unmerciful attitudes and unfaithfulness in our lives, then to glory in our religious activities is only to deceive ourselves that we are spiritual.
We need to recognise what the weightier matters of the Christian life are - and concentrate on them first. Pharisees are very careful in small unimportant matters straining out dead mosquitoes. But they neglect to obey the commands in Scripture swallowing dead camels. Jesus was not thereby telling the Pharisees that it was all right to swallow dead mosquitoes. He was showing them their inconsistency in neglecting more important matters.
Such Pharisees are careful in small matters such as wearing clean clothes when going to the church meetings, or in keeping their houses neat and tidy. These are good habits. But when it comes to more important matters such as seeking God earnestly to overcome anger and sexual lust, or helping in the practical work in the church, or travelling to the villages to bring people to Christ, they are not so keen - because these matters require the sacrifice of one's convenience, time and money.
The Message Translation paraphrases this verse thus: " Do you have any idea how silly you look, writing a life story that's wrong from start to finish, but nitpicking over commas and semicolons? There are Bible Memory competitions held in Bangalore that many Christians participate in to get a prize of a few hundred rupees. To win that prize, one has to write down not only all the words of the Scripture passage accurately, but also place all the commas and the semi-colons accurately!!
a hidden pharisee in me let me check Manual
Some believers spend weeks and weeks memorizing the correct places for these commas and semi-colons in order to win this prize. But all the while they live in disobedience to the Scriptures in their homes. But that does not disturb them. You can win the first prize in such Bible contests and still be a Pharisee of the first order. Love is the ultimate end and goal of the gospel 1 Timothy - to love God with all our heart, soul and strength and to love our fellow-believers as Christ loved us.
If we pursue after this love, we will know instinctively what the most important things in the Christian life are. You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also" Matthew , Pharisees clean the outside of their lives, but do not bother about the state of their hearts, which are full of self-indulgence and greed.
They live with selfish motives, thinking only of getting more and more money and honour and comfort for themselves and their families. But outwardly they are pious and religious and even active in all sorts of "ministries" that other Christians can see.
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Thus they get a good reputation before people. God tests us to see whether we seek His approval or man's. One who is careless about impurity in his heart but only concerned to have a good testimony before people proves thereby that he has no fear of God at all. He is a Pharisee. People look at us on the outside, but God looks at our hearts 1 Samuel The primary mark of a godly man is that he seeks to keep his heart clean and pure before God. Pharisees look at the sins and failures of others and say, "We would never have done that.
We would never dress like that. We would never have behaved like that. We would never have spoken like that", etc. We need to recognise, even as the best of Christians, that we have the same corrupt flesh that every child of Adam has. Pharisees do not recognise the corruption in their own flesh. A godly man would acknowledge that he is capable of committing any sin that anyone has ever committed.
He will acknowledge that it is only God's restraining grace that has kept him from committing many sins.
An old saint of God, when he saw a criminal being led to his execution, said, " There, but for the grace of God, go I ". That saint recognised that he was capable of committing every crime that the criminal had committed, if it were not for the restraining power of God's grace that he had opened his heart to receive.
Every godly man will acknowledge that.