I Was A Pharisee! Are You?

Matthew 23:1-46 carries a wonderful portion of Scripture that we need to take a hard look at.   I debated breaking it into 2 days, but just couldnt get myself to do it.   I love this part of the film “Jesus of Nazareth, even though it does not use the whole text.  List – I think it captures Jesus temperament when saying these word.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xjAwLTCEL9s.

So let’s break this down a bit and see how it applies today, and possibly to us (I know many of these applied to me at various time, so keep and open mind and ask God to search your heart).

Matthew 23:1 Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, Saying The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.

The key here are the words “to be seen of men”.  This was pride personified.  And it is rampant in the church today.  Think about it, really hard.  How many of the religious leaders of the day truly follow the biblical pattern of the church?  And How many follow church doctrine that was established hundreds of years after the church came into existence?  Doctrine that was created by man, not God.  Doctrine that is nowhere to be found in scripture.  These are the heavy burdens that are grievous to be borne, as Jesus puts it.  How many do the things they preach?  The Pharisees did not.  They desired to be in the highest place, exalted above the people.  Are you getting the picture here.  I was a Pharisee, and all these things applied to me.  What about you?

 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. 10 Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. 11 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.  

It is God who exalts men, not men who exalt themselves.  Now  must admit, I honor my Pastor by calling him Pastor..   think that is the right thing to do to show respect to Him.  We must be careful not to exalt these men, and thus are faith in their preaching and teaching, above the scripture.  They are merely men, and can be deceived just like we can.  We mus study out the scripture for ourselves.  I urge you to never take what I say for the truth until you have either confirmed it by what you already know about scripture, or look it up for yourself.  We must serve in all we do, and come to a place of humility.

13 But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. 

The rules that the Pharisees had made it much more difficult to keep an already impossible law.  They just kept adding ordinances to try and keep the people holy.  Laws will never turn a heart to Christ.  They will never turn this nation back to Christ.  It is a heart matter.  Let’s all make sure we are doing what 2 Chr 7:14 tells us to do.  One by one, lets reach the lost with the true Gospel of Christ.  That is what will change out nation.

14 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. 

Obviously, they were demanding widows bring their meager resources to the church as an offering.  They were supposed to care for the widow above all others (Ex 22:22).  I like the story of he widows mite in Luke 21:1-4.  The Pharisees would see how little she gave.  Jesus says she gave much more than the rich man.  We must care for the less fortunate.

15 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves. 16 Woe unto you, ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor! 17 Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold? 18 And, Whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whosoever sweareth by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty. 19 Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift? 20 Whoso therefore shall swear by the altar, sweareth by it, and by all things thereon. 21 And whoso shall swear by the temple, sweareth by it, and by him that dwelleth therein. 22 And he that shall swear by heaven, sweareth by the throne of God, and by him that sitteth thereon. 

The next admonition is to their desire for the offerings to be exalted.  The Pharisees lured people into their temple, and then demanded they honor the offering, as they saw it.  It was to be sworn by!  Jesus called them blind guides because they obviously missed the point.  Jesus tells them that anyone who makes a vow on anything involved in worship and sacrifice is making a vow to God.  In another place, Jesus tells them they should not make vows because most will not keep them (there I am again) (Matt 5:34-37)

23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. 24 Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. 

They are so concerned with the tither, they put it above judgement, mercy and faith.  That is a powerful statement of their condition – blind guides once again.  Jesus says they should do both.  We must do both.  It is not enough to give our time, talent and treasure as so many call it.  We must show mercy!  We must use righteous judgment.  We must have faith in God and our fellow man.  The Pharisee did none of these last three.  I have been there as well, and still struggle with some of it.  How about you?

25 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. 26 Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. 27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.  28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity

They looked good on the outside, but inside the totally missed the mark.  Oh my, have I been there.  I am so glad my sin was exposed 9 years ago and God provided a way for me to renew my commitment to Him.  That changed my life, and today I am a different man than I was.  I pray that level of pride never creeps back into my life!  And I pray if you have a hidden sin in your life you will take care of it before it is exposed.   I nearly lost everything (I did lose y job).  God has been so merciful to me!  You can read a part of this testimony HERE

29 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, 30 And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. 31 Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. 32 Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. 33 Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? 34 Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: 35 That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. 36 Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.

Lastly, Jesus brings them to the truth that they are the children of those who killed the prophets in the past, and disregarded their messages.  They have accrued a greater damnation and will not escape is.  All the blood that was shed because of that falls upon them.  They were the watchmen of the day.  ( Ezek 33)

Well, that’s a mouthful!  I can imagine how livid the Scribes and Pharisees would be after such a rant by the man whom all the people had turned to follow.  In fact, perhaps t was this discourse that started turning the people away from Him.  After all, it was only about 560 hours later they all cried “Crucify Him”.

Have you searched your heart?  What is God saying to you after all this?  I know  am constantly on the lookout for Pride to surface again, and mu wife is very good at spotting it.  She has my permission to point it out, and I listen!  Are you willing to listen to those who say pride might be a problem?  Take care of it today and don’t face a greater damnation!

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