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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Find the Pharisee

In Matthew 15 the Pharisees complain to Jesus about His disciples' unclean eating habits.
"Why do Your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat." He answered them, "And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God commanded, 'Honor your father and your mother,' and, 'Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.' But you say, 'If anyone tells his father or his mother, "What you would have gained from me is given to God," he need not honor his father.' So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: 'This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me; in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'" (Matt 15:2-9)
Quite an indictment. The Pharisees were "teaching as doctrines the commandments of men." They claimed to love God but invalidated God's Word by substituting something "better". Of course, the Pharisees weren't unique. We still have that today.

We have Christ stating "Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, 'Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'?" (Matt 19:4-5) while they counter with "marriage is the union of any two people" because that's the more popular view today ... more "inclusive". We read "there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12) and "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." (John 14:6), but the Catholic News Agency released a video in January of Pope Francis declaring that all religions are different paths to the same God. We have God's declaration that "Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in His own image" (Gen 9:6), but the left argues that the higher right is the right of the woman to execute her baby before he or she is born. The Word is not unclear that "neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Cor 6:9-10), but self-proclaimed Christians argue that "loving relationships" nullify that statement.

People complain that taking the Bible at face value is "pharisaical". They say we should be more like Jesus. It would appear that Jesus thought that choosing to follow the commandments of men over the Word of God was one of the primary errors of the Pharisees. So which side is "pharisaical"?


Josh said...

Thanks for the post Stan. As with much of the Christian faith there is tension here. On one hand I totally agree with your post that we need to be obedient in faith and avoid sin. In addition to this we need to be filled with humility and grace when in relationship with each other, but especially when we are in relationships with non-believers. As I look at Christ it seemed that sinners were drawn to him, which seems counter intuitive if he was constantly beating them over the head with their sin.I guess when I think of "Pharisaical Christians", I think of people that put "right" action over God's saving grace.

I wonder how you would recommend finding the balance between encouraging people to an obedient faithful Christian life, and the grace, humility, and love we are called to live in Christ?

Stan said...

I understand the concern for balance. I think my best answer to your question is here ... yesterday's entry. Calling sin sin was Jesus's reality. He had no problem calling out the Pharisees. His Sermon on the Mount included a lot about "You've heard it said, but I tell you ..." " ... that what you thought was okay but is actually sin." But when done so as a product of love rather than moralism, it can have a different effect. When we are, motivated by love, encouraging believers to be faithful to Christ, it can be effective. If all we have is "You're doing something wrong and need to stop", it won't likely help either the believer or the unbeliever. You know, like "speaking the truth in love" (Eph 4:15). It isn't love if we ignore dangerous behavior. It won't be very effective if we don't love. Jesus had both. Both are required. So ought we.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

So who are the real Pharisees today? Those who do exactly what the Pharisees of the N.T. did:

Those who are false teachers.
Those who add rules of their own to judge what is “holy.”
Those who are hypocrites.
Those who refuse correction.
Those who push the letter of the Law rather than its spirit.
Those who nullify the Law by applying it only outwardly.
Those who puff themselves up as authorities to be followed.
Those who show disdain for the unsaved.
Those who preach a works-salvation gospel.
Those who claim that their detractors are working against God.
Those who are seeking signs and wonders.
Those who promote tradition over Scripture.

Stan said...

Those who push man-made rules over biblical ones (as Jesus indicated here).

David said...

Accusing someone of being a Pharisee or Pharisaical often seems like they don't know the meaning of the word. So often people are accused of being Pharisaical when they're standing on Scripture as opposed to being "rational" and using reason to know the true meaning of something.

Eternity Matters said...

Great post and comments. The Pharisee Card is like the Race Card in the hands of a "Christian" Leftist. Translation: Shut up!!

The Pharisees disagreed with Jesus, just like the people who play the Pharisee Card.