Modern Day Pharisees
With even a casual read through the Gospels, you will find a group of individuals called the Pharisees. They continually pop up
here and there and most of the time challenging Jesus’ teachings. It is a common belief that the Pharisees were the ones who strictly followed the Bible and the Biblical laws. I would dare say that many of the Jews at the time of Christ also believed this to be the case. According to the Bible, what the Pharisees did was twist......
...the Old Testament law into an irrational and unscriptural system of legalism. These religious leaders completely ignored the spiritual meaning that God had intended for them to receive. The Pharisees made up their own religious system and ruled over their people.
To understand the Pharisees and relate them to modern day Christianity, we have to realise that Jesus Christ did not rebuke the Pharisees for their zeal in obeying the details of the law (Matthew 23:23).
The Pharisee's first error was not their love for truth, or because they had zeal (a passion for Biblical righteousness), it was their love for tradition.
Jesus did rebuke them for replacing the Word of God with man-made tradition, and therefore making the Word of God of none effect (Matthew 15:1-9).
The Pharisee's second error was that they rejected Jesus Christ (Matthew 12:22-24).
Today there are many professing Christians today who trust in their religion and religious works to get them to Heaven, but not the shed blood of Jesus Christ.
The Pharisee's third error was that they perverted the Gospel (Matthew 23:15).
There are many professing Christians who have not indeed accepted the Lord to save them from an eternal hell. They deny His resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:13-14). Pastors by the droves have perverted the Gospel by inviting people to come to Jesus for a better life - for salvation from life's hardships and physical healing, but not for salvation from eternal damnation in hell because of their sins (John 3:36).
The Pharisee's fourth error was that they did not love the righteousness that the Scriptures taught, but instead, they loved their own self-righteousness (Luke 18:9-14).
Jesus rebuked the Pharisees in these verses, because of their self-righteousness.
Modern preachers spend their time boosting up the pride and self-righteousness of their congregants, telling them what they want to hear, but you can see in the passage above, that it is the acknowledgement of sin, and humility before God, that Jesus indeed taught. Many modern professing Christians have a difficult time acknowledging their sin, remaining humble, yielding to God, and like the publican, repenting of it. They seek out churches who are entertaining, comfortable, and who do not preach about sin. This behaviour is a sign of the times that we live in today.
2 Timothy 4:3 "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;"
Compare this with what the Bible says about holiness in
Titus, chapter two.
11 "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,"
12 "Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;"
13 "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;"
14 "Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works."
15 "These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee."
(Also see Titus 2:7; Titus 2:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:22)
The Bible is clear that it is God’s grace that teaches us not to live as we please, or like the world around us, but to live holy lives for Him. Consider these verses as well.
2 Corinthians 7:1 “let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit.”
Ephesians 5:3 “But fornication, and all uncleanness ... let it not be once named among you.”
Colossians 3:8 “But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication.”
The Pharisee's fifth error that earned Jesus' rebuke was blatant hypocrisy (Matthew 23:23; Mark 12:15; Luke 12:1).
The Pharisees lived contrary to their own teachings, but a Christian ought to follow the scriptures and live as Christ taught to the best of their ability. Truthfully, when sinful people are trying to live by a pure, holy book, there is always going to be a struggle with inconsistency, but it should never be an excuse.
Some other things to note:
In Titus 2:13-15 our lives are not to be lived by man’s holiness (Titus 2:14).
God’s purpose in a born-again Christian's life is to purify them and to make them different from the world around them.
Biblical holiness is to be preached with authority (Titus 2:15). Unfortunately, true Biblical holiness is not preached with authority in modern day churches. This situation was not the case in first century churches.
Biblical holiness prepares us for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13). Today there is an abundance of Laodicean churches with pastors that never preach against sin or teach Biblical holiness (Revelation 3:14-22). They refuse to prepare their people for the return of Jesus Christ, therefore leaving them to face punishment at the judgement seat of Christ.
Fortunately, we do not have to be deceived, because we have the scriptures. May we be diligent to search them out and be ready for the return of Jesus Christ when He comes to take His own to heaven.
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7 Lower Mallow, Limerick City, County Limerick, 061.22.44.22 or 086.79.39.106
At An Carraig Baptist Church, we take a literal, fundamental approach to the Bible (AV 1611). We are also a local, independent body of believers, which means we are not subject to any religious hierarchy. Being "Baptist" means, we hold to the Bible based, Baptist Distinctives, that have been the hallmark of true Baptist churches through the centuries. You are welcome to join us at any of our weekly meetings, or schedule to meet for tea/coffee.