Intro: A Pharisee vs. someone struggling with Phariseeism
PRIDE is very prevalent in Pharisee’s and Phariseeism. But those struggling realize it and repent.
God’s Word is Truth AND Spirit – Pharisees have the truth but not the Spirit.
“In today’s terms, Jesus was thundering against many popular preachers and people who seemed to be living holy lives – because they were practicing human religion rather than serving God with purified hearts” (InterVarsity Press).
They are very serious about their faith, but they are also very arrogant.
They may teach, but they don’t know the Teacher.
They have zeal, but it’s without love.
They’ve been attending church for many years, but they don’t know God.
‘Woe’ to the Scribes and Pharisees – grief; sorrow; misery; heavy calamity.
1. They “say” but do not “do.” They love preaching the Law at you minus love.
They add heavy burdens –
Matt. 23 Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, 2 saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. 4 For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.
OBEDIENCE IS NOT LEGALISM: We can instruct others, but it must come from a humble, loving heart.
2. They love to show off – they enjoy the praise of men
Matthew 23:5 But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries [a small leather box containing Hebrew texts worn at morning prayer as a reminder to keep the law] broad and enlarge the borders of their garments. 6 They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, 7 greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi.’ 8 But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. 9 Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 10 And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. 11 But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
Ulterior Motives: When they “do” something, they are in “show off” mode.
– Put my name in the bulletin, or I want to be a leader – recognize me!
Excerpt from Contentiously Contending (Anton Bosch): “…They enjoy the fact that engaging in debate makes them feel intellectual, while others just must have the last word. Then there are those who have to win every argument and who, like bulldogs, cannot release once their jaws have locked onto the prey.”
“Father”, in this sense, is elevating beyond what was acceptable – The Most Reverend, or The Most Right Reverend, or Worshipful Master, or the Pope.
Because they love recognition and want to show off, they look for opportunities to pull others down:
What do you think when you see someone caught in sin? Do you help, or hurt? Pull up, or pulldown?
Our love for one another proves to the world that we are Jesus’ disciples. Our lack of love proves that we are not [cf. John 13:35].
3. They are unteachable…they are blind guides – they lead you further away from God, not closer.
13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.
Seekers can be led astray – “shut up” is “shut out”
Here is the protection: Stay, Pray, and Obey
“For you neither go in yourselves” – unteachable
They won’t humble themselves – they’ll hold on to their pride all the way to their grave.
SAD FACT: They aren’t saved – 14 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation. 15 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.
They use the Word to manipulate – the poor widow who gave all she had.
Their zeal to win converts fuels their pride – scoring points w/ God.
They twist, add, and distort because they don’t have the Spirit: 16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple, he is obliged to perform it.’ 17 Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that sanctifies the gold? 18 And, ‘Whoever swears by the altar, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gift that is on it, he is obliged to perform it.’ 19 Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that sanctifies the gift? 20 Therefore he who swears by the altar, swears by it and by all things on it. 21 He who swears by the temple, swears by it and by Him who dwells in it. 22 And he who swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by Him who sits on it.
When anyone wronged their neighbor they were required to take an oath. They would swear the oath before the altar or the temple (cf. 2 Chronicles 6:22).
“Jesus rails in part against traditions that have created inconsistent standards of holiness. (We might compare churches today that rightly condemn smoking or overeating as polluting the body yet remain silent on watching television programs that pollute the mind. Some traditional churches regard particular styles of clothing or music as “worldly” yet harbor jealousy, materialism and other attitudes the Bible explicitly condemns as worldly. Some churches fight for the authority of Scripture yet care so little for it in practice that they ignore the context of verses or explain away passages that seem too difficult, like God’s demand that Christians care for the poor or witness to their neighbor.)” – IVP New Testament Commentary
Tradition becomes the priority: “Making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down” (Mk 7:13).
4. Mercy and Compassion are lacking
23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. 24 Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!
Weightier – more important; a priority
Mention of a tithe in the New Testament – but justice, mercy, and faith are more important.
They fight and contend for the little things, but avoid what’s really important.
⇒ Pharisee’s give to the church, but they aren’t joyful givers.
HERE IS WHY ⇲
5. They focus on the external but not the internal
25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.
Example: leaving a bowl of cereal out for a week.
27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
They dress the part, act the part, and play the part – but that’s the definition of a hypocrite, not a Christian.
Like an actor – they fool people most of the time until the heart is revealed – “when a vessel is struck, what’s inside spills out.”
Don’t forget – the Pharisee’s fooled the people until Jesus exposed them.
TAKE THE TEST: Do you say, “How dare you challenge me!” Or, “Lord, is it I?”
6. They don’t learn from the past – they excuse their actions.
29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, 30 and say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.’ 31 “Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt. 33 Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?
Condemned to hell – death sentence.
Only one way to escape – repentance (cf. prodigal son).
34 Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, 35 that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36 Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.
“Whom you” is an audience shift – encompassing all generations in the O.T.
In 2 Chronicles it says that Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada, was stoned “in the court of the house of the Lord” (2 Chronicles 24:20–21), But Zechariah 1:1 says, “In the eighth month of the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to Zechariah the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet.” This Zechariah lived roughly 300 years earlier than Zechariah the son of Berechiah.
THE KEY: All of the blood of the prophets will be required of them – they are murderers.
They didn’t learn from past mistakes: They knew that their Fathers had killed righteous men, but they excused it. Today, Pharisees can look back at their actions and see that they hurt people, but instead of repenting, they become cold and callous – they excuse their actions [PRIDE].
“The pride of your heart has deceived you.”
Quote of the week: “Many, who for the first time come under the sound of Holy Ghost preaching, are mortally offended because they have never been exposed to the white light of the Spirit.” – William Still
7. They are unwilling to repent [tied to unteachable]
Are you willing to change? They weren’t! 37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!
Willing – ready, eager, or prepared to do something.
38 See! Your house is left to you desolate; 39 for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’”
Desolate – emptiness, bleak, deserted.
“You say” – the nation of Israel will someday say, “Blessed is He…”
An Altar Call for Pharisees and Phariseeism
Altar Call – The call removes the hypocrisy – it takes the mask off.
Do what you tell others to do – don’t elevate yourself
Stop showing off and acting as if you’ve got it all together
Stop twisting God’s Word to excuse your actions
Stop running from God’s mercy even though you lack mercy
Stop focusing on the external – God knows your heart
Learn from your past – don’t let pride cloud your vision
Stop being unteachable – “the humble He teaches His way.”
Isaiah 55:6-7 (NKJV) – “Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the Lord, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.”