What comes to mind when you think about the pharisees? A lot comes to my mind when I think about them.
In the word Jesus had a lot of things to say about them. Jesus was never euphemistic when He spoke to the pharisees. He called them vipers, pretenders, blind fools and so on…..
What I would like to do in this post is talk about where they missed it. The pharisees followed the law of Moses. They were THE leaders in their time. They tithed like we do and probably more consistent than we do, they fasted consistently, they prayed as well, they went to church and taught, they memorized scripture and were probably more committed than us. The Bible was their history book so they could probably recite it! If we could compare them to some pastors of today, they could probably beat them hands down but they missed it somewhere. Jesus shows us where they missed it. I believe we can learn from the mistakes the pharisees made.
Jesus makes a very important statement concerning the pharisees in Matthew 23:1,2–
Then Jesus said to the multitudes and to His disciples,
The scribes and Pharisees sit on Moses seat [of authority].
So observe and practice all they tell you; but do not do what they do, for they preach, but do not practice.
I could stop the post right there, “for they preach, but do not practice”.
Jesus hit the nail on the head. The pharisees did not practice what they preached. They focused on teaching but never applying what they were teaching and what they were taught. They never meditated on what the Word was saying to THEM. They never allowed the word to work in their hearts. What was important to them was what people saw them as. It was all about putting on a show. They tithed not because they loved God but because it was law. They thought their actions were more important than what was in their heart!
They thought God was more impressed with their “show” of holiness than what was in their hearts! They neglected focusing on what was harboring in their hearts. There was evil in their hearts but they never dealt with it.
In Matthew 23:25,26, 27 it says,
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, pretenders (hypocrites)! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the plate, but within they are full of extortion (prey, spoil, plunder) and grasping self-indulgence.
You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and of the plate, so that the outside may be clean also.
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, pretenders (hypocrites)! For you are like tombs that have been whitewashed, which look beautiful on the outside but inside are full of dead mens bones and everything impure.
The pharisees never took time to look at what was in their hearts. They never took the time to really look at the state of their hearts instead everything they did was focused on what people saw. What people saw them doing was more important than what was on the inside. They cared more about what people thought of them than of what God thought. They wanted the praise of man more than God’s approval. I have not come across a scripture where I see the pharisees crying out to God. I have never heard them repenting of their sins or being humble!!!!
And this is where they missed it. Let us learn from them. Let us take stock of our hearts. Are we people who preach but don’t do? Are we always doing things that will be seen by people so we can get their praise or are we focused on pleasing God??
The pharisees did all the things a Christian is supposed to be doing but they thought works was the only thing that mattered. Works are important but they only make up part of the picture. They never trusted their lives to God. They refused to surrender their lives to God.
Let us allow God into our hearts and deal with us. Let us cry out to Him and allow Him to work in us. Let us be humble. Let us also tithe and fast and pray but understand those things should be done from a heart of love and not because of law!