“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.” (Matthew 23:15 NIV)
There are many great deceptions and problems that we have to deal with in the Christian life: Pride, selfishness, exalting one’s self, justifying sin, and many others heart-attitudes are what comes to our mind initially. But what if I suggested to you that having the heart of a Pharisee is something more dangerous then all these combined.
Of course we agree the Pharisees were wrong, they were religious, hard-hearted and cruel to others that were not as fortunate as them to life so godly.
They looked down on all sinners and felt they had the corner on God! The Pharisee’s judged by outward appearance and judged everyone else so they could feel better about themselves. But the sad and tragic truth is the Pharisee’s did not feel they were wrong at all! They had a self-righteous heart but did not know it, they were self-deceived.
Now we consider ourselves in our day.
Can we be a Pharisee and not know it? Pursuing holiness, godliness and the overcoming life how could that be wrong? Could someone who is speaking all the right things and loving righteousness and hating wickedness be wrong?
We can have big bibles, impressive ministry work, many testimonies of overcoming specific sins, yet still be in the throe’s of a Pharisaic heart and attitude.
I could imagine the Pharisee’s coming together a few times a week to their secret meetings confessing their sins and proclaiming areas that they were doing better in. “I didn’t even look at any of those prostitutes on that street corner this week!” , “I didn’t even reply to those people who were joking about sin, I just gave them a cold righteous stare.’ , ‘those other religious teachers across the street they really don’t have the truth and light we have!” This all does not appear wrong or overtly sinful at first look, yet our Lord spoke the hardest against those that were confessing to preform very well religiously.
Our Lord declares to those we are having this heart-attitude: “Woe to you.” Oh that you would hear the passion and love of the Lord towards you today. He is declaring,
“Be in great distress over your condition, May you see it and weep and realize your dangerous standing.”
Our Lord weeps over such in our day that have the same heart as the Pharisees of old and still he cries to His father:
“Forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.”
If we are catering this Pharisaical heart we are not only a blockage to the work of God in this day but we are an active hinderance. We are hindering those others to come into the narrow way of life even by preaching the narrow way. It seems good to preach the message of the narrow gate and narrow way but if it is not with love or compassion then it will never build the kingdom of God.
The Pharisees had a few converts and they became just as self-righteous as themselves.
Our Lord speaks with such a broken heart over this sad situation “a single convert” yet the world of millions are not your concern. You care for the one that justifies your condition but not for the thousands that if you had the love of Christ would serve and love unconditionally. The Pharisees felt that it was love to judge others, it was love to condemn sinners, they felt they were being loving to require a very narrow way with many rules and standards. But they did not realize or understand the love of God for sinners or themselves. If one has not experienced the love of God then he cannot share the same unconditional love to others.
A Pharisee does not have a great love for the Person of Jesus Christ but only for their performance and repentance that they feel God will accept.
May we truly repent of this heart-attitude if it is found in us. Our Lord has such compassion and weeping over you even if you do not realize you are a Pharisee. Come to Jesus today and pray:
“Lord, I love you with all my heart, you purchased me with such a great price, I am yours and I do not have to prove myself to you. I am your slave. Use me how you will. If I have a hidden self-righteousness in me please Lord take it out. Pour your love out in my heart that I may love others as you love them.”
This “love” will allow the working of the Spirit back in your life and allow you to share the great message of God’s love with many. May God continue to keep us from being a Pharisee and not knowing it!
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SI Moderator - Greg Gordon