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Text Sermons : Zac Poonen : Pharisees judge godly people for not doing something that they do

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The Pharisees said, "This man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath" (John 9:16).

Pharisees assess people not by their godliness but by whether they observe some religious ritual or not. They were certain that Jesus could not be from God, because He did not keep the Sabbath the way they kept it. We too can have our own ideas as to how something should be done in the church; and if someone does not do it that way, we can write him off as ungodly. Prejudice is a powerful evil that can destroy fellowship.

The Salvation Army (founded by William Booth in the 19th century in England) does not have "breaking of bread" in their services. One reason they gave for that was that many of their converts were drunkards and were tempted to go back to their alcoholism, when they smelt the wine at the communion. They did not practise water-baptism either, because they said that many who were baptized had not really been converted. But William Booth was one of the godliest men of his time; and he and his wife brought thousands to Christ from the dregs of society, all over the world. What would you think of such a man? Pharisees would reject him outright. But if I were living in England 150 years ago, I would have joined him in the work he was doing of bringing drunkards and prostitutes and thieves to Christ - a work that no-one else was doing. I don't agree with their doctrines in these two matters. But I would not assess a man's godliness by whether he agreed with me on baptism and the Lord's Table.

We have to be careful that we don't speak empty words of criticism against godly men like William Booth. It is true that Paul criticised Peter for a compromising stand that Peter took (Galatians 2:11). But Peter had recognised the grace that God had given Paul (Galatians 2:9). So when such a man as Paul criticises Peter, that is acceptable.

But who are the ones who are criticising godly men today? Invariably, those who have done nothing for the Lord themselves, and those whom God has not borne witness to in any way. Such foolish believers dare to criticise godly men whom God has used a thousand times more than them. That is Phariseeism.

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