It is fascinating for me to read Christ's interactions with different individuals in the Gospel account. He showed a remarkable ordered pattern of 'Connecting - Showing Grace - Dispensing Truth' with most people. 

And yet, there remained a group where he skipped over the 'Connection - Grace' part and went consistently straight to the Truth part: the Pharisees.

The religious establishment of the time, the Pharisees were the ones who made the link between the people of Israel and God. But they had corrupted that calling with the filth of pride.

Jesus did not show any Grace to them. On the contrary, he responded to their haughty attitude with harsh accusations and a telling portrait of who they really were.

I have gathered all the references in the Gospels to that particular group.

I wanted to know :
- What did the Pharisees themselves consider important ?
- How did they view others ?
- How were they viewed by Christ ?


The result is the study below where I have answered the three questions with verses in the order in which they appear. And a hat tip to Zac Poonen for his inspired and inspiring work in that area.

It breaks my heart to see that things have not changed since Jesus' time. I can see the same characteristics in myself first and in many profess the name of Christ.

My desire in this study on Pharisees is not to condemn a group that is long gone and already judged by the only Judge. It is to warn me about what I need to be careful of, lest the tide of my pride and moralism sweep me away.

The only cure to the very real and current pharisaic disease is one simple thing: Humility.

Study: The biblical characteristics of Pharisees (pdf)

Update: My definition of 'legalism'
 


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08/02/2013 12:26

PHARISEEISM---IS IT LEGALISM?

A favorite defense for those who do not want to obey God's terms for pardon, is to label strict obedience to God as Phariseeism. Is Phariseeism keeping God's law to the letter?

LEGALISM DEFINED: Strict and literal adherence to law.

Were the Pharisees guilty of legalism? No they were not. The Pharisees practiced illegalism. They were not legal.

Matthew 26:59 Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus, so they might put Him to death.

Is obtaining false testimony an example of strict adherence to God's law?

Matthew 28:11-13...the chief priests...12 And when they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers. 13 and said, "You are to say, 'His disciples came by night and sole Him away while we were asleep.'

Is conspiring to bribe men to lie, strict adherence to God's law?

Matthew 23:14[ Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows' houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive greater condemnation.]

Was devouring widow's houses an example of legalism or illegalism? Were the Pharisees literally following God's law by devouring widows' houses?

Matthew 23:23 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law; justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.

Jesus did not reprimand the Pharisees for their strict compliance to God's law? No, it was the exact opposite. The Pharisees were neglecting strict obedience to the law.

THE LEGALISM OF THE PHARISEES?

The legalism of the Pharisees was because they followed man-made traditions, not because they followed God's law to the letter.

Mark 7:1-7 .....5 The Pharisees and the scribes asked Him, "Why do Your disciples not walk according to the traditions of the elders, but eat their bread with impure hands?" 6 And He said to them, "Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: 'This people honors Me with their lips. But their heart is far from Me, 7 'But in vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrine the precepts of men.'

Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for teaching the traditions of Men. Jesus did not scold them for literal obedience to God's laws.

Mark 7:8 Neglecting the commandments of God, you hold to the traditions of men."

The Pharisees were not practicing legalism by strict obedience to God's law. They were illegal for neglecting God's commandments and keeping man-made traditions.

Is teaching what Jesus said in, Mark 16:16, being Pharisaical.
(Mark 16: He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved....)

Would it be a tradition of men to say that "has been baptized shall be saved?" No it would not; it would the words of Jesus Christ.

To claim that Christians are practicing the legalism of the Pharisees because they say you have to be obedient to God's terms for pardon in order to be saved, is factually incorrect.

GOD WANTS US TO BE HIS LEGAL CHILDREN

ILLEGAL CHILDREN WILL BE LEFT WITHOUT AN INHERITANCE.

WHAT MUST MEN DO TO BECOME LEGAL?

A. FAITH: John 3:16
B. REPENTANCE: Acts 2:38
C. CONFESSION: Romans 10:9-10
D. WATER BAPTISM: 1 Peter 3:20-21



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