A legitimate beginning and aim goes awry. The belief is that the Pharisees arose during the times between the Testaments. The Pharisees, which means separated ones, initial aim was to do better following the letter of the law. What started with great zeal led to majoring in minors and minoring in majors. Luke 18:9 is a good summary verse on the Pharisees. Matt 23 also contains a scathing retribution on the Pharisees as they did all of their deeds to be observed by men. Observations: 1. Never underestimate the adversary. The Pharisees were bowing down to the shrine of self. Our adversary can take something legitimate and good and twist it, turn it, into something far less.
2. Corruption emanates from within. Example: making a big deal of the disciples not washing their hands properly.The test is the test is the test. The measurement of your spirituality, 2 Cor 13:5, is if Jesus is not in you, you fail the test. Matt 5:48, be perfect as your Father is perfect, meaning, according to the context, the standard of right religious conduct is not what other people say, it is what the Bible says, what God says. Jesus is the standard of acceptable religious conduct.
3. No big shots in the kingdom, no “better-thans.”Right answers are no substitute for relationship. The Pharisees thought God was on their side. I can give all the right answers but if I am living my life day to day without communion with God, without that right relationship, it will do me no good.
Takeaways: (application time) 1. Focus inward foremost. Who are you? The Pharisees lost sight of that. What does God see when He looks at you? Is your faith genuine and real?
2. Be watchful for pride. You are not better than someone else because you have more right answers. You are what you are by the grace of God.
3. Monitor your motives. Why are you doing what you are doing? Why do you come to services?
4. Question assumptions and traditions. Always be willing to question what you believe, why we do what we do.
5. Practice love in relationships. Want a good barometer on how you’re doing? Truly, genuinely care about others.
6. Strike the right balance.
Only one thing ultimately matters. How can I influence the most people toward the eternal throne of glory and prepare myself to reside there?