June 10, 2004

The Way of the Pharisees

We all like to think of ourselves more highly than what we truly measure up to.

That's why it's so easy to find fault with our brother. We all perceive others as if they walk to the same drum beat as we do. Our concern over others actions and how their life is panning out is often one sided.

Denial of our sins is always more comfortable if we have our eyes on other's sins. This was the way of the Pharisees. They could say proudly that they were not thieving, adulterous drunkards, but they could not say that they were hypocritical, condemning, hard task masters. Which is worse? All are bad, yet the Pharisees lived in perpetual self blindness-although they were not blind to other's faults-only their own.

Think about this: why would one find fault if a man was cured of his blindness? Because from the Pharisees viewpoint, a law had been broken, a law that stated that one was not to do any work on the Sabbath Day- and that included healing. They couldn't recognize the blessing because of their strictness and rigidness to Moses's law. But this wasn't all it was about, Jesus healed the blind man-it was not in the Pharisees to do what only God's son could do, HEAL, so there was an intense jealousy of Jesus among the Pharisees because his Light and power they could not have. They wanted nothing more than to put out- (extinguish) that light and power that Jesus possessed.

Jesus did possess what they did not, but did the Pharisees choose to learn of him and his Father's ways? No, sadly most of them did not. The Pharisees wanted the people's admiration-they desired the praise of men rather than the praise of God.

John 12:42 & 43

42;Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue:

43;For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.

And Romans 2;29

But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

When Jesus stepped into their territory, it angered them because the people held Jesus in high regard. Jesus was pointing them toward God's true nature and not that of man made religion.

The people were being drawn to Jesus, and drawn away from the Pharisees. Control was slipping away from them. Control they had held over the multitudes.

Now what is interesting is this- that control is at the very core of religious fanaticism.

Bondage/Heavy Yokes

Notice how Jesus did not seek to control the masses. He was not out to gain control by force, yet religious fanaticism is all about control and bondage.

When you think of bondage what comes to mind?

Tying one up so as not to allow freedom of movement comes to my mind, but the dictionary definition is:

1.the state of being under the control of another person

What was the method the Pharisees used to enforce this control? Moses's Law- Scripture.

Yet at every attempt to trick Jesus into error using Moses's law against him, Jesus never tripped up. Why? He answered them according to scripture and truth. Leaving out man-made rules (doctrines of men). This left the Pharisees flabbergasted and bewildered. The law was being misused by the Pharisees and the reason? To gain and keep control over the multitudes of people.

Matthew 15:1-9

1 Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, 2 Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. 3 But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? 4 For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. 5 But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; 6 And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. 7 Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, 8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoreth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. 9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

They had changed the law and scriptures to suit their agendas.

Whenever we as Christians form exclusive groups and try to seclude ourselves from other Christians or even the world, we haven't long before we've lost our joy, peace, hope and love-but most of all, our focus. And the Pharisees were nothing if not an exclusive "group".

The Pharisees were so completely blinded, that the ONE they were told to wait and watch for showed up and yet they didn't recognize him, Their long awaited Messiah.

38 And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not.

39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.

40 And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.

41 I receive not honor from men.

42 But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you.

43 I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.

44 How can ye believe, which receive honor one of another, and seek not the honor that cometh from God only?

45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust.

46 For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me.

47 But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?

No room...

The truth is, just as there was no room in the Inn for Jesus's birth, likewise, there was no room for Jesus in the Pharisees's exclusive group.

They had no room for the freedom from bondage that Jesus taught. Why would they? Because it worked to their advantage to have men in bondage to the LETTER of the LAW rather than living by the SPIRIT.

The Spirit they could not control. The letter of the law-THEY COULD.

When Jesus introduced a new and living way to the people, they reacted favorable, that was the beginning of the end. From the entrance of Jesus and the Disciples to Jerusalem, to the first act when Jesus overturned the tables of the money changers, the Pharisees knew there was no agreement between themselves and him. They had not one thing in common. They were on two different planes. Just as Jesus said "Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world. , or "Ye are of your father, the devil, and the lusts of your father will do.".. Jesus and the Pharisees were so totally opposed toward each other, that not one point could be found to even begin to fuse them together.

Is it any wonder that in this life, a person that walks in the Spirit and a person that walks in bondage (Man made religion) can never be in agreement?

Those that walk in the spirit enjoy their freedom in Christ-all the while obeying God's commands. Knowing that they are justified by faith alone, while man made religion only recognizes what the man (flesh) can and does accomplish. The Spirit is irrelevant to them- they don't understand it.

This was the way of the Pharisees

But the way of God is clear:

It is not by might nor by power but by my spirit sayeth the Lord of Hosts.

When we are ready to give up the fight of the flesh and give over to the spirit of God and let go of our might, our power, our control, it is in that moment that we can become a useful tool of the Spirit.

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