Christian at the same time, right?" Wrong! You can still be a self-professed Christian but act like a Pharisee. Let’s look at some ways we do that:
Laws minus love: The Pharisees were very critical and judgemental. They viewed themselves as better off than other ‘lesser mortals’ and were always quick to point out the flaws in others.Doesn't it surprise you that some Christians believe they are better than others based on their race, tribe, gender, academic and economic status? We should always remember that but for God’s grace, we would be no better than those we look down on.
Hypocritical: The Pharisees were very religious, they knew all the laws of Moses, went to the Synagogue regularly, but their hearts were far from God. They often performed these religious acts out of duty not out of love for God. I wonder if some of us go to church, read our Bibles, even pray because we really love to or because we feel it’s a duty.
One thing we must understand is that we are not doing God any favours by doing these things. They are for our own good. They help us gain knowledge and strength to avoid deception and be all that God wants us to be.
Myopic and close-minded: The Pharisees refusal of Jesus was because He did not fit with their idea of a Messiah. Even when He fulfilled what had been prophesied about Him many years earlier, these people still refused to believe. To them, He was just a carpenter’s son. Does this not reflect the attitude of some Christians who hastily judge a book by its cover? Just because someone does not do things the way your denomination does them doesn’t mean they are not Christians.
Stunted growth: The Pharisees were people who were comfortable in their limited knowledge. Very few of them humbled themselves to ask Jesus questions on how to become better (Nicodemus is an example). Again this is the behaviour of some Christians who are so proud of their denomination that they refuse to learn from others. These people forget that the Bible urges us to “work out our salvation”. It is ourresponsibility because God will hold us accountable, not our church. As wonderful as your pastor or priest is, he/she does not know everything. If you can, listen to good sermons from other denominations or read books that can build your spiritual life. However verify that their teachings conform to the Bible so you don’t get deceived.
Love attention: The Pharisees loved to be heard and seen, it made them feel important. I wonder how many of us Christians attach our importance to the attention we receive from others. Do we seek God’s praise or peoples’ praises? Do we do things because we want approval from our friends and the society or because we want to honour God?
Jesus was clearly not happy with the behaviour of the Pharisees. They were neither hot nor cold. They knew God (hot) but their behaviour wasn’t godly (cold). The Bible urges in 2 Corinthians 13:5a to "examine yourselves whether you are in the faith." We should examine ourselves to find out areas in our lives where we have acted as Pharisees. The good news is that God is always patient and forgiving to help us.
May God help us become all He wants us to be, amen.