We here at DefCon (as well as our brothers and sisters at other sites, such as Ken Silva and Ingrid Schlueter) use the written Word of God as the rule and basis for everything we believe about God and how one is to worship Him. For that, we are constantly accused of being “Pharisees” by those who would lead the Body of Christ away from the clear teachings of Scripture, and into areas which are questionable (at best) and/or heretical (at worst).
Well, here’s my question–what exactly does it mean to be a “Pharisee”? Are we justly accused as Pharisees by the Seeker-Driven™/Purpose-Driven™, “Let’s all just get along in unity” church-goer who does not dare speak for fear that it may offend someone? Or is there a more accurate description of a Pharisee? Let us examine the issue.
The Pharisees were outraged at being called sinners.
Luke 18:9-12—Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.'”
If you deny that you are a sinner, and you think that your “good works” are enough to make you righteous in God’s eyes–YOU ARE A PHARISEE!
Romans 5:12—Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.
The Pharisees placed man-made traditions, rabbinical writings, and extrabiblical oral teachings (e.g., the Mishnah) at the level of (and often times above) the importance of God’s written word.
Matthew 15:1-9—Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying, “Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.” He answered and said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? For God commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother'; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God”—then he need not honor his father or mother.’ Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'”
If you give equal or greater value to man-made oral traditions, extrabiblical writings, and other sources as you do to the Bible–YOU ARE A PHARISEE!
2nd Timothy 3:15—From childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
The Pharisees taught that good health and material abundance indicated God’s blessing on that person, and that the rich were more likely to go to Heaven than the poor. On the other hand, illness and poverty were signs that the person was under God’s curse.
Luke 18:18-26—Now a certain ruler asked Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.'” And he said, “All these things I have kept from my youth.” So when Jesus heard these things, He said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when he heard this, he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich. And when Jesus saw that he became very sorrowful, He said, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” And those who heard it said, “Who then can be saved?”
John 9:1-2—Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
Matthew 23:13-15—“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.”
If you teach that health, wealth, and prosperity are given to all who follow Christ, and you walk around in fancy clothes while living off of the last crumbs of the poor, and teach that if people are sick or poor because they are under some kind of curse, and you travel all around the world spreading these cancerous teachings, leading millions into Hell because of your blasphemous beliefs–YOU ARE A PHARISEE!
John 16:33—“In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
The Pharisees denied the Deity of Christ.
John 8:58-59—Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” Then they took up stones to throw at Him…
John 10:30-33—“I and My Father are one.” Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, “Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?” The Jews answered Him, saying, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.”
If you deny the Deity of Christ–YOU ARE A PHARISEE!
John 1:1—In the beginning was the Word; and the Word was with God and the Word was God.
The Pharisees taught that a person was saved by keeping the Law of Moses.
John 5:39-45—“You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life…Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you—Moses, in whom you trust.”
John 9:16—Therefore some of the Pharisees said, “This Man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath.”
Acts 15:5—But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.”
If you believe that a person is made righteous by keeping, on their own, every jot and tittle of the Law of Moses–YOU ARE A PHARISEE!
Galatians 2:16—Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.
Objection # 6:
The Pharisees demanded that Jesus give them “signs and wonders” to prove that He was Messiah
Matthew 12:38-40—Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.” But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”
Matthew 16:1-4—Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven. He answered and said to them, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red'; and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” And He left them and departed.
If you need signs and wonders to believe that Jesus is Messiah–YOU ARE A PHARISEE!
Matthew 24:43-44—“But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
Now let’s render a verdict, shall we? The Pharisees taught the following:
- They denied that they were sinners by birth (We believe that we are sinners by birth)
- They placed man-made traditions, extra-biblical writings, and oral traditions above the written word of God (an idea we do not believe or teach)
- They believed that health, wealth and prosperity indicated God’s blessing on a person, and that the rich were more likely to go to Heaven. They also taught that illness and poverty were signs that the person was under God’s curse. (ideas we do not believe or teach)
- They denied the Deity of Christ (we, in fact, affirm the Deity of Christ)
- They taught that one earned salvation by works (an idea we do not believe or teach)
- They needed “signs and wonders” in order to believe that Christ was the Son of God (an idea we do not believe or teach)
Hmmmmmm……………So, how is it exactly that WE are “Pharisees” if we don’t believe or teach anything that the Pharisees believed or taught? It seems like the ones who are calling us “Pharisees” are, in fact, Pharisees themselves.