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Weekly Bible Study
“You're A Pharisee”
by Art Sadlier   
January 15th, 2017

Have you ever been called a Pharisee? Why were you called a Pharisee? What is implied in the term?

Those who use the term in a derogatory way are accusing you of being under the law and trying to impose your convictions upon them.

Let’s see what the Bible says about trying to bring other believers in line with the teaching of God’s Word.

Believers are instructed and commanded to exhort and urge other believers to fall in line with God’s Word in regard to their beliefs and practices. Notice the issue is God’s Word and not my slant on what the Word of God teaches. God’s Word is clear and it is easy to understand and easy to interpret.

The following scriptures instruct and command us to warn and exhort our fellow believers to conform their lives to God’s Word.

Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:2). You cannot say that a fellow believer does not have the right to reprove, rebuke and exhort you with the teaching and commands of God’s Word. (Doctrine means teachings).

Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers” (Titus 1:9). You may not agree with the interpretation your brother has of the scripture, but you cannot take away his right to exhort you, and you must give consideration to his or her exhortation or rebuke.

These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee” (Titus 2:15). The brother or sister that rightly uses scripture speaks with the authority of God when he or she exhorts and rebukes. That rebuke or exhortation must never be taken lightly.

But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13). It is sin that causes us to depart from living according to the Word of God.

Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matthew 28:20). We are under the command of Christ to teach our fellow believers what Christ expects of us according to His Word.

These instructions also include defending and practicing sound doctrine. Jude said in verse 3 of his epistle, “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” Notice, Jude said we are to exhort and earnestly contend for the faith. He makes it very clear as to what he is referring to when he says, “once delivered to saints,” that is clearly the teaching of the epistles concerning what we are to believe and what we are to practice.

Those who do not want to conform their lives to, “The faith once delivered to the saints,” will often reject a brother’s rebuke or exhortation with the derogatory remark, “You are a Pharisee.” The implication is that you are a hypocrite just as the Pharisees were and that you are out of line with the teaching of Christ who condemned the Pharisees.

Christians who have strong biblical convictions are often labeled "Pharisees." You may hear something like this, “I wonder what makes you so sure you are right and everybody else is wrong?" Look at the Pharisees, and then look in the mirror!" Or, "You're the best example I've ever seen of the Pharisee who sits at the front of the synagogue giving thanks for not being a sinner like everyone else."

When it comes to a Bible-believing Christian who is passionate to honor Christ and to obey God's Word, to label him as a “Pharisee” is a slander, because the error of phariseeism was not their zeal to obey the scripture. They had no such zeal. They were zealous, rather, to create their own religious system and to exalt their own self-righteousness. 

The question is what really is phariseeism and why did Jesus condemn the Pharisees?

 The following definitions shed light on the issue.

1. Phariseeism is replacing the Word of God with traditions of men and thereby making the Word of God of none effect. "Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men" (Matthew. 15:7-9).

2. Phariseeism is rejecting Jesus Christ. "Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw. And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David? But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils" (Matthew. 12:22-24).

3. Phariseeism is perverting the Gospel of the free grace of Christ into a work's salvation. "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves" (Matthew. 23:15).

4. Phariseeism is self-righteousness. "And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess" (Luke. 18:9-12).

5. Phariseeism is the practice of religious hypocrisy. "In the mean time, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trode one upon another, he began to say unto his disciples first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy" (Luke. 12:1). 

The following is a quote from David Cloud.

[It is a serious error to label a Christ-loving, Bible-honoring, peace-loving Christian a Pharisee. Jesus did not reject the Pharisees because they loved God's Word and took it too seriously. Jesus did not reject the Pharisees because they were careful to honor the details of God's Word. Never did Jesus reprove them for such a thing. Jesus did not reject the Pharisees because they judged by God's Word. They didn't judge by God's Word; they judged by their own vain tradition. Jesus warned against hypocritical judgment, but He encouraged judgment based on truth. Jesus did not reject the Pharisees because they marked and avoided false teachers. Jesus Himself warned about false teachers and instructed His people to beware of them (Matthew 7:15-23). Jesus commended the church at Ephesus because they had "tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars" and for hating the deeds of the Nicolaitans (Revelation 2:2, 6). Imagine that! Jesus commended the church for hating the deeds of false teachers. Obviously, that type of thing is not Phariseeism.]

To be zealous for God’s Word is to be in line with the will of God. "Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way" (Psalms 119:128).

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