Pharisee; the word reflects harshness,hypocrisy, legalism.It's a term you don't call your friends and even our enemies are usually undeserving of this insult.
I've been called a Pharisee...more than once. I've considered it ..and found yes there probably are Pharisaical tendencies in me. Perhaps there are some in you too.Perhaps it's part of the human condition Anyhow I decided to do what I usually do when I need answers;I went to the word of God.
What I found is quite enlightening .
What Jesus says about (and to) Pharisees.
1 They were ignorant of the scriptures
This is an interesting point because often the charge of Pharisee is levelled at someone who is declaring the council of God on a particular issue.eg Sex outside of marriage as sinful in God's eyes. Response :Pharisee! or homosexuality is an act (not a condition) that will land the unrepentant in Hell.Response: Intolerant Pharisee!
Well no.The Pharisees did not know or preach the scriptures. Mt 22:29 you are in error because you do not know the scriptures nor the power of God.
So according to this verse it's not the ones who are holding up the truth of God's word that are true Pharisees but rather those who are ignorant of and disrespectful of the full counsel of God.
2 They were in positions of authority
The Pharisees were religious leaders who abused their position and twisted God's word to protect their "turf". This again is interesting as often the popular religious celebrity will level the charge "Pharisee" at some humble believer who has no crowds of followers ,no turf to defend and no agenda other than trying to live faithfully in the eyes of the Lord.Remember that...the Pharisees were the ones with power. And there are no doubt Pharisees today who stand 6 feet above contradiction. Of course not every church leader is a Pharisee but every Pharisee was a religious leader.
3 The Pharisees had no sense of God's priorities.
The Lord had regular conflicts with the Pharisees over the Sabbath .He pointed out that they would release their animal from a pit on the Sabbath but were incensed when Jesus healed someone.In fact they were so angry about the Sabbath issue that they plotted how to KILL Him.Talk about having no priorities ! They wanted to kill a man (and not just any man but the God-Man) to protect their sacred day!!As Jesus said "the Sabbath was made for the good of man;not man for the Sabbath. They had their priorities totally scewed.
Luke 11:37-54 outlines a few of the other issues that Jesus had with the Pharisees.
They loved money ;vs 39
A good way to discover if a religious leader is a Pharisee is to tell them you don't believe in tithing.
If they will open up a Bible with you and discuss their position all good .If they refuse to discuss it and throw you out of the church they probably are a Pharisee.(even though they may accuse you of being one)
They were focused on externals .vs 42
Whenever a ministry makes minor rules and regulations a major part of their platform it is likely that a Pharisee is revealing himself.
The first church I pastored was in an area where there was a lot of drug and alcohol problems.
God blessed us with the privilege of seeing whole extended families coming to the Lord.
Some of the guys had long hair and some of the girls had short skirts ...but what a heart they had for God. One young bloke led 20 people to Jesus in a 3mnth period!!! See, the heart of the issue is the issue of the heart and when God gets hold of a persons heart the externals will fall into line.
But Pharisees tend to focus on dress regulations and rules about drinking ,smoking and other assorted peripherals.
They coveted celebrity status vs 43.
If you have ever seen the church leaders jostling for the best seats at a conference you will understand what the Lord was speaking about in this scripture. We in the west have managed to create an entire celebrity class of Christian, complete with body guards ,limousines and fan clubs !
Those who seek and encourage celebrity are as guilty as those who make idols of their favourite preachers.
Jesus said a whole lot more about these guys but those few facts presented here I find enlightening .
In a comment thread recently , I suggested a commenter who was accusing others in the thread of being Pharisees that he need to examine the Bibles teaching on this and next time level the accusation at those who deserve it ,ie the false -teaching, celebrity hungry, money-loving religious leaders who with pious expression and clever words are keeping people from the Kingdom of God.