“FIRST CHURCH OF PHARISEES”

“FOR I TELL YOU THAT UNLESS YOUR RIGHTEOUSNESS SURPASSES THAT OF THE PHARISEES AND THE TEACHERS OF THE LAW, YOU WILL CERTAINLY NOT ENTER THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.” MATTHEW 5:20 NIV

READ: MATTHEW 5: 17-20

PHARISITICAL. (fare a sit’ ikal) adjective; being as a pharisee, judging others while being self righteous, judging with malice, unforgiving, viewing others as less deserving than themselves

MANY MIGHT ARGUE THAT ‘PHARASITICAL’ IS NOT A REAL WORD, WHILE OTHERS CLEARLY UNDERSTAND ITS MEANING.

WHAT CHURCH DO YOU BELONG TO? THE QUESTION IS NOT WHERE YOU ATTEND CHURCH SERVICES. THE QUESTION IS: WHAT ARE YOU TRUE HEARTFELT BELIEFS? DO YOU BELONG TO ‘THE FIRST CHURCH OF PHARISEES’? EVERY DENOMINATION HAS A CORE DOCTRINE. WITHIN THOSE DIFFERENT DENOMINATIONS, INDIVIDUAL CHURCHES WILL VARY SLIGHTLY IN ITS INTERPRETATION OF THOSE DOCTRINES. THEN, IF YOU WERE TO POLL THE MEMBERS OF EACH CHURCH YOU WILL FIND SOME WHO ARE MORE RIGID IN THEIR BELIEFS THAN THE STATED DOCTRINE WHILE OTHER MEMBERS HAVE A MORE LENIENT VIEW OF THE SAME CHURCH’S DOCTRINE.

WHAT WE BELIEVE DEFINES OUR INTERPRETATION OF GOD’S WORD. SOME OF OUR BELIEFS ARE ‘INHERITED’ FROM THE FAMILY WE WERE RAISED. SOME BELIEFS ARE THE BASIS OF OUR STUDY OF THE SCRIPTURE, WHILE OTHERS ARE FROM THE TEACHINGS OF A PASTOR OR ANOTHER’S INFLUENCE.

WE SOMETIMES TAKE OUR BELIEFS AND SHARE THEM WITH OTHERS. THESE TIMES CAN BE A STRONG PROCLAMATION OF OUR FAITH OR A GOSSIPING RUMOR. “MARY DRINKS.” CAN BE INTERPRETED MANY DIFFERENT WAYS. IT COULD BE THAT MARY SOMETIMES HAS A GLASS OF WINE OR IT COULD MEAN MARY GETS DRUNK EVERY NIGHT. “BILL HAS BEEN DIVORCED TWICE AND HE IS LOOKING TO GET MARRIED AGAIN.” COULD BE ANOTHER FAITH BASED STATEMENT. WHAT IF BILL WAS DIVORCED BY ‘NO FAULT’ PROCEEDINGS OF HIS EX-WIVES AND HAD NO CHOICE? DO THE WHYS AND HOWS MAKE A DIFFERENCE TO YOU? SHOULD THEY?

AS CHRISTIANS, WE ARE TO SUPPORT ONE ANOTHER, NOT DESTROY OR ATTACK ONE ANOTHER. IS IT YOUR BELIEF THAT ANY ALCOHOL IS BAD? THE WINE THAT JESUS DRANK HAD A VERY LITTLE ALCOHOLIC CONTENT COMPARED TO THE WINES OF TODAY. OUR WINES TODAY HAVE A MUCH HIGHER ALCOHOL CONTENT. WHEN IS IT RIGHT FOR US TO MANDATE A NO ALCOHOL TOLERANCE OR ONE DRINK IS OK? WHEN ARE WE RESPONSIBLE FOR JUDGING IF A DIVORCE WAS LEGITIMATE BY SCRIPTURES? ARE WE QUALIFIED TO JUDGE AS GOD WILL JUDGE? WE CAN BE CHRISTLIKE AND BE FORGIVING IF A PERSON WE FEEL IS NOT IN KEEPING WITH OUR BELIEFS?

JESUS MET THE SAMARITAN WOMAN AT THE WELL, KNOWING OF HER MULTIPLE MARRIAGES AND LIVING WITH A MAN AT THE TIME, INSTANTLY FORGAVE HER AND OFFERED HER SALVATION. JESUS OFFERED HER THE SAME SALVATION HE OFFERED YOU. SHOULDN’T WE LEARN TO FORGIVE AS JESUS FORGAVE? YOUR SALVATION IS NO LESS OR NO GREATER THAN THE SALVATION OFFERED TO THE SAMARITAN WOMAN AT THE WELL.

JESUS WAS REPEATEDLY QUESTIONED BY THE PHARISEES. THEY MARVELED AT HIS ANSWERS WHILE STILL ATTEMPTING TO TRIP HIM UP. THESE WERE WISE AND STUDIOUS MEN OF THE WRITINGS OF MOSES, DAVID, SOLOMON AND ALL THE PROPHETS OF OLD, YET STILL THEY WERE MORE CONCERNED OF THE LEGALISM OF THE LAW THAN THE GRACE AND FORGIVENESS OF GOD. THEY KNEW THE BIBLICAL ACCOUNT OF DAVID’S ACT OF MURDER AND ADULTERY WHILE CONDEMNING THE SAME ACTS OF THOSE THEY KNEW.

WITH THE LEGALISTIC ATTITUDE, KING DAVID TODAY WOULD BE REFUSED MEMBERSHIP AND/OR A POSITION OF LEADERSHIP IN MANY CHURCHES. IF DAVID WERE TO WALK INTO YOUR CHURCH TODAY WOULD HE BE WELCOME? WHAT IF THIS SAME MURDERER AND ADULTERER WAS NAMED BILL AND HE LIVED A FEW BLOCKS AWAY, WOULD HE BE WELCOMED OR REFUSED AS KING DAVID? IF GOD COULD MAKE DAVID THE MURDERER AND ADULTERER KING OF HIS PEOPLE, WHY BE LEGALISTIC AS THE PHARISEES AND REFUSE A GOD FORGIVEN SINNER A MEMBERSHIP OR A PLACE OF LEADERSHIP IN YOUR CHURCH? IF GOD CAN FORGIVE, IS IT WISE FOR US TO BE ‘PHARISITICAL’?

ARE YOU A PHARISEE IN TODAY’S TIME? DO YOU LOOK AT OTHERS IN A CONDEMNING WAY OR DO YOU HAVE THE LOVE OF JESUS? WHY NOT SUPPORT AND LIFT UP THOSE WHOM YOU AS A MODERN DAY PHARISEE COULD CONDEMN? THE ONE YOU CONDEMN COULD BE ONE SENT BY CHRIST, JUST AS THE REPENTANT PAUL WAS SENT TO BRING CHRIST MESSAGE OF SALVATION. ARE YOU JUDGING A MESSENGER OF CHRIST?

IT IS BETTER TO LOVE AND FORGIVE AS JESUS DID THAN TO CONDEMN AS THE PHARISEES DID,

TODAY’S PRAYER: “THANK YOU GOD FOR OPENING MY EYES TO THE JUDGEMENT IN MY HEART. HELP ME, TODAY, TO BE MORE CHRISTLIKE AND LESS LIKE THE PHARISEES. HELP ME TO LIFT UP OTHERS WHILE BEING FORGIVING. AMEN.”