I believe I am comfortable enough sharing this embarrassing fact, which is: I am a recovering Pharisee. Being a Pharisee is addicting once you begin and it’s an addiction that is hard to stop cold turkey. Being the one who holds tightly to the rules and arrogantly scoffs at those floundering to keep them makes one feel powerful.
I believe I was caught up in a movement of new Pharisees that is still strong and vibrant today and many people don’t even realize they are members of this club. I truly believe if many of the new Pharisees allowed their eyes to be opened and they could see “Pharisee” on their card, they’d reject their membership…yet many blindly tout their cards for all to see, not realizing that the name of the club is: “The New Pharisees”. I know, because I used to be one. I know because God opened my eyes and called me to something different. I know because slowly overtime I tend to want to get my card back. Yet, I also know there is no freedom in the club of New Pharisees…so I quickly get over my longing to go back.
The Old Pharisees, in the days of Jesus are no different than the New Pharisees. They made up extra-Biblical rules and regulations but missed the larger work of God that was happening right in front of them. They took the Scriptures rules and added to them because for some reason, they felt they knew better than the almighty God and didn’t want anyone to come near to the real rules otherwise they might slip. These extra rules became law and the Pharisees claimed that if anyone broke the “extra rules” they’d now be guilty of sinning…even if the Bible sais otherwise or was silent on those particular issues.
Not too long after this club was put together back in the day did these card-carrying members begin to throw their legalistic weight around. They beat others over the head with their rules and arrogantly strutted around acting as if they were the favorites of God because they were the only ones properly following the Scriptures. They used their extra rules to trap the “sinners” among them. They attempted to legislate their extra moral values over the heads of those who wouldn’t follow them. They held court against these people who wouldn’t follow the new rules they set in place and Lorded their power over the rest of those seeking to follow after God.
They felt so dang good about themselves that they could strut into the Temple and arrogantly proclaim how exhilarated they were that they were right with God. All while pointing out that these other sinners needed the prayer time to get right with God. Sadly many people began to listen and follow their ways and their rules. Many would blindly accept the extra rules as Biblical without consulting the Bible. Many also took on the attitude of righteousness that the Pharisees did and felt proud at their good efforts and hard work for the Lord. Many would take the word of a Pharisee as Gospel truth and blindly follow them anywhere believing that they actually spoke for God.
Then, these Old Pharisees, due to their extra rules and their arrogant attitudes missed God entirely. He was in their midst, speaking to them and with them. He didn’t follow their extra rules, in fact He went to great lengths to break them when he could in order to challenge them. They were so ticked at God for not being as righteous as they, that they sought to kill him and crucify Him.
The new Pharisees are much the same as their predecessors. Extra rules are made. Arrogance happens. Hypocrisy (which part two will explain) is rampant. Looking down their nose at the “sinners” among them for not following the “extra rules” often happens. Sadly many folks blindly follow the current wave of Pharisaical living and Biblical interpretation without seeking what the Bible truly says.
What is the name of these New Pharisees? I believe American Evangelicalism is its name (not all, but many).
I am a recovering Pharisee. I am one who held to much of American Evangelicalism and failed to be a Berean and seek the truth of the Scripture.
Are you a New Pharisee, or are you a recovering Pharisee like myself?
Part two will break down why I feel much of American Evangelicalism is the New Pharisee…stay tuned.