IDENTIFYING PHARISEES IN THE CHURCH
For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil. The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.
There is a generation of people who are hell-bent in self-justification. Such practice of self-justification has developed into a fine art and a way of life. This self-taught and self-developed art just come naturally to some people whose heart are not right with God. They hold the words of the living God in contempt in the application of Scriptures in their lives. These people are not the people of the world. They are the people who are supposed to be followers of the way, a people chosen by God. They are people who are given the oracles of God and with such a wonderful privilege, they are supposed to know the mind of God and do the will of God. So there is this unquenchable desire to justify their behaviour and practice of their faith supposedly derived from the Scriptures they claim they hold in their hands to be the perfect, inspired and inerrant words of the living God.
Self-justification concerns the response to messages preached by the preacher and the preacher’s manner of life. Sermons and godly manner of life pose a serious challenge to their authority. Here it concerns the Pharisees who rejected the work and the preaching of the Lord Jesus Christ. They were self-righteous as they were the custodians of the Law. But they knew not the Law and they went about to condemn the Author of the Law when He showed up to expound about the finer points and practice as well as administration of the Law.
In the Christian church, such Pharisees are still found in our midst. Though not clothed with outward adorning of religious garb of the Pharisees in time past, their modus operandi remains unchanged. They did not die out some two thousand years ago. They survive and evolve to take up the practice of self-justification in the context of their way of life in relation to the preaching they receive from preachers of righteousness. They are like hawks always eager to pound on the preacher and his sermons. They are there to prove a point that they are right with God. They assume they are the ground and pillar of truth in the church of the living God. When the sermons cross their practice of the faith, they will go into self-justification mode almost immediately like the Pharisees of old.
They, of course, will defend their actions as defending the faith and ensuring that Christian liberty for the brethren are protected from false teachings. They are outwardly pious and they spare no effort to put up a front of godliness to undermine the work of preachers of righteousness. They are professionals in the art of self-justification. Sometime, their operation is carried out with such finesses that the simple minded are taken in by their pretentious piety. But they may turn confrontational when they fail in their attempt to prove they are right with God. The Pharisees in the past went as far as to accuse the Lord as the prince of devils: But the Pharisees said, He casteth out devils through the prince of the devils. (Matthew 9:34)
So preachers of righteousness seeking to turn people from evil should expect no better treatment: It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household? (Matthew 10:25) Pharisees will always try to have the last say whether done with fair speeches coated with honey dripping from their self-righteous mouth or with arrows of deceit designed to strike the messengers of God with utmost hatred.
This article is taken from a chapter in the book “The Fine Art of Self-Justification” which may be downloaded via:
Which say, Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou. These are a smoke in my nose, a fire that burneth all the day.