You Might Be a Modern Day Pharisee
Yes, it’s been a very long time since the Pharisees were plotting against Jesus in Jerusalem, but the Pharisee spirit is still a very relevant topic in the Church today.
While people might not be “Pharisees” anymore, the Pharisee spirit still exists. Sadly, it’s the number one reason why so many people want nothing to do with Jesus or His followers.
Growing up in church, I remember wondering why some people seemed to be living in their own bubbles. I heard the message about Jesus and the way He lived, and I was told that we were supposed to be little versions of Him. So why didn’t the people around me look or sound like Him?
As I got older, I too struggled with the Pharisee spirit in the form of judgment. I was living in my Christian bubble and no “dirty” people were allowed in. Thankfully, a real encounter with Jesus changed that.
I’m not writing from a place of judgment or accusation. Like I said, I’ve been guilty of this many times before. I’m writing this because I think it’s important that we all take a moment to reflect and ask ourselves if we are being “little Christs” or if we’ve really got it wrong.
6 signs you might be a pharisee:
1) Pharisees spend more time focusing on what they hate than what they love.
Because of this spirit, Christians have been made known for what they are against rather than for what they are for. It’s because of them that “evangelical” has come to mean fanatical bigots who have perfected “culture war” tactics.
2) Pharisees zoom in on other’s sin but act as if their own doesn’t exist.
Jesus said that the Pharisees were “white-washed tombs”: beautiful on the outside but dead on the inside. Jesus also said to beware of the yeast (substance) of the Pharisees: hypocrisy. A.W. Tozer put it this way, “A Pharisee is hard on others and easy on himself, but a spiritual man is easy on others and hard on himself.”
3) Pharisees spread accusations against others without ever going to them directly.
The Bible is clear about going to your neighbor and confronting them personally if they have done something wrong. (Matthew 18:15)
Regrettably, “Christian” Pharisees spread poison into the people around them. The tongue is full of deadly poison, and the Pharisee spirit seizes every opportunity to destroy others with their slander.
Pharisees are skilled at making villains out of others and claiming that “God is on their side.” Honestly, most Pharisees use the word “God” to bring about destruction and to justify their selfish actions.
4) Pharisees are quick to pass judgment.
Pharisees actively seek out people to destroy. They search for faults and weaknesses in others and feed on them.
Pharisees shoot first and ask questions later. This is the exact opposite of what Jesus told us to do. (Matthew 7:1-4)
As E. Stanley Jones rightly pointed out, “The measure of my spirit of criticism is the measure of my distance from Christ.”
5) Pharisees rarely ever admit that they are wrong, and they cannot take correction.
Pharisees are the kind of people who will always have an excuse ready and a blame to pass.
They have no self-awareness. When you live this way, you start to distance yourself from reality.
They love to turn the spotlight on others and never let the light in on themselves.
6) Pharisees stay in their flock.
Birds of a feather stick together, and there’s no way you’ll find a Pharisee around anyone but another Pharisee.
But this makes sense since everyone else is “unrighteous and despicable.”
As much as they try to disguise themselves with a bright and shiny exterior, Pharisees are not happy people.
So what’s the cure?
The only way to get rid of a Pharisee spirit is repentance: A total u-turn of the heart!
- Begin self-reflection and examination on a daily basis.
- Measure yourself to the life of Christ, not just in holiness and righteousness, but in love, mercy, selflessness, humility, service, and wisdom.
- When you see an opportunity to speak into someone’s life, speak into THEIR life; not about them to everyone else.
- Acknowledge that you cannot read someone’s heart and looks can be deceiving.
- Ask for forgiveness from the people you have wronged.
- Accept correction when reprimanded and apply the truth to your life.
- Be slow to speak and slow to wrath.
- Remember that it’s okay to mess up sometimes as long as you learn and grow.
- Most importantly, have a personal relationship with Jesus every day.