The Religion of the Pharisees (Part 7)

Matthew 6:1-8 Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

As we continue to examine the religion of the modern Pharisee, let’s remind ourselves that the first place to look for it is within ourselves. It is the religion of sinful flesh, and we all have plenty of that remaining in us.  Pharisaism is form without reality.  It is the motions of religion devoid of the presence of Christ.  And it is heartless.  Don’t expect love or mercy or real kindness from it.

As our Lord warns us here in this second chapter of the Sermon on the Mount, Pharisaical religion is about show. It is about self-glorification, not about the glory of God.  The Pharisee craves to be seen, and he has numbers of ways of getting that attention.  He gives money to the church and makes certain everyone knows about it — or at least those who are in a position to exalt him.  In Jesus’ day trumpets sounded as the hypocrites dropped their money in the box.  How much do you want to bet that the more you gave, the more trumpets sounded!  Pharisees crave praise, and all too often they receive it in their churches.

The Apostle James warns us — no, he whacks us alongside the head — for showing preference to the rich.  If we want to know what our Lord thinks about this kind of thing, just recall His actions when He went into the temple and cleaned house in what had become a den of thieves.  Pharisees, likewise, profit from religion.

Another tactic for self-glory is prayer that isn’t prayer.  Throwing yourself into some religious “posture” where others can see you and pronounce you the holiest one of all, is obnoxious to Christ. Unfortunately our own churches are too often characterized by people who pray in order to be exalted.  Not by God, but by onlookers.  “My, how that man can pray!”  If you lead your congregation in prayer, you know what I mean when I say that in the very midst of these prayers we can find ourselves thinking, as our mouth continues to move, “now that was a finely-turned phrase!”

Here then is still another way to identify the religion of the Pharisees in ourselves and in our churches.  It is a religion of show.  It is not about God, but about man and man’s own glory.  Pharisaism can preach the finest sermon, pray the most wonderful prayers, and be a major financial donor to the church.  But the Lord sees it all for what it is.  He rejects it.  And His instruction to a church infested by it is this:

Mal 1:10 “Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors, that you might not kindle fire on my altar in vain! I have no pleasure in you, says the LORD of hosts, and I will not accept an offering from your hand.”

So beware of churches or ministries that put the limelight on individuals, especially if those individuals seem to be very comfortable in that limelight.

Why is all of this important to know in our efforts to expose abuse in the church and correct the injustice being done to its victims? Because where a church is infected with the religion of the Pharisee, the weak and oppressed are always dealt injustice. The heartless religion of the Pharisee has no heart.  Only the letter of its traditions to be piled upon those who are already stumbling under a crushing load.  Pharisees are so busy fulfilling their desire to be seen and heard and adored that they have no time nor empathy for the oppressed. They cannot even admit the existence of the oppressed among them.

Because that would foul up the 3-ring circus of their show.

6 thoughts on “The Religion of the Pharisees (Part 7)

  1. Z

    It baffles me that SO MANY professing “christians” fit into the category of counterfeits. Don’t they read their Bibles? There are SO MANY Scriptures that tell them PLAINLY and CLEARLY what their fate is ahead. No doubts are left-Scripture after Scripture after Scripture say their fates are>destruction.

    Yet, they continue to seek to exalt self, self, self. They mock God as if He doesn’t see right into their proud, selfish, callous hearts!
    They profane the altar of God with their “defiled food”. (Malachi 1:7).
    Their false teachings and brazen lack of fear of God “have not honored God” and “caused many to stumble”. (Malachi 2:1-9).

    So God will “cause THEM to be despised and humiliated before all the people because they have shown ‘partiality’. (To the rich, influential, powerful, showy… at the expense of ignoring and harming the ‘needy’>victims of abuse.)

    I LOVE how God works! They “humiliate and despise” US as victims-often ostracizing, belittling, disbelieving, smearing us-yet GOD will do the SAME to THEM!! In front of all people!! Doesn’t matter if it happens on earth or on Judgment Day. God cannot lie. He WILL do it! (Though our wish naturally would be that it happens BOTH on earth and on Judgment Day.) Far too many get away with their destruction of victims all their lives on earth. It’s hard to witness as a victim. But, God’s will be done.

    Thank you Pastor for the Malachi reference which I’d read I’m sure but forgotten. You prompted me to read that whole book again. (Highlighting, underlining and making notes!) Yet ANOTHER set of Scriptures that CLEARLY tell of the fate of these “Pharisaical/counterfeit/hypocrite professing christians”.

    When will they wake up?!!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Stormy

      Thanks Z I’m also baffled at how much weird stuff I see so called Christians doing.

      Why even try to pretend your a Christian—what kind of twisted mindset do these unbalanced, immature, shallow, empty souls have?

      Society supports all kinds of wickedness why can’t they just own their own evil deeds? Why pretend to be something your not? I think I can guess at a reason —because it suits them socially at this moment in time?

      I’ll never understand their sick twisted shallow ridiculous disordered reasoning for them not being able to just own who they are?

      Yes I also want justice now and in eternity thanks for saying that in your comment too. I agree with everything you said!! Thanks for posting

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Stormy

        Z, I forgot to add how much your comment on how they will be belittled and ostracized just how they ostracized us. That definitely has happened to me at the hands of the wicked. I’ve been ostracized and belittled.

        Those words of yours are healing to me. I think I’ll go back and reread them occasionally for affirmation and validation. My prayer has been that they will get back the pain they have given to me but I added that they will get it back to them multiplied. You articulated my feelings so well. Your words and explanation makes me feel less alone in my prayers and desire for justice. Thank you so much.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Z

          Dear Stormy,
          Thank you for your kind words. I’m elated that anything I’ve related in my comments about my horrible, unwanted experiences all my life with fake christians who damaged me so badly resonate with and comfort you. You are certainly not alone! I stand with you!! I’m still struggling to recover from the evils done to me when I tried to be so godly in my dealings with them. They hated the Light of Jesus in me because they are darkness which hates the Light. There’s a Scripture that says “I was for peace but they were for war.” I forget the exact verse. But that is SO TRUE! And it’s been true for thousands of years! The evil ones will get EVERYTHING God’s Word says they will. Meanwhile, God is on our side. He will avenge for us and them one day He will take us into Glory with Him. That’s our glorious future! Cling to that. ❤️🙏🏽

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  2. no one down here

    It is very difficult to judge motives of someone else. The sin of pride is sometimes obvious in a person, but not always. For sure, there is a clear warning to care for our own motives and humility. Key is to remember who God is, and who we are not. Yes, as child of God, we are loved, cherished, protected, defended… we are looked on as though we have the righteousness of Christ…. but there is nothing to glory in, except the cross of Christ.

    But, all that to say … I know a person who in public prays 10-15 minutes. Maybe just “many words,” I don’t know.

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