Memorise Jeremiah 17:9
“…woe unto you scribes and Pharisees…”
The Pharisees originated from a group known as the Hasidims who revolted against Antiochus Epiphanes who ruled the Grecian empire about 200 years before Christ came. Antiochus was trying to corrupt the Israelites by introducing evil and corrupt Greek practices into their culture. The Hasidims were noble in their intentions and tried to stop this. In the generations that followed, Pharisees became successors to the cause of the Hasidims.
The Pharisees started out as a pious group of people who were trying to encourage the people to follow God. They were like religious “policemen” who enforced a strict interpretation and observance of the Torah, the first 5 books of the Bible. In addition, they produced 613 extra laws on top of those listed in the Bible. They wanted the people to adhere to these extra laws as closely as they would the Bible itself. Whilst noble in their intent, such adding to the scripture was clearly wrong. Over time, the Pharisees become powerful and corrupt. By the time of Christ, we can see from the gospels how the Pharisees had become evil and hypocritical (Matthew 23:15). They appeared very pious but actually they were wicked and proud. They abused their power to deceive and cheat the common man. The Lord frequently rebuked the Pharisees. Matthew 23:27 described them as whited sepulchers, or beautiful graves. They looked clean and respectable on the outside but in reality, they were rotting bones on the inside. The Pharisees were constantly going about telling people how they had done wrong, when they were actually guilty of greater sins themselves.
As we consider these Pharisees, we must ask: Are we Pharisees ourselves? Are we guilty of knowing a lot but doing very little or nothing at all? Some of us are blessed with the ability to learn and have accumulated much knowledge about God’s Word. Although we can recite verses from memory, or are able to name many obscure facts in the Bible, our lives may not really be much better than those of unbelievers. We must watch against becoming a Pharisee ourselves. It is much better that a believer knows little but practises all that he knows than know a lot but practise very little. We should check our hearts and if there be any pride or hypocrisy, we must repent straightaway.
Thought: If I think of myself as being better than others, I lack humility.
Prayer: Lord, search my heart and show me if I be guilty of pride.