3 ways Christians can be more like Pharisees

(Photo: Unsplash/ClemOnojeghuo)

We Christians dislike the Pharisees in the Bible, but in reality many of us are just like them. It's very likely that we don't notice it, but many of us think and behave in such a way that we're more like these religious leaders who hated Christ. And that's the problem there: we don't notice it.

Friends, if we don't want to be like a Pharisee, then we've got to know if we're thinking, behaving, and acting like one. The challenge is in the knowing, but it's not so hard if we're staying in the Word because the Lord Jesus Himself tells us how.

He actually gives us a long list of Pharisee thinking and behaving in Matthew 23, but for this article we will take a look at just a few telling signs we're becoming like them. And so without further ado, here are some ways Christians can be more like a Pharisee.

1) When we talk like Christ but don't live like Him

"Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying: "The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers." (Matthew 23:1-4)

So many Christians talk Christ but act and live like they don't know Him. Seriously. Many Christians today behave worse than unbelievers. Pharisees are just like that: they preach right but don't live right.

2) When we desire honor and privilege for holiness

"But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments. They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, 'Rabbi, Rabbi.' But you, do not be called 'Rabbi'; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren." (Matthew 23:5-8)

Pharisees just love the honor and recognition they can receive from being a religious leader. Pharisaical Christians, on the other hand, just love to receive honor and recognition for being a Christian, leader or not. But it's worse for Christian leaders who look for respect and honor - and worse, riches - from others more than they do from God.

Just because we're Christian doesn't mean we deserve honor from men. Christ made Himself of no reputation. Who are we to demand that which He did not even ask?

3) When we focus on outward religiosity but fail to deal with our hearts

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness." (Matthew 23:25-28)

Many Christians today focus on outward appearances. We make church services look good, the sermons sound great, and the relationships friendly. Behind the scenes, however, the church staff are overworked and abused, the sermons are full of jokes but devoid of the Gospel, and the relationships are friendly but shallow.

This can be worse at the personal level. We can fake an image of religiosity and holiness while innately desiring or craving for the things that would make the devil very happy. We strictly adhere to religious rules but fail to repent of the hatred or sin in our hearts. This is so wrong.

In closing

Friends, let's be honest. Christ knows all that we hide inside, and so there's no point in faking it. Let's all learn to fear the Lord, deny ourselves and follow Him, because that's what the Pharisees never did and look what happened to them in the end.