Yesterday, we finished with the fourth and final category of this Pharisee study, and today I would just like to add a few parting words.
As I said at the beginning of this story, true Pharisees no longer exist today, but their spirits live on. The characteristics of the Pharisees are more prevalent in churches today than I ever imagined. At first, I found this very discouraging. After all, Jesus made it clear that the Pharisees would not see the Kingdom of Heaven. I have even admitted to having some characteristics of a Pharisee; therefore am I destined for Hell? I don’t believe so.
Matthew 5:20 (NLT): “But I warn you—unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven!”
What is the difference between me and the Pharisees? I have Jesus. I have a close relationship with my Lord and Savior. It is not by my works that I will see the His Kingdom; it is by His blood. I have a better righteousness than the religious leaders and the Pharisees of Jesus’ time because my Lord, Jesus, made me right before God. The one that they rejected was the only way I could ever hope to be righteous and enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
This relationship with God is what the Pharisees missed. I believe they honestly thought they were doing it right, at least for a time. They thought their rituals and sacrifices were enough for God. They failed to see they were just going through the motions and that their real motive was praise, fame, or money. I think they eventually realized something was wrong, but they could not turn back because their pride wouldn’t let them. God wants us to go to church; he wants us to worship him; he wants us to help the needy; he wants us to give money to the church. He does not, however, want any of those things without having our hearts. If you love the Lord and have a real relationship with him, you will want to walk in his ways and obedience comes much easier.
Matthew 7:21-23 (NLT): “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. 22 On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ 23 But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’
God does want you obedience but he must, must have your heart. Don’t be like the Pharisees and let your own traditions, laws, self-righteousness, pride, or hypocrisy prevent you from having a real and honest relationship with Jesus Christ. We were not put on this earth to glorify ourselves but to glorify our Father.
Until next time, stay safe and God bless,