The Pharisee Syndrome

Who are the Pharisees? The particular group that I am referring to are the religious leaders of Israel during Jesus’ time. They were the gatekeepers of Israelite Law as prescribed by the Mosaic and Levitcal Law. By this time they had taken a serious responsibility and perverted it for selfish power plays. They talked a good game but their behavior did not match. There were those who mistreated the people and used the Law to justify their actions. Sound familiar? I am not taking on all the things involved but there is a sharp comparison to the current behavior of “us Christians.” It is what I call the Pharisee Syndrome.

Have you noticed how the world lumps all Christians together under the “Right Wing, Evangelical, Tea Party Banner”? I find it a major insult. Being a believer in the Bible and a disciple of Christ has become an ugly, dirty thing. I understand why the world would think that. I thought about their expectations and decided they should expect us to be under the same banner but not that one. The banner we should be grouped under is the truth of the Word. The practice and teachings of the Christ. I have not found anywhere in the Word where He selectively hated people while justifying His hatred with Himself (The Living Word of God).

  • His continued teaching was to love people. Love is not hate-filled. His teaching said be righteous.
  • Righteousness requires us to live up to the standards in which we believe. We were not commanded to judge the world. We were told to judge ourselves and leave the judgment of the world to God.
    • 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 (NKJV)
      9  I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people.
      10  Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world.
      11  But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner–not even to eat with such a person.
      12  For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside?
      13  But those who are outside God judges. Therefore “put away from yourselves the evil person.” 
  • Just in case, I am not clear, the Apostle Paul is writing to believers in the city of Corinth and this is a more modern translation. It makes it very clear.
    • 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 (MSG)
      9  I wrote you in my earlier letter that you shouldn’t make yourselves at home among the sexually promiscuous.
      10  I didn’t mean that you should have nothing at all to do with outsiders of that sort. Or with crooks, whether blue- or white-collar. Or with spiritual phonies, for that matter. You’d have to leave the world entirely to do that!
      11  But I am saying that you shouldn’t act as if everything is just fine when one of your Christian companions is promiscuous or crooked, is flip with God or rude to friends, gets drunk or becomes greedy and predatory. You can’t just go along with this, treating it as acceptable behavior.
      12  I’m not responsible for what the outsiders do, but don’t we have some responsibility for those within our community of believers?
      13  God decides on the outsiders, but we need to decide when our brothers and sisters are out of line and, if necessary, clean house.

Those under that hateful banner are behaving just like the Pharisees. I am holy speaking but not holy behaving. When Jesus said if you lift me up, I will draw all men (mankind) to me, He wasn’t just talking about what we tell people but how we show people. If my God is a God of Righteous love and judgement then that is what they should see in my behavior.

  • People should see me trying to live up to my God’s standards daily.
  • I should conduct business by his standards even if the rest of the business world doesn’t.
  • I should respect those who have different lifestyles from me even if I disagree with them. He did!
  • I have no hell to send anyone to so I have no authority to condemn. The only people that I should expect to live up to what I believe are the ones who say they believe the same thing.
  • Agreeing with me should not be a pre-requisite for me showing you compassion, mercy and His love. I am not responsible for your opinion, just my commitment to Him.

If I, we, live what we say we believe the way He lived, doing what He did, the way He did it we would be respected even though we may be “hated and persecuted.” At least then it would be for “righteousness sake” and not because we were the initiators of the hatred.

Let’s not be like the scribes and the Pharisees. Let our righteousness exceed theirs.

Matthew 5:20 (ESV)
20  For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

We were commanded to Go, tell, baptize teach, and love. The rest is God’s job. Let’s let Him do it. We might find a great weight lifted when we stop trying to do God’s job. Stress reduced!

Side Note:

Just like all Christians are not right wing, tea party hate-filled people, not all Pharisees were like this. There were some who lived the Law the way God intended.


4 thoughts on “The Pharisee Syndrome

  1. Only question I have is why you lumped all the right wing, and the tea party under the umbrella of hate. That simply is not true. Seems a little pharisitical and suducean to me. I do believe each one is responsible to God and God judges. And I do believe we as Christians are to maintain the purity of God Word. And I do believe God’s command, Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart soul and mind and love your neighbor as yourself. So sister I do love you with the love of Christ. Oh and I do believe the only answer is Jesus Christ. An I am a right wing Biblicrat.


    1. That was my point. The world has lumped us all into one group. That is what I said in the beginning. I also ended it with the note that just like all Christians should not be labeled like this neither should all Pharisees. If you listen to non-believers or believers who have been hurt by “Christians” they will tell you that the term does not bring up respected, loving images any more. Unfortunately, those of us who know better are lumped in with the others by them not me. The rest of what I had to say was regarding what the Word said we should do and how obedience to the Word will correct this image. I am not sure why you thought I lumped them. If you read the secon paragraph, the sentence begins with “Have you noticed how the world lumps all Christians together…”


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