If your official title is longer than your given name.
- If you’re willing to be merciful – once.
- If you feel your rules are the REAL rules.
- If everyone outside your immediate circle, and most within it, are always wrong.
- If God’s still small voice… sounds exactly like your own.
- If you feel all the apples are spilled out of your cart when a rule is bent.
- If you know the Word of God, but not the God of the Word.
You see, the Pharisees of Jesus’ day had started out wanting TO PLEASE God. They began in a day when Israel was deeply tainted with immorality and unrighteousness and somebody needed to stand in the gap. And the Pharisees stepped up to fill that need. And in an era where many Jews had abandoned the law of God, the Pharisees became like prophets to their people pointing them back to the Law of Moses and obedience to God’s will.
The Pharisees were THE religious people of the day and they took their “faith” seriously. Any time people take their faith seriously, it’s not a big step over the line from pleasing God to disobeying God.
So we want to be careful WE don’t do that too. You see the Pharisees didn’t set out to make God angry. They wanted to obey every one of God’s commands. They didn’t wake up one morning saying: “I’m going to make God mad today!” It was just that their thinking was warped. Rules had become all-important – People were UNIMPORTANT. When the Pharisees brought this adulterous woman to Jesus… they didn’t care about her. A rule had been broken. She needed to be exposed. She was only a tool – an object lesson they wanted to use to get at Jesus. They really hated Jesus.
In their warped thinking, God’s agenda was what they decided. And, they believed as long as they kept the rules their personal sins could be covered up. In reality they had no intention of stoning the woman … she was just a prop. In fact, they couldn’t stone her. Once Rome conquered Judah, Judah became a Roman territory, and under Roman law, only the Roman governors had the authority to condemn people to death. You only have to look at the Crucifixion of Jesus to see that truth. Do you remember who’s approval the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law needed to have Jesus executed? That’s right – Pilate. He was the Roman Governor at the time.
It was a perfect trap. They didn’t care about the woman. And they didn’t care about Jesus. In their minds both of them had broken their rules… and both needed to be destroyed.
You need to understand, these Pharisees saw Jesus as an enemy of THEIR god. Their god was on THEIR side… and so anyone who opposed them was opposing God.
We can end up making Jesus our enemy by substituting our personal agenda for His. And if you’re not careful… you’ll not even know you’ve done it. BUT there is one symptom of this dangerous attitude. It should be like a road sign saying “Don’t go there.”
When you get mad people don’t listen to you. Your opinion is being ignored. Things aren’t going YOUR way. That can make you really angry. YOUR agenda is obviously the right agenda. If you’re right it follow the other must be wrong. If you feel that’s happening, pay attention. It’s a sign that you’re in danger of becoming a Pharisee.
The Pharisees had convinced themselves that if they could “look” good on the outside, that was as good as “being good” on the inside. They fooled themselves into thinking that obeying certain rules was just as good as being righteous before God. In fact they got most of the rules right. By contrast, a Pharisee could tell you were going to hell – and you could tell they were thinking “got what you deserved – glad you are on your way.”
As this true story illustrates, warped thinking can lead you down a Pharisee-like path:
A 4-year told his mother” “Mom, I’m not gonna be like those bad guys Jesus was talking to; I’m not going to sin anymore.” “Well, that’s very nice,” (she said). “What made you decided not to sin anymore?” He answered: “Cause Jesus said if you don’t sin, you can throw the first stone and I want to throw the first stone.”