The Dangers Of Christian Pharisaism

07 Nov

Pharisaism is wrongly interpreted today as anyone  making  literal application  of  the prescrptive commands  in scripture. Even though  such a perverted belief  absolutely contradicts  the very words of  God in person.

 Jesus  said,” If you love me, keep my commands.” However, the antinomian puts it  in reverse. If you love, you will not make  literal application of  his commands.

 Why? They ignorantly  state that grace based obedience to actual commands is a form of  legalistic Pharisaism. Grace to the antinomian  is arrogantly interpreted as God’s compensation for willful neglect  or flagrant disobedience to the actual commands of scripture. [Anathema!]

However, Michael Green demonstrates a better grasp of the true biblical warning associated with the dangers of Pharisaism.


A graphic description of Pharisaism (23:1–12)

The teachers of the law and the Pharisees have, says Jesus, a God-given teaching authority: they sit in Moses’ seat (1), and are to be respected for their teaching role in the synagogue. The same applies to Christian ministers, in Matthew’s day or our own, but there is a great danger that the spirit that infected the Pharisees may creep into subsequent leadership. We are to beware.

Here are five characteristics for which the Pharisees were rebuked They are ever-present dangers for Christian leaders. First, they may not practise what they preach (3).5 Secondly, they may be unwilling to undertake themselves what they prescribe for others (4). Thirdly, they may love to show off (5). Fourthly, they may revel in honorific titles and in being paid respect (6–10)7 Finally, they may misunderstand ministry (11–12). They may see it less as an opportunity for service than as a sphere of management or a chance to gain recognition. Are these weaknesses confined to Jewish leaders in the first century AD? Are they not always contemporary? If Christian leaders fail in these five ways, their failure is comprehensive indeed.


Michael Green, The Message of Matthew : The Kingdom of Heaven (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., U.S.A.: Inter-Varsity Press, 2000), 241-42.


Posted by on November 7, 2010 in charismatic, doctrine, heresy, quotes


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2 responses to “The Dangers Of Christian Pharisaism

  1. Bobby Patton

    November 7, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    No doubt words of wisdom. I have seen those characteristics manifested multiple times in the Church throughout my christian walk, but never so plainly as in the last few years. Knowledge without wisdom is a very dangerous thing. Wisdom comes through years of Godly experience and a willingness to walk in humility. The reason I say “to walk in humility” is because most “pharisees” think more of themselves than they ought to, they become “heady and high-minded”, ultimately, knowing nothing. To say it in my terms, if we could buy them for what they are worth and sell them for what they think they are worth, we could generate some real money for the Kingdom of God.
    Bobby Patton

    • RGH

      November 7, 2010 at 7:16 pm

      Pastor Bobby,
      You nailed it my friend! If I try to add to what you said it would simply take away… so I will just say “AMEN!”


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