What is a Pharisee: 3 Attributes to Avoid

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What is a Pharisee? The Bible mentions the Pharisees many times, especially in the gospels. These people were the religious elite in the time of the Lord Jesus Christ. However, they also were the ones who hated and led the persecution against Jesus and His disciples. The Bible shows us the attributes of a Pharisee to know what a Pharisee is even in our modern age.

Pharisees are one sect among the Jews whose pretended holiness led them to separate themselves as a sect, considering themselves more righteous than other Jews.

What is a Pharisee? A Pharisee is a hypocrite.

27Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. 28Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.

Matthew 23:27-28

A hypocrite pretends to be what he is not, one who has the form of godliness without the power or assumes an appearance of faithfulness and virtue when he is destitute of true religion.

The Pharisees were the religious leaders of their time. But the Lord Jesus Christ knows that their hearts are full of sin. So he likened them to a tomb that is beautiful outwardly but is full of dead men’s bones inside. They pretend to be holy outside, but their hearts are full of iniquity and hypocrisy. However, their actions show their wickedness.

They don’t practice what they preach.

2Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: 3All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. 4For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.

Matthew 23:2-4

A Pharisee is good at telling others what they should or shouldn’t do. However, Pharisees do the opposite. They act as if what they preach does not apply to them since they are self-righteous. Furthermore, they have no intention of obeying all the commands of God.

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

Matthew 23:23

The Pharisees pick and choose to obey the commands convenient for them. They select what they can do publicly, like tithing, to impress others with their good works.

Therefore, Christ called them hypocrites because their self-righteous works were just a cover-up for the iniquity in their hearts.

What is a Pharisee? A Pharisee is self-righteous.

48Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him? 49But this people who knoweth not the law are cursed.

John 7:48-49

These Pharisees proclaimed themselves law experts but never believed in the Lord Jesus Christ in all their knowledge. If they were law experts, they would have seen the prophecies that the Lord Jesus Christ fulfilled. However, they refused to believe that Jesus was the Messiah.

Of course, some believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, like Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea. However, most of them rejected Christ.

11And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? 12But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. 13But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Matthew 9:11-13

They rejected the Lord Jesus because they looked at themselves as righteous. They thought that their self-righteousness brought them closer to God. It did the opposite. They thought they were better than everyone, but their self-righteousness condemned them to Hell.

Therefore, their self-righteous attitude stopped them from believing in the Lord Jesus.

What is a Pharisee? A Pharisee is covetous.

11If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? 12And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own? 13No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. 14Ye cannot serve God and mammon. And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him.

Luke 16:11-14

The Lord Jesus Christ was teaching His disciples about financial stewardship. However, the Pharisees took offense at the teachings of Christ. They hated Christ because of their covetousness.

The Bible reveals that they were covetous. But it also shows us their actions that reveal their covetousness.

Firstly, they bribed Judas to betray the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 26:14-15.) Secondly, they bribed the soldiers to hide the truth about the resurrection of Christ (Matthew 28:11-15.)

Their actions show their covetousness. They can easily bribe others to hide the truth. Therefore, money was their priority, never the truth.

In conclusion, even Christians can become Pharisees if we don’t avoid these three wicked attributes.

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