The Spirit of The Pharisee is Alive and Well

Please Forgive My Hypocrisy

Jesus described scribes and Pharisees as hypocrites. They looked good and clean on the outside but were dirty and dead on the inside. I’m writing to confess that I’m more like a Pharisee than I’d like to admit. The truth is, the Pharisaical spirit is alive and well in me.

For decades, I’ve tried to convince myself and others that I’m not a Pharisee. But, I can’t play that game anymore. Here’s why.

  • I judge people. When people do not measure up to my standards I treat them as “less than.” I say or think contemptible things about them. Yet, I talk like I have a great love for all people.
  • I settle. God asks for whole-heartedness and sacrificial devotion. I act half-heartedly and devote myself to comfort and what makes me feel good. Yet, I think I’m fully devoted to God and his will for me.
  • I disobey God. There are few commands that I obey and few invitations that I accept. I act independently of God most of the day. Yet, I try to fool others into believing that I have great faith and depend on God constantly.
  • I care too much about what others think of me. In conversations I try to come off as pious, wise, caring, and humble when in reality, I’m not. I try to impress people too much.
  • I am preoccupied with my own “stuff.” I plan and manipulate my life according to my own thoughts and desires. I live as if God is far away and removed from my day-to-day experiences. Yet, I act like I know God intimately.
  • I have too high an opinion of myself. I think that due to my heritage, education, experience, and training I am able to defeat sin, love God, and teach others. I think I’m capable of being a super-Christian who rescues the lost from destruction. Yet, I’m really not what I think I am and, in my pride, fail to admit it.
  • I think my problems are outside myself. Culture, society, media, religion, God, and politicians are the real problem. As long as I can point my finger at others, I look good. I’m not that great a problem anyway…compared to you.
  • I know I’m right. I’ve devoted my life to study, obtained degrees, nurtured a good heart, read lots of books, been taught by the best, and mastered the Bible. What I’ve concluded should not be challenged. I know what I believe and others are…uhh…wrong.

Can you relate to any of these? Perhaps we can form a Christian Pharisee Society. There we can cry together in our brewskis and support one another as we hope in God.

I would be in complete despair if not for the life, love, and light of the Triune God flowing in me. This flow of God’s life has nothing to do with me. I am not special. In my Pharisee life, only His mercy and grace keep me alive. Of myself, I am a rascally hypocrite in desperate need of participating in God. Apart from God, I have no hope. In God, I have all I need.

Please, pray for me!

Dr. K

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

10 thoughts on “The Spirit of The Pharisee is Alive and Well

    • Hey Sis! You’re welcome. I wish the mirror wasn’t so clear! (Meaning, I wish my self-righteousness wasn’t so characteristic of my life). We’re on a journey together in God, our only hope for transformation. Thanks for reading and engaging. Keith

  1. Sounds like a prelude to John Fischer’s book “Twelve Steps for the Recovering Pharisee (like me).” Have you ever heard of him? You’d like him – he’s real. His books helped me when I was outgrowing the religious trappings of my childhood faith and seeking something more substantial.

    Yes, I still battle with all the signs of pharisee-ism that you listed, but I know God is working on them and discipling me into His image. I’m thankful He’s patient with my slow growth. To God be the Glory.

    • Hi Lois. Sounds like a book I need to read. It’s amazing how much “self-righteousness” invades our hearts. We probably don’t know the half of it. If not for the grace of the Triune God and His mercy, where would we be. And, as you said, thanks be to God for His patience with us. God is faithful. Thanks be to Him! Dr. K

  2. I’m in Keith! I too am a 40 year recovering legalist. Thank God for His mercy and grace! He must smile at all my “good intentions.” Like any addiction I’m learning that it has been a daily surrender to His power working so wonderfully in me to experience Christ-like transformation. Thanks to God for His indescribable gift!

    I’m not there yet but God continues to captivate me with His love.

    Thanks for your post.

    • How thankful I am for you, Terry. We are brothers together on this journey of defeating “self-righteousness.” It’s a tough one! Only in the power of the Triune God do we have any hope. Blessings on your journey. Keith

    • Thanks, Diane, for reading, engaging, and replying. We all have a ways to go. If not for what God supplies, oh my!! Keith

  3. Thank you, Keith, for your gift of confession. I’ve spent 3 decades dealing with the perpetration of legalism. Abhorring it trapped me in self-righteousness. “Forgiven” substituted for a lack of forgiveness for religious tyranny. Wouldn’t Humility and Confession be the antithesis of the Pharisaical? My in-culpability before God leaves me wasted and wanting more of Him in me.

    • Hi Tamara. Anything that directs our hearts to Jesus Christ is good. And our lack of humility will always do that. He is gentle and humble in heart. Wow! May He increase. May we decrease. Thanks for sharing a part of your journey with us. Thanks be to God for all things. Dr. K

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