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Articles

Are you like the Pharisees?

It was one of the hallmark qualities of the Pharisees. They were perfect. Well… they thought they were. That was the reason Jesus looked at them and said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician…” (Luke 5:31–32). They were convinced they were just fine. They had no need for any correction. There was no room for improvement. They didn’t any help being saved from sin—they had none.


In Matthew 23, Jesus reveals their hypocrisy. He said they were like a filthy cup on the inside but clean on the outside. He also compared them to tombs full of dead bones that had been whitewashed and shined brightly. (vv. 25–28). They dressed up the outside while being filled with corruption and sin. They weren’t perfect after all.


Christians today are often more like the Pharisees than they would like to admit. Buildings are filled Sunday ­morning with people who have exchanged tassels and phylacteries for three-piece suits, polished shoes, and iPads (Matthew 23:5–6). Pews are filled with people who walk in to be seen, sing to be heard, and Amen to get noticed. But inside… inside their life is in shambles.


Rarely do Christians truly open up about faults. Rarely do they show the attitude of the tax collector who humbly beat his breast and said, “Be merciful to me… a sinner” (Luke 18:9–14). Instead, most are off to the side saying, “I’m glad I’m not like the rest of the world…”


That’s not reality. Reality is that every pew is filled with someone who at the very least dealt with sin, often in ­serious ways. The church in Corinth has the reputation of being a collection of former reprobates (1 ­Corinthians 6:9–11). But isn’t every church a collection of former sinners who continue to struggle in their fight against ­temptation?


It appears even Paul felt that struggle (Romans 7:13–25). Yes. Jesus delivered Paul from sin. God’s grace covered his sins. But that didn’t mean Paul never struggled again. In fact, it was quite the opposite. Paul said, “the evil I do not want to do is what I keep on doing” (v. 19).


Perhaps that’s why James advises Christians to share their faults, struggles, and sins with one another (James 5:16). Rather than putting on the façade of the Sunday show, Christians should let down their guard and share their ­struggles. The church isn’t a resort for saints in other words—it’s a hospital and treatment center for recovering ­sinners.


The Pharisees get a bad reputation. Deservedly so. But when disciples today share that same behavior, they deserve the same reputation. Never be afraid to show your flaws, faults, or mistakes.