“…Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.” (Luke 12:1)
I read a statement this week by another believer concerning a minister that had fallen into sin, but has since repented, and God is restoring him. This believer said, “The attitude we have toward this man (the minister) reveals something about our own walk with the Lord.”
How true this is, for if we truly know God, we will also understand His ways (Exodus 33:13, 34:6-7). His ways are mercy, truth, compassion, forgiveness and restoration. “Well, Brother Tom, God might forgive, but that doesn’t mean a minister that sins should continue to minister!” My friend, when God restores, He restores! It’s people that don’t restore, forgive and forget.
The most dangerous and repulsive thing in the eyes of God is the religious spirit; the spirit of the Pharisees, Scribes and Sadducees. Jesus Himself warned us of this monstrosity, exhorting us to beware of hypocrisy. But what is a hypocrite? Hypocrisy is a condition of the heart; it is someone that professes to be something, when in reality, they are something else. But let me explain what it is not; it is not a person that has struggled, or is struggling in an area of their life, but yet loves God and is endeavoring to overcome the weakness.
There are many people that love God that stay away from our churches in mass quantity because of the religious people that are in them! Drunks hang out in bars and religious people hang out in churches! So you can go to either place and get beat up! This ought not to be so my brothers and sisters.
Religious spirits hate those that are spiritual because they cannot control them. A religious spirit is all about control; they want control and they want preeminence (III John 1:9). A spiritual person (One who is led by the Spirit of God) that will step outside of man-ordained boundaries to pursue after the will of God will become their targets.
If we understand the ways of God, we will be able to discern correctly and judge righteously. Yes, we are to judge (discern) the fruit of others, and we’re to judge prophecies and those that labor in our midst (For how else are we to drive out wolves that come to destroy the flock?) (I Corinthians 14:29, I Thessalonians 5:12) But this instruction and command is for those that are spiritual, not religious (I Corinthians 2:15, Galatians 6:1) When Jesus told us to “Judge not,” (Luke 6:37) He was not telling us that we shouldn’t discern; He was telling us not to condemn; there is a difference! Religious people condemn others while excusing their own ungodly behavior; they are always looking at everyone else’s faults, but they refuse to look inward. They are gossipers and backbiters, and it’s no wonder that sinners off the streets are apprehensive to walk through our doors; the prostitute feels safer on the streets of Los Angeles, than in the ladies Sunday morning “Bible study!” I don’t blame them, I would too!
My wife told me that, when she was young, a woman evangelist came to their church and preached a message of truth on a Sunday morning. That evening only one fourth of the people returned! She cleaned out the church! The church leaders were living in adultery and fornication, drunkenness, and all manner of sin, pride, disobedience and rebellion against God’s Word, yet they ran her mother out of the church because she got filled with the Holy Spirit and prayed in tongues!
We are warned that many that call Jesus, “Lord,” will be denied entrance into the Kingdom of God. Scripture tells us that these people will not expect this, and in fact, will be taken by surprise; they will be expecting Jesus to applaud their “good works,” but instead will hear something else (Matthew 7:21-23, 22:11-13). They will be shocked when they hear their condemnation at the lips of Jesus because they had no relationship with God, but were in fact religious, hypocrites. The sinner on the street knows that he or she is a sinner, and most wouldn’t step foot in a church for shame, but those that are religious believe that they are alright with God, when in fact, they are not (Matthew 18:9-14).
How do we avoid the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees? We allow the grace of God to work in our hearts (Hebrews 13:9); it is in knowing God through intimate relationship that we can do and be all that he desires for us to become. The Pharisees used the scriptures to condemn others, and it is no different today (John 8:5-6). They pound their Bibles and scream “homosexuality is sin!” But never mention the delivering power of God, and how God so loved them that He sent His Son that they can be free! (John 3:16) You hear them praying that God would send doctors and lawyers to their churches (For the offerings, no doubt), but how often the drunkards, the ex-convicts, prostitutes, homosexuals, pedophiles and murderers? Our prayer should be, “God, send us your worst!”
“Oh, Brother Tom, we don’t want pedophiles in our churches!” I didn’t say that you had to put them in charge of Sunday school! But do you believe in the power of God? This is what Jesus told us to do! (Luke 14:23) We ignore this part of the Bible, and then point our fingers at the denominational church across the street because they “call their ministers ‘Father,’ and scripture condemns this!” (Catholic priests) (Matthew 23:9) Well, what about the other things that “scripture condemns?” Like condemning the guiltless? (Matthew 12:7) This is hypocrisy, my friend. “Well, do we just excuse people’s sin?” “How do we know the difference?” There are no formulas; it is through relationship; God will take us to His Word, and give us that which is appropriate for each unique situation (Those things that are our business, that is) (John 21:21-22).