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Modern Day Pharisees

  • Modern Day Pharisees


    Note: If you cannot enable full screen click here to watch on Viemo: Modern Day Pharisees from Refreshing Hope Ministries on Vimeo.

    Message notes:

    Jesus had a different view of God’s law than the scribes and pharisees did at several points in His ministry.

    + His disciples did not wash their hands a certain way before a meal (Mark 7:3-4).
    - Hand washing was mentioned in Exodus 30:18 and Deuteronomy 31:6 which required it in certain rituals, but the Pharisees had woven it into a ridiculous amount of rules. Something that originally would never affect anyone but priests, now applied to everyone, every day, or they failed to “please” God.

    + His disciples picked grain on the Sabbath (Luke 6:1).
    - The Sabbath was made for man as a day of rest, but it had become the opposite. It was as if man had been created to observe the Sabbath (Mark 2:27). Something meant to be restful by God was replaced with a legalistic ritual.

    + Jesus spared the woman caught in adultery (John 8:3).
    - The pharisees wanted her to pay for her sins, but Jesus would not condemn her. The religious spirit there always demands payment for sins and you will see this whenever it shows up.

    One of the highlights of my stellar career was that for a while, I pumped out septic tanks. There is nothing like the smell of steaming hot sewage when you crack open a septic tank in the summer time. After a while I noticed something interesting: they all smelled alike. Whether it was at a rich mansion on a hill, or a single wide in a trailer park, all the septic tanks reeked.

    When God looked down on the adulterous woman surrounded by the people that wanted to kill her, they all reeked of sin. There was no difference between the accused, or the accusers. Jesus said: “Let the one who is without sin cast the first stone” and they left, the oldest ones first.

    + Jesus ate with tax collectors and sinners (Matthew 9:11).
    - The Pharisees condemned Jesus for eating with tax collectors and sinners, instead of with them. This was completely opposite of what an aspiring pharisee would do. You can see the “I am better than you because I paid the price” attitude alive and well, and it still is today. Jesus paid the price and our salvation is a free gift, not something that we can earn (Ephesians 2:8).

    Jesus told them: “But go and learn what this means: “I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” (Matthew 9:13 NKJV)

    God so loved the world that He sent Jesus to seek and to save the lost, while the pharisees practiced a religion which was all external, where ritual demands took the place of love. They were happy to discard the “undesirable” people as trash, while Jesus went out of His way to spend time with them.

    + Jesus socialized with the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:9).
    - Jews despised Samaritans and used the term as a curse word to condemn others. When they became angry at Jesus, they called Him a Samaritan and said that He has a demon (John 8:48). Jesus instead saw a living, breathing, woman before Him that had been through hell. Jesus saw the person instead of the position.

    + Jesus healed a man with a withered hand, and a woman with a bad back, in the temple on the Sabbath (Luke 6:6).
    - The pharisees got upset and wanted them to come back on a weekday to be healed, never on the Sabbath day. Jesus saw a real person there in need, while the pharisees saw only legalistic rules. Jesus put people first, the pharisees put their rules first.

    + Jesus touched the lepers and the unclean (Luke 5:13).
    - The pharisees had strict laws concerning touching unclean things and people. While Jesus had no qualms about touching lepers (Matt. 8:3), the blind (Matt. 20:34), and coffins (Luke 7:14). Jesus saw these people as something precious, while the pharisees avoided them.

    Jesus said: (Matthew 11:28–30 NKJV) “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

    The pharisees were just about the opposite. Matthew wrote (Matthew 23:1–5 NKJV): “for they say, and do not do. For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do to be seen by men.”

    The pharisees multiplied “the number of ways in which a man may offend God”, but failed in helping him to “Please God”.

    Instead of helping people meet God, the pharisees made it more difficult. They increased the severity and difficulty of God’s commands while completely ignoring things like love and mercy.

    Luke wrote: (Luke 11:37–40 NKJV) “And as He spoke, a certain Pharisee asked Him to dine with him. So He went in and sat down to eat. When the Pharisee saw it, he marveled that He had not first washed before dinner. Then the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees make the outside of the cup and dish clean, but your inward part is full of greed and wickedness. Foolish ones! Did not He who made the outside make the inside also?”

    This Pharisee found fault with Jesus, the Anointed One. The perfect Son of God did not live up to the pharisees religious standards.

    Jesus said: (Matthew 23:27 NKJV) “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.”

    The word “Hypocrite” means “Actor. Stage player. A person pretending to be someone they are not.” The pharisees were exactly this. They appeared to people to be righteous by keeping a set of man-made rules they had created, and they excluded anyone that did not.

    Their own religion became their God.
    Jesus told the pharisees:
    (Mark 7:6–9 NKJV): “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men—the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do.” He said to them, “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition.”

    Last week in my message “Where did you read that?” I covered the subject of drinking wine and how in the South, people had changed the verse “Be not drunk with wine” into “Do not touch alcohol or enter a place that sells it.”

    I believed and lived by this tradition for years, but then the Lord put me in a compromising circumstance. I had to play music on the side to help pay my way through seminary, because I needed the money, and one Saturday night, we were booked in bar.

    As we were playing, the Holy Spirit showed up IN the bar with me. I felt His presence descend on me like a warm blanket and scriptures started coming to my mind. Then a man caught my attention, like a spotlight shown on him. I knew that the scriptures were for him, but I wasn’t about to push Jesus on someone that wasn’t interested, so I told the Holy Spirit that when break time came, I would go sit in my car and if He wanted me to witness to this man, send him out to me.

    Break time came and I went out and sit in my car, opened my Bible to the scripture that had came to me. In a few minutes, there was a tap on the window. It was the man from the bar, and he began asking me questions about the Bible. I had already opened it to the right page and as I read the scriptures, the Holy Spirit fell on that man in the parking lot of that bar and he began trembling all over. Soon after, we knelt down and I led him through a sinners prayer.

    I could hardly believe that Jesus was OK with this, but I learned that Jesus loves sinners. Hate the sin, love the person: He invented that. Jesus still seeks the lost and wants to redeem people, while pharisees and religion still push them away as unclean.

    What is the “fruit” produced by adding these extra requirements? Holiness? Nope…

    The stepbrothers that I grew up with would go to a revival meeting and get saved, then last about two weeks before they caved in, bought a six-pack of beer and went fishing. It was what they had always done on Saturdays growing up, they enjoyed it, but they thought they had to give all that up in order to attend church. One of them told me once: “The day is coming when I am going to give this up and get right with God”, but that day we went fishing.

    When they fell off the wagon, they fell hard, were filled with shame and just quit going to church at all. The peer pressure around them and the whole community condemning them as hypocrites was too much. Every few years, they would try it again, and then fail the same way. They have lived their entire lives feeling lost because they could not keep the man-made rituals that were added to the word of God by the local church.

    The “total abstinence” message sets people up for failure and creates a “binging in secret” attitude, all or nothing. While moderation is God’s way.

    I am not condoning excessive alcohol drinking. Even a doctor will tell you that too much is bad for you and if you have a drinking problem, then you should stay away from it completely.

    I am condemning man making it more difficult than it has to be to walk with God by adding more rules to His word. Paul told Timothy:

    (1 Timothy 5:23 NKJV) “No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for your stomach’s sake and your frequent infirmities.”

    You don’t forbid all the healthy people from eating pie because a person once ate too much in one sitting, but that is exactly what prohibition teaches. This entire belief is relatively new and started with Carrie Nation and the temperance movement in the early 1900s. Her first husband died of alcohol poisoning and then she began an all out war on stamping it out. She called herself “God’s Bulldog” and carried a hatchet. She seemed to have skipped the part about “Love thy neighbor.” Before then, many baptist preachers were brewers themselves, one of them invented Kentucky Bourbon.


    The people behind it mean well, but it is only an attempt at mind control. An attempt to get the people to behave a certain way. Prohibition created a secret society and spawned Al Capone, organized crime, the mafia, and bootlegging. It created a dark underworld.

    A pig dressed in a suit is still a pig, and a lie called “A good witness” is still a lie.

    Another example:
    Paul wrote: (1 Timothy 4:1–3 NKJV) “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.”

    The catholic church forbids their priests to marry, requiring total abstinence from sex. So it creates a “secret society” where they have to hide it. Being that the mere act is already breaking their law, once they fall off the wagon, they fall hard.

    The Vatican released statistics to a United Nations committee in May of 2014, that since 2004, they have received over 3,400 “Credible Cases” of child abuse by catholic priests. Which resulted in 848 priests being “defrocked” and another 2,572 sentenced to a lifetime of “penance and prayer.”


    Trying to add our commands to God’s word breeds a sub culture of hiding, shame, and failure.

    The same pharisaical spirit, the religious spirit, is alive and well today and thriving in the church. Are we welcoming the lost, or excluding them from our circle?

    How do you spot a religious spirit? Anger is certainly one of the defining traits. When God accepted Abel’s sacrifice, but not his, Cain became so angry that he killed Abel.

    As Stephen witnessed to the crowd Luke wrote: “Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord; and they cast him out of the city and stoned him” (Acts 7:57–58 NKJV).

    After Jesus spoke a word of correction to the religious leaders, they opposed Him “vehemently.” Jesus said: “Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter in yourselves, and those who were entering in you hindered.” And as He said these things to them, the scribes and the Pharisees began to assail Him vehemently, and to cross-examine Him about many things, lying in wait for Him, and seeking to catch Him in something He might say, that they might accuse Him.” (Luke 11:52–54 NKJV).

    * The pharisees practiced a religion that made them look pious externally, but it was full of man made rituals and traditions that took the place of love and mercy.

    * Jesus saw people as something precious, while the pharisees discarded them like trash.

    * The pharisees multiplied “the number of ways in which a man may offend God”, but failed in helping him to “Please God”.

    * The pharisees were not interested in knowing the truth at all. They lived in a sealed world of spiritual blindness and hardness of heart.

    * You can be sincere, and sincerely wrong. The pharisees own religion, rituals, and traditions had become their God.

    * There is freedom to be found in the pure word of God. When man tries to add his thoughts to it, it becomes perverted, distorted, and it always has a dark, oppressive shadow hanging over it.

    Jesus said: (Matthew 11:28–30 NKJV) “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

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  • 3
Christina Ocasio
Christina Ocasio

Such an awesome and powerful word today, I really enjoyed reading how you broke it down in the summary! ..thank you for this Pastor Dion .. Blessings and Amen ♡

July 17, 2016
  • 1
Sylvia Todd
Sylvia Todd

Very glad the summary was helpful, Christina! It was our first attempt at that, so if you (or anyone here :)) have any suggestions to improve it, we would love to hear them :).

July 20, 2016
  • 4
Deng Tembreza
Deng Tembreza

Thank you for your explantions of how these rules and laws still exists in our Religion and churches today thus makin it dificult for us to truly discern what is right and what is wrong.  Reading and knowing the word of GOD and how our LORD JESUS CHRIST loves the lowly, the poor and the sinners makes me believe that such rUles made by Religions and Churches are not the way which JESUS CHRIST wants us to live.  Let us live according to the teachings of GOD not by the teaching, rules and laws that Religion added to the word of GOD.  Looking forward to our next Sunday on line service Pastor.  GOD BLES YOU and all the RHM family.

July 17, 2016
  • 1
Sylvia Todd
Sylvia Todd

Amen, Deng, thank you so much for being part of our live services :)!

July 20, 2016
  • 4
Cathy Webb
Cathy Webb

Thank you, Pastor Dion, for the clarity to distinguish Jesus' life of love and acceptance and man's insistance on outward compliance. Lots to think about and reflect on this week! I'll definitely share the Matthew 11 passage as we study Jesus and how to face tiredness. God is faithful in highlighting His truth!

July 18, 2016
  • 1
Sylvia Todd
Sylvia Todd

That is a great and succint way to sum it up, Cathy, thank you :)!

July 20, 2016
  • 3
Linda Darlene Gibson
Linda Darlene Gibson

I truly enjoy the messages.

July 19, 2016
  • 1
Sylvia Todd
Sylvia Todd

So glad they have blessed you, Linda :)!

July 20, 2016
  • 1
Cheryl Hepler
Cheryl Hepler

So rich, so undone in listen...take it all in these simple truths got all turned around.  More & more when fed like this I ache to start of tears.  The cruelty by a religious spirit....the way the carnal nature & spirit of evil one gets in there to interpret falsely is so incredible yet so filled with anger.  I am not in my own inventory without thinking where I may have done this in talking yo someone about Jesus.  Misrepresenting Him & anything I tangled that was not the true love of Christ.  In my heart I can hurt for the loss, feel for the poor & sick.  I never will be perfect I know yet to stay on track walking with the Lord but it is hard to be & free in Him in myself for concern that opening my mouth will be less of Him that I could convey & more of me or about me.

In a song the words singing ...His love is so overwhelming speaks so loudly when stated focused on Him.  When I come to that place of contenplation...It is so so much to take in I cry & at same time want to run?  I don't know what to do with experience when it happens. any of what I say make sense or that you can give in anyway of your own experience?




July 27, 2016