The Accidental Pharisee

Monday, April 14, 2008

Hanging Out With Pharisees

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" ... He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God ... "
Micah 6:8





I spent some time this weekend researching some buddies of mine--the Pharisees.

You probably know a few of them too, you just don't realize it.

If we're going to be talking about grace, we're going to run into the Pharisees. That's what happened to Jesus. Whenever he talked about grace, the Pharisees were right there, asking, "But what about the Law?"

I like Charles Swindoll's labels for the Pharisees. He calls them "the original grace-killers" and "the brain trust of legalism."

As I was scribbling notes from the Encyclopedia Judaica--a great resource that my friend, Scoti, recommended to me--I discovered that the Pharisees weren't all bad. They weren't all wrong about God.

Did you know the Pharisees believed God was an omnipotent (all powerful), all knowing spiritual being, all wise, all just, all merciful? They believed God loved his creatures and asked man to walk in His ways and to act justly and to love kindness. (Hhhmm. I've heard that before in Micah 6:8.) God gave man the ability to choose between good and evil--and wanted him to choose good.
I'm not going to argue with any of that, are you?

Here's where the Pharisees went wrong--way, way wrong.

They believed a spirit of holiness was obtained through a scrupulous observance of the Torah and by spreading traditional religious teaching.

Ooops! Wrong answer!
Thinking Out Loud: We Accidental Pharisees get it wrong too. We don't mean too. We're looking right at Jesus--and we're forgetting that He's all about grace. We want to talk to Him about how much time we've spent in Bible study, and then ask Him, "How am I doing?" He wants to tell us that's not the point. We keep holding up our little check lists of what we've done right and saying, "Look at this! Look at this!" And Jesus says," Will you just look at me?"
Grace.



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