A New Kind of Pharisee

The tactic of the new Pharisees communicates that they are in the highest seat of judgment and above questioning.

Ironically, the most abused verse in the Bible can safely be said of them: “Do not judge so that you will not be judged” (Matt. 7:1). In the name of compassion, they are judgmental. They need little data and a skewed view of the big picture to persecute and slander. Just one piece of a ten-piece pie is enough for them to smear you.

 

Have you seen them?

There is a new kind of Pharisee today. Things like social media have paved the way for them. And they are not rare or quiet.

Here is a partial profile of the new Pharisees:

  1. They have seated themselves in the chair of Moses.

The tactic of the new Pharisees communicates that they are in the highest seat of judgment and above questioning.

As such, they behave as if God has charged them to prosecute those who do not conform to their law. In this way, they make themselves and their standards well-known on social media. They hand out violations on partial information and without the full story. They lack grace and learning. They’re watching you, waiting in the shadows to trap you in a statement, plotting together how they might trap you in what you say.

  1. They are judgmental in the true sense.

Ironically, the most abused verse in the Bible can safely be said of them: “Do not judge so that you will not be judged” (Matt. 7:1). In the name of compassion, they are judgmental. They need little data and a skewed view of the big picture to persecute and slander. Just one piece of a ten-piece pie is enough for them to smear you.

Similarly, they believe the worst and make presumptuous conclusions. They seem to not be concerned that their info is wrong or slanted. Rarely, if ever, do they ask, “Hey, so, you said this. What do you mean by that? It seems like you are saying A or B. But I want to avoid presumption and answering a matter before I hear.” No. That’s no fun. That doesn’t deliver the self-righteous high like putting you in a proverbial giant-suplex before their fanfare on social media. Instead of approaching issues with logic, humility, intelligent conversation, and asking questions, they come with hateful judgment, seeking prosecution on bits of information.

They seem to use fear tactic. Words are carefully chosen so as to strike fear in those who might challenge them. Many are scared about being publicly labeled an “ ‘ist” or “abuser” (ironically) and so they often do not receive the challenge they need. They keep correction at bay by these careful tactics.

  1. They are revilers of the brethren.

They are skilled at reviling. They do not call people out with the end of lovingly presenting others complete in Christ (Col. 1:28). We might wonder if they humbly and lovingly pray in secret for those they revile. They are not correcting others to help others become sound in the faith.

The reviling often comes from undealt-with bitterness. Many of us understand that. Hurt is real. People are really sinned against in bad ways. And yet, the love of Christ and the body of Christ is sufficient to bind up and have victory in such situations. He’s that good.

But what we must not do is let Satan get the foothold in our lives by becoming bitter. Reviling without humble question-asking is often a symptom of sinful bitterness. Though we experience real hurt and sin, our all-loving, all-sufficient Lord does not permit us to stew internally in bitterness and consequently spew externally with reviling. There is a more excellent way. But the new Pharisees haven’t traveled it.

  1. They are experts at setting aside the commandments of God in order to keep their tradition.

These new Pharisees are sort of like really bad cable news. They often create boogeyman problems with what they say and post. Crying down often phantom issues with passionate, but baseless zeal, they and their followers rejoice in heroic slaying of mythical dragons. They stir up anger and dissension by taking a myopic view of an issue and exploding them, demanding adherence to man-made standards.

Humbly submitting to, and plugging in with, a biblical local church is not adequate for them. God’s ways are too oppressive. Forget about the piles of commands for godly operations within the local church that are undergirded with humility (cf. Rom. 12:1-31 Cor. 14:34-35Phil. 2:3-51 Tim. 2:11-12Heb. 13:171 Pet. 4:85:5). Forget about the fact that God—not a man, not a pastor, not any human—but God gave commands for men and women to have order in Christendom; for the pastor/elder role to be filled by men, and for women to “quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness” (1 Tim. 2:11-12). Never mind that those verses are actually in the Bible, and the Bible was given by God. We seem to know better than God what God said. And for some, if you dare mention these things, you are prosecuted and sentenced without a trial. Yeah, those verses might be in the Bible, but you are a raging something ‘ist if you dare to bring them up. The irony could not be greater.

As such, these new Pharisees are experts at setting aside the commandments of God in order to keep their tradition. They have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. No one knows their law like they do. It’s everyone else who is below their bar of adjudication. Everyone else is the sinner unless they join their Bible-forsaking, man-made laws.

  1. They are blind and unteachable.

They could never imagine themselves as the new Pharisees. Yet, they are more angry about a few cultural sins than they are over their extraordinary lack of biblical humility. When it comes to such sins, it’s not them. They, after all, are the guardians and enforcers of law. Therein, they are tragically blind. They nearly break social media with irony when they speak. For every one probably-not-actually-a-sin sin they rage against, they commit ten actual sins.

If you question or confront them, they self-righteously accuse you too. You are guilty of an ‘ism simply by the fact of questioning them. They refuse to receive correction, notwithstanding some 30 verses in Proverbs commending the practice.

They have no time or toleration for pause, reflection, and objectively observing all the facts of a situation. They are too trigger-happy. It’s not as fun to wait. They don’t have patience for pausing in case they might be answering a matter before they hear (Prov. 18:13).

They would read an article like this and could not imagine themselves as pharisaical. It’s someone else. It’s the other sinners. It’s the “crowd which does not know the law [who] is accursed” (John 7:49). They are all law and no grace towards anyone who would ask questions about the validity of their claims.

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