I don't know why this winter, Jesus led me to the words he spoke to the Pharisees... as if winter isn't hard enough, but He did. Often. And every time I would walk away with the words, 'Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees', ringing in my ears.
Before, I would read over these words of Christ and stop only long enough to convince myself that this could not be me. I would never reject Christ...I believed all His words...I was good with changes and getting rid of old, comfortable ways. I was not more concerned with the outward over the inward. The list of the leaven of the Pharisees goes on and on...
Reasons that brought about all this soul searching were many. The church I attend has gone through some growing pains. In the last year, we have lost one of our pastors due to the commitments we in our plain groups are bound to have and promote. We have also had to pray for another pastor and have an ordination...more soul searching...We are going through the Epistles in Sunday School and getting all kinds of teaching about false prophets and those who would lead us astray...
We, as a group are tip toeing...walking carefully... maybe over thinking and doing a bit of overreacting. People are wary. They either choose to believe they themselves are at fault for what has happened or they just think it happened and its life and God must be doing something we can't see at the moment and this could be true. Then there are those who are like me and are left reeling with pain because this all could have been avoided had we been more concerned with the things of Christ than with the keeping of tradition.
There are answers...The words of Jesus, and they are plenty; so very easy and straightforward. Yet, His way of thinking on these subjects are often overlooked.
If there is one way we as good Christians are like the Pharisees, it would be in wanting to add to the words of Christ. We think the simple instructions are not detailed enough. They are good, but need a little more explanation for the younger ones, the ones who do not yet know the ways and traditions of our people. Is this not like the Pharisees?
The Pharisees were good at finding the ones who didn't believe all the traditions and protocol of their people group. They were good at condemning change and those who wanted to have an open mind to thoughts that were unlike theirs. They didn't like anyone messing with their well laid plans in how the law was practiced. Could we not be accused of this in our circles?
The Pharisees were more concerned in their agenda of the keeping of the law than they were in a Saviour. The weren't looking for a healer, a gentle Shepherd, a forgiver of sins. They wanted only for things to stay the same. They didn't like their semblance of peace being stirred up. They couldn't accept that Jesus would forgive and love a harlot or that he could eat with those who were not keepers of the law.
Is this not the same attitude we have when we are more concerned with our people falling away and following those of different practice than we are in becoming more like Jesus? Are we not more concerned for our own personal agenda when we condemn and make lists of those who are not quite on par with what we believe Scripture teaches? Is this not fear motivating these agendas? For God has not given us a spirit of fear but of Power and Love and a Sound Mind... 2 Timothy 1:7
The Epistles all teach that this is the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives to show and reveal to us who is authentic and who is only a wolf in sheep's clothing. But it is never our job. Our job is to take care of our walk with Christ. We do this best by asking the Holy Spirit to guide us each day and to keep our noses out of the business of condemning and critiquing those who don't do it like we do it. The Apostles gave us clearly written directions how we know these things. I think they would be saddened by the amount of time believers have wasted on discussing who IS these people. I don't believe that was the intention for the teachings.
Jesus taught us what He wanted us to learn. The Apostles backed Him up by continuing. They all worked together at giving clear directions and it was always for growth and glory towards the things of God. Not time spent condemning what they did not want. They were about their Fathers business. How did we get so far off track to make it our business to promote our own interpretations over the work of the Holy Spirit?
When it comes down to it, to whom could I be more accurately compared...Jesus or the Pharisees? Do I believe the blood of Jesus is enough to cover my sins and yours? Do I believe His promise of the Holy Spirit to live in my heart, to guide me and to convict me of my sins and my own areas where redemption is needed? Or do I rely on others to tell me how to think, obey, and discern the things that should be the work of the Holy Spirit?
"Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees"... Leaven is a sneaky thing; it can seem good but will overtake you with personal agenda and lack the truth that only the Holy Spirit can provide.
It scares people to think of only relying on that to keep them grounded in the faith yet that is what Jesus taught will keep us and guide us and comfort us...His Divine Power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. 2 Peter 1:3