Colossians 2:20-23 – “Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations — 21 “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” 22 which all concern things which perish with the using — according to the commandments and doctrines of men? 23 These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.” NKJV
Through the years of Christian service I have encountered a number of modern day Pharisees. Truthfully, I was one of the best early in my Christian walk. I did not mean to be a Pharisee and did not believe I was a Christian bully but I was and when I saw it I wept before the Lord repenting and asking the Lord to help me reject legalism and become the person He desired. I am still becoming and never want to stop growing in His love and likeness.
The apostle Paul clearly identifies that if we are IN CHRIST we have been set free from the Laws of Sin and Death. He reminds those in his audience the fallacy and danger of subjecting oneself to man-made regulations that have no true redemptive value. In the former days I described above, it made me feel good to compare myself with others and declare, “I don’t do that.” I gave me a false sense of humility, holiness and purity but as Jesus declared in Matthew 23:25, I was simply washing the outside of the cup but inside I was dirty. Oh, please understand I loved the LORD deeply and wanted to please Him above all else but I was deceived placing value on the outward that God never placed and honoring regulations above grace without knowing I was doing so.
I recall once preaching in a church and after the service a group went out for lunch. As I recall virtually everyone at the table had Iced Tea to drink and when it came time for desert I asked for a cup of coffee. I knew I had done something terribly wrong by the gasps and looks of disdain on many faces at the table. One of the deacons looked me in the eye and said, “I won’t be back tonight to hear a hypocrite preach” to a chorus of Amen from others at the table. I was stunned. On the way back to the home of the pastor he told me what the uproar was about and how he and the congregation viewed coffee as nectar of the devil and should be avoided. (They drank tea!) By the reaction of the people in the restaurant you would have thought I asked for a shot of Jim Beam or asked the waitress to go to bed with me. Remember I was a Pharisee too on many fronts but not that one.
I have long pondered the things I condemned as a Pharisee and how those condemnations only served to satisfy my self-righteousness and had no redeeming value. I would hear people condemn those who worked on Sunday but would gather at the restaurant after church for lunch. Many would condemn indulgences of one kind or another and be guilty of overeating. How many have criticized others for some moral failure while participating in spreading rumors and gossip? The Pharisee is a self-righteous regulator of all lives but their own.
I have long prayed that the LORD help me to not be a Pharisee and expose to my heart those areas I am deficient. I want to LOVE everyone. I do not mean you have to condone lifestyles contrary to the biblical guidelines but you are to demonstrate love. Years ago, the Holy Spirit instructed me saying, “Some things you are not to do.” I took that to mean I was to tell others and He said, “This is for your personal edification not for you to attempt to regulate the behavior of others.” Do not take that to mean I am passive about things I believe the Bible identifies as sin. I have come to understand that, like fishing, I first catch the fish then clean them.
God bless you as you go through your day!