Religious life of the Pharisees and scribes is not favored by Jesus. That’s why He wants us to have a religious life that is more righteous than the scribes and Pharisees.
“For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20).
Let us see from the Word of God how religious is the life of the scribes and Pharisees, and let’s see if our religious life is more righteous than them or instead we are undergoing the same religious way of life with them.
There are many of the religious life of the Pharisees that are condemned by Jesus, but we will only discuss three of them, namely:
1. The Pharisees teach but do not do what is taught.
“Saying The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers” (Matthew 23:2-4).
The Pharisees sit in the seat of leadership, that’s why they teach, but the problem is they only teach but do not do what they teach. They bind heavy burden on the shoulders of people but but they themselves do not want to touch it.
If you are teaching but do not do what is taught, you’re living the religious life of the Pharisees. In order for you to be more righteous than the Pharisees, you can not just teach, you must make sure that you do what you teach. If you teach people to pray, make sure you pray. If you teach people to give, make sure you give. Whatever you teach, make sure you do it, then your religious life would be more righteous than the Pharisees.
2. The Pharisees do all religious activities only to be seen.
“But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments” (Matthew 23:5).
To the Pharisees, worship is performing. All their religious activities are made and designed for show. Whether their religious activities are succeed or not, are measured by how many audience see and comments on the show presented. If the audience was “entertaint” by the show (read: service), then the show was considered a success.
If you design a service just for show to entertain the congregation, you are the same as the Pharisees; praying for a show, singing and playing music for a show, preaching for a show.
If you design a service just so that more visitors will come, you are the same as the Pharisees.
Our religious life must be more righteous than the Pharisees, which is why we must design the whole service not for show but for a living sacrifice to God, not to entertain the congregation but to please God, not to meet the wishes of the congregation but to realize God’s will.
3. The Pharisees are willing to do anything for converting one person but not making him a child of Heaven.
“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves” (Matthew 23:15).
The Pharisees were willing to wade through sea and land for converting a person to become adherents of their religion, but the problem is, after repenting, that person is not transformed intoa child of heaven, so they are still the child of hell.
If you are willing to do anything for converting a single person, but after that it didn’t change their lives into a child of heaven, you have the same religious life as the Pharisees. You only win one person to become a member of your church, but do not turn them into children of the kingdom.
If we want to have a religious life that is more righteous than religious life of the Pharisees, we must baptize people to be the heirs of the kingdom and not just church members. We must educate them to live in the values of the kingdom of Heaven, so that finally we can send them into this world as a representative (ambassador) of the kingdom of Heaven that would establish the kingdom of Heaven on earth.
Don’t miss this article: Recognizing Representative Grace.