10 Signs you’d be more comfortable with the Pharisees than with Jesus (pt. 5)

1. You can tell a sinner that unless he repents and believes he is going to hell, but you won’t love him through the process of understanding the implications of these truths.

2. You only want to “hang out” with Christians who are as serious about the Christian faith as you are.

3. You protect your personal ministry because it is your identity.

4. Your conscience is etched in stone.

5. Your goal in conflict resolution is proving the other person wrong.

6. You end discussions by saying “this is the way we have always done it.”

7. You never find a church that get’s it.

If you have looked and looked and looked and you can never find a church where the pastor is as theologically informed as you are… if you have decided simply not to go to church since there are none that really get it… then your spiritual life is more like a Pharisee than a disciple.  The Pharisees 1) thought they were the final religious authority & 2) they would not mingle with people who were not as spiritual as they were.  Disciples are 1) humble learners who understand that they have not “arrived” & 2) they are focused on finding people who don’t get it and lovingly helping them get it.

8. You evaluate the Christian life by standards other than the fruit of the Spirit.

The Pharisees evaluated a person’s spiritual maturity based on outward performance, disciples evaluate spiritual maturity by inward transformation.  Pharisees will say things like “he must be spiritual because he prays so often and his prayers are so powerful” OR “he must be serious about his faith because he spend “umpteen” hours a week evangelizing” OR “he must be spiritual because he doesn’t even have a TV.” Now let me say, that these CAN all be good things.  However, they are also things that an unbeliever could outwardly perform.  That is why as Christians we must evaluate our spiritual lives by looking for inward transformation.  In other words, is there evidence that I am growing in ways that I could not grow in apart from the work of the Holy Spirit.  In this respect, I know of no better tool for evaluating spiritual maturity than the Fruit of the Spirit recorded in Galatians 5:17ff:

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

9. You get frustrated when other Christians don’t serve the same way that you serve.

When Jesus showed up ministering to the people the Pharisees did not embrace a new style of teaching (you know, teaching authoritatively from the bible) because they didn’t want to submit & because they felt threatened by the success of his ministry.  We may not like to admit it, but some times we can feel the same way about our ministry.  When someone else is ministering in a different, and possibly more effective way, it is easy to become defensive.  Don’t do it! That it what a Pharisee would do.  Disciples understand that we minister according to the gifts that God has given us, and that our identity is in Christ not our area of ministry.

10. You think that your ministry is the most important ministry in the church, or maybe even the world.

The Pharisees killed Jesus because they thought that their ministry and their ideal vision for Israel was more important than anything else.  Think back to the words of Caiaphas:

But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.

It is possible for us to not only be threatened by the ministry of other gifted individuals, but also to undermine the ministry of another individual for the “great good.” (The greater good of course being what we think is the ideal outcome, rather than what God is providentially doing.)  That’s what Pharisees think and do.  Disciples are interested in serving the Lord as He grows His kingdom.  Their desire is for “His will to be done and His Kingdom to come.”  This is more important to a disciple than some specific areas of ministry in which they are serving.