The word “pharisee” is a word used in some religious discussions. On Facebook earlier this week I asked the question: “What is a modern-day pharisee?” Many answers were given, but all of them were nothing but opinions; whatever value there might be in a person’s opinion, opinions are like noses—everyone has one! With these opinions and with this label “pharisee” thrown around as readily as it is, there is no real way to communicate effectively.
From the New Testament we learn the following concerning what is a pharisee. 1) A pharisee rejects Jesus as the Christ (John 7:32-49), 2) a pharisee elevates tradition to a place where, 3) a pharisee rejects God’s commands (Mark 7:1-13), and 4) a pharisee tries to control what others think concerning the Christ (John 9:22).
The 4th point needs a bit of elaboration lest someone misunderstands or perverts the thrust of the remark (and context). In the context of John 9, because of the first three points already in place, #4 is implemented. In other words, there was a rejection of Jesus, His mission, His teaching, and all who subscribed to what He taught were under suspicion. Thus, there was an effort to control another’s thinking concerning the Christ (cf. John 12:42-43).
What solution is there to being a modern-day pharisee? First, reject the label when it is thrown around. Many just want to use it, not because it is accurate, but because the position taken by the “thrower” is a weak one and this is a method of weakening you. Second, be sure to know Jesus by allowing Him to teach you His word (John 10:1-5; 12:48). Not only will you gain knowledge, but you will also gain godly wisdom. Godly wisdom is needed in teaching others, especially those who throw accusations around. Third, make it a point for yourself that you don’t fall into the trap of pharisee thinking. This is more difficult than one realizes. We all believe we are spot-on right in the things we think. Our thinking (opinions), however, must be subservient to the Lord’s way (John 14:6).
I am no modern-day pharisee (as some think) and neither am I an olden-day pharisee (too young) – I am just a Christian.