15 ways to tell if you're acting like a Pharisee

15 ways to tell if you're acting like a Pharisee

By Kyle Patterson

Even the sincerest believer can fall into the trap of the religious Pharisee. Though Pharisees are no longer a formal religious group as they were in the time of Jesus, their unfortunate religious legacy lives on in religious circles around the world. Here are a few of the many warning signs of the Pharisee. 

If you have pride in your religious affiliation

You may be acting like a Pharisee if you are convinced your expression of worship is superior to that of others. As a result you have pride in your superior choices to that of other less informed people which equals pride.

If you look down at others.

If you judge others who aren’t as not being as devout as you, you may be acting like a Pharisee. Pharisees often feel that because they have kept the law so well, God owes them his blessing. The truth is we are all justified by faith alone through the finished work of Christ on the cross, not our own good works. 

If you feel superior to others who aren’t part of your denomination/network/group

You may be acting like a Pharisee if you think you and your group have it all figured out. 

If you feel that because you have been so good, God has blessed you

If you think that God has blessed you because you have lived so well, you may be a Pharisee. After all you're better than those sinners over there. You tithe, pray and fast. You can do it all right but your heart is can still remain far from God.

If when you read the Bible, it’s mostly about you, not Jesus

If reading Scripture has become mostly about what else you need to do to be a better religious person than about encountering the One true God through Jesus Christ, then you may be acting like a Pharisee. 

If you’re heart is never at rest

If your constantly striving to do more and be better then you may have fallen into the trap of a Pharisee. As a Pharisee there is always more you need to do to keep up your religious persona and your attempt to earn your own righteousness.

If justification by faith is your least favorite doctrine.

Justification by faith alone through grace alone by Christ alone is a foreign concept, if your acting like a Pharisee.

If you believe God owes it to you to bless you because you are so religious.

Rather than develop intimacy with the Father, your like the older brother in the Parable of the Prodigal Son. God owes it to you because you’ve never broken a commandment. Yet your heart is so far from his love.

If you’re judgmental based in self righteousness

Let him who is without sin cast the first stone, Jesus told the Pharisees when they were ready to kill the adulteress. They saw her sin, but they overlooked their own sin. The truth is there is no one righteous before God, no not one.

If you care more about what people think of you than what God thinks

Pharisees are all about what they look like on the outside, not what’s in the heart.

If your more concerned with being right than relationship.

Pharisees are more concerned about who is right than the love of God, forgiveness, and mercy.

If you are constantly arguing over the Bible.

There is a time and place for a good debate on truth. But if the Bible has become a source of contention and fighting, rather than joy, love, and freedom in Christ you may be acting like a Pharisee. 

If you're overly focused on appearances

Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for cleaning the outside of the cup but inside they were dead men’s bones.

If God becomes a means to another end, i.e. your own reputation and self exaltation

If your using God to accomplish your own plan or agenda, not his, you're acting like a Pharisee. 

If you're closed off to new relationships especially with sinners.

Pharisees don’t want to be caught dead hanging out with ‘those’ people, because appearances are everything.

The truth is we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and need to repent to the Father for our sin. The sin of acting like a Pharisee is no worse than any other sin and can only be dealt with at the cross of Jesus, by the cleansing of the blood of Jesus. This post was meant to be a bit humorous because it is easy, in a religious setting, to start acting like we're better than others and using God for our own ends. Hopefully this post serves as a reminder to examine our hearts before God and keep an attitude of humility and prayer before our Great Father in Heaven who said the greatest among you is the servant of all. 

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