PHARISAICAL is defined as; practicing or advocating strict observance of external forms and ceremonies of religion or conduct without regard to the spirit; self-righteous; hypocritical. The term comes from the group called “Pharisees.”
The way it is most commonly used is when one person suggests a close adherence to the word of God in the Plan of Salvation, Worship and Godliness that others will claim that person is being PHARISAICAL. It’s a rebuke by someone who ISN’T closely following the Bible against the one who does.
Is that a fair use of the word? Does this usage follow with how the Pharisees were practicing Judaism? Let’s examine the Scriptures to see if this is so.
JESUS REBUKES THE PHARISEES
Matthew 23 is a great place to learn what Jesus felt about the Pharisees. The first 12 verses He describes their practices to the multitudes. He says:
- Do what they say, not what they do. v3
- They bind heavy burdens on others that they won’t do. v4
- They do what they do to be seen by men. v5
- They love the best seats & greetings. v6-7
After this, He then addresses them directly with a series of “WOE UNTO YOU” statements some of which are:
- You shut up the kingdom of heaven against men and you don’t enter either. v13
- For a pretense make long prayers. v14
- Neglected the weightier matters of justice, mercy & faith. v23
- You appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. v28
Upon examination of these verses and others, the conclusion you MUST come to is that the Pharisees were:
- Ignoring the commands of God for their traditions.
- Saying one thing correctly but not doing it. This is called hypocrisy.
- When they did keep the commands of God, their heart wasn’t in it. Mat 23:23
- They bound EXTRA commands on people that God never commanded.
- Mat 7:21-23
“For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.” [Mark 7:8-9]
SO, WHAT IS PHARISAICAL REALLY?
To be ‘PHARISAICAL’ is to:
- Not follow the commands of God
- To create new commands not from God
- To say that you’re following God but aren’t.
- To hold to traditions rather than the commands of God.
- To appear to be righteous but are actually disobedient.
If anyone in our modern times is ‘PHARISAICAL’ it’s most likely to be the denominational churches and not the Lord’s church. Can we be guilty of hypocrisy? Certainly, but to call someone who is keeping the commands of God with his whole heart, ‘PHARISAICAL,’ is to make a false accusation. It’s usually the one who ISN’T KEEPING GOD’S COMMANDS that calls another ‘PHARISAICAL.’ If you’re not following the commands of Christ, YOU ARE THE PHARISEE! It is NOT PHARISAICAL to want to keep the commands of God. [Col 3:17]
Rather than call each other names, let’s try this:
- Let’s Keep the commands of Jesus – John 14:15
- Let’s Do what Jesus says – Luke 6:46; Mat 7:21-29
- Let’s Love God with our whole heart – Mat 22:37
- Let’s Obey the Gospel – 2Thess 1:8; Mark 16:16
God wants us to be saved and to go to heaven. Let’s do that.