Under the disguise of holiness, perfectionism and sinfully making a list of wrongs there are modern Pharisees. They don’t call themselves Pharisees, but they practice and teach the way the Pharisees did. They teach false doctrines, like smoking is a sin and all alcohol in any form is sinful.
“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are with full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets, Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?” Matt. 23:25-33
“Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, 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. But all their works they do to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, And love the uppermost rooms at feast, and the chief seats in the synagogues, And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.’ ” Matt. 23:1-7
Basically, Matt. Chapter 23 is a condemnation of the scribes and Pharisees. But He also condemns our entire generation. Pharisees have a holier than thou attitude. That’s what the false doctrine of current perfectionism is. But in Matt. Chapter 23 Jesus gives us an attitude we should have and it’s the opposite of the self-esteem doctrine.
“But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.” Matt. 23:11-12
Yes, we are suppose to seek righteousness, holiness and not give into the temptation to sin. And yes, there are some things like divorce, homosexuality, short hair on women and long hair on men that scripture teaches as wrong and sinful.
But if we start making a list of wrongs, such as you can’t do this or you’re not a true Christian or you can’t do that or you’re not true Christian, even where there is sin, then we become like the Pharisees. Let’s take divorce, for example. Divorce is no doubt not in line with God’s will, but what if someone is remarried. Are they really living in adultery? Of course not, but if they are, do really want someone to divorce his or her new spouse (thereby committing adultery again) in order to return to his or her first spouse so as to not commit adultery! I’m of the opinion that you ought to be friendly toward your former spouse, because divorce can be an act of unforgiveness, but to divorce a 2nd or 3rd spouse in order to go back to the 1st is not the will of God.
Now, let’s take my example with hair. That is based on 1st Cor. 11:14-15, but now let’s look at the rest of the passage. 1st Cor. 11:1-16. This is why, when I date a woman, I prefer for her to have long hair, but if she has short hair, does that mean she has sinned? Of course not, and vs. 16 makes that clear. What this passage is really about is headship, a line of authority, not hair. Hair is just a representation of what’s on the head. This is the line of authority that Christ is the head of the church (and the man) and that the man is the head of the woman. And yes, sometimes it is ok to go above someone’s head, especially in this scenario.
I do not smoke, I do not drink. The last time I had a cigarette was in 1973, I smoked one cigarette, took a few puffs, coughed too much and never touched another cigarette after that night. In 1977, when I turned 19 I bought some apple beer (didn’t like the taste) took one sip each out of four cans and threw them all away. In the early1990’s (before October of 1993) I attended the wedding of one of my then co-workers. Having a deep desire to be married myself, I went and bought 4 cans of real beer. I asked the clerk about the best tasting one’s, took one sip out of each can, and through them all away. Except to sell the cans, I have not touched drinking alcohol since.
But to claim that it is a sin to smoke or drink is at best a stretch, and frankly I think such a statement is an outright lie. A good article about when Jesus turned water into wine is found here. Sometimes an ad appears over the article, but you can close it.
Let’s look at Colossians 2:20-23 “Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will-worship, and humility,and neglecting of the body; not in any honor to the satisfying of the flesh.”
Rom. 14:1-9 is a similar passage dealing with meat and holidays. If we start saying things like smoking is sin, we may get to where we call it a sin to breathe when we are facing south, which is ridiculous. The holy scripture does not say anything, positive or negative about the use of tobacco.
What the Pharisees often did was to point out the sins of others, as in John 8:1-11 (Where they were going to stone the adulterous woman). In Luke 18:9-14 Jesus told the parable of the publican and the Pharisee. Vs. 9 of chapter 18 here makes it clear the parable is to those who trust in themselves that they are righteous. Vs. 14 tells us that the one who was justified was the one who humbled himself (the publican) and acknowledged that he was a sinner.
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” 1st John 1:8, the context of this verse is 1st John 1:1-10 and really goes further. John 1:9 tells us to confess our sins, how I confess a sin that I do not have? The passage talks about walking in the light and yes we avoid sin, but to claim that we never sin is a Pharisaical lie!
Pharisees teach doctrines like “I am perfect (without error) even in this world”, they say things like “I love God.” No you don’t. What you love is your “I’m so good” attitude, you love your “I’m better than you” (see Luke 18:9-14) attitude. They say we can quote scripture. But rather than refer to full passages, they will quote a verse here and verse there (something we are all guilty of) and piece together false doctrine, but they won’t let anyone else notice clear details of scripture.
They will say things like “I don’t interpret the Bible”, yes you do! Now let’s go back to John chapter 3 where Jesus answered a Pharisee named Nicodemus.
“Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be? Jesus answered and said unto him, ‘Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. If I have told you of earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly thins? And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up; That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.’ ” John 3:9-20
Jesus did not come condemn, he came to save. He is the light and it is Him that we are to walk in and abide in. As I wrote this article, especially quoting from John chapter 3 and 1st John chapter 1 (and really going on into 1st John chapter 2) I realized that I can learn from those I have very strong disagreements with. But it also backed up one of my long held beliefs regarding the false doctrine of self-esteem. So, I guess we need to have a balance. On the one hand, we need to be careful not to condemn every little thing we disagree with as sin, like smoking, or it really could lead into something so ridiculous as to breathe the right way. Well, in physical exercise that is advantageous, but it’s not a sin to breathe the wrong way. Do you drink diet sodas or drinks with aspartame? Aspartame will kill you, us organic gardeners sometimes use it as insect control because it will kill things like fire ants. It’s more dangerous than tobacco, but it’s not a sin to consume it
On the other hand, we can not simply allow everything (though ever thing is permissible) or else we will be justifying all kinds of evils, including witchcraft, satanism along with other cultic and occultic practices and other evils. I’m hoping to write and publish an article about my experience in the occult, which can be very subtle. It’s true that bad company corrupts good morals, but it’s wrong to not have anything at all to do with sinners or else we wouldn’t even be associating with ourselves.
Thank you for reading this article and may you Have a God Day.