In fact, the more I press into following Jesus, the more I realize that if it were up to me, I would make sure that all of the rules were written down so that I would be pleasing to Him in every area of my life.
Then I could go through my whole day praying at just the right time, eating the right foods, wearing the right clothes, reading the correct amount of scriptures, watching the right entertainment, etc…….
And, it is a good thing to desire to be sanctified (to make holy; set apart as sacred; consecrate; to purify or free from sin) or to want to sanctity (sacredness, holiness, virtuousness, or godliness) all of my life.
But the problem is that eventually, I have the potential to be sanctimonious and try to look good by doing some things that have an appearance of holiness. After all, the problem with having rigid rules is the fact that even if I am “holy” I am still sinful and prone to wander.
And eventually, in an attempt to help others to also be set apart for God, I would feel the need to point out where people are breaking the rules
So, the longer I walk the Christian walk, the more I realize that I am one step away from being a Pharisee; or a sanctimonious, self-righteous, or hypocritical person. In fact, I may already be there…perhaps I am a Pharisee: a separatist, that is, exclusively religious person…
The Pharisees whom we read about in the Bible were men who wanted to follow God with all of their heart, soul, mind, and strength so they made rules to make sure that they do this.
They were different than the Sadducees (who didn’t believe in a resurrection…so they were “sad”-you-see….) chiefly in its strict observance of religious ceremonies and practices, adherence to oral laws and traditions, and belief in an afterlife after death and the coming of a Messiah.
Eventually, they added rules to their rules to be clear on whether or not they were breaking the rules and would point out others’ faults in an effort to help others to follow the rules.
The modern definition looks more like the sport fan who is a “backseat” referee from the living room or in the stands. He/she knows all of the rules and has all of the rules memorized; or at least as he/she understands the rules.
And it is his/her job is to make sure that no referee EVER misses a call. And if the ref makes a mistake, he/she is there to point it out; thanking God that he/she isn’t like that referee; who doesn’t follow all of the rules.
As I said; I may already be a Pharisee as I attempt to be holy.
But it isn’t up to me to know all of the rules, and have all of the rules memorized so that I can point out those who are breaking them; or at least as I understand the rules. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment; not mine! (see John 16:8)
I am called to love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength; and to love my neighbor as I love myself. (see Mark 12:30-31)
I am called to be in a relationship with Him in honesty and sincerity no matter how successfully I am following all of the “rules” or how successfully I am doing things for Him.
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” (Matthew 7:21-23)
Jesus is looking for followers who daily come to Him in a relationship that is fresh and vibrant and alive; not manmade rules to govern what we eat, wear, or how we spend our Saturdays.
“…the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17)
Jesus is looking for followers who understand that at times we sin; especially when we compare ourselves with someone else. Not Pharisees who make a hypocritical show of religious devotion, piety, righteousness, etc.
Jesus told a story for those of us who sanctimoniously sin:
“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:10-14)
Jesus is looking for followers who are honest with their own brokenness and propensity to sin; people who are honest with their need for a Savior.
Or as Lauren Daigle said it
“I am guilty. Ashamed of what I've done, what I've become. These hands are dirty. I dare not lift them up to the Holy one…” (from “How Can It Be”)
All Scripture is taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.