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21 Characteristics of Pharisees [podcast]

Jesus taught by deduction: Learning by deduction …. How NOT to be! Read Matthew 23 and learn how NOT to be!

Matthew 23 records the most violent divine rebuke of what God hates. It’s the longest most detailed, thorough reprimand of religious hypocrisy in existence.

Matthew 23 is a divine clinic of Heaven’s distaste for external religiosity and not humble serving from a pure heart (Matthew 5:3, 8; 1 Timothy 1:5, etc.). And what do our hearts need to be cleaned of and established in?

In summation, what was the sin of the Pharisees, these most vile hypocrites lambasted by the Son more severely than any other? Let us observe that according to our LORD’s rebuke of them, their sins included self-righteousness, pride, and hypocrisy. God looks on the heart, the state or inward disposition of the man, not on his outward religious show (1 Samuel 16:7). God always works from the inside out.

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. 24 Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. 25 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. 26 Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.” Matthew 23:23-26 


(taken from a reference Bible)

Matthew 23

1. Demand respect as teachers – v2

2. Teach, but do not practice – v3

3. Demand service; not give it – v4

4. Seek praise of men – v5

5. Parade their religion – v5

6. Seek chief banquet places – v6

7. Seek chief places in church – v6

8. Glory in personal attention – v7

9. Glory in titles – v7

10. Rob men of truth and life – v13

11. Reject truth and life – v13

12. Take advantage of widows – v14

13. Exhibit l-o-n-g prayers – v14

14. Are zealous to win men to their sect, but not to God – v15

15. Root and ground converts in hypocrisy, not in God – v15

16. Profess to be the only guide in religion, but are blind to truth and practical Christianity – v16-22

17. Propagate those parts of religion from which they receive the most personal gain and honor – v16-22 

18. Strain at gnats and swallow camels; stress minor details and omit the fundamentals of religion – v23-24

19. Glory in bodily cleanliness, but live in moral filth – v25-26

20. Exhibit outward religion and self-righteousness and ignore inward holiness in life and conduct – v2, 7-28

21. Pretend to be more righteous than their forefathers – v29-33

Anyone who reads Matthew 23 can see that Jesus Christ is the polar opposite of religionists who bind men with heavy burdens and overemphasize the externals while neglecting to get their internal (heart) right with God. And the same is true today among those pretending to represent Christ.

Jesus used the scathing phrase “blind guides” twice, both times speaking to, rebuking false religionists:

“Woe unto you, ye BLIND GUIDES, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor!” Matthew 23:16

“Ye BLIND GUIDES, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.” Matthew 23:24

One sister noted:

“I know many ‘modestly’ dressed plain dowdy looking women who are EVIL at heart and are full of adultery, fornication, and the Jezebel spirit.”


Amen! Amen! The Bible tells us that “The LORD looketh on the HEART” and that all sins come from the unsanctified hearts of men. Memorize and study 1 Sam. 16:7 and Mark 7:20-23. Oh, and what did Jesus say of the religious posers of His day and how they cleaned the OUTSIDE of the cup but left the INSIDE filthy (Matt. 23). Some seek to impose their own measures on others, ever notice that? God always starts HIS work from the inside out.

“Rend your HEART and not your garments (outward)!” Joel 2:13

According to Jesus, both past and modern Pharisees always overemphasize the outward. We ourselves must beware of such.

The self-righteous pharisees refused to come to the LORD on HIS terms.

“For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.” Romans 10:2-3

Let us be wise…. and not run from God’s call on our lives and all the blessings Jesus died to grant because of the people, the mere sinners, like ourselves, who have misrepresented the Savior. …. You have a choice: You can either be amidst the hypocrites here on earth, or you can go to hell with them….. Even Jesus had a traitor among His 12. God be praised for His authentic disciples and may He bless both you and I to be in that number. Jesus is coming.

Have We Ourselves become Pharisees?

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