Six Signs That We May Be On Our Way To Becoming An Accidental Pharisee

“Biblical orthodoxy without compassion is surely the ugliest thing in the world.” -Francis Schaeffer

Larry Osborne is an EFCA Pastor in California. He has written a number of books but the one that I want to briefly mention is “Accidental Pharisees.” In Accidental Pharisees Larry mentions that there are six warning signs that we are becoming Pharisees (legalistic) in how we live, think and treat others. No doubt legalism is something the Apostle Paul fought hard against in the New Testament. We find this in Colossians 2:16-23…

Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.

If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

So what might it look like to live and act like a Pharisee in the year 2018? How would you know if you were losing sight of grace and becoming too legalistic? The following “six signs” should answer these questions. If you want to read the entire article you can go HERE.

First and foremost is a deepening sense of frustration and disdain for those at the back of the line. Instead of a Jesus-like compassion for those who can’t keep up, we view them with cynicism and a cocky arrogance.

The second warning sign is a spirit of exclusivity. When thinning the herd becomes more important than expanding the kingdom; or raising the bar becomes more important than helping people climb over it, something has gone terribly wrong.

A third indicator is the addition of extra-biblical rules and expectations. Few of us would see ourselves as legalists. We think we’ve moved on from old school legalism because we no longer judge people by what’s in their refrigerator. But the spirit of legalism still runs strong. We now judge people by what’s in their driveway and how big their house is.

A fourth symptom is a pattern of idolizing the past. Whether it’s the New Testament church or the scholars of old, we tend to give them a free pass for their failures. But the present day Bride of Christ and the current crop of leaders that Jesus has put in place are assailed for their blind spots, failures, and feet of clay. Like the Pharisees of old, we rip on the living prophets and then build monuments to them once they die.

A fifth sign that something has gone wrong is a quest for clone-like uniformity. Jesus had room for Simon the Zealot and Matthew the Tax Collector. Yet sometimes, the more biblically grounded we become, the less room we have for anyone who hasn’t yet learned all that we’ve learned. The result is a circle of fellowship that’s tighter than Jesus’s circle of acceptance.

The sixth and final indicator that we’re becoming an Accidental Pharisee is something called “gift-projection.” It’s the toxic belief that my calling is everyone else’s calling. It disfigures the body of Christ by insisting that ears become eyes and hands become feet. It looks like passion for the mission. But in reality, it’s chocolate covered arrogance.

As Francis Schaeffer pointed out, “Biblical orthodoxy without compassion is surely the ugliest thing in the world.”  If we are truly immersing our hearts and minds in the gospel  we are going to known as people of humility, grace, and compassion.

Which one of the SIX WARNING SIGNS do you see in yourself?

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