Summary: Overcoming Pharisaic tendencies in our quest for holiness.

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"Holiness: Heresy & Heritage"

"Holiness: Holy Mess, Batman!"

"For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:20 (RSV)

Batman & Robin

Sticky, confusing predicaments would warrant "holy ‘’ Batman"

Any discussion of Holiness must by its very definition confront the issue of legalism


Has plagued Christianity from the beginning; even affecting us today


-some fight against it’s rules; want Christianity out of public life

-Christian ethics are viewed as "narrow" or "closed minded" or "prudish"


-feuds, divisions

-homosexuals in church

in leadership

in marriage



-birth control

-role of women in ministry

"Hear, O Israel, the statutes and the ordinances which I speak in your hearing this day, and you shall learn them and be careful to do them." Deuteronomy 5:1 (RSV)

Arises out of confusion

-What commands do we follow?

-Which were for Israel only?

-Which were culturally based

-sacrifice of animals; today we would think of Satanism or Voodoo

-To what degree do we follow the commands?

In the face of so many questions we are left confused and overwhelmed. Like Robin we can only respond, "Holy Mess, Batman!"

-if only we had some gizmo from our utility belt to help us along

It’s been said that we should study history to learn from our mistakes. By observing the faults of the past we can secure a better future.


[Achtemieier, Paul, Gen Ed. Harpers Bible Dictionary. (HarperSanFrancisco, 1985). Pharisees, pp. 782-783.

Hauer, Christian & Young, William. An Introduction To The Bible: A Journey Into Three Worlds. (Prentice Hall, New Jersey, 1990). pp. 191-213.

Reasoner, Vic. "How To Be A Pharisee". The Arminian Magazine, Spring 1994. Http://]

-our initial thoughts:







Alexander the Great

-Hellenist -all things Greek; all things to become Greek

-333 BC conquered Palestine

-established Greek culture

temples, theaters, gymnasia, stadia, libraries, dwellings

190 BC Rome takes control

Greek culture remains strong

NT, written 200 years later in Greek

Antiochus Epiphanes

-name means "God (Zeus) manifest"; our word Epiphany

-power hungry

-tries to take Egypt


-takes it out on Jews

-entered Temple

-slaughtered innocent people

-looted temple

-converts temple to Pagan worship

Matthew 24:15

-offered pig on the alter to Zeus

-outlaws customary Jewish practices

For over a century Hellenism has been taking over. Now it could no longer be



-nationalistic spiritual fervor arose

-lay movement

-name means "separated ones"

-heroes of the faith

"centered on observance of the Torah...The keeping of Torah therefore was not a legalistic quest for the favor of a coldly demanding God, but a response to the goodness of a loving Father. To keep a commandment, the Pharisees taught, was a joy, not a burden." [Hauer, Christian & Young, William. An Introduction To The Bible: A Journey Into Three Worlds. (Prentice Hall, New Jersey, 1990). p. 212.]

-in their zealousness they began to build a fence of protection around the Torah

-added 248 commandments and 365 prohibitions

-"you could bump the fence, but not violate a major commandment"

-became hypocrites who worshiped the letter of the law rather than express the law of love

Relevance Today

-In the face of an ever-changing society where the church has become marginalized, Christianity questioned, sensuality pursued, where pluralistic philosophies reign, and humanism and the human body are worshiped the church is crying out "Holiness" piety of faith. And if we are not careful our quest of holiness could result in heresy.

Three Key Points To Remember In Order To Avoid Being A Pharisee

1. Realize we are not justified by the Law (commands of the Bible)

"We ourselves, who are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners, yet who know that a man is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ, and not by works of the law, because by works of the law shall no one be justified." Galatians 2:15-16 (RSV)

"For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6:23 (RSV)

"What then shall we say about Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness." Now to one who works, his wages are not reckoned as a gift but as his due. And to one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness." Romans 4:1-5 (RSV)

2. Understand that just because we are not justified by the Law does not make the Law void

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