Summary: 1. Jesus knew that the conventional religious methods of His day were failing to accomplish God's purposes.

1. Jesus knew that the conventional religious methods of His day were failing to accomplish God's purposes. He identified both personal and organizational Pharisaical tendency to view people through the law rather than through grace. Jesus knew that the Pharisees' values were rooted in their traditions, laws, and culture. They found a great sense of their identity in their clique. They resented anyone who failed to live up to THEIR standards. Even when the Jesus Christ came, they failed to recognize Him as the Son of God because they were blinded by their own prejudices.

2. Jesus taught people how the Pharisees had become so rule oriented that they failed to get God's bigger frame of reference on people, processes and results. The Pharisees were so consumed by the details of the laws of the Talmud and the Torah that they neglected to love the Lord with all their heart and their neighbors as themselves. Consequently, many people became disillusioned with religion - like today.

3. Jesus recognized that the Pharisees were obsessed with the love of power. As a result Jesus knew that the religious power channels had become totally corrupt. The religious leaders had authorized the extortive practices of putting money changing in the temple court because they had control over the religious sacrifices. They used their positions to extort money from people who were required by religious law to offer only the best sacrifices in an acceptable way. They took advantage of people at a time of vulnerability. For this reason Jesus said to the Pharisees, "You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but what is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God." (Luke 16:15)

4. Jesus knew that the Pharisees were not open to changing their values, views or their behavior. He had to go out into the streets and lanes of the city and select ordinary people like Peter, James and John for the future leaders of His new church. Do not be afraid of taking people who are less than perfect as disciples.

5. Beware of trying to please God through prescribed methods rather than through your heart. The Pharisees loved to pray where the public could admire them. However, Jesus said, "You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts. For that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God."

6. Jesus knew enough to be careful to not base His evaluations on isolated incidents rather than on a person's character and values. The Pharisees were quick to condemn others for violating even the slightest violation of the laws of Moses. Jesus used a system of a hierarchy of values. The Lord Jesus said, "Which is better to show love or to allow people to suffer."

7. Jesus knew that the religious leaders of the day had taken their relationship with God for granted. The Pharisees assumed that their religiosity would give them spiritual, social, emotional, economic and cultural security. Christ taught His disciples how to overcome the coldness of familiarity in relationships through a daily renewing of His love for God through daily times of worship, confession, thanksgiving and supplications. (Mark 1:35) Do not let your devotionals times become dry.

8. Jesus chastened the religious leaders for using their authority for political purposes. The Pharisees elevated themselves to the highest seat in the temple through insider political nepotism, cronyism, or tribalism. They practice the principle that one back scratches another more than relying on the truth, "Promotion comes neither from the east, nor the west nor the south, but God puts up one and sets down another." (Psalm 75)

9. Jesus criticized the conventional religious leaders for using rules, regulations and policies to instill the fear of men in others for manipulative reasons. The religious leaders of Christ's day used threats and intimidation to control others. Christ said, "My sheep hear my voice and they follow me. I do not call you slaves, but friends."

10. Jesus cautioned the Pharisees because they relied on men in positions of power rather than God. Eventually, every human will disappoint others. It was said of Jesus, "He trusted no man because he knew what was in man."

11. Jesus criticized the Pharisees for their reliance on rules instead of focusing on obeying God. The Pharisees were so hung up on their religious rites, programs and activities that they forgot to practice them with the right motives. Jesus wanted every person to directly get their directions, motivations and love from God

12. Conventions can easily lead to people becoming more maintenance minded than harvested oriented in their ministries. The Pharisees were much more consumed by their desires to maintain their positions, peace, and political standing that seeing the kingdom of God grow in quality and quantity. Jesus even said, "Behold the kingdom of God is here with you." Yet, the Pharisees failed to recognize what was right in front of their faces. Constantly, evaluate your motives and methods to see if they are really from God!

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