Summary: You might be a “modern day Pharisee” if you look for loopholes in God’s Word in order to excuse your sin


This is a manuscript, and not a transcript of this message. The actual presentation of the message differed from the manuscript through the leading of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, it is possible, and even likely that there is material in this manuscript that was not included in the live presentation and that there was additional material in the live presentation that is not included in this manuscript.


In March of 2015, in the state of Indiana, then governor Mike Pence signed a new law that limits the state’s ability to infringe on a person’s ability to practice his or her religion. Right after the law became effective, Bill Levin decided to try and take advantage of what he claimed was a loophole created by the law. Although marijuana, even medical marijuana, is not legal in any form in Indiana, Levin established the First Church of Cannabis which attempted to use the law to protect its right to use marijuana as a sacrament.

Although the courts have consistently ruled against them so far, this case demonstrates the extent to which people will go to find loopholes in the law so that they can engage in activities that are otherwise illegal.

This is undoubtedly one of the reasons that lawyers are held in such low regard in our culture, since they are perceived as always looking for loopholes in the law in order to get their clients off. Not surprisingly, lawyers consistently appear in lists of the most hated and disrespected professions. And also not surprisingly, they are also a frequent object for jokes. So I’m pretty sure that many of you can help me with the punch line for these jokes:

What is the difference between a lawyer and a jellyfish?

One is a spineless, poisonous blob. The other is a form of sea life.

Why won’t sharks attack lawyers?

Professional courtesy.


How can you tell a lawyer is lying?

His lips are moving.

How does a lawyer sleep?

First he lies on one side, then he lies on the other.


This morning we are going to look at Jesus’ rebuke of the Pharisees for their “lawyer-like” mentality, in which they were constantly looking for loopholes that would allow them to excuse their own sin, while still pointing out sin in the lives of others.

While I believe that every message in this current series is important and applicable to us as a church and as individuals, my sense is that this may very well be the one mindset of the Pharisees that we are most likely to fall into. And it may also very well be the one we are least likely to recognize in our own lives.

So before I remind you of the six ways to tell that you might be a “modern day Pharisee”, I’ve developed one more. Although I’m not going to preach a separate message on this one, we need to keep this in mind as we consider the other six.

You might be a “modern day Pharisee” if…

you claim that someone else is a Pharisee.

My biggest fear, and this is true for me, too, is that we will listen to these messages and instead of using them to evaluate how we may have become “modern day Pharisees” in our own lives, our first thought will be to consider how these messages apply to other people we know. So especially this morning I want to challenge all of us to make sure that we apply what we’re learning personally to our own lives. So let’s pause for a moment to pray and ask God to help us do that before we continue.



Before we look at this morning’s passage, let’s quickly remind ourselves of the six traits of a “modern day Pharisee” that we’re covering in this series.

You might be a “modern day Pharisee” if…

• You judge the Scriptures rather than being judged by them

• You think you’re better than other Christians

• You are more interested in making clones of yourself than disciples of Jesus

• You look for loopholes in God’s Word in order to excuse your sin

• You major in minors and minor in majors

• You work harder at looking good than being good

This morning, we’re going to focus on the fourth indication that you might be a “modern day Pharisee”:

You might be a “modern day Pharisee” if you

look for loopholes in God’s Word

in order to excuse your sin

[Read Matthew 23:16-22]

This is the third “woe” pronounced by Jesus against the scribes and Pharisees here in Matthew 23. Hopefully you’ll remember from last week that a woe is not a curse, but rather a warning that is given with a sense of deep grief.

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