Summary: A Contrast between the mindset of a legalistic Pharisee and that of a humble Christian as illustrated in the beatitudes.
THE LEGALISTIC PHARISAIC MINDSET
CONTRASTED WITH THE HUMBLE CHRISTIAN MINDSET
SCRIPTURE: MATTHEW 5:3?12
1a. The legalistic Pharisee believed that the law of Moses was the greatest thing in the world. He believed that the ethical standards of the law of Moses were the greatest ethical standards in the world. The legalistic Pharisee gave his whole life to the study of the law of Moses and all the traditions concerning the law of Moses. He was proud of his knowledge of the law of Moses, for knowledge, even of the Bible, has a tendency to puff up a person. The legalistic Pharisee despised people who did not know the law of Moses and the traditions concerning it or did not keep it as he interpreted it. For example, women were not allowed to be Pharisees; and people who spent too much time with women were considered on their way to Gehenna. The Pharisees totally misunderstood the concept of grace. They looked upon humility and vulnerability as indications of weakness. They did not understand servant leadership.
1b. The Christian believes that the perfection found in Jesus Christ is the ethical standard which God has set for all human beings right from the beginning of creation. He believes that even good human beings, such as Adam and Eve were before they sinned, cannot meets God’s perfect standards without perfect dependence upon God. The Christian recognizes that without Christ and the Holy Spirit he is spiritually bankrupt. He believes that the solution to his problems and those of the whole world is found in faith in the love and grace of God revealed especially in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The
Christian recognizes the importance of humility and vulnerability. He understands grace and servant leadership.
2a. The legalistic Pharisee thought that he was better than other people, was not mournful about his sin, and saw no need to confess his sin or to repent of his sin.
2b, The Christian is so concerned about his spiritual bankruptcy that he
confesses his sins and repents of his sin. Confession and repentance become part of his lifestyle.
3a. The legalistic Pharisee believed that his goodness and strength were in himself. Pride, self?righteousness and lack of gratitude were characteristic of legalistic Pharisees. The actions of the Pharisees were dominated by the works of the flesh.
3b. The Christian finds his salvation and his strength in the Holy Spirit. His life is dominated by the fruit of the Spirit. Humble gratitude to God for His strength and mercy are characteristic of the Christian.
4a. The legalistic Pharisee hungered and thirsted after a greater knowledge of the law of Moses, more disciples, more money, more prominence, more fame, and more vengeance on his enemies. He was never satisfied, for those things do not satisfy. His life manifested the works of the flesh.
4b. The Christian hungers and thirst after the righteousness found through faith in Jesus Christ; and find his satisfaction in Christ alone. His life increasingly manifests the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
5a. The legalistic Pharisee used the law to justify himself and to condemn other people. He was very critical and judgmental.
5b. Having experienced the mercy and forgiveness of God, the Christian extends mercy and forgiveness to others.
6a. Because external actions are often more impressive to certain people than internal attitudes, the legalistic Pharisees often emphasized externals. They often majored on minors and minored on majors. This led them to greater and greater hypocrisy: Rolex (Bulova) on the outside and Mickey Mouse inside.
6b. Because God sees the heart and hypocrisy is so vile, the Christian seeks first to be pure in heart, knowing that purity of heart leads to purity of action. Rolex (Bulova) through and through.
7a. The legalistic Pharisee believed that his knowledge of the law enabled him to win every legal battle. He was more interested in winning legal battles than he was interested in peace and reconciliation. He did not realize that winning legal battles does not bring peace. His primary weapon was the law, which does not deal effectively with the works of the flesh.
7b. The Christian, having been an enemy of God and now reconciled, seeks to dwell peaceably with all people. He is first pure, then peaceable. His primary weapon is the fruit of the Spirit.
8a. The legalistic Pharisee believed that all oppression of him must be immediately stopped or avenged. He used his knowledge of the law to take personal vengeance as quickly as possible. Righteousness for him is found in the law of Moses and in his interpretation of the law of Moses. He oppressed Christians and non-Christians with his legalism.
8b. Recognizing that conflict with the forces of evil is inevitable, the Christian is prepared by the Spirit of God to suffer for the sake of Christ (righteousness), even to rejoice in such suffering.