Summary: Overcoming religiosity and legalism. (a piecing together of three sermons from sermoncentral)
The Religious Challenge
Introduction: Christmas phonies
My experience with religious phonies
Christian legalists made them that way
I. Pharisees As Imitations
Respected religious leaders
Keepers (guardians) of the Law
Became a members only club
Jesus defines them by 7 characteristics in Matthew 23
[Chestnut, Roddy. "Religious Or Christlike". Http://www.sermoncentral.com.]
1. Hypocrites (vss 2-3) Do as I say, not as I do
2. Exhibitionist (vss 5-7) Like to give a good show
3. Proud (vss 8-12) Driven by regards & positions
4. Road Blocks (vs 13) Won’t get out of the way, Think salvation is through them
5. Clone Makers (vs 14) You’ve got to be like me
6. Obsessed with trivial matters (vss 23-24) Nitpicky
7. Superficial (vss 25-28) Outside OK, inside rotting
II. Jesus -vs- Pharisees
[Based on sermon by Paul Fritz. "How Jesus’ Life and Ministry Contrasted With the Pharisaical Religious Leaders". Http://www.sermoncentral.com.]
1. Driven by Love
1. Jesus’ values were based on loving the Lord with all of one’s heart, soul, strength and mind. (Luke 10:27) The Pharisees’ values were rooted in their traditions and their religious laws. Ask the Lord to help you to be motivated by a greater love for the Lord than by human traditions or compliance to man made rules.
2. Led by the Holy Spirit, not Tradition
2. Jesus insisted on following the Father through the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the teaching of His holy word. He said, "Sanctify them through your word, your word is truth." (John 17:7) The Pharisees insisted on following every minor detail of the Talmud and Torah’s laws for the approval of men in authority. Ask the Lord to help you be led by the Spirit as you meditate on the scripture to gain an authoritative direction from the Lord for every situation.
3. Pleased God, not Man
3. Jesus emphasized pleasing God by doing the Father’s will with the right motives. The Pharisees emphasized pleasing of the religious authority and God by keeping to legalistic and traditional religious standards. Serve the Lord out of right motives rather than trying to please people by carrying out the letter of human laws.
4. People Driven, not Power Driven
4. Jesus exemplified the servant to people in a way that would make disciples who could reach their own people groups. The Pharisees became preoccupied with political maneuvering to gain the highest seats in the temple courts. Ask the Lord to help you focus on the essentials of building God’s kingdom rather than your own.
Jesus showed great compassion for the people who were lost in their sin that He asked the Lord for the harvest to send more laborers into His fields. The Pharisees felt they were under no obligation to go share God’s love and forgiveness since everyone is responsible to come to the temple for answers to their deepest questions. Ask the Lord to help you to be one who reaches out rather than being Pharisaical and waiting until people come to you searching for solutions to their problems.
5. Heaven Minded
5. Jesus taught that people will gain rewards laid up for them in heaven for those who will be content to give to please God. He knew that real rewards come from trusting and obeying God even when people do not understand your ministry. The Pharisees sought rewards through their promotions to higher positions of power among the religious leadership. Resist the temptations to look for human promotions, but instead seek the real rewards that come from the Spirit of God.
6. Cried ‘Abba’, not Abraham
6. Jesus overcame the problems of the coldness of relational familiarity by emphasizing a continual feeding on the Lord’s goodness and love with daily devotions. The Pharisees took their religion and standing with God for granted. Ask the Lord for the power and wisdom to worship the Lord daily with at least 30 minutes of solitary devotions - preferably in the morning.
7. Confronted Legalisms
7. Jesus showed a willingness to confront the Pharisees for their hypocrisy, pride and ineffectual leadership because He saw the effects it made on their followers. The Pharisees sought to have Jesus killed because he represented a threat to their power, security and lucrative means of extorting money from people. Ask the Lord to give you the courage, tact and wisdom to do what you can to confront leaders who drift toward Pharisaical styles of leadership.
8. Feared God, not Men
8. Jesus taught men not to fear men who have no real spiritual power, but to fear God. The Pharisees only feared men in positions of power - religious, political, economic, social etc. The Pharisees and the Sadduccee loved to intimidate people by using threats to control people with their autocratic leadership style. Ask the Lord to help you avoid the errors of autocratic leadership helping people to fear God rather than men.