On the Way to Faithful are You Becoming a Pharisee?

Thursday is for Discipleship

Larry OsborneLarry Osborne has a new book out called Accidental Pharisees: Avoiding Pride, Exclusivity and the Other Dangers of Overzealous Faith.  

It’s a good one. In fact I wish every church in America would order cases of them and give them out like candy in their churches. In fact, Larry’s book and Matt Mitchell’s book, due to be released in September, Resisting Gossip would both make great small group discussions for any group wanting to truly honor Christ with their lives. Here’s an excerpt from chapter 1:

Jerks for Jesus

You’ve probably known a jerk for Jesus, someone who thought they were advancing the cause of the kingdom when in reality they were simply embarrassing the King.

Accidental Pharisee  Thou Shout Offend PhariseesI think of a man in our church who sees himself as a mature, front-of-the-line Christian. He’s passionate about the Scriptures. Loves to study. Digs deep. He knows far more than most, so he’s taken it upon himself to become a spiritual watchdog to protect the rest of us.

He barks at and then attacks anyone who misspeaks or who misuses or misunderstands the Bible. He thinks he’s helping out Jesus by keeping heretics out.

But all he does is scare the hell out of people.

Not literally, Just figuratively, unfortunately.

The problem is that God never asked him to be a pit bull for right doctrine. God does ask him (and all of us) to contend for the faith. But he asks us to do it in a manner exactly opposite of the way my pit bull friend defends the gospel. We’re supposed to avoid quarreling, to be kind, and to gently instruct people who oppose us. (cf. Jude 3-4; 2 Tim. 2:24-26)

My friend’s pit bull methodology illustrates the biggest problem with overzealous faith and the reason why it’s so hard to self-diagnose. It’s almost always true to Scripture, but it’s not true to all of Scripture. It’s partly right. It fixates on one area of God’s will (for instance, defending the faith) while ignoring other parts (doing so kindly and gently).

Ouch! More times then I care to admit, some of these things have been true of me.

Be vigilant. A Pharisaical spirit can slip into your preaching, your discipling, your thinking, your living, your way of relating to your spouse and friends in so many subtle ways it’s scary.  Ask God to make you sensitive to his Spirit. Ask him to help you see yourself objectively and to root out any tendency toward becoming a rule-keeping, self-righteous judge of everyone who believes or practices the faith differently than you do at the moment.

That prayer will make you a better man, a better Christian, a better leader. And in the end, the pain of what you discover in yourself, will be worth it.

6 thoughts on “On the Way to Faithful are You Becoming a Pharisee?

    1. It’s a great book for all of us in the body of Christ. None of us are immune to the tendency to substitute rightness, rules and preference for grace, mercy and truth.


  1. New Christians, ignorant, uninformed, confused, weaker brother or sister, mistaught, all need kindness, and tenderness, in any correction. I think the pit bulls have to come out when there are wolves though, especially with false doctrine. A false Gospel is powerless to save.


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