Avoiding Phariseeism

pharisee“For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Mt. 5:20 (ESV)

Chapter         (ESV)

Audio              (6:46)

Yesterday, I introduced the topic of spiritual disciplines. Spiritual disciplines are personal habits that facilitate our spiritual growth. However, before I begin examining the disciplines, I want to address a great danger that might arise.

As we engage in spiritual disciplines, we run the risk of becoming a Pharisee.

Pharisees were the religious elite at the time of Jesus. They had their own practices that they strictly followed in the belief that these practices would make them more godly.

Unfortunately, instead of becoming more spiritual, the Pharisees became hypocrites.

They adopted the belief that their holiness was directly proportional to their level of adherence to these practices.

They equated holiness with external practices, not internal change.

They also began to evaluate others on the basis of their adherence to these practices.

They became judgmental.

We avoid this danger by understanding that the purpose of the disciplines is to create opportunity…opportunity for the Holy Spirit to do the necessary work of conforming us into the image of Christ.

We become like Christ solely through the work of the Holy Spirit.

The spiritual disciplines simply create the conditions that allow the Holy Spirit to work within us.

Thus we do not “earn” our spiritual growth through the disciplines.

The spiritual disciplines soften our “clay” so that the Holy Spirit can mold us into the image of Christ at the pace He desires. Therefore, we should not expect spiritual growth to be proportional to our effort in the spiritual disciplines.

Finally, our spiritual growth is solely between the Holy Spirit and us. We should never judge others who are less engaged in the disciplines.

It is the Holy Spirit who makes us more like Christ.

The spiritual disciplines are the tool He chooses to use to make that happen.

Our choice and responsibility is our level of engagement in the disciplines. The time and energy involved are worth the long-term investment…even in the midst of a busy medical practice.

Prayer: Lord, help me fully understand the importance that the spiritual disciplines play in my spiritual development.

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2 Responses to Avoiding Phariseeism

  1. Nathaly says:

    So true, I find that this is a problem many christians are having today. I grew up witnessing people follow these disciplines for themselves thinking it made them a christian and would walk out into the world living as the world. Great post, something to definitely watch for in our lives.

  2. Jeff says:

    So true Nathaly! It’s a danger we all need to be cautious of as we make use of the disciplines. None of us are immune.

    Thanks for reading and commenting!


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