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Sins of the Scribes & Pharisees

          “Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to His disciples, Saying the scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, and love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted (Matthew 23:1-12).

 

            As Jesus spoke to His disciples and to the multitudes  He often warned  them not to be like the religious leaders of their day. They were to excel in righteousness and not follow the self-righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees. Jesus stated, “For I say unto you, that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20).

 

            The sins of the scribes and Pharisees were many. False pride and self exaltation were prominent among those who knew God’s word more than most. Yet, Jesus stated that they performed their good deeds in order to be seen of men (Matthew 23:5). These actions were enough to bring the praise of men and that would be their only reward. Jesus stated, “Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward” (Matthew 6:2; see also 6:5, 16).

 

            The Pharisees wanted the people to see their piety in the way they looked rather than the way they related to God and His word. Their garments were often altered with large boarders (Matthew 23:5). They loved to sit in high places so that others would take note of them (Matthew 23:6). They also loved titles of honor such as “Rabbi” and “Master” (Matthew 23:7-10) which would set them above others. Jesus pointed out that those who elevated themselves would be brought low by their heavenly Father (Matthew 23:9-12).

 

            The sins of the scribes and Pharisees were multiplied by the fact that they demanded of others what they themselves would not do. Jesus stated, “All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not” (Matthew 23:3). Jesus pointed out that they would bind heavy burdens on others and refuse to lift a finger in doing or helping others to do their bidding (Matthew 23:4). The scribes and Pharisees lusted for the praise and adoration of man and allowed their desire to rule their actions. James warned of such an attitude stating that such actions would lead to separation from God (James 11:13-16).

 

            The scribes and Pharisees were meant to be servants of God as well as the Jewish nation. Jesus pointed out that those who lived for themselves would be condemned (Matthew 23:11-12). In the story of the Pharisee and the publican; it was the publican who was justified and not the Pharisee who had an “I” problem. Jesus stated concerning the publican; “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted” (Luke 18:14).

 

            The sins of the scribes and Pharisees were such that Jesus referred to them as “serpents, a generation of vipers” (Matthew 23:33). He stated that because of their attitudes and actions against God and those He sent to teach and warn them “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate” (Matthew 23:38). Although the scribes and Pharisees exalted in their righteousness God saw them as “hypocrites” and said that they had forgotten the most important matters of the law (Matthew 23:23). It is not enough to claim to be God’s people. We must live our lives in His service (James 2:14-17). Jesus stated, “But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant” (Matthew 23:11).         

                                                           

                                                                                                                                    --PER