When it comes to issues of faith, the Pharisees are probably the last group of people you would think of as having faith. They were the epitome of religious legalism, but never the less I think any dedication to anything religious requires a measure of faith.
This made we wonder about kinds of faith. Philemon 1:6 talks about effective faith, faith that works. If faith can be made effective, then it stands to reason that faith can also be made ineffective.
I believe the faith of the Pharisees is this latter kind, this ineffective faith. We all know how faith comes. According to Romans 10:17 faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.
The Pharisees were scholars of the word of God. All they did was hear it. It therefore stands to reason that with the amount of word they knew and heard, they must have received loads of faith. But somehow they made their faith ineffective. I believe many Christians today are not necessarily Pharisees, but they too are making their faith ineffective.
John 5:39 “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.” (NKJV)
The Pharisees studied the word of God daily, as do many Christians, but they still don’t experience life. Why? Because the Scriptures, as awesome as though they are, only talk about Jesus. Jesus is not the scriptures. Jesus is not the Bible. Jesus is a person. It’s Father, Son and Holy Spirit; not Father, Son and Holy Bible.
What Jesus basically told them here, and in surrounding verses, was that they preferred their trust in their scrolls above getting to know the person the scrolls are talking about. That is like saying you would rather read People Magazine then meet your favorite celebrity in person.
“Cornel, would you rather read a gossip mag about Bruce Willis or would you prefer to meet him in person?” Ahhh, option 2 thanks. I can tell you a lot about Bruce Willis, what he looks like, how old he is, what he likes and what he doesn’t like, where he lives, what he does etc. I could know a lot about him, yet never actually meet him or get to know him in real life.
Same thing happens with Jesus. Many people have a pharisaical love affair with paper and ink and can tell you everything about Jesus. What He looks like, how old He is, what He likes and what He doesn’t like, where He lives and what He does. But I think many have missed the One the book is about.
People go to church, sing songs, pray, read the big book, and try to be as morally upright as possible. Nothing really wrong with any of that, but think about this quickly: The Pharisees did all of that too. They went to synagogue, sang songs, read the big scrolls, tried to be as morally upright as possible and yet still failed to encounter Jesus, the Giver of life. They spent their whole lives looking for life and missed Him when we came.
Luke 11:52 “Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering.” (NIV)
What is the key to knowledge the law experts took from the people? It is by imposing the belief that through doing one becomes, instead of through becoming one does.
“Be more holy to know Jesus. Pray 5 times a day to know Jesus. Read your Bible to know Jesus. Don’t do this, do do that.” If you believe knowing Jesus comes as a result of doing different things, then you have made your faith ineffective. You have Pharisaical faith. Telling other people to do more to know Jesus is removing from them the key to knowledge.
But don’t despair, I will talk more about ridding yourself of Pharisaical faith and restoring the key of knowledge in the next post. Stay tuned!