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I need to be careful. There is a slippery slope where being a religious zealot moves quietly into religious rule keeping.

Has it happened to me?

Yikes! I resemble that remark.

The Pharisees (religious leaders and elites) were an influential religious sect within Judaism in the time of the Messiah and the early church.

The Pharisees (religious elites) are often presented as hypocritical and proud opponents of Jesus. The Master stated it bluntly: “They do not practice what they preach” (Matthew 23:3).

He then left them, got back in the boat, and headed for the other side. But the disciples forgot to pack a lunch. Except for a single loaf of bread, there wasn’t a crumb in the boat. Jesus warned, “Be very careful. Keep a sharp eye out for the contaminating yeast of Pharisees (religious leaders and elites) and the followers of Herod. | Mark 8:13-15 (The Message Bible)

The Pharisees (religious elites) were mostly middle-class businessmen and leaders of the synagogues. Though they were a minority in the Sanhedrin and held a minority number of positions as priests, they seemed to control the decision-making of the Sanhedrin because they had popular support among the people.

As a general rule, the Pharisees were self-righteousness and smug in their delusion that they were pleasing to God because they kept the Law — or parts of it, at least. Deluded so much as the thought our Master Jesus was demon possessed. Imagine!

As Jesus pointed out to them, however scrupulous they were in following the finer points of ritualism, they failed to measure up to God’s standard of holiness: “You have neglected the more important matters of the law — justice, mercy and faithfulness” (verse 23).

Pharisees (religious elites) opposed Jesus the Messiah during his ministry and were among those who brought about his crucifixion. Some Pharisees, however, accepted the Messiah’s teaching and believed in him.

They were known for:

  • Their emphasis on personal piety (the word Pharisee comes from a Hebrew word meaning “separated”).
  • Their acceptance of oral tradition in addition to the written Law, and their teaching that all Jews should observe all 600-plus laws in the Torah, including the rituals concerning ceremonial purification.
  • That is a whole lot of hypocritical rule keeping.
  • Am I a religious rule keeper? Do I look down on those who don’t seem to care about religious rules?