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Are you a PHARISEE?

June 24th, Liz's Journal:


   I say I am, but I'm not. I know the "theology" (God's Word, the head-knowledge), but I'm living like a Pharisee trying to live them all out at the same time! If I mess up, I make myself miserable over it. Yeah, yeah, I know, "No condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus", but I should've obeyed what He said. "That puts me in a set-back in my relationship with Him...again."

I say to this woman- STOP!!!! Quit trying to live on your own understanding! You're not trusting Him! Are you the woman (or man) I'm speaking to today?

I realized this today while on the way back from the doctor's on the freeway. I told God, "Keep me safe, please don't let this eighteen-wheeler hit us." Three seconds later I had my eyes laser-peeled on the road instead of focusing on soaking in God's truth through worship music that poured out of the radio. "You're not trusting Him," I thought as I watched the truck merge safely in the lane opposite us. I thought back (it's soooo obvious how much I wasn't trusting Him now), "Will if I don't look, who will?"

I'll tell you Who.

These days I've been emotionally up and down in my walk. I can hear from God and feel His holy presence one day, and then the next feel next to nothing. Everytime I read a Christian resource and swept my eyes across the praise, "Enjoy your walk" I felt a thousand emotions at once. Was God really going to leave me high and dry? How was I supposed to enjoy my life if God never showed Himself to me? My mother reprimanded me about "bossing God around" and assured me that He knew what He was doing. But one thing still remained.

Why was I so miserable? Why did I find it difficult to believe my "theology" (head-knowledge) in my heart? It occurred to me why as I read this:

"Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God's action in them find that God's Spirit is in them- living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing. And God isn't pleased at being ignored." --Romans 8:5-8 (MSG)
I was maintaining a Pharisee life! I had lots of theology, sure, but I lacked the freedom and life we get from relying on God! I was relying on my human strength (trust me, there's only so much we can take) to "live like Jesus" but instead of being loving and compassionate, I was legalistic and controlling...thus ignoring the bold line in the Scripture above. Who is God? Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Self-Control, Faithfulness. What was I? Selfish. Controlling. Desperate for God.

So, now that you know what a Pharisee does and how one acts, tell me- are you one? I was one. Paul was one.

A Pharisee, if you didn't know, was someone that was extremely educated in theology. They knew each and every one of the 600+ laws of the Old Testament (aren't you glad you live in the New?), and added new, often unnecessary, laws in to keep you from breaking the original ones. Most of them were hypocrites, standing on street corners and praying excessively long prayers (I mean the ones that last over twenty minutes long) (Matthew 6), walking slow and looking malnourished to rock the "fasting look", and performing ceremonial washings, which was one of the laws, but being Pharisees, they took it way too far and took over an hour and a half just to wash their hands. So basically their job was to enforce the laws, but also to show everyone how 'holy' they were. They were probably the people that started the 'holier-than-thou' phrase (I added a picture of one from The Passion of the Christ, just to give you an example).

You can identify yourself by this:
Do you condemn yourself--you make yourself feel guilty--because you failed to do this, and this?
Do you find it difficult to trust Jesus?
Do you listen to your feelings instead of the head-knowledge you have?
Are you a born-again believer, but finding yourself unhappy?
Are you sending prayers up- but then not trusting Him to come through?
Do you think you can become holy by yourself?

I can't necessarily say that the test above can tell you if you're a Pharisee or not, but you can judge from my behavior if you are or not. I encourage you today- find the "open, spacious, free life" in Christ! Give up your theology! Yes, obeying the Lord's will is important, very important, but trust Him- He'll activate that head-knowledge in your heart when you need it the most. You don't have to go around condemning yourself for the smallest sins. Remember! Jesus knows we sin against Him. He knows- we're humans, it's part of our flesh nature. But there is enough grace,more than enough, for all of your sins. Even the simplest, stupidest ones. All you have to say is, "God, I don't know how many times you're gonna have to forgive me for this, but I'm sorry for..." Stop telling yourself that you won't do it again. Yes you will, you're human. Who are you  kidding, trying to do it all yourself? Call on His strength! ASK Him to help you trust, to help you be like Him.

If you do this, and you continue seeking Him, you will "enjoy the walk." I can now say this with a smiling face instead of a confused one.



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