Thursday, October 1, 2015

Beware the Leaven of the Pharisees

But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.
—Matthew 23:13

What do you know about the Pharisees? 

Sure, we’ve all heard of them, and we’re aware that Jesus had nothing good to say about them, but who were they? What did they believe? And why did they find themselves on the receiving end of Christ’s sharpest criticisms?

I think the topic of Pharisees is extremely timely, and one with which we all ought to be familiar. If Christ went to some trouble to warn us about Pharisees, we ought to attempt to understand His warning, particularly as we might apply it to ourselves and our worship.

And so, here’s a quick primer on Pharisees and Pharisaism.

The name “Pharisee” comes from the Hebrew and Aramaic parush or parushi, which means "one who is separated." The Pharisees prided themselves on being separated, not only from the Gentiles, but also from other Jews who did not believe the same way. The Pharisees extended the temple-based rules for ritual purity outside the temple and attempted to live the rules in everyday life, thus separating themselves from other Jews.

At the time of Christ, the Pharisees were only one of four major schools of Jewish thought, but were in charge of the temple and the general religious practices of Jerusalem, under Roman rule. After the Roman destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, the other major Jewish sects disappeared, and the Pharisees remained to form the basis of Rabbinic Judaism. All mainstream forms of Judaism today consider themselves heirs of Rabbinic Judaism and, ultimately, the Pharisees.

Much more could be said, of course, but history isn’t the point. Let’s move on to the Pharisaic beliefs so objectionable to Christ that He pronounced Wo after Wo upon them.

I recently read an excellent little volume by Jewish scholar Nehemia Gordon, called The Hebrew Yeshua vs. the Greek Jesus. Having been raised an Orthodox Jew, Gordon is well familiar with the legacy of the Pharisees, which he now rejects. He compiled a list of what he called “The Five Iniquities of the Rabbis,” which is to say, of the Pharisees. I found it VERY useful in understanding the thoughts, teachings and traditions of the Pharisees, which Christ found so objectionable.

Here are the 5 Iniquities:

1. Two sets of Scripture 

All Jews accept Torah (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy) as God’s word, given through Moses. But the Pharisees also accept a second, oral tradition passed down from prior leaders. The iniquity is that the Pharisees view the Oral tradition as equal with, or even superior to, God’s written word in scripture. They favor later innovations over prior revelation, which is to say, they follow “living teachers over dead ones.”

2. Absolute Authority of Leaders to Interpret Scripture 

No matter what the scripture plainly says, the interpretation of the Rabbis is the final word. End of discussion. If the Rabbis say right is left, and left is right, then that is the truth, and all evidence to the contrary is invalid. And if two Rabbis flatly contradict each other, both are right. If you read the scripture yourself and find it plainly contradicts what the Rabbis teach, you are wrong.

According to tradition, even the voice of God, speaking forth from heaven, is not enough to overrule the Rabbis. This idea is based on the belief that God has given Torah from heaven to man on earth, and therefore it now belongs to man on earth, and not to heaven. It is no longer heaven’s concern, or any of heaven’s business, thank you.

Nephi warned about a similar situation among latter-day churches:
And they deny the power of God, the Holy One of Israel; and they say unto the people: Hearken unto us, and hear ye our precept; for behold there is no God today, for the Lord and the Redeemer hath done his work, and he hath given his power unto men; (2 Nephi 28:5)
It kind of reminds me of a question posed at my disciplinary council when I was excommunicated. Someone asked me, “Who has the authority to interpret scripture?” (Emphasis on the word “authority.”) I replied, “The Holy Ghost.” 

That did not go over well. 

Evidently, I gave the wrong answer. 

3. Irrational Interpretations 

This refers to the belief, above, that however the Rabbis interpret scripture is the only correct way. Thus, by pulling snippets of scripture out of context, the Rabbis could claim the scriptures said exactly opposite what they actually said, and the people were compelled to believe them because the Rabbis’ interpretation could not be questioned. In his book, Gordon used an example of such a scriptural “sound bite” as follows:
You shall not go after the majority to do evil, neither shall you testify in a matter of strife to incline after the majority to pervert justice. (Exodus 23:2)
This verse clearly directs that we must not follow the majority in forming an opinion or testifying on a matter of judgment. We must testify of truth, even if we must do it alone. But the Rabbis grabbed the following snippet out of that verse, and taught it as doctrine:
...incline after the majority...
Hey, stick with the majority and you’ll be safe. They were indeed quoting scripture when they referenced their sound bite, but they assigned it exactly the opposite meaning God had given it. They then used it as justification to insist that the majority view is the only correct one, and anyone who disagrees with the majority—that is to say, the Pharisees—is wrong.

There’s a lesson here for us; we ought to be careful when we quote snippets of scripture outside their context—giving them an entirely different meaning than what is found in scripture. Hastening the work, indeed.

4. The Traditions of Men 

The Pharisees tended to elevate social traditions into commandments. A common example is the skull cap, or Yarmulke, worn by observant Jewish men even today. There is no commandment anywhere in scripture that a man must wear such a head covering. But it became a tradition during the middle ages, and is now elevated to a commandment among the orthadox, complete with rules about how many steps a man can take with his head uncovered. 

God has made no such requirement about any head covering, or any dress code, for that matter. And yet, the tradition is held to be the very commandment of God, and to violate it is to sin. 

In a similar vein, we have this warning for our times:
And that wicked one cometh and taketh away light and truth, through disobedience, from the children of men, and because of the tradition of their fathers. (D&C 93:39)
False traditions, taught as truth, actually destroy light and truth. It’s vital to know the difference between truth and tradition. Truth will save you. Tradition will damn you.

5. Man-made Rules 

The Pharisees simply made up rules for the congregation to keep. An example used by Nehemia Gordon has to do with washing the hands before eating. Among Pharisaic Jews, there was (and still is!) a very specific way and order in which the hands were to be washed, and the following prayer was to be recited while washing them:

Blessed art thou, Lord, king of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to wash the hands. 

It’s a fine prayer and all, but it’s also a lie. Anyone who cared to check would find nowhere in scripture that God commanded the washing of hands. But few cared and few checked. The Pharisees explained that it was commanded by the Rabbis, and obeying the Rabbis is obeying God, so it was a commandment of God. Thus, when Jesus disobeyed this man-made rule, they took issue with Him:
Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. 
But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? (Matthew 15:1-3)
God commanded that nothing be added to His law (Deut 4:2, 12:32.) Jesus knew this and pointed out the Pharisees’ hypocrisy. Remember, the Pharisees observed all sorts of man-made, non-scriptural laws about what to eat and drink, how to dress, how to prepare food, how to observe the sabbath, how to swear oaths, how to put on shoes, and a thousand other bits of minutiae. None of these rules came from God. They have no saving power. And yet, the Pharisees continually sought to condemn Jesus for failure to keep their man-made rules. Ultimately, His public condemnation of them led them to have Him killed.

And so there you have it—a crash course on Pharisees and how they departed from God’s word. 

Unfortunately, in the contest of Jewish ideas, Pharisaism won. All modern Jewish practice harks back through Babylon, to the Pharisees at the time of Christ. The five iniquities listed above still hold complete sway among mainstream Jewish sects. (But I should mention a tiny minority of fringe Jews reject the Rabbis today, and seek to only obey God’s word given through true prophets.)

I just wrote this up as an aid to those who may wonder. Since Jesus went to great pains to warn us, I think it’s important to understand what Pharisees actually believe, so you can identify any Pharisees you might happen to cross paths with this weekend. Christ said to beware of their teachings, and you never know where you might encounter one—whether at church, on TV, or even in the mirror.

In the mean time, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trode one upon another, he began to say unto his disciples first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known.
—Luke 12:1-2


  1. "The worst sinners, according to Jesus, are not the harlots and publicans, but the religious leaders with their insistence on proper dress and grooming, their careful observance of all the rules, their precious concern for status symbols, their strict legality, their pious patriotism...the haircut becomes the test of virtue in a world where Satan deceives and rules by appearances."

    Hugh Nibley

  2. Fantastic as always Adrian.

    I had a question about #4. Could this not also be applied to temple garments? Garments are mentioned very little in scripture and, though I'm not an expert, I don't recall the rules for them anywhere. We're not told how they're supposed to look, what they're supposed to be made out of, when they're supposed to be worn, etc.

    Yet the church pushes "authorized" garments that are probably mass produced in some third world sweatshop. It demands that the only garments you can wear must be bought at a price from its distribution centers. It commands that they must be worn "throughout" ones life, which to them means at all times. This excludes a few convenient a few convenient exceptions like bathing, swimming, intimacy, etc.

    It seems that the church's traditions with regards to garments, in absence of real actual scriptural direction, appears to me to be oral tradition of the very sort that this article is condemning. I tend to believe that much of what we have is an innovation by Brigham Young and his successors and has deviated fundamentally from any original intent Joseph may have had.

    1. Yes this can absolutely be applied to temple garments, and any dress code to be honest. The one thing the Book of Mormon repeatedly warns against is wearing expensive clothing.

    2. I believe the true garment is worn as we follow the Holy Ghost. The garment is merely a symbol of following the promptings of the spirit. Why would we suddenly need more protection after we go to the temple than we did as youth when temptation is strongest? We can wear the true garment as we listen to and obey true principles. That is the only shield or protection with any efficacy.

  3. Very clever, Adrian. Clever and, unfortunately, true.

  4. "God commanded that nothing be added to His law (Deut 4:2, 12:32.) Jesus knew this and pointed out the Pharisees’ hypocrisy. Remember, the Pharisees observed all sorts of man-made, non-scriptural laws about what to eat and drink, how to dress, how to prepare food, how to observe the sabbath, how to swear oaths, how to put on shoes, and a thousand other bits of minutiae."

    Yes, and nothing in Mormon temples is of God. Christ spelled out his doctrine to the Nephites and made it clear that anything more than belief in Christ, repentance, baptism and the receiving the Holy Ghost was NOT of him and "cometh of evil."

    Jesus never taught the Nephites of genealogy, work for the dead, temple sealings or any temple ordinance.

    Adrian, are you willing to follow Christ? Are you willing to accept his simple doctrine, or will you continue in the traditions of men?

    1. Adam, thank you for the reminder. Certainly, the way we understand and perform temple work today is indeed not of God.

      Keep in mind, though, that all the ordinances in the LDS church are merely imitations or rehearsals, designed to point to the real thing. Of course, they're not actually the real thing.

      For example, the endowment is designed to symbolically portray the walk back into the presence of God through the veil. Of course, it's not the actual walk into God's presence. But it is designed to teach us about the real thing and instill the desire to undertake the journey.

      Christ did the real thing with the Nephites at the temple in Bountiful. He opened the fiery corridor and took people into the presence of God. This is the real endowment. All the symbols point to this.

      A discussion of it all is far too lengthy to lay out here. But Christ's actions and teachings at the temple in Bountiful are very enlightening for those with eyes to see.

      I agree, all our genealogy and work for the dead does nothing for them or for us until and unless we make a connection to the fathers first. If we don't have a covenant, we have nothing to offer our dead, though we may go through the motions.

      You ask if I'm willing to follow Christ. My answer remains yes. I accept, teach, and obey the Doctrine of Christ. I'm doing all I can to shed the traditions of men and encourage others to do so as well. Thanks for asking.

    2. Adrian,

      Thank you for your response. Here's a few other things to consider.

      When Jesus visited the Nephites he proclaimed:

      3 Nephi 12:47
      47 Old things are done away, and all things have become new.

      When Jesus finished his work the veil in the temple was rent.

      Matthew 27:51
      51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;

      No longer was the law of Moses and associated temple rituals needed. Old things were done away!

      When it comes to saving ordinances Christ does nothing in secret. He gives his saving ordinances openly to all.

      Isaiah 48
      16 ¶Come ye near unto me, hear ye this; I HAVE NOT SPOKEN IN SECRET FROM THE BEGINNING; from the time that it was, there am I: and now the Lord God, and his Spirit, hath sent me.

      Ether 8
      19. For the Lord worketh NOT IN SECRET COMBINATIONS…

      2 Nephi 26
      23. I say unto you that the Lord God worketh not in darkness…

      When it comes to saving ordinances God requires NO swearing or oaths.

      Jesus taught:

      3 Nephi 12
      34 But verily, verily, I say unto you, SWEAR NOT AT ALL; neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne;
      35 Nor by the earth, for it is his footstool;
      36 NEITHER SHALT THOU SWEAR BY THY HEAD, because thou canst not make one hair black or white; (swearing by your head was a common practice in Mormon temples until the 90s)
      37 But let your communication be Yea, yea; Nay, nay; for whatsoever cometh of more than these is evil.

      Is swearing oaths not part of Mormon temple rituals? Yes it is. Is it not done in secret? Yes it is. Who is the author of secret oaths and covenants?

      Helaman 6
      26 Now behold, those SECRET OATHS AND COVENANTS did not come forth unto Gadianton from the records which were delivered unto Helaman; but behold, they were put into the heart of Gadianton by that same being who did entice our first parents to partake of the forbidden fruit—

      If you consider the ordinance of baptism, you’ll recognize that you do not swear or make an oath. When Jesus came to the Nephites he taught them how to correctly do baptisms. Here are the requirements he set forth.

      3 Nephi 11
      23 Verily I say unto you, that whoso repenteth of his sins through your words, and desireth to be baptized in my name, on this wise shall ye baptize them—Behold, ye shall go down and stand in the water, and in my name shall ye baptize them.

      “whoso repenteth” and “desireth to be baptized” are the only requirements.

      No swearing, no oaths and no covenant is made.

      I hope you'll consider the words of Christ and his doctrine as he has plainly set forth and not give heed to the traditions of men.

    3. Hi Adam,

      There are covenants and oaths involved in what God has to offer. (D&C 84:39-40, Moses 7:51, Alma 56:8 among others.) Satan offers oaths and covenants as well, as you've done an excellent job pointing out.

      There are also mysteries available from God, not made known to the world, and we should seek them. (Matthew 13:11, Alma 12:10.) Does God have secrets? Of course. Does he make them known to those who rightly seek them? Yes he does.

      That's not to say the temple ordinances are the things we should seek. They are not. They are merely symbolic representations of the real thing, as I've said before.

      But on to the real point:

      In your first comment you said the following: "Adrian, are you willing to follow Christ? Are you willing to accept his simple doctrine, or will you continue in the traditions of men?"

      And in your second: "I hope you'll consider the words of Christ and his doctrine as he has plainly set forth and not give heed to the traditions of men."

      These are both "gotcha" statements, not unlike, "So have you stopped beating your wife yet?"

      You are making the implicit assumption that I am giving heed to the traditions of men and not following Christ. I find this perplexing because you are making general statements without any reference to what you perceive I'm doing to follow the traditions of men.

      Similarly, you imply that I don't accept or follow the doctrine of Christ. I find this perplexing as well, given the lengths to which I've gone to promote and follow it.

      If you are trying to help me recognize my errors, you will be most helpful by being specific. This post had nothing to do with LDS temple worship, though you've written two lengthy comments about that topic, as if I were speaking in favor of it. I'm afraid I'm just not following your line of thought.

      It also appears you have not read much of what I've written, or are assuming things about me that are not true.

      I invite you to be more specific about what traditions of men you perceive me as following, and if possible, stick to the topic of the post. I welcome any helpful input you can offer.

      Thank you,


    4. Adrian,

      I read your whole post, and you've made many great points regarding the traditions of the pharisees. I really enjoyed your post. The reason I brought up temple rituals is because they too are a tradition of men in our day. Jesus' sacrifice ended the temple rituals associated with the law of Moses.

      You said, "There are also mysteries available from God, not made known to the world, and we should seek them. (Matthew 13:11, Alma 12:10.) Does God have secrets? Of course. Does he make them known to those who rightly seek them? Yes he does."

      Yes, God has secrets and there are many things that are not to be uttered by man, but these are NOT his saving ordinances. His saving ordinance is baptism and it is given openly to all.

      You said, "You are making the implicit assumption that I am giving heed to the traditions of men and not following Christ. I find this perplexing because you are making general statements without any reference to what you perceive I'm doing to follow the traditions of men.

      Similarly, you imply that I don't accept or follow the doctrine of Christ. I find this perplexing as well, given the lengths to which I've gone to promote and follow it."

      Christ made his doctrine clear in 3 Nephi 11: 31-39. After giving his doctrine, which is belief in him, baptism and the receiving of the Holy Ghost, he says, "whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock."

      You've asked for me to be specific. The doctrine of Christ says nothing of genealogy, work for the dead, temple sealings, endowments, etc. It is NOT of God. Jesus never taught it, and he went out of his way to say that anything "more" than what he defined as his doctrine "cometh of evil."

      You've done an excellent job in pointing out the tradtions of the pharisees, but you are still putting your trust in dead works and the tradtions of men in our day with regards to temple rituals. You wanted to know how you were not following Christ, that is it.

      The traditions of men can have such a strong hold upon us that they can blind us to the plain words of Christ, as plain as a word can be.

      Adrian, I've read many of your posts, God has given you many great insights. I'm only trying to shed light on another tradition of man, that we might all follow Christ doctrine and put off the precpets of men.

      God speed

    5. Hi Adam,

      Thanks for clarifying. But I still think you have me confused with someone else. You're preaching to the choir. You said:

      "You've done an excellent job in pointing out the tradtions of the pharisees, but you are still putting your trust in dead works and the tradtions of men in our day with regards to temple rituals. You wanted to know how you were not following Christ, that is it."

      Uhm...huh? I'm not putting any trust in temple rituals as a saving ordinance. Nor am I promoting family history/geneology for that matter.

      Thanks for your opinion, but you have only managed to repeat yourself. Can you point out any examples of me teaching or believing what you claim I teach and believe? I'm not trying to argue. I'm just trying to understand your continual accusation that I'm not believing or following the Doctrine of Christ.

      Have you read this post?

      Anyway, like I say, I'm scratching my head here and still believe you must have me confused with someone else.

    6. Adrian,
      I'm sorry, I should not have jumped to conclusions. Please forgive me of my ignorance regarding your view on this topic.

    7. No problem, brother. Thank you for your zeal for Christ. May we all remain devoted to Him and Him alone.

  5. What an excellent post! In so many ways we are latter-day pharisees. I think our self-made rules lead to unrighteous pride in how well one keeps them. And pride is one of the huge things that keeps us separated from God. It also keeps us from having charity toward others because we judge them.

    The focus is so much on keeping the self-made letter of the law, we start to think the letter of the law can save us. We forget that only Christ can save us. We must look to Him and no other, even if that other is a rule or set of rules, or an institution. He should be our focus.


  6. Adrian, thank you for this post. As of late the Lord seems to be focussed on getting into my head and eventually my heart that every wicked thing I notice may lijely have some root in my own self. I have taken notice of the pharisees for a while, but He has spoken againand reminded me that I, I still am a pharisee. I have not completed the purging within myself so I better be very cautious when ascribing condemnation to otherson this subject. I can be vulnerable to the, "I'm not as wicked as they are" syndrome. Thank you for the chance for further introspection. it has already born fruit. Self purification can really be quite a process when the Lord is more than willing to point out your weeknesses. I use to think I wss so righteous because of all my diligent outward observances. Pharisee indeed.

  7. Thanks for this post, Adrian.

    D&C 82:10
    I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.

    Why do we keep expecting the Lord to reward us for obedience to commandments that did not originate with Him? He does not have to honor any additional laws that are added by men. I feel bad that we keep promising members, and especially youth, that they will receive great blessings for living dress standards created by men, or for following the precepts of men, but the Lord is not bound to honor any of those promises.

  8. Adrian, I thought this was an excellent post and an apt adaptation of Nehemia's work as it can be applied to the conditions that exist in modern mormonism. Whether we call it pharisaism or priestcraft, the fruits are pretty much the same. Of course to add a little to your history, the pharisees finally won not by strength in numbers or argument. They eradicated the competition (including the Sons of Zadok or Sadducees). I also appreciate the caveat that not all Jews fall in line with the traditions of orthodoxy in Judaism which finds its roots in the Pharisaic movement. One thing to also note is that Like the root of modern Mormonism the root of the prushim (pharisees) comes from the priests of Ezra- whom God called "the apple of his eye". Amazing how the branches become lofty and overpower the root all the while thinking they are the root.

    1. Wow, Robert! Great insights! Thank you very much for sharing.

  9. Well done Adrian. I've wondered why we LDS are so willing to invent additional rules, observances, procedures, and ordinances far beyond what is found in scripture or what Joseph introduced to us. Kind of amusing that this has been a problem for such a long time; but surprising that so few bother to see that some of this stuff has crept into OUR behavior. Anyone still feel funny saying "you," "your," or "yours" in prayer? Or still persist in referring to church leaders by their full, formal, names and titles, such as President Russell M Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles rather than Russ Nelson? Not indicting anyone - just a couple of my unbeliefs I've been addressing.

  10. Excellent post Adrian, thank you for sharing these with us.

  11. Adrian,

    Yes, very apt commentary with this weekend coming up. Russ Nelson has some interesting things to say about the apostleship on yesterday I thought go right along with your post.

    Thanks for the insight!

  12. I would have used this post in my Gospel Doctrine lesson several months ago on the scribes and Pharisees. Great insights here, Adrian. The Lord condemned the Pharisees in part for their hypocrisy. According to D&C 50:6-8, hypocrisy is more than just a passing character flaw:

    6 But wo unto them that are deceivers and hypocrites, for, thus saith the Lord, I will bring them to judgment.

    7 Behold, verily I say unto you, there are hypocrites among you, who have deceived some, which has given the adversary power; but behold such shall be reclaimed;

    8 But the hypocrites shall be detected and shall be cut off, either in life or in death, even as I will; and wo unto them who are cut off from my church, for the same are overcome of the world. (D&C 50:4-8)

    I was never more astonished than when I learned late last year that major sections from Ezra Taft Benson’s talk “Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet” were to be included in the priesthood/ Relief Society manual for this year. In 1980 Elder Benson revealed himself a Pharisee in $500 wool suit (yes, a nod to your wonderful quip about wolves in sheep’s clothing in a previous post) when he asserted to 25,000 kids at the Marriott Center, among other things:

    1. The prophet is the only man who speaks for the Lord in everything.
    2. The living prophet is more vital to us than the standard works.
    3. The living prophet is more important to us than a dead prophet.
    4. The prophet will never lead the church astray.
    5. The prophet is not required to have any particular earthly training or credentials to speak on any subject or act on any matter at any time.
    6. The prophet does not have to say “Thus saith the Lord,” to give us scripture.
    7. The prophet tells us what we need to know, not always what we want to know.

    Hopefully Elder- then President Benson repented before finding himself cut off from the Church of the Lamb and being overcome of the world. It doesn’t bode well for the pharisaical tradition roaring ahead at the highest levels of the LDS church today. Their billions in investments and smooth words in General Conference will not save them or anyone who puts their trust in them. I love the comments here that the pharisaical tradition is not only the burden of those in the plush red seats but our challenge as well. God lead us to the depths of humility that he might be able to do something useful with us all.

  13. So I have a question. What was Paul doing in 1 Corinthians 11?

    1 Corinthians 11

    4 Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head.

    5 But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.

    6 For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.

    7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.

    13 Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered?

    14 Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?

    15 But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.

    If I'm not mistaken Paul was reemphasizing Jewish tradition here. So according to your post Paul was a Pharisee, I know he was before he accepted Christ, but here he is speaking as a church leader. I'm glad he doesn't mention white shirts or you would have to disregard his teachings.


    1. I think this is a great illustration of how difficult it can be to separate tradition and social convention from Gospel. We're all prone to it, and I don't fault Paul.

      It's so important to learn the difference and focus on the Gospel. Only Christ can save us, and the terms he requires are a broken heart and contrite spirit. Man-made rules actually distract us by teaching us we are righteous when we keep the rules. It's hard to have a humble and broken heart when I've checked all the boxes on the righteous list.

      We all deeply, desperately need Christ.


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