Matthew 16:6 Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.
Take a moment and read through Matthew 23 with the above verse in mind. Now think about yourself. Which character portrays you in Matthew 23? The Pharisees taught and practiced a terrible doctrine of works that they said basically produced righteousness, totally ignoring the promise that a Messiah would have to come to redeem fallen man. They believed that only the righteous were worthy of salvation...???...yeah, i know...and they snubbed their nose at the weak and powerless.
They had become powerful men, held in high regard by the influential in the community, full of pride and all the stuff that made real, down to earth people want to run away from them. They were fake, they were politicians, they were everything that Jesus was not; they were antichrists. They were being used to drive men and women farther from God. Sound familiar?
Be very careful not to let a careless attitude toward God, the Bible, the Church be developed because of those who falsely claim to represent Him. We are told that we will be known as believers in Jesus if we love God and love one another, a feat that by itself is tantamount to impossible without the supernatural power of God. We read that we will be know by our fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. Not hate, anger, fighting, frustration, meanness, cruelty, disloyalty, abusive, and unstable. 1 John 4:19 says "We love him, because he first loved us." Will you be like the Pharisee and refuse to love anyone who doesn't meet the harsh standards you demand, which of course, if you are honest, you cannot yourself meet. Or will you be like Jesus, and love people who are lost and caged in sin and desperately try and reach them with the same hope that rescued you? Beware, the leaven of the Pharisees may already be in you. Either you are one, or you have been affected by one.
Jesus came to fulfill the Law, not destroy it. That meant that no one before Him had been able to fulfill it and no one after Him would be able to fulfill it. He is my perfection, He is my redemption, He is the author and finisher of my faith. In Him I live, breathe, and have my being. I cannot do this myself. Trust me, I have wasted much time trying, and wasted even more time trying to justify my lack of perfection by proudly revealing all the flaws in others. I have at times in my life been a Pharisee. It is something that all believers wrestle with, hence the reason Jesus warned His disciples about it. What do we do to counteract this awful plague? Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 23:11; keep the mindset of a servant. What did Jesus, the loving leader, tell His disciples to do? Go and make disciples. What did John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, say in the above referenced verse from 1 John 4:19? He first loved us. That meant that the one who was so close to Jesus understood and translated to us through his writings that the one thing that could not be debated about Jesus was His love for His creation and His willingness to love them while they were yet unlovable. Can the same be said about you? Within your answer to that question resides the answer to which character you are in Matthew 23.