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Chapter 14 - Legalism
They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. - John 16:2
The leaven of the Pharisees is often more than just the blindness of smug self-satisfaction in rule following. It can lead to active contempt.
And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: - Luke 18:9
There are Christians who may have come out of bad experiences to develop a defensive sort of 'bunker' mentality where they cling to a particular doctrine, creed, or denomination and scorn those who they see as 'wrong'. They often fail to recognize how far this 'leaven' has taken them from the Lord they claim to serve.
Some Christians (particularly those with seminary experience) come to a sort of perspective of intellectual pride. They look sometimes with disdain on other Christians who have not achieved their insights and understanding.
A few Christians become accelerated down this path because of taking up leadership or advocacy of a particular issue. By putting the spotlight on one particular theme, you always risk pushing it to an extreme. For example, a study of election can become Calvinism, questions of translation can become KJV only, reaction against the modern assault on the traditional family can become patriarchy. Those who may have started with well intentioned advocacy can end up fostering smug superiority that sadly often ends in failures of the flesh.
Some Christians see a kindred spirit in a leader taking a stand against one thing or another. This tends to build a conclave of the disgruntled. It is not healthy for leaders or followers. The Christian is supposed to focus on and emulate Christ. Becoming indignant about one thing or another fuels self-righteousness and accelerates the growth of leaven.
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. - Hebrews 12:2
When we take our eyes off of Jesus, we are likely to forget how far short we fall and begin to think of what we have accomplished. We can begin to measure ourselves by our accomplishments and at the same time impoverish ourselves in matters more important.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. - Matthew 23:23
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