a. How to discern hypocritical Pharisees
Words of Almighty God of the Last Days
Do you know what a Pharisee actually is? Are there any Pharisees around you? Why are these people called “Pharisees”? How are Pharisees described? They are people who are hypocritical, completely fake, and put on an act in everything they do. What act do they put on? They pretend to be good, kind, and positive. Is this what they are actually like? Absolutely not. Given that they are hypocrites, everything that is manifested and revealed in them is false; it is all pretense—it is not their true face. Where is their true face hidden? It is hidden deep within their hearts, never to be seen by others. Everything on the outside is an act, it is all fake, but they can only fool people; they cannot fool God. If people do not pursue the truth, if they do not practice and experience God’s words, then they cannot truly understand the truth, and so no matter how nice-sounding their words are, these words are not the truth reality, but words and doctrines. Some people only focus on parroting words and doctrines, they ape whoever preaches the highest sermons, with the result that in just a few years their recital of words and doctrines grows ever more advanced, and they are admired and venerated by many people, after which they start to camouflage themselves, and pay great attention to what they say and do, showing themselves to be especially pious and spiritual. They use these so-called spiritual theories to camouflage themselves. This is all they talk about wherever they go, specious things that fit with people’s notions, but which lack any of the truth reality. And through preaching these things—things that are in line with people’s notions and tastes—they dupe many people. To others, such people seem very devout and humble, but it is actually fake; they seem tolerant, forbearing, and loving, but it is actually a pretense; they say they love God, but it is actually an act. Others think such people holy, but it is actually fake. Where can a person who is truly holy be found? Human holiness is all fake. It is all an act, a pretense. On the outside, they appear loyal to God, but they are actually just performing for others to see. When no one is looking, they are not the slightest bit loyal, and everything they do is perfunctory. Superficially, they expend themselves for God and have given up their families and careers. But what are they doing in secret? They are conducting their own enterprise and running their own operation in the church, profiting from the church and stealing offerings secretly under the guise of working for God…. These people are the modern hypocritical Pharisees. Where do Pharisees come from? Do they emerge among the unbelievers? No, all of them emerge among believers. Why do these people become Pharisees? Did someone make them that way? This is obviously not so. What is the reason? It is because this is what their nature essence is like, and this is due to the path they have taken. They use God’s words only as a tool to preach and profit from the church. They arm their minds and mouths with God’s words, they preach fake spiritual theories, and package themselves as holy, and then use this as capital to achieve the purpose of profiting from the church. They merely preach doctrines, yet have never put the truth into practice. What sort of people are those who continue to preach words and doctrines despite never having followed God’s way? These are hypocritical Pharisees. Their meager, so-called good behaviors and good conduct, and what little they have given up and expended, are accomplished entirely through the restraint and packaging of their own will. Those actions are entirely fake, and they are all pretense. In these people’s hearts, there is not the slightest fear for God, nor do they have any genuine faith in God. More than that, they are nonbelievers. If people do not pursue the truth, then they will walk this sort of path, and they will become Pharisees. Is that not frightful? The religious place in which the Pharisees gather becomes a marketplace. In God’s eyes, this is religion; it is not the church of God, nor is it a place in which He is worshiped. Thus, if people do not pursue the truth, then no matter how many literal words and superficial doctrines about God’s utterances they equip themselves with, it will be of no use.
—The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Six Indicators of Life Growth
The reason why the Pharisees are hypocritical, the reason they are wicked, is that they are sick of the truth but love knowledge, so they only study the Scripture and pursue scriptural knowledge yet never accept the truth or God’s words. They do not pray to God when reading His words, nor do they seek or fellowship on the truth. Instead, they study God’s words, studying what God has said and done, thereby turning God’s words into a theory, a subject to teach to others, which is called scholarly study. Why do they engage in scholarly study? What are they studying? In their eyes, this is not God’s words or God’s expression, and even less so the truth. Rather, it is a type of scholarship, or one could even say it is theological knowledge. In their view, to propagate this knowledge, this scholarship, is to spread God’s way, to spread the gospel—this is what they call preaching, but all they preach is theological knowledge.
… Pharisees held the theological theories that they grasped as knowledge and a tool with which to appraise and condemn people, even using it on the Lord Jesus. This is how the Lord Jesus was condemned. The way they appraised or treated a person never depended on the person’s essence, nor on whether what the person preached was the truth, and less still on the source of the words the person said—the way Pharisees appraised or condemned a person depended only on the regulations, words, and doctrine they grasped in the Old Testament of the Bible. Although the Pharisees knew in their hearts that what the Lord Jesus said and did was not a sin or a violation of the law, they still condemned Him, because the truths He expressed and the signs and wonders He performed made many people follow and praise Him. The Pharisees were increasingly hateful toward Him, and even wanted to remove Him from the picture. They did not recognize that the Lord Jesus was the Messiah who was to come, nor did they recognize that His words had the truth, less still that His work adhered to the truth. They judged the Lord Jesus to be speaking presumptuous words and driving out demons by Beelzebub, the prince of demons. That they could pin these sins on the Lord Jesus shows how much hatred they had for Him. Therefore, they worked fervently to deny that the Lord Jesus was sent by God, and that He was the Son of God, and that He was the Messiah. What they meant was, “Would God do things in this way? If God were incarnate, He would have been born into a family of formidable status. And He would have to accept tutelage from scribes and from the Pharisees. He would have to study the Scripture systematically, have a grasp of scriptural knowledge, and be equipped with all of the knowledge in the Scripture before being able to bear the name of ‘God incarnate.’” But the Lord Jesus was not equipped with this knowledge, so they condemned Him, saying, “Firstly, You are not thus qualified, so You cannot be God; secondly, without this scriptural knowledge You cannot do the work of God, much less can You be God; thirdly, You must not work outside the temple—You are not working in the temple now, but are always among the sinners, so the work You do is beyond the scope of the Scripture, which makes it even less possible that You are God.” Where did the basis of their condemnation come from? From the Scripture, from the mind of man, and from the theological education they had received. Because the Pharisees were swollen with notions, imaginings, and knowledge, they believed this knowledge to be right, to be the truth, to be a valid basis, and at no time could God contravene these things. Did they seek the truth? They did not. What did they seek? A supernatural God that appeared in the form of a spiritual body. Therefore, they determined the parameters for God’s work, denied His work, and judged whether God was right or wrong according to the notions, imaginings, and knowledge of man. And what was the end result of this? Not only did they condemn God’s work, they nailed God incarnate to the cross. This is what came of their using their notions, imaginings, and knowledge to assess God, and this is what is wicked about them.
—The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Seven: They Are Evil, Insidious, and Deceitful (Part Three)
The Pharisees were the best at preaching doctrine and chanting slogans. They often stood at street corners and cried out, “Oh, mighty God!” or “Worshipful God!” To others, they looked particularly pious, and did not do anything against the law, but did God commend them? He did not. How did He condemn them? By giving them a title: the hypocritical Pharisees. In former times, the Pharisees were a respected class in Israel, so why has the name now become a label? This is because the Pharisees have become representative of a type of person. What are the characteristics of this type of person? They are skilled at being false, at ornament, at pretending; they affect great nobility, holiness, uprightness, and transparent decency, and the slogans they shout sound good, but as it turns out, they do not practice the truth in the least. What good behavior do they have? They read scripture and preach; they teach others to uphold the law and rules, and not resist God. This is all good behavior. Everything they say sounds good, yet, when others’ backs are turned, they secretly steal offerings. The Lord Jesus said they “strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel” (Matthew 23:24). This means that all their behavior seems good on the surface—they chant slogans ostentatiously, they speak lofty theories, and their words sound pleasant, yet their deeds are a disordered mess, and are entirely resistant to God. Their outward behaviors are all pretense, all fraudulent; in their hearts, they have not the slightest love for the truth, nor for positive things. They detest the truth, detest positive things, and detest all that comes from God. What do they love? Do they love fairness and righteousness? (No.) How can you tell they do not love these things? (The Lord Jesus spread the gospel of the kingdom of heaven, which they not only refused to accept, but also condemned.) If they did not condemn it, would it be possible to tell? No. The Lord Jesus’ appearance and work exposed all the Pharisees, and it was only by their condemnation and resistance to the Lord Jesus that others could see their hypocrisy. Had it not been for the Lord Jesus’ appearance and work, no one would have been discerning toward the Pharisees, and if people just looked at the Pharisees’ outward conduct, it would even make them envious. Was it not insincere and deceitful of the Pharisees to use false good behavior to gain people’s trust? Can such deceitful people love the truth? They absolutely cannot. What was the purpose behind their displays of good conduct? For one thing, it was to dupe people. For another, it was to deceive and win people over, so that people thought highly of them and venerated them. And finally, they wanted to be rewarded. What a scam it was! Were these skillful tricks? Did such people love fairness and righteousness? They certainly did not. What they loved was status, fame and gain, and what they wanted was a reward and a crown. They never practiced the words that God taught people, and they never lived out the truth realities in the slightest. They were all about disguising themselves with good conduct, and duping and winning people over with their hypocritical ways to secure their own status and reputation, which they then used to fish for capital and make a living. Is that not despicable? From all this conduct of theirs, you can see that, in their essence, they did not love the truth, as they never practiced it. What is something that shows they did not practice the truth? The greatest thing of all: that the Lord Jesus came to do the work of redemption, and that all the words the Lord Jesus spoke are the truth and have authority. How did the Pharisees react to this? Although they acknowledged that the words of the Lord Jesus had authority and power, not only did they not accept them, but they also condemned and blasphemed them. What was that about? It was because they did not love the truth, and in their hearts, they were sick of and hated the truth. They acknowledged that the Lord Jesus was right in everything He said, that His words had authority and power, that He was not wrong in any way, and that they had no leverage against Him. But they wanted to condemn the Lord Jesus, so they discussed and conspired, and said, “Crucify Him. It is either Him or us,” and this is how the Pharisees defied the Lord Jesus. At that time no one understood the truth, and no one was able to recognize the Lord Jesus as God incarnate. From a human point of view, though, the Lord Jesus expressed many truths, cast out demons, and healed the sick. He performed many miracles, fed the 5,000 with five loaves of bread and two fish, did numerous good deeds, and bestowed so much grace on people. There are so few good and righteous people like this, so why did the Pharisees want to condemn the Lord Jesus? Why were they so intent on crucifying Him? That they preferred to release a criminal rather than the Lord Jesus shows how evil and malicious the Pharisees of the religious world were. They were so wicked! The difference between the evil countenances the Pharisees betrayed, and their feigned, outward benevolence was so great, that many people could not discern which was true and which was false, but the appearance and work of the Lord Jesus exposed them all. The Pharisees usually disguised themselves so well and outwardly appeared so godly, that no one would have imagined they could so cruelly resist and persecute the Lord Jesus. If the facts had not been exposed, no one would have been able to see through them. God incarnate’s expression of the truth is so revealing about man!
—The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three
There are also some who are capable of receiving new light, but their methods of practice do not change. They bring their old religious notions with them as they look to receive God’s words of today, so what they receive is still doctrine colored by religious notions; they are not receiving today’s light simply. As a result, their practices are tainted; they are the same old practices in new packaging. However well they might practice, they are hypocrites. God leads people in doing new things every day, demanding that each day they gain new insight and understanding, and requiring that they not be old-fashioned and repetitive. If you have believed in God for many years, yet your methods of practice have not changed at all, and if you are still zealous and busy about external matters, yet do not have a quiet heart to bring before God to enjoy His words, then you will obtain nothing. When it comes to accepting God’s new work, if you do not plan differently, do not go about your practice in a new way, and do not pursue any new understanding, but instead cling to the old and receive only some limited new light, without changing the way you practice, then such people as you are in this stream in name only; in actuality, they are religious Pharisees outside the stream of the Holy Spirit.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Regarding a Normal Spiritual Life
Some people have a penchant for drawing attention to themselves. In the presence of their brothers and sisters, they might say they are indebted to God, but behind their backs, they do not practice the truth and act entirely differently. Are these not religious Pharisees? A person who truly loves God and possesses the truth is one who is loyal to God but does not outwardly show off as such. Such a person is willing to practice the truth when situations arise, and does not speak or act in a way that goes against their conscience. This sort of person demonstrates wisdom when matters arise, and is principled in his or her deeds regardless of the circumstances. This kind of person can provide true service. There are some who often pay lip service to their indebtedness to God; they spend their days with brows locked in worry, putting on an affected air and pretending to be pitiable. How despicable! If you were to ask them, “Can you tell me about how you are indebted to God?” then they would be rendered speechless. If you are loyal to God, then do not talk outwardly about it; instead, demonstrate your love for God by way of actual practice, and pray to Him with a true heart. Those who just deal with God verbally and perfunctorily are all hypocrites! Some speak of indebtedness to God each time they pray, and begin to weep each time they pray, even without being moved by the Holy Spirit. People such as this are possessed by religious rituals and notions; they live by such rituals and notions, always believing that those actions please God and that He favors superficial godliness or sorrowful tears. What good can come of such absurd people? In order to demonstrate humility, some feign graciousness when speaking in the presence of others. Some are deliberately servile when in the presence of other people, acting like lambs without an ounce of strength. Is this a manner befitting people of the kingdom? People of the kingdom should be lively and free, innocent and open, honest and lovable, and be living in a state of freedom. They should have integrity and dignity and be able to stand witness wherever they go; such people are beloved by both God and man. Those who are novices in the faith have too many outward practices; they must first undergo a period of being dealt with and broken. People who have faith in God deep down are not outwardly distinguishable from others, but their actions and deeds are commendable. Only such people can be deemed to be living out the word of God. If you preach the gospel every day to various people in an effort to bring them to salvation, yet in the end are still living by rules and doctrines, then you cannot bring glory to God. Such people are religious figures, as well as hypocrites. Whenever those religious people congregate, they might ask, “Sister, how have you been these days?” She might reply, “I feel I owe a debt to God, and that I am unable to satisfy His will.” Another might say, “I, too, feel indebted to God and that I am unable to satisfy Him.” These few sentences and words alone express the vile things deep within them; such words are most loathsome, and exceedingly repugnant. The nature of such people is in opposition to God. Those who focus on reality communicate whatever is on their mind, and open up their hearts in fellowship. They do not engage in a single false exercise, displaying neither such civilities nor empty pleasantries. They are always straightforward, and observe no secular rules. Some people have a penchant for outward displays, even to the point of utterly lacking sense. When someone sings, they begin to dance, not even realizing that the rice in their pots has already burned. Such people are not godly or honorable, and they are far too frivolous. All of these things are manifestations of a lack of reality. When some people fellowship about matters of spiritual life, though they speak not of owing anything to God, they do retain a true love for Him deep down. Your feeling of indebtedness to God has nothing to do with other people; you are indebted to God, not humanity. What use is it for you to constantly speak of this to others? You must place importance on entering into reality, not on any outward zeal or display. What do the superficial good deeds of humans represent? They represent the flesh, and even the best of outward practices do not represent life; they can only show your own individual temperament. The outward practices of humanity cannot fulfill the desire of God. You constantly speak of your indebtedness to God, yet you cannot supply the life of others or stimulate their God-loving hearts. Do you believe that those actions of yours will satisfy God? You feel that your actions are in line with God’s will, and that they are of the spirit, but in truth, they are all absurd! You believe that what pleases you and what you are willing to do are precisely those things in which God delights. Can your likes represent God? Can a person’s character represent God? What pleases you is precisely that which God abhors, and your habits are those which God loathes and rejects. If you feel indebted, then go and pray before God; there is no need to speak of it to others. If you do not pray before God, and instead constantly draw attention to yourself in the presence of others, can this satisfy God’s will? If your actions always exist in appearance alone, then this means that you are vain in the extreme. What manner of humans are those who only carry out superficial good deeds and are devoid of reality? Such people are just hypocritical Pharisees and religious figures! If you do not shed your outward practices and are unable to make changes, then the elements of hypocrisy in you will grow even more. The greater your elements of hypocrisy, the more resistance there is toward God. In the end, such people will surely be cast out!
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. In Faith, One Must Focus on Reality—Engaging in Religious Ritual Is Not Faith
There are some people who equip themselves with truths only in order to work and preach, to provide for others, not to resolve their own problems, never mind putting them into practice. Their fellowship may be of pure understanding and in line with the truth, but they do not measure themselves up to it, nor do they practice or experience it. What is the problem here? Have they truly accepted the truth as their life? No, they have not. The doctrine one preaches, however pure it may be, does not mean that one is possessed of the truth reality. To be equipped with the truth, one must first have entered it oneself, and put it into practice when they understand it. If one does not focus on their own entry, but is out to show off by preaching the truth to others, their intention is wrong. There are many false leaders who work like this, incessantly fellowshiping with others about the truths they understand, providing for new believers, teaching people to practice the truth, to perform their duties well, not to be negative. These words are all well and good—loving, even—but why do their speakers not practice the truth? Why do they have no life entry? What is going on here, really? Does a person like this actually love the truth? It is hard to say. This was how the Pharisees of Israel expounded the Bible to others, yet they could not keep God’s commandments themselves. When the Lord Jesus appeared and worked, they heard God’s voice but resisted the Lord. They crucified the Lord Jesus and were cursed by God. Therefore, all people who do not accept or practice the truth will be condemned by God. How wretched they are! If the words and doctrines they preach can help others, why can it not help them? We would do well to call such a person a hypocrite who has no reality. They provide others with the literal meaning of the truth, they have others practice it, but they do not practice the least bit of it themselves. Is such a person not shameless? They do not have the truth reality, yet in preaching the words and doctrines to others, they pretend to. Is this not deliberate deception and harm? If such a person were exposed and cast out, they would have only themselves to blame. They would be unworthy of pity.
—The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three
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