Question 32: The Pharisees frequently expounded upon the Bible to people in the synagogues. From the outside, they appeared to be pious and compassionate and didn’t seem to do anything clearly in violation of the law. So why were the Pharisees cursed by the Lord Jesus? How was their hypocrisy manifested? Why is it said that the religious pastors and elders of today are walking the same path as the hypocritical Pharisees?
People that believe in the Lord know that the Lord Jesus really hated the Pharisees and cursed them and pronounced seven woes upon them. This is very meaningful in allowing believers in the Lord to discern the hypocritical Pharisees, break away from their bondage and control and obtain God’s salvation. However, it’s a shame that many believers cannot discern the essence of the Pharisees’ hypocrisy. They don’t even understand why the Lord Jesus hated and cursed the Pharisees so much. Today we will talk for a bit about these problems. The Pharisees often interpreted the Bible to others in the synagogue. They often prayed before others and used the rules of the Bible to condemn people. On the surface, they seemed like reverent keepers of the Bible. If so, then why did the Lord hate them and curse them so much? In reality, the main reason is that they only cared about performing religious ceremonies and following rules, and that they only interpreted the rules and doctrines in the Bible and never communed God’s will to anyone, nor did they focus on practicing God’s words or obeying God’s commandments. In fact, they ignored God’s commandments. Everything they did was completely in opposition to God’s will and demands. That is the essence of the Pharisees’ hypocrisy and resistance of God. That is the key reason why the Lord Jesus hated and cursed them. The Lord Jesus said as much when He exposed them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? For God commanded, saying, Honor your father and mother: and, He that curses father or mother, let him die the death. But you say, Whoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatever you might be profited by me; And honor not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have you made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. You hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draws near to Me with their mouth, and honors Me with their lips; but their heart is far from Me. But in vain they do worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Mat 15:3–9). Now that the Lord Jesus has exposed the Pharisees, we can clearly see that although the Pharisees often interpreted the Bible to others in the synagogue, they did not revere or magnify God at all. They did not follow God’s commandments, and even replaced God’s commandments with the traditions of men; they forgot about God’s commandments. They were openly opposing God. Isn’t this irrefutable evidence of how the Pharisees served God yet also resisted Him? How could they have avoided incurring God’s curses and hatred? God’s commandments clearly stated, “You shall not kill. … You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Exo 20:13, 16). But the Pharisees ignored God’s commandments. They openly bore false witness and condemned and killed the prophets and righteous men sent by God; they directly resisted God. Therefore, the Lord Jesus condemned and cursed the Pharisees, saying, “You serpents, you generation of vipers, how can you escape the damnation of hell? Why, behold, I send to you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them you shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall you whip in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: That on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth” (Mat 23:33–35). The Pharisees fanatically resisted God and killed the prophets and righteous men He sent. They tried to destroy God’s work and block the carrying out of His will. They seriously enraged God’s disposition. How could they not have been cursed by Him? Did the Pharisees not do all those things? Are we still unable to see the Pharisees’ hypocritical essence and behavior?
The Pharisees seemed reverent from the outside, but their essence was insidious and cunning; they were particularly skilled at pretending and tricking others. If the Lord Jesus had not exposed all of their evil deeds, including their betrayal and abandonment of God’s commandments, we wouldn’t be able to see the essence of the Pharisees’ hypocrisy. Now let’s have another look at the Lord Jesus’ exposure and condemnation of the Pharisees. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought you to have done, and not to leave the other undone. You blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel” (Mat 23:23–24). “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like to white washed sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity” (Mat 23:27–28). The Pharisees pretended to be very reverent in front of others. They purposely prayed in the synagogue and on the street corners. When they fasted, they’d purposely have a sad expression on their faces. They wrote scriptures on the tassels of their garments. When they donated to charity, they made sure that other people saw them do it. They made sure they did not forget to pay their tithes of mint, cummin and anise. They even followed many of the traditional rules such as, “Do not eat unless you’ve washed your hands thoroughly,” etc. The Pharisees tended to many small details exquisitely. However, they did not obey God’s requirements of the law, i.e. to love God, love others, be righteous, merciful, and faithful. They did not obey God’s commandments at all. They only talked about biblical knowledge and theological theory. They only performed religious ceremonies and obeyed the rules. That is the height of their hypocrisy and the way they fooled others. Their behavior clearly shows us that everything the Pharisees did was part of their attempt to deceive and constrain others. They only sought to establish themselves so they would be worshiped. They were only concerned with managing and consolidating their own positions and meal-tickets. They traveled down a path of hypocrisy and resistance to God. That is the reason their resistance of God caused God to curse them.
The Pharisees did not love the truth. They never focused on practicing God’s words or keeping God’s commandments. They only focused on performing religious ceremonies and walked on a path of resistance to God. Therefore, when the Lord Jesus came to work and preach, their satanic nature of hypocrisy and hostility against God was fully exposed by God. The Pharisees knew very well that the Lord Jesus’ words had authority and power. Not only did they not seek for the essence and source of the Lord Jesus’ words and work, but they maliciously attacked and defamed the Lord Jesus; they said the Lord Jesus was driving out demons by the prince of demons; they labeled the Lord Jesus’ work, filled with God’s authority and power, as madness. They committed the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit and seriously offended God’s disposition. Not only did the Pharisees blaspheme and condemn the Lord Jesus themselves, but they incited and deluded believers to resist and condemn the Lord Jesus. They made the faithful lose the Lord’s salvation and turn into their funerary objects and victims. Therefore, when the Lord Jesus condemned and cursed them, He said, “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for you neither go in yourselves, neither suffer you them that are entering to go in” (Mat 23:13). “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, you make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves” (Mat 23:15). Therefore, we can see that the Pharisees were hypocrites that resisted and committed blasphemy against God, antichrists that stood as enemies to God. They were the ilk of devil that devoured men’s souls and lured them into hell. Therefore, the Lord Jesus denounced the Pharisees with the “Seven Woes” due to their evil behavior. This fully shows God’s holy and righteous disposition which cannot be offended.
Now we have gained some discernment with regard to the hypocritical substance of the Pharisees. Now let’s look at the modern-day pastors and elders. They only interpret biblical knowledge and theological theory. They only perform religious ceremonies and follow the rules. They do not practice God’s words at all, nor do they carry out His commandments. They’re the same as the Pharisees, walking along a path where they serve but also resist God. The Lord Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like to it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mat 22:37–39). People that love God should practice His words and must be mindful of His will. They should be responsible for the lives of their brothers and sisters. Now pastors and elders face desolate churches and the believers’ faith and love being diminished. They do not lead the believers to seek the truth and look for the church with the work of the Holy Spirit. Instead, they keep the believers under their close control. Especially when Almighty God comes to express the truth and give people life, they do not study it or accept it. They continue to resist and condemn it while preventing believers from searching for the true way. They do not allow believers to contact people from The Church of Almighty God, nor do they allow them to read Almighty God’s words. What’s worse, they incite believers to curse or beat up the brothers and sisters that spread the kingdom gospel. They may even call the police and have them arrested. Are they not doing evil and resisting God with everything they do? How is what they do any different from the way the Pharisees resisted and condemned the Lord Jesus? To protect their positions and meal-tickets, the pastors and elders try every possible means to prevent believers from accepting God’s salvation in the last days. Aren’t they dragging us to hell? Are they not the evil servants that the Lord Jesus spoke of? Are they not the modern-day Pharisees? Are we still unable to discern this?
The pastors and elders are definitely not true believers or servers of God. They constantly betray the Lord’s words, abandon His commandments and take Him as their enemy. When it comes to what kind of people can enter the kingdom of heaven, the Lord Jesus said clearly that only those who do the heavenly Father’s will shall be allowed into His kingdom. However, the pastors and elders say that since people have been justified by faith and been saved by grace, they shall enter the heavenly kingdom. Are they not betraying the Lord’s words and speaking in direct contradiction of Him? The Lord Jesus required that “But let your communication be, Yes, yes; No, no” (Mat 5:37). However, the pastors and elders spread lies, slander, condemn and blaspheme against Almighty God. They bear false witness and defame The Church of Almighty God. The Lord Jesus clearly said, “He that receives whomsoever I send receives Me” (Jhn 13:20). The pastors and elders do not allow believers to receive brothers and sisters who spread the gospel of the kingdom. They say that whoever receives them shall be cast out of the church. The Lord Jesus requires us to pay attention to listening to the Lord’s voice, and go to greet Him after hearing the Bridegroom’s voice. However, whenever the pastors and elders hear someone bearing witness to the Lord Jesus’ return, they judge and condemn it without ever examining it. What sentence of the Lord’s words are the pastors and elders practicing? If the pastors and elders really believed in God, if they were the least bit God-fearing at all, they would not spread these kinds of lies, nor would they fanatically condemn and resist Almighty God. This is the truth. The pastors and elders are the modern-day Pharisees. This is absolutely correct!
from Answers to Screenplay Questions
Back then, the Jewish Pharisees often explained the Scriptures and prayed for believers in synagogues. Didn’t they appear quite godly? Then why did the Lord Jesus expose and curse the Pharisees, saying woe to the hypocritical Pharisees? Could the Lord Jesus have wronged them? Do we not believe that the word of the Lord Jesus is the truth? Do we suspect that the Lord Jesus did the wrong thing? Distinguishing whether pastors and elders are hypocritical Pharisees and antichrists or not cannot be done by just looking at how they treat people on the outside. The main thing is to look at how they treat the Lord and the truth. On the outside they can be loving toward believers, but do they have love toward the Lord? If they are quite loving toward people but are full of boredom and hate toward the Lord and the truth, and judge and condemn Christ of the last days—Almighty God, then aren’t they hypocritical Pharisees? Aren’t they antichrists? They seem to preach and work hard outwardly, but if it is for the sake of being crowned and rewarded, then does this mean that they obey and are loyal to the Lord? To distinguish whether someone is hypocritical, we mainly have to look inside their hearts and see their intentions. That is the most important thing about distinguishing. God searches people’s innermost hearts. So to see if a person truly loves and obeys the Lord, the main thing is to look at whether they practice and adhere to His word and uphold His commandments, and moreover look at whether they exalt the Lord Jesus and bear witness to Him, and if they follow God’s will. We see that the Pharisees often explained the Scriptures to people in synagogues, held on to the rules of the Bible for everything, and were also loving toward believers. But in reality, everything they did was not practicing God’s word or upholding God’s commandments, but was done to be seen by people. Just as the Lord Jesus said when He exposed them: “But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments” (Mat 23:5). They even purposely stood in the synagogues and on the street corners to engage in long prayers. During fasting they purposely made their faces look very sad, so that people could tell that they were fasting. They even deliberately did good deeds in the streets so that people could all see. They even continued to hold on to ancient traditions and religious rituals such as “Do not eat unless you wash the hands carefully.” … To deceive believers into supporting and worshiping them, the Pharisees kept making a big deal out of small things to disguise themselves, and they only led believers to engage in religious worship, singing and praise, or holding on to some ancestral traditions, but did not lead believers to practice God’s word, keep God’s commandments, and enter the reality of the truth. Moreover, they did not lead believers to practice the truth and obey and worship God. All they did was use some external actions to confuse and deceive believers! When the Lord Jesus came to preach and work, for the sake of protecting their own status and livelihoods, these Pharisees who pretended to be godly actually openly abandoned God’s laws and commandments under the guise of “defending the Bible.” They made up rumors, bore false witness, and furiously condemned and framed the Lord Jesus, doing all they could to block believers from following the Lord Jesus. In the end, they even colluded with those in power to nail the Lord Jesus to the cross. Accordingly, the Pharisees’ hypocritical and truth-hating essence was completely exposed. Their antichrist essence was thereby completely revealed. This shows that the essence of the Pharisees was hypocritical, treacherous, deceitful and malicious. They were all false shepherds who abandoned God’s way, deceived people and caged people. They deceived and bound believers, controlling the religious world to oppose God, furiously denying, condemning and hating the incarnate Christ. This is sufficient to prove that they were the antichrists who wanted to erect their own independent kingdom!
Now we see clearly the various expressions of the Pharisees’ hypocrisy. When we compare them to today’s religious pastors and elders, would we not discover that they are just like the Pharisees and are all people who don’t practice the Lord’s word or follow the Lord’s commandments, and moreover not people who exalt the Lord and bear witness to the Lord? They are just people who blindly believe in the Bible, worship the Bible, and exalt the Bible. They just hold on to various religious rituals, such as attending regular services, morning watch, breaking bread, partaking of Holy Communion, and so forth. They only pay attention to talking to believers about being humble, patient, godly and loving, but they don’t love God in their hearts, and moreover they don’t obey God and don’t have a heart that reveres God at all. Their work and preaching only focuses on holding on to and explaining Bible knowledge and theological theory. But when it comes to how to practice and experience the Lord’s word, how to keep the Lord’s commandments and how to spread and testify to the Lord’s word, how to follow the will of the heavenly Father, how to truly love God, obey God, and worship God, and all such things that the Lord Jesus asks of mankind, they do not seek, do not explore, and do not figure out the Lord’s intentions, and moreover do not lead people to practice or comply. The purpose of them going around everywhere preaching Bible knowledge and theological theory is to show off themselves, build up themselves, and make people look up to and worship them. Therefore, when Almighty God came to express truths and perform His judgment work of the last days, these pastors and elders, for the sake of achieving permanent power in the religious world, and for their ambition of controlling believers and creating their own independent kingdom, openly violated the word of the Lord Jesus, making up rumors, judging, attacking and blaspheming Almighty God, doing their utmost to block believers from seeking and investigating the true way. For example, the Lord Jesus taught us to be wise virgins: When we hear someone yell “Behold, the bridegroom comes,” we should go out to welcome Him. But after pastors and elders heard news of the Lord Jesus’ second coming, they instead did all they could to seal off the church and prevent believers from seeking and investigating the true way. The Lord Jesus taught us to love our neighbor as ourselves. Yet, they incited believers to slander and beat brothers and sisters who testify to Almighty God’s work of the last days. The Lord Jesus asked us not to lie, not to bear false witness, but pastors and elders made up all sorts of lies to slander Almighty God, and even colluded with the devilish CCP to resist and condemn Almighty God’s work of the last days and smear The Church of Almighty God. … From this we can see that what religious pastors and elders have said and done completely violates the Lord’s teachings. They are just like the hypocritical Pharisees. They are all people who blindly lead people, resist God, and deceive people.
Let’s read a passage of Almighty God’s words. Almighty God says, “All those who do not seek obedience to God in their faith oppose Him. God asks that people seek the truth, that they thirst for His words, eat and drink His words, and put them into practice, so that they may achieve obedience to God. If these are your true intentions, then God will surely raise you up, and will surely be gracious toward you. This is undoubtable and unchangeable. If your intention is not to obey God, and you have other aims, then all that you say and do—your prayers before God, and even your every action—will be in opposition to Him. You may be soft-spoken and mild-mannered, your every action and expression may look proper, and you may appear to be one who obeys, but when it comes to your intentions and your views about faith in God, everything you do is in opposition to God; everything you do is evil. People who appear as obedient as sheep, but whose hearts harbor evil intentions, are wolves in sheep’s clothing. They directly offend God, and God will not spare a single one of them. The Holy Spirit will reveal each and every one of them and show everybody that all those who are hypocrites will, with certainty, be detested and rejected by the Holy Spirit. Worry not: God will reckon with and dispose of every last one of them in turn” (“In Your Faith in God You Should Obey God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). These religious pastors and elders appear on the outside to be humble, patient and loving, but in their hearts they are full of treachery, deceit and malice. Under the guise of “defending the true way, protecting the flock,” they openly resist and condemn Almighty God and plan to control believers to achieve their goal of holding permanent power in the religious world and setting up their own independent kingdom. These hypocritical Pharisees who hate the truth and hate God are precisely the group of stubborn God-opposing antichrists exposed by Almighty God’s work of the last days. Therefore, all those who truly believe in God should learn how to distinguish their hypocritical essence and satanic, antichrist nature. Don’t be deceived, confused, caged and controlled by them anymore. We should seek and investigate the true way and accept Almighty God’s work of the last days, and return before God’s throne!
Excerpted from Classic Questions and Answers on the Gospel of the Kingdom