Question 12: Most of our brothers and sisters do not understand: Before the arrival of the Lord Jesus, the Pharisees often interpreted the Bible to others in the synagogue; they stood before people and prayed and used the rules of the Bible to condemn people; they looked very reverent on the outside and never seemed to have gone against the Bible, but why were the Pharisees cursed by the Lord Jesus? In what ways did they resist God? How did they display their hypocrisy? Why did they incur God’s wrath?
Answer: 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. 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. To outside observers, 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 in essence, they were hypocrites that resisted God. The Pharisees only cared about performing religious ceremonies and following rules; 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. 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.” 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! Everything the Pharisees did was facts, wasn’t it? Are we 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. Matthew 23:23-24: “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.” 27-28, “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.” 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 historical 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 false path of hypocrisy and resistance to God. That is the reason their resistance of God caused God to curse them.
The Pharisees do 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 an evil group 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 holiness 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). Those 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 don’t find the living water of life for believers. When Almighty God comes to express the truth and give people life, they reject it; 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 curse or attack our brothers and sisters that spread the gospel of His kingdom. 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 prevent believers from accepting God’s salvation in the last days. Aren’t they dragging people to hell? Are they not the evil servants that the Lord Jesus spoke of? Are they not the modern-day Pharisees?
—The movie script of The City Will Be Overthrown