Jesus surely challenged the Pharisee’s most often during His public ministry. No where more than Matthew 23. While Pharisees tend to get a bad reputation in many sermons and Christian conversations. I believe Jesus challenged them to bring them to repentance. In Acts 15 we find that there were indeed believing Pharisees who got the message but still struggled with outward-based religion.

I have a series of scripture references from Christ aimed at getting the “pharisee-act” out of us. Test yourself against the following to see if you are indeed – a Pharisee:

1. Matthew 23:3 (NIV) they (Pharisees) do not practice what they preach.

    Do you tend to say one thing to others while you do the opposite yourself?

2. Matthew 23:4 (NIV) They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.

    Do you think some people should just “change” and “stop sinning” but do little or nothing to help them? Is that someone else’s job?

3. Matthew 23:5 (NIV) “Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long;

    Are you prone to announce how much you give, pray, or read your Bible? Do you tweet about how and when you fast? Update your missions trip status on facebook? Blog about helping someone change a tire on the side of the road?

4. Matthew 23:6 (NIV) they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues;

    Do you wonder why the church is focused on making outsiders welcome and get mad when you are asked to help out with that?

5. Matthew 23:13 (NIV) “You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.”

    Would rather that some “types” of sinners not even consider attending your church? And that they take their children with them so your kids don’t get “contaminated?”

6. Matthew 23:15 (NIV) “You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.”

    Do you believe discipleship is best evidenced by new Christians playing by the “rules” and becoming more like you instead of more like who God made them to be?

7. Matthew 23:16 (NIV) You say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’

    Do you play silly games with Christian lingo?

8. Matthew 23:23 (NIV) “You give a tenth of your spices–mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law–justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.”

    Are you more concerned about your tithing tax deduction than you are about your out-of-work brother/sister in Christ?

9. Matthew 23:25 (NIV) “You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and self-indulgence.”

    Do you look good for church and pay big money for it?

10. Matthew 23:27 (NIV) “You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean.”

    Deep down, is there a gnawing sense that if Christ walked the Earth today, He’d challenge you in areas of that you think are buried below the notice of everyone else?

11. Matthew 23:29 (NIV) “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous.”

    Do you tend to idealize the church’s past rather than celebrate her present and anticipate her future? Do you long for the “good old days” of the kind of church you used to go to?

12. Luke 11:53 (NIV) When Jesus left there, the Pharisees and the teachers of the law began to oppose him fiercely and to besiege him with questions,

    After reading through this list, do you want to ask me if it was aimed at you? . . . Guess what – it was!

I’ve been through this list a few times and I have to say, I’m not scoring very well myself. The heart of Jesus is our aim, may the Holy Spirit help us to hit the TARGET.