We hear the word "Pharisee" being tossed around quite liberally these days.
Many Christians today define "Pharisee" as someone who is always "finding fault" with others. We recently heard one pastor use the scripture passage in Mark 7:1-15 (where Jesus called the Pharisees "God hating hypocrites") as a basis for coming to the conclusion that we should always say positive things and that we should never say negative things. We had a difficult time understanding how this conclusion could be reached in light of Jesus' accusations against the Pharisees recorded in that same chapter. Rather, the focus was only on the “negative” words and “fault finding” of the Pharisees themselves without regard for the absolutely evil intentions which lay behind them—which was to gather evidence they could use in order to have Jesus, the Lord of Glory, put to death.
Does Mark chapter seven really teach that everything that comes out of our mouths should be "positive" and that we should never be like the Pharisees and say things that are "negative?" Can “positive” be defined as always being good? Can “negative” be defined as always being wicked? Many, in these last days, say the answer to these questions is, yes. But does the Bible teach that this is so? Can the Pharisees in Mark chapter 7 honestly be cited as biblical examples of these false definitions of the words positive and negative? Can we stay true to scripture while minimizing and transforming the hypocritical, extremely dangerous, God-hating, scripture hating, murderous Pharisees into simply being "negative, fault finders" who could not "get along" with others?
How about the fact that in that same passage of scripture we read that Jesus made no effort whatsoever to "get along" with the Pharisees? What about the fact that he also "found fault" with them and said "negative" things to them by calling them God-hating hypocrites?
Can anyone argue that calling someone a "hypocrite" is a negative statement? So how do we reconcile that with being told to never say anything negative? Was Jesus being "wicked" when he attached such a non-affirming label to the Pharisees and negatively accused them of secretly hating God (drawing near to him with their mouths but their hearts were far from him)?
We have heard Christians minimize and transform the scripture that commands us to "love the brethren" into one that simply tells us to always "get along" with everyone. One pastor said that if anyone could not "get along" with people, then the Bible says they are not saved.
Always "getting along with everyone" is a shallow and utterly false interpretation of the biblical command found in 1 John to "love the brethren"—especially so if one observes that the passage in question, which tells us that we can know we have passed from death into life if we love the brethren, is dealing with the example of one man, Cain, who hated his brother, Abel, so much that he murdered him.
Is there any way this verse can be used as a good example of simply "not getting along?"
No, there is not. It is possible to “not get along" with someone without hating them. And it is possible to hate someone while putting on a very convincing public show of “getting along” with them. The example given in 1 John, is an example of one man who was in total rebellion against the Word and will of God and absolutely hated his brother who was completely submitted to the will and word of God.
Cain considered the blood sacrifice offered by Abel to be undesirable, "negative," i.e.—bad. With his offering, when he brought the beautiful life-affirming fruits of his labor before the Lord, Cain certainly kept everything on a very upbeat, "positive," level. He could not see the sense in killing an innocent animal (The sacrifice of Christ is called obscene by some who profess to be Christians). But when God rejected Cain's "positive" life-affirming offering, Cain had no qualms about murdering his own brother.
In light of this scenario, which is the background for John’s statement about loving the brethren, can we honestly say that not "getting along" is evidence that we are not saved? No, that is definitely a shallow minimization and entirely inappropriate definition for 1 John 3:14.
The Bible is clear that we should always speak the truth in love. But can speaking the truth appear to be "negative" and even be the cause of conflict? Jesus said that he would pit mothers against daughters, sons against fathers and brothers against brothers. Jesus said that he did not come (the first time) to bring peace but rather a sword. Jesus made it obvious that speaking and standing for the truth, contending earnestly for the faith, as the Bible commands us to do, will cause conflict. Jesus identified Abel as a prophet. Abel spoke the truth. Abel became the first martyr. And he died at the hands of his brother for standing for the truth--not because they simply could not "get along."
Can we unequivocally say speaking the truth will always sound positive? There are many examples in scripture where the truth, even where spoken in love and compassion, does not sound up-beat or optimistic, and indeed can be very bad news. Read Luke 23:28-31.
We are commanded in scripture to confront sin among the "brethren." That is a loving thing to do although as first it may seem very "negative," (not up-beat and optimistic--gloomy?) even when confronting the brother or sister in meekness and love as we are commanded to do. We are commanded to confront the sin of teaching false doctrine as well as sins of immorality. In fact, the sin of teaching false doctrine—heresy—is so serious, that we are commanded in scripture to admonish a heretic only once or twice before separating him from our company altogether. Could anyone misconstrue that as a negative (offensive) action? Sure they could. But they would be wrong.
Many Christians today refuse to contend for the faith by taking up the centuries old mantra of, "In essentials Unity. In non-essentials liberty. In all things charity." It is a mis-application of the meaning of this saying, which can be traced back to the Protestant Reformation, if it is being used in regards to doctrine. The reformers never compromised on matters of clear biblical teaching. They allowed themselves to be imprisoned, tortured and killed before they compromised the clear teachings of scripture. The Bible says the world is not worthy of these Christians, yet who can say they were always careful to say only “positive” (optimistic) things and worried about “getting along” with everyone?
If a brother or a sister is blatantly practicing sin and refuses to repent of and forsake that sin, we are commanded in scripture not to even sit down and take a meal with that person—does this sound "positive?" (affirming) No, it does not sound positive. But it is scriptural and good fruit always comes of being obedient to scripture. The Bible instructs us to openly rebuke those that sin so that others may fear the consequences of sinful behavior. Does this sound positive (affirming)? Hardly. And, sadly, this command is being disregarded on a wholesale level within churches today. Ironically though, even though those in the church who practice sin are routinely ignored and treated “positively,” (in a manner which affirms their sinful choices) those who are contending for the faith, as the scriptures command, are being openly rebuked...so that others may fear the consequences of dissenting when false doctrine is being taught. This is wrong and it is wicked.
This business of positive, negative and always "getting along" with people is not about true, biblical, Christian unity. It is Satan’s counterfeit of biblical Christian unity. The definitions of "positive and negative" (which refer to energy or electricity—not to good or bad) have absolutely nothing to do with biblical concepts but have everything to do with psychological / New Age concepts of positive and negative which denote optimistic, pessimistic, good, bad, affirming or non-affirming or offensive.
The New Age / psychological concept of always being positive and never being negative cannot be found in scripture. Indeed, the language is loaded, and the way we currently use the words, "positive and negative," cloud understanding, shrinks vocabulary, reduces capacity for critical thinking, and turns us into mindless automatons spouting propaganda using slogans such as, Always be positive! Never be negative! What in the world does that mean anyway? The word "positive" has simply become a slang term for several different words that have completely different definitions—and the same goes for the word "negative."
Positive = CERTAIN: "I feel certain..." -Vs- I am positive..."
Positive = OPTIMISTIC: "keep an optimistic outlook..." -Vs- "positive attitude"
Positive = UPBEAT: which would be very similar to Optimistic
Negative = PESSIMISTIC, looking at the what can go wrong (not to be confused with trouble-shooting, which is a good thing if not taken to extremes)
Negative = OFFENSIVE
Suggestion: Consciously choose words which clearly describe what we are attempting to say rather than inserting all purpose slogans which are not true to the meaning of what we are trying to communicate and that narrow our thinking and cloud our understanding and perceptions.
On the subject of "always getting along," scripture does not teach that everyone should always "get along." If that was the case, then Jesus, our primary example, would have been a dismal failure as a Christian. He never attempted to “get along” with everyone, but always spoke the truth. And what about the prophets? How many of them made certain their words always sounded "positive" and made certain they "got along" with everyone?
The concept of everyone "getting along" simply cannot be found in scripture either. It can, however, be found in interfaith ecumenism. Interfaith ecumenism is Satan’s counterfeit of Christian unity, a reverse, demonic, unity based on rejection of scripture as our final authority for faith and doctrine. In fact, interfaith ecumenism, the goal of which is a one world religion, operates on the basic concept that holding to any doctrine—at all—is divisive and therefore should be rejected in favor of "unity-at-any-cost." Sadly, many Christians today are falling for this counterfeit and promoting a sinful, compromising, unity which does not tend toward life.
At the tower of Babel, God made very clear what he thinks about the concept of unity at any cost—which is Satan's and the coming world leader's, the anti-Christ's, goal. God deliberately caused division at Babel in order to stop the evil of unity-at-any cost from progressing. However, in these last days, God is permitting interfaith ecumenism, unity-at-any-cost, Satan's counterfeit of biblical unity, to progress. A shaking is taking place within the Body of Christ, and God is allowing this shaking to happen. In fact, the Bible tells us that He is the one who is doing the shaking. This is happening in conjunction with the apostasy that is sweeping the Christian church at this time. Many are falling away—being shaken loose, just as is prophesied in 2 Thessalonians chapter two. Only those who refuse to be shaken loose will receive a kingdom which cannot be moved. The great apostasy, the falling away, predicted in 2 Thessalonians chapter two, is going on right now, and those who are sounding the alarm, contending earnestly for the faith, and plucking brands from the fire, are being libeled as divisive, hard to "get along with,” and negative.
The Word of God clearly predicted the flood of lies and deception that is being spewed from the mouths and pulpits of what, at one time, were Bible believing pastors, churches, and denominations. And the Bible tells us that the coming of Christ, and the revelation of the anti-Christ, will be preceded by a time in which many will "fall away.” We know that we are no longer looking forward to that time but are now living in it.
Too many pastors are entertaining their congregations so well, that Christians are not catching on to the fact that, in between and through the jokes, they are being deceived. Even congregations that have not, as yet accepted the mystical, contemplative spirituality, or the false Prophetic Movement (both movements are sweeping through the church at lightning speed) are being spoon-fed ecumenical, purpose driven lies, and are being indoctrinated into—and accepting—the most basic concepts of the coming global religion of the anti-Christ which will consist of exactly the things being promoted so aggressively in almost all churches these days.
Things such as:
• Always be positive. Positive is always good
• Never be negative. Negative is always bad
• Never criticize. Criticism is always bad
• Never Judge (even though we are commanded in scripture to judge)
• "Get along" with everyone (If you don't, it is sign you are not saved)
These things are not biblical. What ever happened to Christians "trying the spirits" by comparing what is being said from the pulpit with what the Word of God actually says?
Many pastors deliberately frame blatantly false statements with humor. This is a common and very effective maneuver used by those who know they are making statements that cannot be backed up by scripture and that would be offensive to and challenged by Bible reading listeners if not sugar-coated and camouflaged by cheap, comical words and antics.
Many pastors are still holding onto a few things that are good, but our hearts are grieved by what we are seeing and hearing almost everywhere we go these days. We are also convinced that there are many Christians who are still holding fast to the faith delivered once for all, but they do not seem to be contending for the faith as the Bible commands.
Are they simply not catching the deception spewing from their pastor's mouths? Or have the false definitions that positive is always good, negative is always wicked, and that loving the brethren simply means everybody "getting along" succeeded in intimating them into holding their peace for fear of being labeled "Pharisees" or even worse, "not being saved at all?"
The type of leadership employed by pastors who are attempting to execute a paradigm shift within their congregations is one that uses dialectics well. Dialectics, when facilitated skillfully, produces "group think." People tend to have a herd mentality anyway, but group think is a much more insidious form of this mentality. Group think deliberately and aggressively pits the GROUP against the ONE who would dare to think for his or her self. This concept is used successfully by all totalitarian governments(of which the government and religion of the anti-Christ will be) in silencing dissenters. But this type of leadership is not for the Church of the Living God and is certainly not taught in the Holy Scriptures nor inspired by the Holy Spirit of God.
Yes, we hear the word "Pharisee" being tossed around quite liberally these days...
And it is an unfortunate shame that it is almost always used in reference to those who love the written Word of God, read it daily, are willing to contend earnestly for the faith, and believe that the scriptures are the final authority on all doctrinal issues rather than someone's opinion, feeling, or extra-scriptural revelation.
The sad fact is, that it is usually the one's using the word "Pharisee" to begin with, who fit the description Jesus applied to them in Mark Chapter seven, verses 1-15.
Jocelyn Andersen, is Founder and Pastor of Hungry Hearts Ministries. She ministers in preaching and teaching as well as in writing, and through her 24/7 Bible Talk Radio station, HungryHeartsRadio.com. She is the author of several Christian books, including the short but powerful booklet entitled, Jesus, God of the Burning Bush: Eternal Father & Beloved Son. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn.
New Age Christianity, takes a close look at some of the ways New Age teaching and practices find their way into our churches and the lives of Christians. The prophetic and spiritual formation movements are just a few of those ways. Both movements corrupt believers from the simplicity of Christ by weaving unbiblical precepts and practices into the fabric of their lives and faith.