“And Jesus said, “For judgment, I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.” Those of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these things and said to Him, “We are not blind too, are we?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.”
– John 9:39-41
There are two kinds of Christians today. Those that reside in the Old Testament and those that live in the New Testament. Let me explain.
The Old Testament reflects an old covenant. It was a time before Christ when man had to strive for perfection, sacrifice to atone for sins, and had to follow many laws to be in “right standing” with God. This was an impossible task, and only a select few could experience God’s presence and live to tell about it. This covenant’s very purpose was to pave the way for the new covenant and to prove to us how very much we needed a savior.
The New Testament reflects this new covenant that fulfills the law of the old. Jesus becomes the bridge between God and man. The veil is torn, and the Holy Spirit comes down to live in us. Authority is given back to us, and our sins are forgiven. Now we no longer have to strive, but can actually “be” righteous because of the Holy Spirit within us.
I’m sure there are some emotions that we could say reflect each Testament as well. For the old, there is a lot of shame, guilt, despair, unworthiness, and unsatisfied hunger. We see a separation between God’s people and a one-sided power. Anyone who could withstand God’s presence or who was the chosen mediators held the power over those who lacked this authority. Towards the end of the old, we see what this authority created in the pride and self-righteousness displayed by the Pharisees. (Man strives/God works)
The New Testament was bought with sacrifice and pain, and yet we see an outpouring of joy, compassion, and power. There is hope and redemption, and everyone is treated as a brother or sister in Christ. No longer does your striving for righteousness lead to salvation, but belief in Jesus Christ as the Messiah does. The message also changes from condemnation to love. (God works through man.)
A pharisaical Christian, therefore, believes in Jesus but from an old covenant perspective. In their mindset, the Holy Spirit no longer resides in power within us. Test them in this and you will be met with the same responses the Pharisees of old spoke to Jesus, such as, ” he (Jesus) casts out demons because he is the ruler of the demons.” (Matthew 9:32-34). In all honesty, the pharisaical Christian is opposed to the very character and nature of Jesus, which promotes love above all else.
I would highly advise that we all use proper discernment because of this. I’ve discovered that many Holy Spirit led people have been labeled falsely due to this denial that he still works in miracles and power today. In other words, just as Jesus was labeled a demon worshipper for his deeds, so will many today that continue his work. Pharisees remain the same in every era, in that they will try to destroy and mislabel an act of God.
And what a serious crime it is to give satan glory for something God has done. This is the unforgivable sin that Jesus mentions in Mark 3:28-30:
“Truly I tell you, the sons of men will be forgiven all sins and blasphemies, as many as they utter. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of eternal sin.”Jesus made this statement because they were claiming, “He has an unclean spirit.”’
I say this with sadness because they are our brothers and sisters also. The heart of every Christian is to please God, and I believe that this desire is expressed differently because we are divided on what God’s Will really is. I believe it is hard for many to grasp that God both prizes the law and its fulfillment in Jesus. The Old Testament served its purpose and is recorded as a reminder to us how necessary Jesus was in restoring our relationship with God. His original design is displayed openly in the Garden of Eden, where we don’t see sacrifices or an angry God, but a deep friendship and co-laboring that is again possible today.
Unfortunately, it is the pharisaical Christian that therefore promotes the image of an angry God, and if any are led to salvation through such a Christian, it is out of fear of punishment than out of a love for God. We’ve all seen the bible thumpers, the fire and brimstone preaching and signs held high with the unanimous message, “turn or burn.” As if Jesus’s sacrifice wasn’t enough to atone for sins as if it wasn’t in great love that God gave up His son freely for us.
We see what appears to be a change in the very character of God from the Old Testament to New because the covenant changed. The circumstances allowed God to be considered a friend to man, rather than opposed to man. Keep in mind, God still is opposed to sin, but thanks to the Holy Spirit, God can reside in us an work through us despite the sin around us. God is the ultimate redeemer, and He is redeeming us. The Bible is a love story, and God loves us so much that He didn’t leave us fallen and broken but gave His son to restore us back to that garden.
“I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends since I have told you everything the Father told me.” (John 15:15)
The law cannot be followed through the efforts of man, but now through the Holy Spirit, the law can be followed, without effort. This is because our hearts now reflect the Will of God. The Pharisaical Christian has not yet been transformed by this truth. They do not know how to embrace the new covenant and unlock it’s many gifts given freely and paid for at a great price. In pride, they memorize the Word of God and yet they refuse its power. The religious spirit keeps them bound and unchanging and this is falsely perceived as steadfastness. When in truth it is stagnation.
It might seem harsh and blunt for me to say these things. And if while your reading this you feel offense I want you to question where this feeling comes from. Jesus never once felt such a feeling, and yet the Pharisees grew offended at every turn. I have faced this feeling and have faced the spirit in which it is connected to. Humans can easily worship the wrong things, can misplace priorities and therefore lose focus on what really matters. Why? because we have an enemy dead set on dividing us all, distracting us all, and ultimately destroying us all. He isn’t worried about the Christian who places religious rituals and structure above a relationship with Jesus.
Lastly, I will say this. God is bigger than our idea of big, He is better than our idea of good, and He is more loving than our idea of love. Our boxes don’t contain Him, the Bible isn’t a book of all the possibilities of God, only a handful of such possibilities.
“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” (John 14:12-14)
If Jesus himself promised us that we would do even greater things than we must believe that greater things can happen. That the Holy Spirit is alive in us, otherwise we could do nothing apart from him.
My prayer is that every Christian would recognize their potential in Christ. That they wouldn’t be afraid to step out in faith and believe in God’s Word despite the world and maybe even their own brothers and sisters persecuting them. That they would be above offense and filled to overflowing with love and compassion for people. That they would see a person and not just a sin. That they wouldn’t condemn or judge another but would let the Holy Spirit work in their lives and convict their hearts toward change. That miracles such as healing, prophecies, and visions would be a welcomed act of God, and that division in the body of Christ would be but a long lost memory.
It is time to embrace the New Covenant of God, to walk in all its promises and gifts.
To reflect Jesus and His great transforming love.