Recently the Holy Spirit has issued an urgent warning to my prayer partner, Sam:
“Watch out for the Pharisees! Watch out for the Pharisees!” She has heard this warning many times in her prayer closet. Naturally, this has gotten Sam’s full attention, as she has pondered how she might identify a modern day Pharisee.
This morning, while reading scripture, the Lord revealed to me a key marker to identify the Pharisees among us:
Look for those who question your identity in Christ…challenging your very calling…
This came to me while reading the Gospel of John. When John the Baptist came baptizing – John 1:6 states plainly he was a man “sent by God…”
But just look down a few verses, and what do we see? We find a group of interrogators – bold, aggressive, confrontational — approaching John, and rifling him with questions, as if to demand he answer for himself.
“What do you say of yourself….who are you? If you aren’t Elijah or the Prophet or the Christ, why are you baptizing?” John 1:25
Who sent these? Take a look.
John 1:24 “Now those who were sent were sent from the Pharisees.”
John the Baptist: Sent by God.
His audacious interrogators: Sent by the Pharisees.
And now we know who they are. And what to look for.
Take a warning, my friends. To all who are called out, do not be surprised if one day you find yourself confronted by those who challenge your identity in Christ by attacking your divine calling.
“By what authority are you doing these things? Who gave you the right?” the Pharisees demanded of Jesus. Luke 20:2
As it was then, so it is now. If they did it to John the Baptist and Jesus, they’ll do it to you. And why?
Scripture tells us in Matthew 27:18: Jealousy and anger. Plain and simple. Those were the two driving forces behind those who opposed both Jesus and John the Baptist. Nothing noble or holy about it.
The Pharisees were eaten up with jealousy over the enormous following Jesus had amassed. And they were enraged over the harsh words both of Jesus and the Baptist who called the Pharisees out on their sinful hypocrisies. And in their jealous rage, they sought to de-legitimitize the ministries of both.
Let me ask you: Are you, or have you ever been, embroiled in an inexplicable conflict or opposition over your calling? Have “those in authority” treated you or spoken to you in a way that’s caused you to feel intimidated, or even start doubting yourself and your divine calling?
If God Himself has anointed you for service and sent you out, be assured you are already authorized, already fully certified to engage in whatever task or ministry call He has deemed you fit for. No other justification, validation or “approval” is needed. You have Heaven’s nod. That is enough. Go forth boldly in His Name and for His glory, without apology.
Just “watch out for the Pharisees!”