6 Keys to Unlock the Prison of Pharisaism

Over the past month, or so, I have been addressing the problem of Pharisaism–the self-righteous attitudes and thinking that every one of us as sinners battle to one degree or another. This blogging emphasis has been sparked by my reading of Extreme Righteousness: Seeing Ourselves in the Pharisees. Rightly so, the author wraps up his book by taking us to a key New Testament passage of Scripture in order to direct our attention to six keys to unlock the prison of self-righteousness that, ultimately, if not repented of, reveals the absence of true salvation.

Since our justification is based upon a righteousness outside of ourselves–the righteousness of Jesus Christ (2 Cor 5:21)–genuine conversion requires the relinquishing of confidence in any righteousness of our own. That is the apostle Paul’s main point in his own conversion testimony, which we find in Philippians 3:7-9. Let’s look at the whole context.

Read Philippians 3. Then think through these 6 exhortations.

  1. Beware of false religion. God’s spokesmen–the prophets, apostles, and Christ himself–have always opposed those who added to the gospel or externalized religion (v. 2)
  2. Forsake any confidence in the flesh. Religious acts will not get us to God before or after our spiritual salvation (vv. 3-6).
  3. Recognize your spiritual wealth. In Christ we have our only eternal asset. We must guard and cherish our relationship with Him (vv. 7-9).
  4. Develop your love relationship with Jesus. We know Him better by spending time with Him and experiencing life as He did (vv. 9-11).
  5. Pursue Christ passionately to know Him deeply. Like an athlete in a race, we are to be active in seeking to deepen our relationship with Jesus (vv. 12-16).
  6. Avoid the pull of the world to libertinism. We must be careful not to overreact to legalism by embracing license, as the world does (vv. 17-21).

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