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Be better than the Pharisees

Rev Enoch Thompson | JANUARY 31, 2023 | MATTHEW 5:17-20


"For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:20 (NIV)


BE BETTER THAN THE PHARISEES! What a shock to the disciples who heard these words from the Master. The Lord Jesus has just been telling the disciples that they are the salt and light of the world, and now He tells them they must be and do better than the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, the champions of Jewish religious doctrine and practice.

The scribes were the teachers of the Law, and the Pharisees were the chief practitioners of the Jewish religion. It was believed among the Jews that the Pharisees were the closest to God in view of their insistence on their understanding of what constituted righteousness, and how they kept to it, even though it deviated from what God intended.

The Pharisees had something to their advantage; they stressed on ceremonial cleanliness, they fasted regularly and prayed regularly too. They were concerned about keeping the ceremonies that God gave to Moses, and their colleagues the scribes stressed on the teaching of the law of Moses and the teachings of the prophets.

However, there was much that the Lord Jesus found unacceptable in them; their religion was only external without an inward power, they gave their tithes regularly and with exactness, but they did not give their hearts to God to work in it and through it the compassion, mercy and love which reflect the loving just nature of God. They loved the praise of people and did their religious practices to attract such praise, while they did not seek, nor did they have the praise of God. They had confidence in their religious works as the bases of their favour with God and therefore downplayed the grace of God by which alone anyone can stand before God.

Disciples of the Lord Jesus must avoid the wrongs of the Pharisees. Disciples of Christ must be better, do better, and also do more than the hollow superficial Scribes and Pharisees.


How do you measure up in the scales against the scribes and Pharisees? Can we move away from the attitude of the scribes and Pharisees, and be better learners, teachers and practitioners of the Word of God? You must surpass the Pharisees in religious practice, and surpass the scribes in Bible knowledge!


Lord, save me from blind religion that is merely external, seeks the praise of humans and fails to demonstrate the love and mercies of God. May I grow in my knowledge of the Word of God, Lord please make me more than a scribe. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.



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The Baptist Daily Devotional is a collection of God-inspired messages that will help you grow in your faith and walk with Christ. Each day, you will find a scripture passage, a reflection, a prayer and a challenge to apply God's word to your life. The devotional is written by pastors and leaders of the Ghana Baptist Convention, who share their insights and experiences from serving God in various contexts and ministries. For example, you will learn how to trust God in times of trouble, how to share the gospel with others, how to pray effectively, how to deal with temptation, how to handle conflict and more. Whether you are a new believer or a mature Christian, the Baptist Daily Devotional will inspire you, encourage you and equip you to live for God's glory.
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