It is a situation as a true believer today that you can’t avoid in the church. The modern day Pharisee. It could be a man or woman and they come from all types of backgrounds and social status. These are those that are such busybodies in the church floating around with nothing better to do than to try to tear apart the body of Christ for their own satisfaction. In psychology this could be defined as a type of sadism, that is, gaining pleasure or fulfillment in causing or seeing others in pain. An interesting article here gives some interesting explanation: https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/in-the-name-love/200901/why-are-we-pleased-others-misfortune
Over these past few years there is a reoccurring theme that I have seen in many churches and organizations and that is that they do not know how to handle conflict in the church biblically. So let’s take some time to go through our guidebook on conflict resolution (the Bible) and see what it says.
“Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses.” (1 Timothy 5:19, KJV)
Paul here warns against anyone whether church members, pastors, deacons etc. about even receiving an accusation against an elder. If you didn’t know who an elder is, it simply means and refers to any mature individual in the faith and does not necessarily have to relate to physical age. What are the qualifications for even listening to an accusation against an elder? Two or three witnesses were the requirement. Let’s take this back to the Pharisees and the time of Jesus.
“Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death;” (Matthew 26:59, KJV)
As we see here in the scripture, even in Jesus’ time they were not able to just come with false accusations against Jesus. The had to have those to come and bear witness, or false witness at the least. However, in modern churches today it is rampant practice that Christians allow false witness to be not only received without witness or evidence to prove the matter, but then take it a step further to add to the damage by becoming complicit in the accusation and outcome. We need to learn and apply biblical principles in order to prevent dishonoring Christ and His body the Church.
To give a real world example, there was a high profile case years ago where three Duke lacrosse players were accused of raping a young girl at a fraternity party. Immediately, the whole world had already tried and convicted these young men for committing a heinous crime such as rape, as well as a hate crime. Later, after proven inconsistencies were found in the testimony as well as fraud from the prosecutor who was later disbarred, these students were proven non guilty. However, do you think the damage was already done to their names and reputation? This is a high form of evil that takes place in the church today using the malicious power of the tongue and by the spirit of the Pharisee.
“You shall not circulate a false report. Do not put your hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness. You shall not follow a crowd to do evil; nor shall you testify in a dispute so as to turn aside after many to pervert justice.” (Exodus 23:1-2, NKJV)
How should churches handle conflict and accusations? Well first of all, you should NEVER even receive a report from a third party without witnesses! But let’s take a step further, how are matters of conflict to be handled biblically? Jesus laid it out clearly in Matthew 18.
Step 1: “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.” (Matthew 18:15, KJV) This means that if someone has sinned against someone in some way, the person who was sinned against is supposed to go directly to the person in private who committed the offense.
Step 2: “But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.” (Matthew 18:16, KJV) This means that in private you did not win over your brother or sister for their sin against you. Now you are to take witnesses with you. There’s those pesky witnesses again. The Pharisees didn’t like the fact they needed witnesses because it made it very difficult to spread evil allegations and instead had to find false witnesses if they could. If the individual who was sinned against then takes valid witnesses in the charge against the offender then they are to try to win him/her over in repentance and forgiveness.
Step 3: Only after going to the offender in private, then going with two or three witnesses, and still not gaining your brother or sister are you to take your case to the church. This would be the local church with those directly involved. Notice also that these situations involve SIN. This does not mean that “I’m offended” in the sense that today’s world everyone in the world is “offended” about something. This is what we hear today in modern times and what could be labeled as “snowflake culture” or “cancel culture“.
Examples could be, “I can’t believe he is a Christian and supports Donald Trump when he is locking kids in cages at the border”, “The Pastor must be in some type of sin because he seems to be in a mood today”, “I am upset at the Pastor because he didn’t take action on the idea I shared with him”, “I am upset because they let Suzy do the Christmas decorations again this year at Church and I wanted to this year”, “Wow, this guy is such a redneck, our church is better than people like this”, “Wow, this person is so ghetto, do we really want people like this attending our church”, “It seems like he/she was looking down on me”. The list of complaints can go on forever. Unless a person is committing some sin as laid out clearly in the Bible our differences in personality, background, social status, culture, opinions, likes and dislikes ARE NOT sinful actions just because you disagree with it. It is a fact of life that there are going to be people you like and dislike, that you agree with and disagree with, that you feel you have things in common with and those you just can’t relate with. That is what makes the church so great is the diversity in personalities, backgrounds, skills, cultures and gifts. The church also needs this to reach the world that is full of the same. Trying to fit everyone into your box, play God, and create a following that only your ways and opinions are right are actually wrong. Jesus Christ, His Word, and His Way is what we follow not the word and ways of the modern day Pharisee.
“I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church. Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.” (3 John 9-11, KJV)
Here is another interesting passage from 3 John. 3 John is just one chapter and a greatly neglected book despite having so many great principles within. It speaks of well wishes towards those that are being faithful in ministry but also faithful to supporting missionaries and those traveling for the gospel. This is why we refer to 3 John on our own homepage. 3 John continues with a negative situation. A man name Diotrephes loved to be in the spotlight. Have you ever met someone like that in the church today? A brother or sister comes along with gifts or talents that exceed their own and instead working together for God’s glory they view the other brother or sister as a threat to their ministry, their position, or their salary? You could say that Diotrephes had the spirit of the Pharisee. He was speaking about the Apostles and other brother in a malicious way. However, he didn’t just stop there. Anyone that did decide that they wanted to support those he was against was also attacked and thrown out of the church. John very straightly says that this is evil!
“This man was taken of the Jews, and should have been killed of them: then came I with an army, and rescued him, having understood that he was a Roman. And when I would have known the cause wherefore they accused him, I brought him forth into their council: Whom I perceived to be accused of questions of their law, but to have nothing laid to his charge worthy of death or of bonds. And when it was told me how that the Jews laid wait for the man, I sent straightway to thee, and gave commandment to his accusers also to say before thee what they had against him. Farewell.” (Acts 27:27-30, KJV)
Even in this situation Paul was falsely accused by the “Spirit of Pharisees” from those of the religious Jews simply because Paul had his own beliefs and opinions. What was the result? To attack and tear Paul down to the extent that even when he was arrested it was still not good enough for them. Some of them took a vow not to eat until they had killed Paul. Praise God that he was able to learn of the scheme and praise God that the Roman captain listened to the threat against Paul. Where is the church today when there are fine brothers and sisters getting falsely accused by these evil modern day Pharisees with no evidence or witness?
Anything outside of these principles is evil and unbiblical. Why are those in church today not standing against these actions!? Because the church has largely grown apathetic and takes the position “it’s none of my business and I don’t want to get in the middle of it”. It any individual has allowed themselves to receive the false accusations to begin with then they have invited themselves into the situation. Where are the true saints that will stand through the situation for justice and truth in the matter?
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13, KJV)
Where are the brothers and sisters that will stand beside those who are facing false accusations and especially with those that are without witness or evidence? This is what I always have found amazing in these situations is that the focus tends to remain squarely on the one falsely accused without witnesses and not question the accuser.
“A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall not escape.” (Proverbs 19:5, KJV),
An evildoer listens to wicked lips, and a liar gives ear to a mischievous tongue. (Proverbs 17:4, ESV)
Are there no Pharisees in the church today? Are there no gossips? Are there no false prophets? Are there not wolves in sheep’s clothing? Must be nice to have found an unbiblical church like that today because it doesn’t exist. This is why all men and women of Christ need to understand these principles in order to keep the church strong and in unity for the glory of Christ.
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1, KJV)
Of course testing spirits is more about doctrine lining up with scripture than anything else but it is consistent with the theme that no man or woman of God should immediately entertain or believe something without checking the source for evidence, proof, or witness.
What happens when when there is no witnesses and evidence and the malicious accuser has been found to damage a person or a church, or an organization greatly? In that case now the false accuser is the one who has committed the sin against someone. How come those that have been involved to entertain the malicious gossip to begin with do not then join with the falsely accused to then confront and condemn the evil actions of this false accuser? No, instead what usually happens at that point is that instead of banding together to confront this evil tearing the Church apart we often hear “I don’t want to get involved” . How many friendships, partnerships, reputations, churches, ministries, and organizations have to be ruined until these Pharisees are satisfied? What about those who “Can’t get involved” despite entertaining the accusation? What happens with the modern day Pharisee attacks you? Will you want real brothers in sisters in your corner to confront this evil? What if you were in that situation and no one came to stand beside you and instead turned their back on you and said “Sorry, we can’t get involved and by the way we are going to have to distance ourselves from you”. That right there condemns an innocent individual and surely angers God. May be well warned. In conclusion, what is this all about? It is spiritual wickedness working in the hearts and minds of these people that cause the Spirit of the Pharisee.
And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? (1 Corinthians 3:1-3),
“But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:” (Matthew 15:18-19, KJV)
Are you offended? I sure hope not, but if you are you need to please take it up with God and search your own heart because I have presented these matters from a scriptural standpoint. We must continue to examine ourselves to become more and more like Christ everyday. It is not about me, it is not about you, it is about Christ and His plan to save this lost world from sin. It’s about us growing everyday to be more and more like Christ. It is to be His salt and light in the darkness. Everything else is living by the Spirit of the Pharisee.