The Pharisee of Today

by Dr. Ken Matto

(Luke 18:11 KJV) The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.

In today’s verse we see a typical Pharisee who prays to God about all his wonderful attributes and then compares himself to the poor sinful publican. He then revels in the fact that he is not of the low caliber that this publican was because the publican was a tax collector and probably he had kept a large amount for himself. In ancient Rome, if you were a tax collector, they gave you a certain amount of taxes to collect and once you made that quota, they didn’t care how much you pilfered from the people. This is why tax collectors were hated back then. The Pharisee was proud that he wasn’t like that publican. He was telling God in a prayer how good he was. However, in this instance, the Bible teaches us that that kind of praying, is not to God but to himself. He sang the praises of himself to himself. He tried to gain the favor of God by using “manipulative praying.”

Let us not look at this Pharisee and condemn him for what he did because Christians use this technique many times, and when they do, they are praying to themselves. Remember, there is nothing new under the sun. (Eccl 1:10 KJV) Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us. What do I mean by manipulative praying? It is the effort of the Christian to bypass the written word of God and pray for or against something that God has already revealed in His word. If God makes a declaration of something in Scripture and the Christian doesn’t like it, they just bypass it and do what they want, simply because they have made a few prayers and think that justified their actions. The most dangerous type of sin in the believer’s life is the “justified sin.”

A good example of this are those Christians who are divorced and then justify their remarriage simply because they say a few prayers, get counsel from ignorant Christians, and from a church leader who would probably forget where the church is if he didn’t carry around the bulletin in his car. I have come across many Christians who think because they pray it is okay to fulfill their sinful desires. How much plainer can God be in these verses?

(Mark 10:11-12 KJV) And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. {12} And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.

(Luke 16:18 KJV) Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.

(1 Cor 7:39 KJV) The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.

(Rom 7:2-3 KJV) For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. {3} So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.

What part of these verses are so difficult to understand? If a person is praying to marry a divorced person or if a person is divorced and praying to re-marry, then they are praying with themselves. God is not going to make any exceptions to His rules about marriage and divorce, no matter who they are. I remember a minister friend of mine about 20 years ago was divorced and he wanted to remarry and I spoke with him about it and he gave no credence to what I said, in fact he told me that he thinks it is better this way, that he marry. I have lost many friends over this issue simply because I quote the above verses. Another friend of mine who called me up and said that he was getting married, thought I would be happy for him. I was until he told me that she was divorced. Needless to say, I haven’t heard from him since!

Why is it we can look at everybody’s sin but when it comes to us, it is automatically a justified situation. Now let us apply this principle to any sinful situation. Should you pray about going into business with an unbeliever? Should you pray about opening your business on Sunday? Should you pray about working every Sunday if it is voluntary? Of course we shouldn’t pray for these things because they are written in Scripture. If God mentions something in Scripture, we need not even pray about it because we already have our answer. The problem is, if it is an answer we don’t like, then we bypass the Scripture and go to the Christian back up, to ask our friends!

Prayer is never to be used as a manipulative device. Notice what God says in the following verse. (James 4:3 KJV) Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Any time we pray about something that God has already spoken on in Scripture, it is an attempt to manipulate God to see it our way. Do we honestly think that we will succeed? If we go ahead with our sinful plans, do we actually think God is obligated to bless? NO! God does not bless anyone’s sin and that includes Christians. The next time you pray about something, you better check it out in Scripture to see if God has already spoken on the subject. If He has, you have your answer and if you disobey, you will face the consequences of your actions. (2 Sam 12:10 KJV) Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife. Whenever we set aside the law of God to our own sinful benefit, we then become judges of the law.  (8/29/03)