Generation of Vipers!

Matthew 23:31-33, “Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets.  Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers! how can ye escape the damnation of hell?”

Pounding the final nail into His own coffin, Jesus ended His denunciation of the Pharisees by telling them that by their own words they have proved that they are indeed the children of those who had killed the Old Testament prophets;  not just children by lineage, but children of the heart. They were the same as their fathers and their fathers before them.

“Go ahead, then,” He said, “and fulfill your hearts’ desires to be just like your fathers, you snakes, you vipers, because you will not escape the damnation of hell!”

In using such strong words, Jesus made it clear that the men He addressed had no knowledge of true faith; that they were unbelievers with evil hearts, that they would fulfill their goal of putting Him to death, and they would not escape their own fate in hell.

The woes He pronounced are finished, but He still has some important words for this angry, self-righteous bunch of blind leaders of the blind. It’s almost as if He wanted to leave no chance at all that they would fail to seek some means of killing Him.

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12 thoughts on “Generation of Vipers!

  1. Shirl

    “… and they would not escape their own fate in hell.” Thankfully some pharisees did “escape” hell, Paul being the most prominent. The New Testament would have less books if he hadn’t. So there is hope for even the worst of the worst.

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    1. Yes, there is hope. The good news is that when a Pharisaical person is truly born of the Spirit, the Phariseeism goes away. It can be a process, but it happens. We need to guard our own hearts against Phariseeism.

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  2. Shirl

    So a pretty good definition of pharisee back then was “The Pharisees came from the scribes. They were a particular sect of Judaism that was ardent students of the law, they took the position as the teachers of the law (an assignment God gave the Levites). They were known as “the separatists.” They called themselves Haberim in the language of the Mishna it means one who is associated with the law, observe it strictly in opposition to Hellenism. They kept all the written and oral laws and added 1500 more laws. They used the Hebrew and Aramaic writings. They believed in the supernatural, angels and demons, an afterlife and a bodily resurrection.” So what would be an accurate definition of a pharisee today?

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    1. Shirl, I think that depends upon what anyone sees as legalism. In my own definition, it is simply anyone who holds himself above others less knowledgeable, educated, erudite, or perfect at keeping every jot and tittle of the law, whatever his own view of that law is. I think that today, Phariseeism is more a state of mind than actual activities. If we think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think; if we insist that everyone else MUST believe, act, think, perform as we do; if we add to what God has spoken in His Word, believing that we have have special knowledge that others have missed all these centuries, those things are all Pharisaical. The prime example in God’s Word is the Pharisee who stood arrayed in all his rich clothing, praying loudly in public and thanking God that he wasn’t like the poor wretched guy in the corner who was a lot less important than he was.

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  3. Anne

    Wow, is this ever worth repeating and quoting:

    “If we think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think; if we insist that everyone else MUST believe, act, think, perform as we do; if we add to what God has spoken in His Word, believing that we have have special knowledge that others have missed all these centuries, those things are all Pharisaical.”

    I have heard Pharisaical aimed at me more times than I can count. It seems being a little more conservative will always earn you that label whether you have an attitude about your conservatism or not. I am so weary of the mockery of those that for whatever reason (conscience, own stage at understanding scripture, etc) have more restrictions or boundaries in their own life in an effort to please God as best as they can. And so? I finally realized…that though there may be much Pharisaical tendencies among certain branches of Christianity…it can happen to ALL branches. When ANY branch or individual of any persuasion (restrictive OR less restrictive) insists and/or belittles other branches or individuals…in their own way “adding to what God has spoken”…or insisting on what we shouldn’t insist for our own lives…who knows where our haughtiness will lead us where we never intended to go with our “liberty” or “weaker conscience”.

    Pharisaism is indeed “more a state of mind than actual activities”..insisting that our activities or lack thereof, our rules or lack thereof, are the one true or better way, etc. It’s just time a more healthy benevolent, deferential spirit arises in Christianity knowing that we are each accountable in the end to God alone.

    Did I say “Amen” to your post and comments, yet? 🙂

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    1. Anne, you are always an encouragement to me 🙂

      It seems to me that those who love to hurl “Pharisee” at others are just as guilty. One of the prime features of Phariseeism is hypocrisy. Clean on the outside, dirty on the inside. Only God can truly judge the heart. I look for a Pharisaical attitude only in my own heart. That gives me more than enough to deal with!

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  4. Shirl

    Anne, I totally agree with you. It seems the more serious you become about the things of God the more you are label a pharisee. Like Linda said it is truly a state of mind and heart. When our inside (heart attitude) is truly as clean as the outside (not saying we’re always perfect) then we have nothing to worry about. Linda, did my last post come through, I don’t see it. Maybe I forgot to hit post.

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      1. Shirl

        I was just asking if the statement you made, “..if we insist that everyone else MUST believe, act, think, perform as we do” if that does not pretty much describe most churches today. If you don’t beleive EXACTLY as the doctrinal statement says, and it happens to be more “radical”, you’re seen as a pharisee, even if you’re not pushing it on others. If we differ on interpretation of scripture does that make me a pharisee to the one I differ with, or them to me? It shouldn’t. People really can’t help what their convictions are, but sometimes just living them without saying a word gets you labeled as a pharisee. And I agree with Anne, I am also weary of the mockery of those who just love God more than this world and aren’t afraid to live it.

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      2. Again, a lot depends upon attitude. And I think we need to be careful about dismissing the church , which IS God’s plan for this age, just because the very human people IN the church don’t always behave well. I’ve heard all the arguments, all the bad experiences, all the hypocrisy, all the self-righteousness ets. an infinitum, and I don’t really want to start the discussion here. If we avoid the church, then we’re making our own plans for what God has already established. That’s dangerous territory. It is our job to make sure own behavior and attitudes are in line with scripture, and not worrying about putting other people under the microscope. Jesus clearly said that even the very gates of hell will not prevail against the church. I’m not about to try to mess with that.

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  5. Anne

    “Only God can truly judge the heart. I look for a Pharisaical attitude only in my own heart. That gives me more than enough to deal with!”

    and, Shirl,

    “When our inside (heart attitude) is truly as clean as the outside (not saying we’re always perfect) then we have nothing to worry about.”

    Better and better. Thank you both. I really needed this chat. I feel quite revived knowing you both are out there 🙂

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    1. Shirl

      Linda, i am not dismissing the church, just sharing from experience. I long to be part of a church but with Dan’s issues it’s hard. And yes attitude does have a lot to do with it. The problem today is that we have very little spiritual fellowship with people that we really never truly know their heart. What sounds like a bad attitude to one may just be a lack of communication skills. The more we fellowship with each other the more we learn each other’s quirks. The whole “don’t judge a book by its cover” thing.

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