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Are you a modern day pharisee?

In 2013, Barna Research ( published a study titled Christians: More Like Jesus or Pharisees? The result was a bit mind blowing, as 51% of those interviewed, who self-identified as a Christian had the attitudes and actions of a Pharisee.

Before we delve into the study, let’s remind ourselves who the Pharisees were. In the days of Jesus, they were a highly religious Jewish sect who studied and taught the Torah (what we know as the Old Testament). The Apostle Paul was a Pharisee, before Jesus appeared to and blinded him. These were the religious leaders of that time.

Okay, back to the study. Here are the statements that those interviewed were asked to respond to on a four-point scale:


  • I tell others the most important thing in my life is following God’s rules.

  • I don’t talk about my sins or struggles. That’s between me and God.

  • I try to avoid spending time with people who are openly gay or lesbian.

  • I like to point out those who do not have the right theology or doctrine.

  • I prefer to serve people who attend my church rather than those outside the church.

  • I listen to others to learn their story before telling them about my faith.

  • In recent years, I have influenced multiple people to consider following Christ.

  • I regularly choose to have meals with people with very different faith or morals from me.

  • I try to discover the needs of non-Christians rather than waiting for them to come to me.

  • I am personally spending time with non-believers to help them follow Jesus.


  • I find it hard to be friends with people who seem to constantly do the wrong things.

  • It’s not my responsibility to help people who won’t help themselves.

  • I feel grateful to be a Christian when I see other people’s failures and flaws.

  • I believe we should stand against those who are opposed to Christian values.

  • People who follow God’s rules are better than those who do not.

  • I see God-given value in every person, regardless of their past or present condition.

  • I believe God is for everyone.

  • I see God working in people’s lives, even when they are not following him.

  • It is more important to help people know God is for them than to make sure they know they are sinners.

  • I feel compassion for people who are not following God and doing immoral things.

In each group, the first five are the self-righteous actions and attitudes of the Phraisee and the last 5 are the actions and attitudes like Jesus. So, how did you do? Are you more like Jesus or more like the Pharisees?


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