In my last post I referenced Paul’s perspective and how it kept him from a relationship with Jesus and intimacy with Him. So what actually was his perspective? As Saul, prior to his conversion he tells us that he was a Pharisee.
5 circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; Philippians 3:5 (NKJV)
The basic meaning of the word Pharisee is a ‘separated one.’ The sect of the Pharisees arose after the Jews returned to Babylon under Nehemiah and Ezra. They were people who sought holiness through separating themselves from things that did not accord with Godliness.
After his conversion Paul seems to use a play on words to still describe himself as a Pharisee but a Pharisee of a different sort.
1 Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God Romans 1:1 (NKJV)
A Pharisee in Jesus day identified himself by what he was separated from. After his conversion Paul identified himself by what he was separated to – a very critical distinction.
What does this mean for us? As Christians we are not called to define ourselves by what we are not (Jesus said we would be known by our love). Think of a marriage. Would it make sense if I provided a long list of women and said to my wife I am a good husband because I don’t love all of these other women? No! While some odd people may believe me, I know that what my wife wants to know is that I love her, not that I don’t love others.
If you want to make this spiritual shift with Jesus make the prayer below your own.
25 O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. 26 And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” John 17:25-26 (NKJV)
This comes at the end of what is referred to as Jesus High Priestly Prayer before He goes to Gethsemane and the cross. A way to make it our own is to pray something like, “Jesus You said You would reveal the Father’s name to us, that You would unveil His character. Jesus I ask that by the touch of Your Spirit upon my heart You would enable me to love You the way Your Father, and my Father loves You.”
In my next post I will look at what humility means and how it opens the door for His love to flood and transform our hearts.