In a recent article for, Brandon Cox writes: “A pulpit characterized by negativity and belligerence will draw a moderately sized crowd of masochists who draw energy to go on another day by being beaten up spiritually. But it won’t make Jesus-like, craveable disciples. So use them at your own risk.

How do you preach like a Pharisee?

1. Preach Your Opinions Instead of the Absolute Truth of Scripture
Exalting your own opinions about extra-biblical issues as though obedience to them is equivalent to obeying Scripture is dangerous. It creates the very burdens on the backs of people Jesus came to remove. It also hurts the trust of your hearers.

Consider my hero W.A. Criswell, who once promoted segregation as a biblical mandate, only to repent and change his policy later. His opinion about a cultural issue caused many to question his credibility. Thankfully, he had such a high respect for the authority of Scripture that he changed course, publicly and with apology. Besides, you’re probably wrong more than you think you are.

2. Promote Moralism over Grace-Based Living
Your role is to present biblical truth, allowing the Holy Spirit to transform the lives of your hearers with the power of God’s revelation. Your role is not to make people behave.

Repentance has to do with changing the mind and belief system so behaviors follow, but when we promote better behavior, we put the cart before the horse and fail to exalt the grace that enables us to live differently.

3. Make People Feel Guilty Enough to Make Short-term Commitments
Guilt is a terrible motivator. Yes, we sinners must come to grips with our sin by means of the conviction of the Holy Spirit, but it is the Holy Spirit’s job to bring that conviction. I can get people to give more money, sign up to serve in a ministry or go share the gospel by making them feel guilty about not giving or doing enough.

Or I can empower them to give, serve and share by inspiring them with hope.

God dangles rewards in front of us in eternity as motivation for action rather than feelings of guilt over our sinful past. I owe Him everything, but He doesn’t remind me of that. He simply challenges me to go forward in hope and for the pure enjoyment of Him and His grace.” (Click to read the full article.)

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