In just a few short, easy steps you too can learn how to read your Bible like a bona fide Pharisee! “Why would I want such a thing?” you ask. Trust me – life is just easier when you read the Bible like a professional.
First, it’ll help if you generally think you know better than Jesus. In fact, you should probably accuse him of doing funky things with God’s Word.
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. (Mt. 5:17)
Second, focus on the hyper-literal. The law of God is so oppressive…it helps if you can relax it a little by being super literal about it. God says “Don’t kill.” Great! We haven’t ended anyone’s life today, we must be doing okay.
You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment… (Mt. 5:21-22)
Third, focus on the external and not the internal. God’s law is super easy to keep if you don’t worry about the spiritual, heart stuff. No one sees that stuff anyway. Haven’t cheated on your wife yet? Great! You’re clear.
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Mt. 5:27-28)
Fourth, just pick the parts you like the best; ignore those things that prove you wrong. You want to get divorced? Keep poking around the Bible to find everything it says about divorce while ignoring all those verses about how much God loves marriage. This one gets easier the more you do it.
And the Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, ‘Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?’ He answered, ‘Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.’ (Mt. 19:3-5)
Fifth, fun with logic! You’re a smart guy (or gal), you can figure out a way to make the Bible say something you want it to say. Want to sound honest but keep your fingers crossed behind your back? Then swear by the temple and not the gold of the temple…that’s an oath you don’t have to keep. Don’t ask us why. We’re smarter than the suckers trying to be honest all the time.
Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple he is bound by his oath.’ You blind fools! (Mt. 23:16-17)
Six, pick a verse and run with it…ignore the context to your heart’s delight. You know that verse: “eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth”? Sure, the context shows that it’s a verse give to guide civil judges to prevent a culture of revenge, but imagine how much fun you could have if you made it your own personal motto! You’re not a judge? Ignore that context and starting revengin’!
You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. (Mt. 5:38-39)
Finally, if there’s something you wish was in the Bible but isn’t, just add it! Remember, you’re in charge here…your wish is the Bible’s command. Wish there was a verse justifying your hateful spirit? Just add it, no one will know anyway.
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. (Mt. 5:43-44)
That’s it, friend. Take that Bible and make it yours. Add to it. Subtract from it. Wiggle out from the uncomfortable parts. Bend it until it vindicates everything about you.
The only difference is heaven and hell.