And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.
You are those who justify yourselves. The Pharisees, although good and God-fearing, were also self-righteous hypocrites.
It would have been understandable for any Pharisee to have a high opinion of themselves because they were more devout and law-abiding than others. If our righteousness was based on the comparative performance of others, the Pharisees would have been the most righteous people around. But Jesus was not impressed (Matt. 5:20). Because he loved the Pharisees and didn’t want to see them lost, he spoke harshly to them about their self-righteousness (see entry for Luke 18:9).
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