“For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge”

// 2 Peter 1:5

What is more heinous than moral excellence or virtue that isn’t rooted in the experience of its source, God Himself? What creates more judgment and criticism than when we take the moral high ground but haven’t any true experience of being in the shoes of others and the compassion which that brings? When we have a morality that is unhinged from the experience of God’s goodness, we simply end up with religiosity, with a Pharisaical attitude and spirit.
In other words, any emphasis on moral excellence or virtuousness that isn’t rooted in an experience of His heart runs the risk of going the way of the Pharisee: Jesus rebuked them for knowing the door to the kingdom but both not entering it themselves and also blocking the way for others to enter. When we are moral or virtuous, but not experienced in the fountainhead of that morality – the heart of the Father – then we could become a Pharisee, and who aspires to be one of those?

So what does God do? He, by the Spirit, grants to us experiences that bridge the gap between His goodness as character and His goodness as heartfelt encounters. Dreams, visions, impressions, prophetic experiences, ‘knowings’, and encounters with God’s love and heart – these are the things the Spirit gives us, to counter our tendency to become Pharisees. And since Jesus asserted that the Father is looking for worshipers who worship in spirit and truth (‘reality’ is an alternate translation), we must understand and be receptive to these encounters when the Holy Spirit gives them. To put it more forcefully, because they are our insurance policy against Pharisaism, we should proactively ask for them! No one wants to become a Pharisee, so we must pursue the growth of our hearts over and against the growth of our heads. We need encounters with God’s heart that insure we stay heartfelt and sincere in our love for the truth, rather than just becoming moral, ethical, (self-) righteous, judgmental, and hypocritical.

Yes, hypocritical! Morality without compassion breeds hypocrisy, and it keeps us from being those who make our truth a reality. We can only worship, in truth or sincerely, what we’ve experience in the spirit realm, from the Spirit. God the Spirit lives in our hearts and He alone fully knows the heart of the Father, therefore we must seek from Him encounters that connect our heart to the reality that is in God the Father’s: love, compassion, gentleness, mercy and good fruits.

Experiential knowledge of God’s heart is our insurance policy against hypocrisy and religiosity. We shouldn’t despise prophetic experiences or heartfelt encounters, as Paul warned [see 1 Thessalonians 5:20], lest we go the way of a Pharisee – and this warning came from the chief Pharisee of them all, Paul.

// Samuel Nicolosi