"'And we are witnesses of these things and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.' But when [the Pharisees] heard this they were cut to the quick and were intending to slay [the apostles]." -- Acts 5:32-33From the Pharisees point of view, these apostles were cheeky beyond all measure. Imagine inferring that they had not obeyed God! Why, they obeyed him perfectly in all matters of the law. How dare anyone suggest otherwise? As for this Jesus fellow, he had broken the Sabbath countless times, so who was he to parade himself as a paragon of virtue? So what that he had healed even someone born blind? The fact was he did not keep the law and the traditions and thus was beyond the pale, beyond listening to. The only thing he was fit for was destruction lest he turn the people away to his blasphemous and disobedient ways.
The fact was that the Pharisees were beyond reasonable argument. They had pushed God too far and he had washed his hands of them, giving them in full the blindness they had tried so hard to attain and maintain. Only to one or two had he shown any mercy.
The apostles on the other hand had no illusions about their own self-importance or their own ability to keep the law or their ability to please God by their own efforts. They had been thorough-going sinners and knew it -- why else would Peter in Luke 5.8 tell Jesus to depart from him? They knew only too well where they had been and where they stood before God and knew that their only hope was in Jesus, who alone could set them free from sin, from death, and indeed from themselves. The apostles were repenting and believing. They were sane, fully aware of who they were, where they had come from and where they were going.
The Pharisees, by contrast, were spiritually insane.
And yet how easy it is to become just as spiritually insane. How easy it is to be deluded by self, social system and Satan. How easy it is to get wound up in a whole bunch of rules that end up attempting to substitute for wholehearted obedience to God.
I need to be on guard always, watching lest I fall into the same insanity that afflicted and ultimately destroyed the Pharisees.