By Jack Glover
Jesus used the word hypocrisy often. He used it in reference to the scribes and Pharisees as recorded in Matthew 23 for several of their doctrines and actions. They were deceptive to the point of not only leading others astray, but themselves also. Notice some of Jesus’ condemnations:
- “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive greater condemnation.”
- “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.”
- “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, that is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple is obligated.’ You fools and blind men! Which is more important, the gold or the temple that sanctified the gold? And, ‘Whoever swears by the altar, that is nothing, but whoever swears by the offering on it, he is obligated.’ You blind men, which is more important, the offering, or the altar that sanctifies the offering? Therefore, whoever swears by the altar, swears both by the altar and by everything on it. And whoever swears by the temple, swears both by the temple and by Him who dwells within it. And whoever swears by heaven, swears both by the throne of God and by Him who sits upon it.”
- “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!”
- “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also.”
- “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”
Hypocrisy is a big danger in the church today. As in the days of Jesus it is easy to deceive ourselves. We profess to serve Christ yet ignore some of His most basic teachings.
Concerning our actions, Jesus said: “But there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known. Accordingly, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in the inner rooms will be proclaimed upon the housetops” (Luke 12:2-3).
Hypocrisies are listed among things that we are to put away while seeking the spiritual milk (I Pet. 2:1). The wisdom that is from above is without hypocrisy (James 3:17). Our love is to be without hypocrisy (Rom. 12:9). Hypocrites are said to have a beam in their eyes, which makes them unfair judges (Matt. 7:5). Those who allow their traditions to rule are said to be hypocrites (Mark 7:8-9).
The above passages and many others define hypocrisy, and the message to us is that hypocrites do not please God. They have a destiny that none of us want (Luke 24:51).
Hypocrisy in the church comes in many forms. We must be aware it exists, many times knowingly. We face false teachers who know they are false teachers, as well as brethren who cannot get along and speak evil of one another. Others have deceived themselves into believing what they want to believe on certain subjects.
Make your own applications, first to yourself (remember the beam) and then to others. Jesus described the scribes and Pharisees as being “like concealed tombs, and the people who walk over them are unaware of it” (Luke 11:44). The big problem with hypocrisy is its deception of both the hypocrite and those they teach. If we do not see the danger, then we will not deal with it, and deal with it we must.
The prophecy of Isaiah was true in his time, and unfortunately still holds true in many cases: “This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me. But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men” (Matt. 15:8-9).
Let us be aware!