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Jesus is clear. Jesus detests hypocrites. Jesus calls it out all the time. My contempt allows me to ignore its reality in my life. I must change my mind (aka repent). My nature, along with all of us, is one that is fallen and I constantly miss God’s goal (aka sin). I try to cover that up by appearing to be a good person. I am not.

Master Jesus , the anointed King and Messiah, Son of God,

have mercy on me, a sinner!

There is good news. Jesus came to redeem me from this spiral of hypocrisy. I have the Spirit of God producing fruit in my life.

During Jesus’ earthly ministry, He had many run-ins with the religious elites of the day, the Scribes and Pharisees. These men were well versed in the Scriptures and zealous about following every letter of the Law (Acts 26:5). What would Jesus say today?

  • In adhering to the letter of the Law, they actively sought loopholes that allowed them to violate the spirit of the Law.
  • The religious elites displayed a lack of compassion toward their fellow man and were often overly demonstrative of their so-called spirituality in order to garner praise (Matthew 23:5–7; Luke 18:11).
  • Jesus denounced their behavior in no uncertain terms, pointing out that “justice, mercy, and faithfulness” are more important than pursuing a perfection based on faulty standards (Matthew 23:23).
  • Jesus made it clear that the problem was not with the Law but the way in which the Pharisees implemented it (Matthew 23:2-3).

Today, the word pharisee has become synonymous with hypocrite. Translate it to the current religious elites. Some current day religious leaders (but not all by any means) are hypocrites. Warning! Beware!

  • The prophet Isaiah condemned the hypocrisy of his day: “The Master says, ‘These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men’” (Isaiah 29:13).
  • Centuries later, Jesus quoted this verse, aiming the same condemnation at the religious leaders of His day (Matthew 15:8-9).
  • John the Baptist refused to give hypocrites a pass, telling them to produce “fruits worthy of changing how we think (aka repentance).” (Luke 3:8).
  • Jesus took an equally staunch stand against sanctimony.
  • He called hypocrites
    • “wolves in sheep’s clothing” (Matthew 7:15)
    • “whitewashed tombs” (Matthew 23:27)
    • “snakes,” and “brood of vipers” (Matthew 23:33).

Hypocrisy — When deeds do not match words. Hypocrisy is an outward pretense masking an inner reality. Jesus condemns hypocrisy, especially in matters of faith. Followers of Jesus should express their commitment to God in their words and their deeds, as well as in their inner motivation. There should always be alignment of the heart, the mind and our actions.

The Greek word is ὑποκριτής (hupŏkritēs, hoop-ok-ree-tace) meaning  an actor under an assumed character (stage-player), i.e. a dissembler and hypocrite.

  • Isaiah 29:13  — Then the Master said, “Because this people draw near with their words And honor Me with their lip service, but they remove their hearts far from Me, and their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote.”
  • Matthew 15:7–8  — “You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you: ‘This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far away from Me.'”
  • Proverbs 26:24–26  — He who hates disguises it with his lips, But he lays up deceit in his heart. When he speaks graciously, do not believe him, For there are seven abominations in his heart. Though his hatred covers itself with guile, His wickedness will be revealed before the assembly.
  • Jeremiah 9:8  — “Their tongue is a deadly arrow; It speaks deceit; With his mouth one speaks peace to his neighbor, but inwardly he sets an ambush for him.”
  • Jeremiah 12:2  — You have planted them, they have also taken root; They grow, they have even produced fruit. You are near to their lips but far from their mind.
  • Ezekiel 33:31  —  “They come to you as people come, and sit before you as My people and hear your words, but they do not do them, for they do the lustful desires expressed by their mouth, and their heart goes after their gain.
  • Matthew 23:28  — “So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”
  • Romans 2:17–24  — But if you bear the name “Jew” and rely upon the Law and boast in God, and know His will and approve the things that are essential, being instructed out of the Law, and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of the immature, having in the Law the embodiment of knowledge and of the truth, you, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that one shall not steal, do you steal? You who say that one should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the Law, through your breaking the Law, do you dishonor God? For “the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,” just as it is written.
  • James 2:14–26  — What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God. You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.
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