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Jesus warns me about hypocrisy. It is a serious problem. Being a religious elite leads to all kinds of errors. All my acting will be exposed. Nothing will be hid from the light that Jesus shines in my life. Jesus is clear that I can’t get away with duplicitous talk. Never! Not at all.

Jesus is serious! Hypocrisy is a very big deal. My job is get a handle on this or else it will spread like a cancer in my life. That leads to death.

Meanwhile, a crowd of many thousands came together, so that they were trampling on one another. He began to say to his disciples first, “Be on your guard against the yeast [leaven] of the religious elites [Pharisees], which is hypocrisy. There is nothing covered that won’t be uncovered, nothing hidden that won’t be made known. Therefore, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in an ear in private rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops.” | Luke 12:1-3 (Christian Standard Bible)

Here are some key ideas:

  1. The word hypocrite comes from a Greek word that means “an actor,” “one who plays a part.”
    1. There are hypocrites in every walk of life, people who try to impress others in order to hide their real selves. In the discipleship life, a hypocrite is somebody who tries to appear more spiritual than he or she really is.
    2. These people know that they are pretending, and they hope they will not be found out. Their life in Jesus is only a shallow masquerade.
  2. It is easy to see why Jesus gave this warning at this particular time. The disciples might be tempted either to gain popularity by pleasing the crowds, or avoid trouble by pleasing the religious elites (scribes and Pharisees). All of us want people to like us, and it seems such an easy thing to “act the part” that others want to see.
  3. How can we keep hypocrisy out of our lives?
    1. We must understand what hypocrisy really is. Jesus compared it to leaven (yeast), something that every Jew would associate with evil. Paul also used leaven to symbolize sin.)
    2. Like yeast, hypocrisy begins very small but grows quickly and quietly.
    3. As it grows, it infects the whole person. Hypocrisy does to the ego what yeast does to bread dough: it puffs it up. Soon pride takes over and the person’s character deteriorates rapidly.
  4. If we want to keep hypocrisy out of our lives, we must avoid that first bit of “leaven.” Once we start to pretend, the process goes on quickly; and the longer we wait, the worse it gets. Sir Walter Scott wrote: “O what a tangled web we weave When first we practice to deceive.”
  5. Hypocrisy is foolish and futile. Why?
    1. Because nothing can really be hidden. Jesus referred here primarily to His own teachings, but the principle applies to other areas of life.
    2. The Twelve might be tempted to cover or compromise the truth so that neither the crowds nor the elites would be offended. God’s truth is like light, not leaven, and it must not be hidden.
    3. The lies of the hypocrite will one day be revealed, so why go on pretending? Let your light shine!
  6. There is good news! We are learners (disciples) of the Way of Jesus. The power of the Holy Spirit helps us to grow the fruit that leads to life. We are new creations. The power of hypocrisy is broken in our lives.


  1. Christian Standard Bible. (2017). (Lk 12:1–59). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
  2. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, p. 219). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.