Learning from Hypocrites
There are many great lesson we can learn from the righteous in the Bible and they are certainly worth following after but we can also learn many valuable lesson from the sinners of the Bible as well and that is exactly what we are going to be do be doing this morning as look at look at Hypocrites.
Hypocrite is defined this way: strictly actor, stage player; figuratively in the NT, as a moral or religious counterfeit hypocrite, pretender, dissembler
A Hypocrite is someone who pretends to be something that they are not and they have no intentions of becoming that which they pretend to be. We certainly have many examples of people like this in the Bible. But for our lesson this morning I want to focus primarily on Jesus speech to the rebellious Jews in Mat. 23. This was one the strongest rebukes that he spoke against them as he called them hypocrites 7 times, blind guides 5 times, fools 2 times and Serpents brood of vipers once.
Even though this chapter consist †of Jesus condemning these menís hypocrisy we can learn from where they failed and we can examine ourselves to see if we are playing the hypocrite. Let begin by looking at,
Matthew 23:1 Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples,† 2 saying: "The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat.† 3 "Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. †4 "For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.
The first thing we learn about these Jews is that they sit in Moses seat and they know what the law says and they have no problem teaching what is supposed to be done that is why Jesus tells them to observe what they teach. However since these Jews were hypocrites, they didnít practice what they preached. That is why Jesus tells them not to follow their works. This is exactly how a hypocrite works and unfortunately there are those who teach the Bible today who are exactly this same way because they will teach the truth and speak badly about those who do not keep it but they themselves will not follow their own teachings. I want you to notice the point that Paul makes to some Jews in,
Romans 2:17 Indeed you are called a Jew, and rest on the law, and make your boast in God,† 18 and know His will, and approve the things that are excellent, being instructed out of the law,† 19 and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness,† 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, having the form of knowledge and truth in the law.† 21 You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal?† 22 You who say, "Do not commit adultery," do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?† 23 You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law?† 24 For "the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you," as it is written. †
You see Paul didnít let these Jews get away with their hypocrisy because he was letting them know that they canít just preach that which is right they must also live that which is right and so if find yourself in this situation of where you proclaim righteous to others but you yourself do not live the righteous life then you are guilty of playing the hypocrite and a change needs to be made with in your life.
Another Characteristic of a hypocrite found in verse,
Matthew 23:5 "But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments.† 6 "They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues,† 7 "greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, 'Rabbi, Rabbi.'
Those who play the hypocrite are those who are self-centered and they think more about themselves and their own glory than they than do about others or God. You see it all about appearances because they want to appear one way to others but secretively they are rotten to the core. Notice how the things they do are pointed toward their own selfish desires as they always want the best for themselves. They wanted to the best seats in the synagogue which were reserved for the older men. They want to be called by special titles so that they can feed their ego.
You see the same characteristics in some Christians today because when they do something for Lord, they canít wait to tell everyone about it or they make sure their work can be seen by everyone. This is all done so they can receive the praise of others or get lots attention for themselves. We also see preachers in the denominations that call themselves by special titles like Reverend, Dr. or father such and such. All these things are condemned by Jesus because he wants his followers to be different as we see in,
Matthew 23:8 "But you, do not be called 'Rabbi'; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren.† 9 "Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.† 10 "And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ.† 11 "But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant.† 12 "And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
This is what Christianity is all about, being humble servants and esteeming others better than yourself as Paul says in,
Philippians 2:1 Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy,† 2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.† 3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.† 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.† 5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,
Now if we truly love God and we want to follow in Jesusí footsteps then we must learn to do what Paul had told us here because it is the only to keep ourselves from become a self-centered hypocrite. So, if we desire to honor Christ, we will respect his teaching and not use religious titles or expect special treatment but instead we will serve God and others with humility. I want to finish this point with what taught his disciples in,
Matthew 6:1"Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven.† 2 "Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.† 3 "But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,† 4 "that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.† 5 " And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.† 6 "But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.† 7 "And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.† 8 "Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.
Now Jesus is going to point out several more errors of these scribes and Pharisees.
Matthew 23:13 "But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.
The Pharisees should have
accepted Christ and been examples but they were not. Instead, they wanted to
hold fast to their hypocritical ways and allow their traditions to override the
word of God. In Mat 15 Jesus told these men that they had allowed their
traditions to override the word of God and that their teachings came from a heart
that was far removed from God. So we learn from this not to be hypocritical in
our teachings of God or to stand in the way of those who are trying to find the
truth. Its important that we teach Godís truth in such a way that it will save
us and those around us as
1 Timothy 4:16 Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.
Matthew 23:14 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows' houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation.
These men were using their hypocrisy to take advantage of widows and to impress others. It has been said that these men would pretend pray for up to 3 hours so they could convince people like these widows to support them. Jesus says they will be condemned. Paul also warned Titus about such people in,
Titus 1:10 For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision,† 11 whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain.
There are certainly many in the religious world like this today. All you have to do is turn you TV on and watch TBN and other channel like it and you will see preacher after preacher talk about how you need to give them lots of money so that you will get back 10 fold or more. These men and women are great examples of what Jesus and Paul are talking about. But as Christians we should never get to the point where we think that being a Christian is something that is going cause us to become rich worldly instead we need to realize that being a Christian makes us rich spiritually. Again, notice what Paul tells Timothy about this kind of hypocrite,
1 Timothy 6:3 If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness,† 4 he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions,† 5 useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself.† 6 Now godliness with contentment is great gain.† 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. †8 And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.
So donít allow anyone try to convince you that you must be rich to be considered a blessed Christian because this simply is not true instead we must learn to be content with our situation whether we are rich or poor physically and its important that we remember that no matter what our finical status is if we are faithfully serving the Lord then we are all rich spiritually which is far better than any physical wealth we may obtain.
Matthew 23:15 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.† †
Here these men are condemned for converting others to the particular group and teaching them to keep their man made traditions. Since God rejects man made ways and considers them as a sin these men they were converting would end up following the same wrong path as them.
We to must be careful today that we donít try and lead people astray by man made traditions but instead we must be diligent in teaching people the whole council of God so that they will be able to find that narrow road that leads to life. Also we can see that these men were wanting to grow their group as big as they could and as much as I would like to see the church here at Lone Grove increase in number we can never play the hypocrite to gain those numbers by only standing on part of Godís truth but that is exactly what many congregation are starting to do. They are not satisfied with they number so they start trying ways to entertain their people and they start removing restrictions such using musical instruments or having women preachers and the list can go on and on. I hope that we never get caught up in the number game here at Long Grove because I can promise that God will be pleased with just few worshiping him in spirit in truth as opposed to a million worshiping him in error.
Matthew 23:16 "Woe to you, blind guides, who say, 'Whoever swears by the temple, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple, he is obliged to perform it.'† 17 "Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that sanctifies the gold?† 18 "And, 'Whoever swears by the altar, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gift that is on it, he is obliged to perform it.'† 19 "Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that sanctifies the gift?† 20 "Therefore he who swears by the altar, swears by it and by all things on it.† 21 "He who swears by the temple, swears by it and by Him who dwells in it.† 22 "And he who swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by Him who sits on it.†
†In these verses we see that these men were trying to say that their truth was greater than any other truth including the word of God which simply is not true. That is why Peter teaches us in, †
1 Peter 4:11 †If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God.
Just as these Pharisees had their own agenda on what they thought was important †the same thing has been done in many congregations in the past. One person or a group of people have split congregation because they were wanted assign greater importance to trivial matters. For instance I have heard of congregation dividing because they didnít like the color of the new carpet or they didnít agree on new structure that was built because they didnít personally like it. We have to be careful as individual that we donít try to put great emphasis on matters of opinions or try to bind things on people where the Bible does not bind.
Matthew 23:23 †"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.† 24 "Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!†
Now Jesus continues on and points out that these hypocrites are only keeping part of the law instead of keeping all of it. This is what hypocrites do they will keep some of Godís commands and stress those they like but they refuse to keep all of his commands. Again Jesus points out these men would cause great problems over the smallest things by saying they strain out a gnat and swallow a camel.
This teaches us that that the sum of Godís word is important and not just some of God Word. As David said in,
Psalm 139:17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them!
Matthew 23: 25 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence.† 26 "Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.† 27 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness.† 28 "Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
In these 2 woes Jesus appeals to the rituals that the Pharisees did. They were always washing their cups and dishes and they used white washed tombs so they could clearly be seen so they wouldnít accidentally step on a person grave. With these 2 examples Jesus was once again showing them how they were being hypocrites by appearing one way on the outside but how they were completely different on the inside.
Today we may be able to fool our brother and sister in Christ as we play the hypocrite around them but God knows our heart and we cannot fool him so if this applies to you I strongly recommend that you start making changes in your life today because God will not be pleased with you if you are playing the hypocrite.
Matthew 23:29 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous,† 30 "and say, 'If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.' †31 "Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. †
These men recognized that their forefathers had killed many of Godís prophets and they proclaim that they wouldnít had done such things yet they would and they would do much worse as they were plotting and planning away to kill the very son of God. Now Jesus is going to point out how they are no different than their forefathers.
Matthew 23:32 "Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers' guilt.† 33 "Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?† 34 "Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city,
Jesus knew that these hypocritical Jews would end up killing many of Jesus followers even though they claimed they would not do such evil things as their forefathers because of their hypocrisy Jesus pronounces their doom they would face in 70 AD from the Roman armies as we continue in,
"that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the
blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you
murdered between the temple and the altar.†
36 "Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come
upon this generation.† 37
We have learned many valuable lessons from the hypocrite today that we must learn to avoid.
We must avoid:
ē †Not practicing what we preach
ē †Doing works for God just for show or just to receive praise from others
ē †Man-made traditions
ē †Thinking that Christianity is some kind of get rich quick scheme
ē †Using Christianity to take advantage of others
ē †Neglecting parts of Godís Word to increase our numbers†
ē †Making mountains out mole hills over trivial matters
One last point I want to make before we close our lesson out this morning is there are many who will not come to church because they say there are too many hypocrites there. Even if it is true that there are hypocrites in a church is this any reason to keep you from following Godís Word on assembling with the saints for the purpose of worshiping God?
Did the hypocrisy of Judas make it ok for the rest of the apostles to leave Jesusí side?† †
Do those who refuse to come to church because of hypocrites allow hypocrites to keep them from enjoying other activities such as sports events, vacations or any other event?
Of course it doesnít and besides which is better, spending a short time with hypocrites in church or spending eternity with hypocrites in hell? Remember what Jesus said about the hypocrites.
So donít ever let the hypocrisy of some to keep you from enjoying the blessing of salvation that only comes through Jesus Christ.