Jesus Christ rebukes and reproves the Pharisees and scribes, the self-appointed keepers of the law, for their hypocrisy. Throughout this age of grace, there have been many hypocrites who pose as men of God, but are in reality dead in their trespasses and sins. Those of us who have been born again to a living hope through faith in the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Son of God, His death upon the cross for our sins and His resurrection from the dead, are not hypocrites, we do belong to God. Does that mean we don’t walk contrary to our faith at times, no, but we are still the beloved children of God and He corrects, reproves and strengthens us in the way. In this passage Jesus describes the attributes of hypocrites; let us not be deceived by these evil workers, but pay attention to this expose’ given by Christ. May we reach out to those who are deceived by these pretenders and encourage them to follow Jesus Christ and not man.
First, in Matthew chapter fifteen, Jesus Christ, condemned the Pharisees as those who substituted the traditions of men for commandments of God, the foremost trait of a hypocrite is they mishandle the Word of God through either substitution or twisting the Scriptures.
3 He answered and said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? 4 For God commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother’, and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ 5 But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God”—6 ‘then he need not honor his father or mother’. Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. 7 Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: 8 ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. 9 And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’” Matthew 15:3-9
This portion of Scripture nicely dovetails into Christ exposing the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and scribes in Matthew chapter twenty-three. He reproves these hypocrites as He reveals their motives and the fact that they do not love God or their neighbor. They make a pretense of faith but deny it by their actions.
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. 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.’ Matthew 23:1-7
Everything they do is to be noticed by men and have a “good” reputation, but they don’t obey God’s commands nor do they assist others to live to God’ glory. They put their damnable traditions and doctrines in the place of God’s life giving teaching and commandments from His Holy Word, the Bible. They are hypocrites who lead the lost to sure damnation.
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, not do you allow those who are entering to go in. 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. 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. Matthew 23:13-15
Yes, hypocrites make a pretense of knowing God but they are children of wrath bound for hell and those who follow them are even worse. They do all things to be seen, but have no inward reality of the life of God in them through repentant faith in Christ Jesus and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. They prey upon the helpless and make a show of being very religious by their prayers or their “works”. But Jesus Christ, who sees the hearts of all men, called out these hypocrites, warning His children to not follow them. Jesus also made it clear that all hypocrites are condemned to hell, unless they repent and truly put their faith in Him as their Lord and Savior.
23 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, 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! 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….33 Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? Matthew 23:23-28 & 33
Hypocrites deny the fundamentals of the faith and accentuate minor matters. They always want to be seen of men and have no desire to be obedient to God. God’s children on the other hand have a God given desire to please the Lord Jesus Christ in all that they think, say and do. They love the Lord and His Word and would gladly give all for their Savior. Hypocrites want all for themselves!
As those who belong to God the Father through faith in His Son, let us beware of the hypocrites endemic throughout the visible “Christian” church, who are legalists or controlled by lawlessness, who think only of themselves, and inside are full of unrighteousness, and let us with resolve determine to follow Christ and keep His Word, letting the life of Christ within us shine through by obedience to God’s Word the Bible and by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit to bring light to a lost and dying world so much of which is bound up in a world of religious deception. God bless us.
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, 35 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. Matthew 23:34-35