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Hypocrites (by David Peterson)

Jesus is in Jerusalem and it is the final week of His earthly life. He is critical of the fake and inauthentic lives of the scribes and Pharisees as He categorically lists their indiscretions in several “woe to you” statements. Jesus says this:

Matthew 23:13-15
“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut the kingdom of heaven in front of people; for you do not enter it yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. “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.”

Jesus continues this section in verses 16 to 36 showing the hypocritical ways of these religious leaders; people who say one thing and do the opposite. With a heart of love Jesus uses the word “woe” to express His righteous anger concerning their behavior.

Hypocrisy was a topic Reverend Charles Spurgeon frequently spoke about. He once said: “You may readily judge whether you are a child of God or a hypocrite by seeing in what direction your soul turns in seasons of severe trial. The hypocrite flies to the world and finds a sort of comfort there. But the child of God runs to his Father and expects consolation only from the Lord’s hand.” Spurgeon alludes that hypocritical people align themselves with pleasures of the world in full prideful displays but the true, humble, believer of Christ will be exalted.

Isaac Watts, the famous English minister, wrote Hymn 136 in 1806 and the second stanza is:

“Nothing but truth before his throne
with honor can appear;
The painted hypocrites are known
through the disguise they wear.”

Watts relays to us that God sees who we really are and His truth reveals the proud from the humble. Hypocrites, then, are only fooling themselves.

Let us pray: Dear Savior Lord, teach us to walk humbly in our ways and to follow your instructions faithfully. Teach us to talk the talk, and walk the walk, that You have modeled for us.

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