Tag Archives: Hypocrisy

Danger of Hypocrisy

 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in. (Mt.23:1-22)

Beware of the Pharisaical attitude because it will invite God’s wrath up on us. Jesus pronounced condemnation on the Pharisees because they were hypocrites and they displayed a false piety. The religious are often politically motivated.

Characteristics of Hypocrites
The word ‘hypocrite’ comes from the term that referred to a stage player in a drama or theater. It meant ‘pretender’ or ‘actor’. People playing the role of someone else or acting like someone they really are not. It may be an art but it is falsehood and pure lie. Jesus’ contention about the religious ones was that:
-They preach but do not practice
-They burden others but never even try to carry it themselves
-They do everything to get people’s praise (v. 5)
-They desire greatness, power, titles and position (Mt. 23:6-12)

Not to follow their example
Hypocrisy is dangerous and attracts God’s judgment because it hinders other people from entering the kingdom of heaven. Jesus warned His followers about following the Pharisees’ example.

1. They hinder others from entering the kingdom of heaven. (Mt. 23:13)
By the way they live, disregarding the Word of God, they themselves may not enter the kingdom of God. More serious than that is the issue of not letting others in. They become stumbling blocks to others. Remember, Jesus warned such people saying it is better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied to their neck (Mt. 18:6). They are like the dog in the manger. The dog will not eat the hay and neither will it let the cattle eat it.

2. They convert people but make them worthy of hell (Mt. 23:15)
They introduce others into their sect and confuse them with their philosophy of life and thus make them double hell-worthy.
our ministry is not as important as our life. God is more concerned about our life in Him than our service for Him. Being is above doing in God’s economy.

3. They overturn priorities and misguide others (Mt. 23:16-22)
Religious people do their religion to suit their convenience and to their benefit. Faith is not to satisfy ourselves or to please others, but to please God. Shuffling priorities to suit our convenience in the things of God is disastrous. They will be majoring on the minors and neglecting the non-negotiables. Many churches over emphasize the negligible issues and neglect the crucial. This deviation is prompted by the enemy of God’s kingdom.

We are to shun hypocrisy for it will make us stumbling blocks to people and bring us to judgment.


Tradition often leads to hypocrisy

Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat. He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?

 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone. (Mt. 15:1-20)

Tradition often leads to hypocrisy and legalism. This was the problem the Pharisees of Jesus’ day had. This can happen to anyone. Traditions become meaningless without an awareness of their origin and purpose. This was the reason the Old Testament instructed the Israelites to explain the reasons behind their practices, like festivals, sacrifices and so on, to their children.  

Tradition is outwardly
It focuses on the external appearance and performance. Obeying God is always above observing traditions. Pharisees tried to escape from obeying the Law by observing traditions, so they created traditions of convenience. They gave an impression that their external performances were the signs of faithfully keeping the Law. Jesus confronted the Pharisees who questioned him on this.

Jesus replied, “And why do you, by your traditions, violate the direct commandments of God? For instance, God says, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and ‘Anyone who speaks disrespectfully of father or mother must be put to death.’ But you say it is all right for people to say to their parents, ‘Sorry, I can’t help you. For I have vowed to give to God what I would have given to you.’ In this way, you say they don’t need to honor their parents. And so you cancel the word of God for the sake of your own tradition. (Mt.15: 3-6 NLT)

Jesus quoted the prophet Isaiah (Isa. 29:13) who foretold about the hypocritical attitude of people.

Obedience is inwardly
It springs from the submissive attitude within. It demands commitment, and being faithful to it. It is always above traditions and rituals. It is to please God than men. In 1 Samuel 15:22 we read prophet Samuel’s reminder to king Saul. Obedience originates from trust. Without faith or trust it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6).

Christian Character

Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.  “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.
(Luke 12:3-7 ESV)

Jesus was tired of the insincerity of the religious folks and rebuked them. He warned His disciples not to follow their hypocrisy. A follower of the Lord Jesus Christ should be truthful and sincere both inside and outside. He should mean what he says and say what he means. God will expose people’s insincerity on the judgment day. What they have said and done in secret will be brought to light on that day.

A Christian should not be afraid of people but fear only God. People can only kill your physical body once and not your eternal soul. But God can throw you into the eternal hell where you will suffer for ever. Those who fear and honor God can live without the fear of people.

Jesus gave two analogies. God cares about the tiny sparrows which are sold at an insignificant price. He also has the hairs on our head numbered, so He knows which one fell. We are much more precious to Him than many sparrows.

A Christian should witness for Christ no matter what. He should unashamedly acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus Christ over his life at all times. He should never deny the One who gave His very life to redeem you from eternal condemnation. The Holy Spirit has been given to you as the down payment of the covenant God has made with you through the blood of His Son. Testifying against it is a sin that God will never forgive.

In the life of every sinner the Spirit of God is bringing conviction about sin at different times and if they keep rejecting His offer of salvation they will have no chance to repent later.

Traditions versus Rituals

The LORD’s people left Egypt exactly four hundred thirty years after they had arrived. On that night the LORD kept watch for them, and on this same night each year Israel will always keep watch in honor of the LORD. (Exo.12:41-42 CEV)

The Lord God brought the people of Israel out from their bondage in Egypt. The children of Jacob had now become a nation of over a million people. (600,000 men according to Exo.12:37. There could have been an equal number of women and children. Exo.12:38 includes “many others”.) It was an ocean of people and cattle! Leading them out of the city of Rameses was not a joke. But the Bible tells us in Exo.12:42 that God kept watch over them the night they left. We also see in the next chapter that the Lord covered them with clouds during the day and fire during nights and protected them.

Biblical Traditions

In order to remind them of what He had done for them the Lord commanded them to observe that day each year as the Passover feast. He gave them detailed instructions as to how they should and how they should not observe it.  The Lord also instructed them that as they observe this feast they should explain to their children the reason behind it. Thus it became a rich and meaningful tradition which  reminded the people of the great deliverance their forefathers experienced and honored God.

They also kept another tradition of keeping a night watch on that night each year and the Bible tells us that they did it to “honor the Lord” (12:42). Biblical traditions are followed by churches with this intention, to remind people of the faithfulness of God and to consciously honor Him for His glorious deeds.

Religious Rituals

Traditions that are not rooted in the Word of God and do not honor God are just rituals that satisfy our human yearning and guilt. They are observed without convincing reasons or valuable purposes. They often honor people rather than God. They drag you away from the real worship of the true God and lead you into hypocrisy and idolatry.

Good traditions are meant to honor God for what He has done in our lives. Do we honor God through our traditions or simply follow rituals for mental satisfaction?

Godly Wisdom Versus Human Intelligence

When we tell you these things, we do not use words that come from human wisdom. Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths.But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means. Those who are spiritual can evaluate all things, but they themselves cannot be evaluated by others.    (1Cor.2:13-15)

Worldly wisdom can not fathom God’s Wisdom

Much of the Christian ministry today is being done according to worldly wisdom. They follow worldly principles rather than Biblical principles. They adopt secular strategies than following the Spirit’s instructions. Christian workers want to appear on par with the CEOs and Executives of multinational corporations in their lifestyle but forget the fact that they are called to be different. They are called to suffer for the sake of their Savior. They are sent out like sheep among wolves. Instead, they take cover under ‘prosperity theology’, quoting Bible verses out of context, drawing heavily from the Old Testament. God’s wisdom is available to those who have surrendered themselves to His Lordship, because of the indwelling presence of the Spirit of God.

Being an example of a servant who has absolute dependance on God’s power, Paul makes this clear in his writings (2Cor.1:12). Wisdom of God is foolishness to the intelligentsia (1Cor.3:19). The worldly wise do not realize that it is God who wired their brains and their intelligent conclusions about Him is utter foolishness in his sight. The greatest irony of human history is that man the finite creature, claiming to know everything, is trying to make the infinite Creator a non entity. Man does not even comprehend what is happening to him in the now and here but is trying to discover what happened in the past and draw conclusions about the future. This is true with all those who have not discovered and yielded to the amazing grace of God.

Worldly wisdom can not fulfill God’s purposes

But for men and women called to be His representatives here in this temporal world God grants the wisdom to carry out His mission. They don’t mind the ridicule and the humiliation they receive from the world because their eyes are fixed on their eternal home. Only when they begin to consider themselves worthy of honor and respect from the world, they will have to prove the same to the world. That is when they will begin to employ worldly wisdom to accomplish a heavenly mission. Then, they will begin to copy secular strategies and methods that are foolishness in the sight of God. God has His way of doing His work and He does not allow anyone to teach Him what they think is a better way. God wants His people to follow His strategies and methods in His service. Our work for God has to stand His ‘fire test’ on the day of reckoning (1Cor.3:12-15).

In spite of having credentials that placed him on par with, if not above, many of the contemporary scholars, Paul did not consider himself to be wise enough to handle the God-given mission (1Cor.2:1-5).

The Long Forgotten Ministry

The ministry of the Church is of a prophetic nature, in the sense that, it is carrying on the role of the prophets of old, of Jesus Himself and of the Apostles.

God communicates through His creation. In the early days God chose someone to be His prophet, to be His mouthpiece, to speak to people. God would speak to him something and he was to repeat it verbatim. Through the prophets He gave people rules to follow. Through them He announced what He would do in the days to come and warned people about impending judgment for disobedience. The prophets also fulfilled the office of the priests in the early days.

Today, there isn’t much of the foretelling aspect of it, because whatever God wanted people to know regarding their eternal salvation during their temporal life on earth has been put together in the form of a book – the Bible. So, it is just a matter of forth-telling, proclaiming it as it is written. Prophets of old said, “Thus says the LORD“, while we say, “Thus says God’s Word”.

All believers have a part in the Church’s mission today. We have a prophetic/priestly ministry to fulfill (1Pet.2:5, 9-10). Prophetic ministry encompasses all that the Church is commanded to do in the areas of its worship, nurture and evangelism. The Church should focus on all the three. Prophets should encourage the practice of God’s Word and rebuke the negligence of it. We must allow the Word of God to guide us in every area of our lives. 2Tim.3:16 says,

Everything in the Scriptures is God’s Word. All of it is useful for teaching and helping people and for correcting them and showing them how to live.“(CEV)

Jeremiah’s life was typical. In Jer.28 we read the contrast between a true prophet of God and a false prophet.

Saying What God says!

The prophets’ job has never been a comfortable one. He was the most unwelcome person among his people. He proclaimed the most unpleasant message and people considered him as a stumbling block or obstacle on their way. He brought messages of rebuke and judgment.

However, because of their people-pleasing and pleasant messages false prophets thrived. Messages of prosperity and wealth who wouldn’t want to hear! So, they had entry into royal palaces and wealthy homes. They would speak in the name of the sovereign LORD things which the sovereign LORD has not spoken. They are neither true to themselves nor to the LORD. But, a true prophet of God has to speak on God’s behalf whether the message is what people would like to hear or not.

Jesus fulfilled the ministry of a prophet in its true sense though He was much more than a prophet. He spoke all what God wanted to speak to the people and only what God wanted. Jesus said,

I don’t speak on my own. I say only what the Father who sent me has told me to say.” (Jn.12:49 CEV)

Jesus was disliked by the Pharisees because He announced God’s displeasure on their hypocrisy.

We are called to be the prophets of God within our family, church and community. We need to use the Word to correct an erring brother, strengthen the weak, and build up the body of Christ. We need to build mutual accountability among ourselves where we can check each other for our own good. But often we fail to fulfill our responsibility as true prophets of God because we are afraid of the response of the audience and damaging our reputation.

I am thankful to God for the Godly people who have helped me watch myself through their eyes. John K. is one of the first among them. I still remember our meetings, when the first thing he would ask is “What did the LORD speak to you today?”

Saying it at any cost

The true prophet receives no accolades from the hearers. But, with their lying flattery the false prophets earn favours and honours. Jeremiah was known as the weeping prophet. At the end of the day he had only tears and agony for the reward. He was interrogated, threatened and attacked. His life was at risk (Jer.26:7-16). Yet he conveyed God’s message. It was not that Jeremiah did not desire his people’s deliverance and prosperity, but that was not what God told him to convey.

Jesus satisfied God’s law by offering Himself as the perfect sacrifice for the entire human race. He conveyed God’s message of salvation to the people. But he had his share of agony and sorrow. He had a lowliest birth, poor man’s life and no place to stay. He went through Gethsemane and on to Calvary. He received a cross and a crown of thorns. Knowing all this ahead of time, He committed Himself to God and finished His mission. The result! God honoured Him with the name above every name, the name at which the entire creation will bow down and worship!

We need to help build the body of Christ by proclaiming the Word which is able to reprove, rebuke, teach, correct, encourage and edify. We are asked to share one another’s burdens (Gal.6:2) even if it is not the most pleasant thing to do. We may not be appreciated but we are becoming obedient. God will be glorified and His kingdom strengthened on earth.

Hating What God Hates

The LORD says: Don’t brag about your wisdom or strength or wealth. If you feel you must brag, then have enough sense to brag about worshiping me, the LORD. What I like best is showing kindness, justice, and mercy to everyone on earth.
Someday I will punish the nations of Egypt, Edom, Ammon, and Moab, and the tribes of the desert. The men of these nations are circumcised, but they don’t worship me. And it’s the same with you people of Judah. Your bodies are circumcised, but your hearts are unchanged. The LORD said: Listen to me, you people of Israel. Don’t follow the customs of those nations who become frightened when they see something strange happen in the sky.But you, Israel’s God, created all things, and you chose Israel to be your very own. Your name is the LORD All-Powerful. (Jer.9:23-26;10:1-2, 16)

This morning I went through the book of Jeremiah 9:23-10:16. The Lord is reminding His people through the prophet, in very strong terms, two key issues. These are two sins that God hates. First is ‘hypocrisy’ and the second ‘idolatry’. Several places in the Scripture we find instructions and warnings to keep away from these sins. Jesus often rebuked the religious folks for their hypocrisy.


Hypocrisy is spirituality without Godliness or Christianity without Christlikeness. This promotes external religion instead of internal reformation. People wear their religion these days and its hollow. The qualities of our God, like justice, mercy, love and kindness, should be reflected through our lives. We must allow Christ to reshape us into His likeness.


Idolatry is not only bowing before and idol. Giving God’s place to anything else or anyone else too is idolatry. It is creation orientedness rather than Creator orientedness. We tend to give more thought and prominence to the creation of God than God Himself. We are quick to blame others for idolatry but ignore our own practice of it.

God wants us to hate these sins as He hates them.