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Topic: Breaking the Rules (08/16/04)
TITLE: Woe to Hypocrites!
By Richard Krejcir
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Jesus’ greatest charge against the Pharisees and Sadducees in Matthew 23 was that they were blind to their own doings. They were pretenders of the faith, giving a show, but having no real substance behind their extravagant and ornamental robes! They were the “tombs” that looked good on the outside, but inside revealed the wicked and disgusting pride and pretentiousness that Jesus equated to rotting corpses! Their robes were fancy, and they held honor in the town, but their hearts were cold and rotten! They only saw the external; appearances were everything to them. They did not care for what God cared for, which is what is in the heart! It is not where we sit, what we wear, or what rules we follow; it is all about who we are in Him and how we are with others for Him!
The power of Jesus’ words and the passion of His emotions show this passage in Matthew 23 to be one of the most imperative in the entire Bible! The point is that motives create our actions and show our devotion. If our motives are skewed, then our faith is skewed, and we will be not only of no use to God, but a hindrance to others’ knowing Him!
Jesus uses the harsh word, Woe to you, which refers to the curse of “wretchedness.” This shows Jesus’ anguish and despair, and His disappointment in the people called to represent Him! The listeners would have agreed with Jesus; however, they would not have considered that He meant them! Most people who are hypocrites seem to be blind to the fact that they are so! They seem to be unable to see the sin in themselves—only the sin in others (Matthew 5:17-20)! Then He uses the word Hypocrites, to the Jews and Greeks this term referred to the mask used by actors in a play who were playing a part that was contrary to their true personality and disposition. Here, Jesus used it to say they are “two faced,” insincere, and treacherous. The Pharisees and Sadducees missed the point! They forgot what was important and placed focus on what was not. When we think we are right and everyone else is wrong, that should be a red flag indicating that possibly something is very wrong! We must be able to see the immense damage this causes. In my 10 year doctrinal research for my Ph.D., I found that the main reason people leave a church and the faith is because of hypocrisy! This is why our Lord is so passionate about it! How strong is your passion to be as you believe?
Our call, in this passage, is to do as we teach, to do as we say, and to act as we teach others to act (1 Thess. 2: 10-12)! Why? Because, hypocrisy gives people a false impression of God! Hypocrisy gives people a false impression of who we are called to be; it nullifies integrity and character! Because, God is righteous and just; God exercises grace. The Pharisees were worshipping, not the God of the Jews and the Law, but a made-up god which suited their own thoughts and pride (Psalm 103:1-14; 1 Pet. 5:10)! The willingness to model Christ’s character is far more vital for us today than the willingness to preach it. God want us to be authentic—not pretentious (2 Cor. 8:9)! Breaking the rule may be culturally fun, but we must be careful ho we are when we represent Him (Proverbs 25:6-7; Micah 6:8; Philippians 2:1-4)!
© 2004 R. J. Krejcir www.intothyword.org