Matthew Chapter 23
It is one thing to teach, preach, or talk about truth; it is another thing altogether to live the truth. It is amazing as one reads through the Gospels to observe that the strongest judgment from Jesus does not come to the sinners and tax collectors, but rather his harshest words of condemnation fall on those who are outwardly religious but inwardly defiled. We see this chiefly regarding the Scribes and Pharisees. These religious leaders were supposed to be guiding the Jewish people into the truth of God; instead, they were turning people away from God. With their self-righteousness, they held the common people in contempt. No one was as holy as they. Actually, and this was not all of the above named, but a majority of them felt that they were so pious that God owed them eternal life. Jesus, however, saw right through their hypocrisy. The Greek word for hypocrite comes from the theater. It speaks of someone wearing a mask, of someone pretending to be something that they are not.
We must remember that God is not impressed by the outward appearance, but rather God is looking at the heart, “For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 14:7). Jesus saw these “blind leaders of the blind,” these “white-washed tombs” for exactly what they were – hypocrites. They had wide phylacteries (the little box that contained commandments that they wore on the forehead and forearm) and the long tzitzit (tassels that hung from the four corners of the prayer shawl). Jesus was not impressed by their outward appearance of piety. They taught the truth but did not live it. Hypocrisy received the seven woes in this chapter.
It is one thing to have a disposition of obedience to God and to struggle with sin; it is another thing to act religious but be comfortable with one’s sin. How is it with your heart before God today?