By Pastor Ted R. House
In Luke 12:1, Jesus said: "... Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy." The Pharisees were guilty of externalism. They dressed the part; they talked the part, but they did not live the part. Jesus' last public sermon is found in Matthew 23. The Pharisees had set themselves up to sit in Moses' seat. In other words, they had made themselves the final authority on the Scriptures. They were the ones telling the people how to live and act. They could have presented Jesus as the Messiah to the common people and He would have ushered in the kingdom right then and there. But they rejected Him. Out of envy, they cried, “Crucify Him!” Because the Pharisees rejected Jesus, so did the people. Therefore, in Matthew 23, Jesus pronounced eight woes upon the scribes and Pharisees! In Matthew 23:2-12, Jesus was talking to the multitude about the Pharisees. He was warning the people not to be like the Pharisees.
We should take heed and make sure that our spirituality is not just for show! In Matthew 23:13-36, Jesus is talking directly to the scribes and Pharisees: "But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves. Woe unto you, ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor!" In Matthew 23:13, Jesus plainly told the scribes and Pharisees that they were responsible for the people rejecting Him. He also told them that it was their hypocrisy that was turning people away from entering the kingdom of heaven.
If we are not careful, we can be guilty of the same thing! In Matthew 23:14, Jesus addressed their fake spirituality, their taking advantage of widows, and their long and showy prayers. Jesus said they would receive the greater damnation! In Matthew 23:15, He accused them of proselyting. They were only interested in making Pharisees and not bringing men to God. In Matthew 23:16-22, Jesus told them that they were twisting the Word of God to fit their own agenda. Matthew 23:23-30: "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.
Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets." Yet they persecuted the disciples and crucified Christ! Hypocrisy? Yes, and it is still around today!