Beware the Hypocrisy of the Pharisees

   Written by on October 5, 2017 at 11:50 am

logo-hevenerThe Pharisees were constantly harassing Jesus, trying to find in His teachings and actions something that they could criticize. They were jealous of Jesus, for He could perform miracles, raising the dead, making the blind to see, and healing all sorts of diseases.  Even though they considered themselves spiritual leaders, they could not perform such miracles.

Who were the Pharisees? The Pharisees believed that in addition to the Written Word, the Torah, that God through Moses, handed down an oral Torah, consisting of the corpus of oral laws, interpretations, and traditions. Christ emphasized keeping God’s written word, His law, and rejecting the traditions of men.   In short, the Pharisees believed that salvation was through keeping law, not through grace. They misunderstood the function of law and grace. Law is necessary to point out sin in our lives; grace is the unmerited favor of our Creator, and this grace eradicates that confessed sin. Law and grace, therefore, complement each other.  However, we are not to continue in sin because of God’s grace; we are to overcome that sin through the power of the Holy Spirit. When the woman taken in adultery was brought to Christ, He forgave her and then told her to “Go, sin no more.”

What is “hypocrisy?”  Hypocrisy is posing as being one thing but actually being another. It is a concealment of one’s real self, one’s real character or motives. Although the Pharisees posed as being servants of God, their true intent was to exalt self. In Luke 12:1, Jesus warned, “Beware ye the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.”

On another occasion, Christ revealed their hypocrisy when He said, they “…draw nigh to Me with their mouth, and honoreth Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.” (Matthew 15: 7, 8.)

Christ noted that hypocrites pray to be seen by others, not for spiritual edification.  Matthew 15:7, 8 reads, “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.” (Matt. 6:5.)

Jesus also taught that we should correct our own faults and not glory in pointing out the weaknesses of others. In Matthew 7:5 we read, “Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”

The true Christian needs to look for the good in others and emphasize their positive contributions to God, family, and society. It was Amy Carmichael who noted, “If I belittle those whom I am called to serve, talk of their weak points in contrast perhaps with what I think of as my strong points; if I adopt a superior attitude, forgetting ‘Who made thee to differ? and what hast thou that thou hast not received?’ then I know nothing of Calvary love.”

It is not self-aggrandizement that reveals Christ in one’s life.  It is revealing heavenly wisdom.  The Apostle James puts it this way: “The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.”  (James 3:17.)

The hope of the loving, the kind, the obedient, and the generous will be eternal life through the grace of Christ; however, the hope of the hypocrite shall perish. (Job 8:13.)

May God richly bless you and yours.

Editor’s Note: Our dear friend, Fillmer Hevener, died August 25, 2017. Dr. Hevener was passionate about sharing the word of God and weekly encouraged us and our readers. We will miss his emails, his words of wisdom, and most importantly, his prayers. We appreciate his family allowing us to print his remaining sermons. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with his family.

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