Read the Bible in 2011 ◊ Week 24: Saturday
Under these circumstances, after so many thousands of people had gathered together that they were stepping on one another, He began saying to His disciples first of all, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. But there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known. Accordingly, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in the inner rooms will be proclaimed upon the housetops.”
Saturday’s Bible reading is Luke 11–12. In these two chapters Jesus is interacting with and teaching three different groups: the scribes and Pharisees, the crowds, and His disciples. As you read you can see his remarks change in tone and content according to the group he is addressing.
After the religious leaders have taken offense, Jesus later tells His disciples, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.” The scribes and Pharisees became so angry and hostile to Jesus because His deeds and His words continually exposed their hypocrisy. Their pretense of godliness was revealed as just that—a pretense without any reality.
That’s what hypocrisy is. Those who sin and confess their sin are not hypocrites. They admit who they are and their need for forgiveness. A. T. Robertson has a succinct and descriptive statement on hypocrisy:
“Hypocrisy was the leading Pharasaic vice…and was a mark of sanctity to hide an evil heart.”1
The scribes and the Pharisees had no desire to truly be godly—they wanted the appearance of godliness. They had no desire to honor God with their lives. Their sanctity only hid their evil hearts.
Hypocrisy is deadly—to ourselves and to others. Pretense prevents us from acknowledging our sin before God. Hypocrisy is also incredibly damaging to children; when they hear their parents speak sanctimonious words and then turn around and berate them or treat them harshly, it warps their understanding of themselves and of God and Christianity. Hypocrisy can help harden the hearts of those who are not believers in Christ against the gospel when they observe someone who claims to know Christ say one thing as they do the opposite. No matter how they may live, those who aren’t Christians have some idea and standards of how Christians should be living, and when they don’t see morals, ethics and kindness and compassion, they disdain Christianity. I don’t think it’s perfection they want to see—when we blow it and apologize, our humility and honesty can say a great deal to them about the reality of our faith in Christ—it’s the pretense of perfection that is detestable.
We must beware of the leaven of hypocrisy.
Isaiah 42 Photograph: ChristianPhotos.net – Free High Resolution Photos for Christian Publications
1A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, 1931, Vol. II, p. 171.
Original content: Copyright ©2011 Iwana Carpenter