August 12

Text: Matthew 23:13, 14, 15, 16, 23, 25, 27, 29

"But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites,  . . .”  (NASB)

It is too easy to read Jesus’ list of woes against the scribes and Pharisees and respond by saying to ourselves, “Go, Jesus, go—Christians would be so much better off today without those hypocrites!”  It is too tempting to recite all the damage done to others by those who pretend to be righteous.  It is too convenient to use hypocritical lives to justify our ungodliness.  We excuse ourselves by saying, “It is not our fault!  The way they live discourages us!”

Examine what Jesus declared to be pretend righteousness rather than a commitment to righteous living.  Understand there is a vast difference between God’s righteousness and ours!  Human righteousness is never perfect righteousness!  To be righteous is NOT to be perfect—no human is perfect!  Striving to overcome personal wickedness is not an act of hypocrisy!  Now, consider the scribes and Pharisees:

1.      They closed the door to God’s purposes.

2.      They attempted to cover ungodly practices with religious acts.

3.      They converted others to their standards—not to God.

4.      They made artificial distinctions that promoted injustice.

5.      They stressed the small while ignoring the urgent.

6.      They used outward appearance to distract from their inner corruption.

7.      They used righteous acts to hide who and what they really were.

8.      They praised the righteous while promoting ungodliness.

Note two things.  (1) They had no sincere interest in others being righteous.  (2) Righteousness was religious camouflage for ungodly deeds and motives.  Now, examine your concept/definition of what is hypocritical.

Suggestion for reflection: When does one of our righteous expressions become a hypocritical expression?  (Read Isaiah 29:13-16.)

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