Doug Batchelor - The Sincere Hypocrite
We're living in very interesting times. I think it's important that we declare to you the whole counsel of God. And today would be one of those subjects that could be misunderstood unless I give a little preface and explain. There are some things in the Bible that are some strong statements and we're going to be sharing today some of the strongest statements that Jesus made that are given to us as warnings in love, but I hope that you'll just take it in the spirit that it's given. But it's something that we think need to consider because well, eternal life depends on it. And so our sermon today is based on an oxymoron and it's called "A Sincere Hypocrite." Because hypocrisy, of course is the antithesis of sincerity, but, you know, the Bible has quite a bit to say about hypocrisy. And it's something we need to pray that God will help us recognize and guard against.
Now what is hypocrisy? Well, hypocrisy comes from a Greek word that really talks about the theatre in ancient Greece, even before the time of Christ, when actors got out on the stage and they assume different parts. They had these masks that they put up and one actor might wear several different masks. At one point he would come out and he'd hold his mask and have a big happy face on it. You've probably seen some examples of this in art, the Greek mask and then when he was angry, he'd have an angry face, and all of sudden if the devil should appear he'd pick up the devil face. And then if there was an angel same actor would then put on the angel face. And he'd go through his lines, let everyone know when he held the angel face. This is the angel speaking.
And so, the idea of one person changing among many different masks is where you get this word hypokrites or hypocrite. And it's talking about a person who is able to just sort of convey something that isn't authentic, isn't really them. The practice, here's a hypocrite, the practice of professing beliefs, feelings, or virtues that one does not really hold or possess. Falseness, being two faced, play acting, to make a pretense. It's found about 40 times in the Bible. That's including the word hypocrite and hypocrisy in case you do a search.
You know, I understand on the Italian Riviera that it's very desirable if you could have a home facing the Mediterranean. Some of the homes are very old and they were not built with balconies and everybody wants a balcony on their home, but because of the ancient architecture balconies could not affordably be added to some of these homes. And so what the creative owners did is they got artists to paint balconies on their house. And to make it look real some of them would even paint laundry hanging from their balcony to give it that authenticity, but you could never stand on that balcony. It was a facade.
Sometimes Christians paint on our religion and it's not real. And we're all at risk, of sometimes being a little bit hypocritical. How many of you have heard someone say I'm not going to church because it's just full of hypocrites. You ever heard that before? Then you heard it last week. And I like to always say you should still come, there's always room for one more because let's face it, we all sometimes deal with being authentic and at the heart of what I want to say today, in case you miss it or drift off, it's an appeal that we should be genuine. That a religion must be a heart religion. The most scathing rebukes that Jesus made, it was not against the publicans and the harlots and the sinners, it was against false religion. People who are having a pretense of being something that they really weren't.
Now some reasons that people get involved in hypocrisy is they're trying to make an impression. First of all, it's not wrong to want to make a good impression. A lot of you would never be married if you didn't know how to try to make a good impression. And if people are visiting, we want to make a good impression. You want to be positive. Jesus said, "Let your good works so shine before men that they may glorify your Father in Heaven."
So why are you making the good impression is the question. Is it you're doing it to glorify you or is it to glorify your Father in Heaven? You know, Jesus made a statement about tombs. It was in our Scripture reading. It says in Matthew 23, we keep going back to that passage, "Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which indeed appear beautiful on the outside but inside they're full of dead men's bones, and all manner of uncleanness. Even so outwardly you appear righteous to men, but inwardly you're full of hypocrisy and lawlessness." How does God see it when we have the facade of religion but our hearts are corrupt?
Now I should pause, explain when the children of Israel were carried off to Babylon because of their idolatry and their unfaithfulness, 70 years later, they were able to come back. When they came back some of the religious leaders said, "We don't want to ever make that mistake again, so God withdraws his blessing and we are carried away." And so they became very regimented in their religion to compel everybody to make sure that they're faithful not only was idolatry never a problem again, they had laws about how to keep the Sabbath with great precision. They had laws about washing before you eat and all the ceremonies and the rigors of religion. And they kept adding laws. And they got to where some of the religious leaders were proud of that they were more religious than the other religious leaders and it became an Olympic competition. And this happened over a couple of hundred years, where they developed a sect called the Sadducees. Talking about the purified ones. And they just took religion to a whole new level and it all became external to advertise how pious and holy they were.
And so, Jesus he spoke out against the scribes and the Pharisees. And you can read in the first few verses, "Jesus spoke to the multitudes and the disciples and he said, 'The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat,'" they were the religious leaders, "therefore, whatever they tell you observe and do but not according to their works; for they say and they do not. For they bind heavy burdens on men on their shoulders; but they themselves will not lift them with one of their fingers. All their works they do to be seen by men."
That pretty much sums. It up if your religion is for demonstration of what others think it's vain. "Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!" Verse 14, "Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!" Verse 15, "Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!" Verse 16, He just says, "Woe to you blind guides." You go on to verse 23, "Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!" Verse 25, "Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites." Verse 27, "Woe to you hypocrites." Verse 29, "Woe to you hypocrites." Word hypocrite I think is found seven times in this chapter, interesting number, and he says, "Woe to you" I think eight times.
This is the strongest language that Jesus speaks even in the Sermon on the Mount when he begins preaching, he addresses the problem with hypocrisy among the scribes and the Pharisees. And so you're going to hear a little bit about the Pharisees in the message today. If you look in Matthew 23 verse 4 not only does it say, "They bind heavy burdens on man." It says, "all their works they do to be seen of men. They make broad their phylacteries."
Now the phylactery, if you hear that word, what's a phylactery? Moses said, "These words I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall bind them for a sign on your hand, they will be frontlets between your eyes." And so, you've probably seen pictures before. I think we've got one we're going to put up on the screen here. You can see around their wrists they'd wrap these leather tongs and there would be a piece of Scripture on a box on their right hand, and then the on their forehead they'd have a little box that had scripture in it.
No Moses didn't mean and God did not mean for them to take elements of Scripture and tie it to their forehead or tie it to their hand. He meant have it in your head, have it in your actions, and have it in your heart. Obviously in the heart was a figure of speech, but they took it literally. And they put these phylacteries. They still wear them today, the Orthodox Jews, on their hands and on their heads. And he said they'd make wide the borders of their garments because the priest was told to have a border of blue to show his loyalty to the law. And so, the priests all have, you will see it in illustrations, they had a border of blue. Well, if someone had a little border of blue, one priest would say his border is wider than my border. Well, I'm going to make my wide, my border of blue wider than his border. And pretty soon they were wearing these dragging around long boarders of blue to show I'm more loyal than they are.
And so all of it began to be sort of a show of who could be the most religious. "They enlarge the borders of their garments. They love the uppermost seats and the feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and the greetings in the markets, and to be call of men, 'Rabbi Rabbi Phd.'" And it was all about your position. I think it was Spurgeon said, "We should not be proud of face or place or race." And it was all about their office and they wanted that. They're worried about what everyone else thought of them. And so it was all outward religion.
Man looks on the outside. God looks on the inside. We often live because we're worried about what man sees. And we forget about what really matters. What does God see? Are we genuine? I catch myself being a hypocrite. I'm just telling you right up front. But I'm not terribly ashamed to say that publicly because whether you know it or not you are too sometimes. But we got to get the victory over that. I'm not saying it and saying, "Oh well. We're all hypocrites." No, we've got really evaluate are we doing things for the glory of God? Are we worried about what everyone thinks? Do we ever put on our religion to try to do is look good? Hypocrisy is one of the most dangerous attitudes for a Christian. Jesus spoke the strongest against it.
We all sometimes wear masks. Somebody once said hypocrisy is the homage that vice pays to virtue. That's pretty profound when you think about that. Oswald Chambers said, "The world is glad for an excuse to ignore the gospel message and the hypocrisy of Christians is their favorite excuse." Now hypocrisy does not just appear in the New Testament, because it's a Greek word. Hypocrisy is addressed in the Old Testament.
Look real quick if you will, first chapter of Isaiah. He dives right in. Isaiah sort of like the Old Testament gospel and he doesn't spare any punches. Go to verse 12, okay? "When you come to appear before Me, Who has required this from your hand to trample My courts? To bring no more futile sacrifices; incense is an abomination to Me. The New Moons, the Sabbaths, the calling of assemblies I cannot endure iniquity," so as you're going through the religious things, but it's coming from iniquity, "and the sacred meeting. Your New Moons, your appointed feasts, My soul hates; They are troubled to Me. I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands, I will hide", that means when they would pray and they'd spread out their hands. "I will hide My eyes from you, even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood." And he says here's the solution. "Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, Learn to do good; Seek justice. Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow. 'Come now, let us reason together,' says the Lord, 'Though your sins are like scarlet, They'll be white as snow; though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, You'll eat the good of the land; But if you refuse and rebel, You'll be devoured by the sword.'"
And the understanding here is no matter how many prayers you pray, no matter how many offerings you sacrifice, no matter how many time you show up in the temple for the various feasts and sabbaths, if your hearts aren't cleansed by the Gospel. It's smoke in his nose is what the Bible says. The Lord wants us to be real Christians. As I quoted a minute ago, Oswald Chambers said, "The world is always looking..." Doesn't the media love to find a hypocrite Christian? They'll hold that forth and say, you know, if this is how the Christians were acting then I am still safe not going to church because they're just all hypocrites. The devil is scared of nothing more than genuine Christians that are really changed from the inside out.
What does God want? Psalm 51 verse 6, "Behold," here it is, "You desire truth in the inward parts. And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom." God wants us to be honest and true on the inside. And years ago went to Egypt, and I saw King Tut's treasures, and when Howard Carter first discovered King Tut's tomb, I think it was 1921 that they unsealed the first tomb, they went in this great stone cut room and then there was this big coffin. And they open up the coffin, there was a gold box, and then it was another gold box, and another gold box, and there was like a nest of seven coffins, and then they had this beautiful, it's a masterpiece, as one coffin's got 240 pounds of gold studded with gems. And then they lift that off, they get this priceless, you've seen the face mask of King Tut. Considered one of the most priceless artwork, its almost perfect gold. And then they took that off the mummy. And it was wrapped in some cloth that had some gold in it. And then finally, they took that off and you know what they found underneath it all.
Here's a picture of King Tut. So all that gold, this around, and he was a young king actually. He doesn't look very young right now. He died at about 19 years of age, but all that gold, and all that beauty, and all that art is surrounding a rotten, withered mummy. This is what Jesus is talking about. If we've got all the beauty in our religion and we don't have the heart change. This is what I see he says what does he want? Christ said “Pharisee, you clean the outside of the cup and you don't clean the inside.” Now if you are going to go to someone's house and they tell you, you know, I've got a problem, I'm a little bit, I'm a little bit conflicted. I can't ever make up my mind, whether to wash the inside or the outside of my dishes. What are you going to want to hear? That they wash the outside or the inside? If you're going to be drinking from their cup, you just want the outside clean or do you especially want the inside clean?
Well, this is how the Lord is. He says look if you got to choose between the two, I don't care about the outside as much as the inside. That's okay for you to be good on the outside too but start with the inside, because if the heart is changed, the words are changed, the life is changed, it all changes when they get the gospel. It's got to start on the inside. So why do we sometimes pretend to be what we're not? Well like Jesus said sometimes we're trying to make a big impression or worried about what people think. You know oftentimes, it's fear. People do hypocritical things because they're afraid.
Two examples, David, 1 Samuel 21, he heard that Achish realized who he was. It says, "When David heard these words he was very much afraid of Achish, king of Gath." He was a philistine king. So he changed his behavior. He pretended he was crazy. He scratched on the doors. He led his spit go down his beard. Now he was pretending to be something he wasn't, why? Because he was afraid. Why did Abraham pretend that Sarah was just his sister? He was afraid. Said she's so beautiful they might kill me. So I tell you what, let's make a deal, wink wink. He tells Sarah, "Let's just say, it's the brother-sister. I mean, after all we do have the same father, different mothers, but let's not make a big deal out of the husband-wife relationship. Let's pretend."
It's even just partial hypocrisy. You've heard of a half truth before. If you've got a half truth, what's the other half? And so why? He was afraid. God says to Sarah, "You laughed when you heard My prophecy and My promise." She said, "I didn't laugh," because she was afraid. She did laugh. Why did Isaac say that Rebecca was a sister? He was afraid of the Philistines. Peter, Jesus said, Peter said I'll not deny you even though all of these deny you. I'll never deny you. And he may even mentored them, but why did he end up denying Jesus? He was afraid. What was he afraid of? Was he afraid that servant girl was going to beat him up. No, he was afraid of what they thought. He was afraid, all of the sudden that Jesus had become very unpopular. Peter had a problem with wanting to be popular.
You know it even says in Galatians chapter 2 verse 11, even after Peter was converted, he backslid a little bit. Just to give you the story. The Jews were very careful about obeying in certain laws. They didn't like the association with the Gentiles. God told Peter, "Look do not call the Gentiles unclean, I've cleansed them. They can all be saved just like you." But when Jews came to visit Peter up in Asia, and Peter had been living with the Gentiles, eating with the Gentiles, hangin' out with the Gentiles just like it should be, but when the Jews came he thought what will they think of me? And he started to withdraw from them and just hang out with the Jews. And it was basically was discrimination, a little racism, you might say.
Now listen to what Paul says. Paul, Galatians 2:11, "Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; for before certain men came from James, down in Jerusalem, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew himself and separated himself, fearing those," there you got it again, why did he do it? Afraid. "Fearing those who were of the circumcision, the Jews, and the rest of the Jews, who had already been up there with Peter, they joined him in his hypocrisy. Even Barnabas got carried away with their hypocrisy." Good news in the hope that if Jesus can convert fishermen. He can convert us.
So does it bother you that there's hypocrites in the church? I'm more concerned about hypocrisy in me. Sort of human nature sometimes to put on a show. Christians need to get the victory over that but it shouldn't bother you in that do you counterfeit a nickel? Have you heard of counterfeit 20 dollar bills? You'll find counterfeit $100 bills. I've never seen a counterfeit nickel. Do you know why? It's not worth it. What do you counterfeit? You counterfeit things that are valuable. Why does the devil have so many counterfeit Christians? Because nothing is more valuable in the world than a real Christian. That's why you've got so many counterfeits. And so it shouldn't surprise us.
Don't be discouraged. Now why is it so important that we understand what it means to be a hypocrite? Hypocrites aren't going to make it. Job 8:13, "So the path, so is the path of all who forget God; And the hope of the hypocrite shall perish." Now there's hope for you and me right now but someday, in the end when the Lord comes, Job 20, verse 5, "The triumphing of the wicked is short, the joy of the hypocrite is just for a moment?" It's the praise of men. Job 34:30, "The hypocrite should not reign," we will not live and reign with Christ and find, listen to what Jesus said, Matthew 24:51. "The master of that servant will come on a day he's not looking for him and an hour he's not aware of, will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. And there'll be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
Is that pretty clear where the hypocrites are going to end up? That's why it's important that we talk about this because Jesus talks about it but there is hope for us. Can a Pharisee be saved? Did Jesus save any Pharisees? Do you know why Nicodemus met with Jesus at night? He was a Pharisee. He was afraid of what the other Pharisees would think. But when Jesus finally died on the cross, he got over his fear, and he came to take care of the body. Joseph of Arimathea, you don't ever hear about him until Jesus dies. He was more worried about what God thought than what the other Pharisees thought that had just condemned Jesus. And it says Joseph went boldly to Pilate and asked for his body. Pilate thought I thought you Pharisees wanted him dead. Now you want to honor him? I don't understand. Joseph was bold.
And then you know another famous Pharisee, his name is Saul of Tarsus. Later called Paul. Let me read this to you, Acts 23:6, "But Paul perceived that one part was Sadducees and the other were Pharisees. He cried out in the council, 'Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee."' Acts 26:5, "They knew me from the first, if they were willing to testify, that according to the strictest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee." Now you know what that means? That half of the New Testament was written by a Pharisee that was converted. So is there hope for a hypocrite? What happened to Paul? Paul ran into Jesus on the road to Damascus and his heart was changed. He was thoroughly converted. He spent a lot of time on his knees, he fasted and prayed for three days. And once he really got ahold of the real thing, well you know, this you've got to understand that even those who are a little hypocritical, they know there's value in the real thing and they're trying for the real thing, but instead of worried first about what God thinks, they're worried about what men think.
Now Gospel summed up in two things: love for God and love for your neighbor. What comes first? First, come unto me, Matthew 11, comes before Matthew 28. It's first this love relationship. If we will start with what does God think of me and then when we get that right. Then we live before other people. So they'll glorify our Father in Heaven, we want to be good examples, but it's got to start with is God the most important?