February 21, 2021
Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:7-9).
The word hypocrite comes from the 1st century B.C. Greek word hypokrites, which means ‘an actor’ or ‘a stage player’. It is a compound noun made up of two Greek words that literally translate as ‘an interpreter from underneath’. The actors in ancient Greek theater wore large masks to mark which character they were playing, and so they interpreted the story from underneath their masks.
The Greek word took on an extended meaning to refer to any person who was wearing a figurative mask and pretending to be someone or something they were not. Modern examples include a politician caught in a scandal, a religious leader engaged in activity contrary to his/her doctrinal belief, or an actor playing a role in a movie that is contrary to his personal character.
Jesus called the Scribes and Pharisees hypocrites because their hearts were stone cold toward God, their religion was empty, their righteousness was a sham, and their doctrines corrupt. Everything about the Scribes and Pharisees was false. They portrayed holiness and righteousness before the people, yet their portrayal was as an actor on the stage - it wasn’t true to who they really were.
In Matthew 23 Jesus pronounced 7 woes upon the Scribes and Pharisees. His words were a blistering rebuke to their hypocrisy: 1) false doctrines, 2) greed, 3) ritualism, 4) false oaths (promises), 5) legalism, 6) ego-centric self-indulgence, and 7) self-righteousness. Upon the Scribes and Pharisees Jesus pronounced ‘woe’, which was a damning rebuke for their spiritual, moral, ethical, and religious abuse. In other words, Jesus pronounced God’s judgment of hell upon them as ministers of Satan.
Jesus said to the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well (John 4:22-24) You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.
All who do not humble themselves before God in true, sincere, and spiritual worship face the same rebuke of Jesus Christ. Unless and until the heart of stone is replaced with a heart of flesh through genuine salvation in Jesus Christ, true worship of the Lord God is not possible.
“Father in heaven, may my worship be genuine and sincere from a heart that knows You through Jesus Christ, Your Son. I pray the ministry of the Gospel in and through my life will be true to Your Word and to the morals and ethics of Your Kingdom. To Your honor and glory I ask, Amen.”