The English word “hypocrisy” comes from a Greek word that primarily meant a reply or an answer and came to mean the acting of stage-players as they would answer one another in dialogue; thus the meaning of dissembling (“dissimulation” as translated in Galatians 2:13) or pretense (W. E. Vine, Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words).
No one wants to be called a “hypocrite.” Indeed, such is an indictment of one’s integrity and honesty! Yet hypocrites do exist today. They exist in all levels of society and in all professions. We will limit this writing to “spiritual hypocrisy.”
Paul warned in I Timothy 4:2 of those who would be “Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron.” These people would be speaking or acting from a feigned or deceitful heart.
James says, “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without HYPOCRISY” (James 3:17). Such wisdom is the kind our Lord used. We will consider His use of the word that is translated “hypocrite(s)” or “hypocrisy” in the book of Matthew. The reader is urged to read each passage that is listed.
Jesus said that the Scribes and Pharisees appeared “outwardly” to be righteous but were full of hypocrisy and iniquity (Matt. 23:27-28). Many are the modern counterparts to these scribes and Pharisees. What of elders and preachers who appear so righteous and humble outwardly but who have boiling disdain and hatred for anyone who would dare question their practices of harboring and fellowshipping false teachers? The ancient scribes and Pharisees are their role models! (Matt. 23:25.)
What of the people who are so quick to “pick” out a flaw in a brother’s eye, but cannot see the beam in their own eye (Matt. 7:5). What of some in the church who condemn those who condemn false teachers? What of those who “argue” that it is wrong to debate the cause of Truth?
What of the people who seem always to want the best wishes of all of the community to be directed toward them, even if they must remain silent on issues that relate to spiritual health? Indeed these seek the glory of men and they have their reward (Matt. 6:2).
Some in the church seem to want to be the “biggest duck” in each puddle. They evidently want to be seen of men. What does Jesus call them (Matt. 6:5)?
You will never see a “modern hypocrite” who is not “noticeably humble!” Some will go to great lengths to “prove” that they are just the sweetest and best people on earth. But when their pretentiousness is challenged, when their life and work is questioned, one can see the venom that is just under the surface. Jesus talked of such in Matthew 6:16.
It is pretty obvious that some are willing to approach God with their mouths and in their words but are, nevertheless, vain worshippers (Matt. 15:7ff).
Hypocrites in Jesus’ day were perfectly able to see some things, but were totally unwilling to see other things (Matt. 16:3). This writer has wondered what it will take to get some brethren to “see” the sin of modern day religious leaders who pervert the Gospel and the way of righteousness. Even when these things are pointed out to some they are unwilling to repent of supporting such false teachers.
Indeed, as in Jesus’ days on earth, many today seem set on “tempting” Him with their pretentious lives. Many of the statements in articles and in sermons are slanted to ridicule and make fun of the Truth of the Gospel of Christ (Matt. 22:18).
Many are the hypocrites who can pray longer, cry longer, preach longer and whine longer than all others. They are like the ones in Matthew 23:14. These men will often hinder others from following Truth just because they do not like some who stand for the Truth. Yet they will pretend to “love and cherish” the faithful men who have gone before who preached the same Gospel that the hypocrites now reject! This sounds like the hypocrites in Matthew 23:29.
I personally know of men who call themselves preachers who will NOT support the preaching of the Gospel when it is preached by a preacher who has rebuked them for their sin! These same men often will discourage others from listening to the Word. They are like the hypocrites of Matthew 23:13.
Even when the modern hypocrites “convert” someone, they often immediately lead that one into a “denominational Church of Christ” that is more akin to sectarianism than the true church of the Bible. They will attend to “some” things diligently, but will leave off other things that are weightier! They are like those of Matthew 23:15, 23.
Those who follow these men will live with them eternally in a place where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matt. 24:51).
“Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is HYPOCRISY” (Luke 12:1).