Have you ever known a hypocrite? Maybe you’ve been one yourself sometimes.  What does the Bible say about hypocrisy? And how can we avoid being one? In this lesson, Robert gives us a balanced approach to this important topic.

ROBERT >> Have you ever pretended to be somebody you’re not or tried to cover up who you really are? Why is it that sometimes we play the hypocrite? And do we realize that hypocrisy is just another problem of the heart?

SINGING>> Speaking the truth, speaking the truth, speaking the truth, speaking the truth in love.

ROBERT >> Why are we hypocritical?

Well, it usually goes back to the heart. Maybe it’s fear in our heart that causes us to try to cover up things or pretend to be something we’re not. Maybe it’s pride in our heart. Or perhaps we’re just seeking popularity with other people. Or maybe it’s for our own personal gain.

All of these things, you see, are problems of the heart that cause us to act like hypocrites. I want you to think about this morning with me some examples of hypocrisy in the Bible that’ll help us to see more about what we’re talking about today.

I want us to go back to the Old Testament and to take at some examples that we find in the history of Israel where God’s own people played the hypocrite. They acted as though they were very religious, they acted as though they truly loved God, that they believed in him, and that they were trying to worship and to honor him; but the fact is that they were just playing the hypocrite.

Isaiah 1:11-18, Isaiah condemned Israel because of their hypocrisy, and in very strong terms. It says here in verse 11, “To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me? Says the Lord. I’ve had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed cattle. I do not delight in the blood of bulls or of lambs or goats.”

You see, God was so sick of their offerings and their sacrifices, not because he had not commanded them and did not want them to bring this kind of sacrifice to his altar, but because of their hypocrisy. Notice further as we read on in verse 12.”When you come to appear before Me, who has required this from your hand to trample my courts? Bring no more futile sacrifices. Incense is an abomination to Me, the new moons, the sabbaths and the calling of assemblies. I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting.”

You see in this passage that they were coming together, they were keeping the feasts, they were doing what God had instructed in the law, but you notice that they were guilty of iniquity. They had sin in their heart. They had sin in their lives that made all of these things futile, vain, meaningless. They were just going through the motions of worship.

As you read on in verse 15, “When you spread out your hands, I’ll hide My eyes from you. Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear; your hands are full of blood.”

Yes, they were guilty. Guilty of murder, but guilty of many sins in their heart and in their life. So God would not even hear their prayers. They would lift up their hands, they would call out to him, but he refused to hear because of what was in their heart. Read a little bit further and see how God told them to take care of this problem.

It says in verse 16, “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, and let us reason together, says the Lord. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool. You see, they needed to get their hearts right with God before they tried to worship him, to offer sacrifice to him, to come before him, to call out to him in prayer. They needed to turn to him before they came before him in this way, to find cleansing, to find forgiveness for their sins. Don’t let us think that any of us are worthy and able to come before God until we first turn away from our sins and find his cleansing and forgiveness.

Let’s read a little further. Another prophet of Israel, Amos, spoke about their hypocrisy, Amos 5:21-27. Here he says, “I hate, I despise your feast days, and I do not savor your sacred assemblies. Though you offer Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them; nor will I regard your fattened peace offerings. Take away from Me the noise of your songs, for I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments. But let justice run down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

You see, God was not interested in the sacrifices that they were making, the songs of praise that they were giving to him, because, again, they refused to do what God had asked them to do in their lives. Their lives were marked by injustice rather than justice, by unrighteousness rather than righteousness.

And so he says in verse 25, “Did you offer Me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty years, O house of Israel? You also carried Sikkuth your king and Chiun, your idols, the star of your gods, which you made for yourselves. And therefore I will send you into captivity beyond Damascus, says the Lord, whose is the God of hosts. Our God is a jealous God.”

They could not keep other gods in their pockets. They could not be going around worshiping other gods and think they could come before the one true God and their worship be acceptable. That’s hypocrisy. Another prophet, Micah, also spoke about the hypocrisy of Israel.

In Micah 6:6-8, listen to his very strong warnings to this people of God. “With what shall I come before the Lord and bow myself before the high God? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? What will God accept? If I do all of these things, I give thousands of sacrifices, I’m even willing to sacrifice my own child, would God accept that?”

Well, God doesn’t want our sacrifices as much as he wants our obedience.

And so Micah says in verse 8, “He has shown you, O man, what’s good. And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”

Our worship and our honoring of God, the sacrifices we make for the Lord are all worth absolutely nothing if we regard iniquity in our hearts, if we live unrighteous lives and refuse to come to him and turn to him and find his forgiveness, only then are we ready and able to bring our offerings to the Lord. This is something that the Pharisees, the religious leaders of Jesus’ day, also failed to understand and to take care of. He sharply rebuked them because of their hypocrisy.

Notice in Matthew chapter 6 beginning in verse 1 Jesus says, “Take heed, that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them; otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven.”

You see, Jesus pinpointed the problem in their heart. They wanted to impress men more than God. They wanted to please men. They wanted the honor and reward that comes from men rather than from God. They were hypocrites because it was about being seen by men rather than honoring God. He gives us a few examples of this. He says in verse 2, “Therefore when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, and that your charitable deed may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.”

Yes, you see, when we try to help somebody else out, do some good deed for someone, make an offering to help those that are poor or in need, let’s not do it to be seen by men, to be rewarded by men, but to receive the reward that comes from God.

What about our prayers?

And when you pray, he says in verse 5, “and when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites; for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room; and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father as in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. And therefore do not be like them, for your Father knows the things that you have need of before you ask Him.”

What about when we pray to God?

Is it to be seen of men?

Is it to impress men?

Do we use big words and flowery speech so that we might show people how smart or intelligent we are?

Or are we concerned about talking to God, having a conversation with our Lord? Prayer is not something that we do to be seen of men.

That’s hypocrisy. But rather it’s a way that we can honor our God and develop a greater relationship with him by speaking to him. I look a little bit further in this chapter, and I see this was also a problem for the Pharisees when it came to things like fasting.

In verse 16 it says, “Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance; for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. When they were fasting, they weren’t doing it again to develop that relationship with God, to honor and worship him.”

No, it was more about being seen by men. They wanted everybody to know what they were doing for God, to impress men when they should have been trying to honor their God. In Matthew 15:1-9 we find another example of this. Daily they would wash their hands, and before they would eat they would wash the outside of the pots and the utensils that they would use. And all of those things are good and fine. That was their custom. But you see, what they failed to do was to keep the commandments of God. And that, too, is hypocrisy.

When we allow our customs and our traditions to be more important to us than the word of God, than the commands of God, that’s also hypocrisy. Let me read to you from Matthew 15:1. Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying, Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread. He answered, and said to them, Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? For God commanded, saying, Honor your father or your mother, and he who curses father or mother, let him be put to death. But you say,” Whoever says to his father or mother, Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God, and then he need not honor his father or mother; and thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition.”

You see, when God told them to honor their father and mother, instead of doing that, they took what they would use to take care of their parents, to honor them, and they offered it as a gift for God. They violated the commandment of God through their tradition.

He warns them, and he quotes from Isaiah to help them to see who they really are; verse 7, “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.”

Oh, those Pharisees were highly esteemed by the people of the day because of their knowledge, because of the keeping of their traditions, the gifts that they would offer to God, and they liked to be seen as that kind of people; but they failed to do justice, to do good, to walk humbly with their God. Like Israel of old, they, too, were hypocrites.

Read Matthew chapter 23 where Jesus gave a scathing rebuke of these people because they wanted to be seen by men rather than honor their God. But I also want us to consider Luke the 18th chapter, because here we see a contrast between a heart of hypocrisy and a heart of humility.

Luke chapter 18, beginning in verse 9, “Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves, that they were righteous, and despised others. Two men went up to the temple to pray; one a Pharisee, and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself: God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven; but beat his breast, saying, God, be merciful to me, a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For every one who exalts himself will be humbled; and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Yes, there are many like the Pharisee in the parable of Jesus here that think that they’re good enough, that they can get to heaven on their own merit, that they don’t need a savior. The only way they can do that is pretend to be something they’re not, to act as though they’re without sin and they don’t need a savior. But if we truly want to be right with God, we must humble ourselves, and recognizing our sin, acknowledge Jesus Christ as the savior. It’s not hypocrisy that will get us to heaven, but true humility.

Now, before we leave our lesson today, I want us to think about what we can do to help us deal with hypocrisy. We’ve seen that God will not accept a heart that pretends to be something it isn’t, that plays the hypocrite. God wants us to be open and honest to him. And so let’s learn to open our hearts to God.

The psalmist teaches us this in Psalm 26:2. Here the Bible says, “Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; try my mind and my heart.”

You see, he may not be able to see everything about himself, but he wants God to see it. He’s not trying to cover himself up, trying to cover his heart, his thoughts, his actions up. He’s saying God, I acknowledge that you see these things, and I’m accountable to you.

I love how the psalmist puts it later on in Psalm 139:23-24. “After reminding us that God knows and sees everything, he knows everything about us, he then turns himself over to the Lord. He says, Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxieties, and see if there’s any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

It’s that kind of honesty and acknowledgment of God and trust in the Lord that will get us to heaven.

In 1 John 1:8-9, John wrote to the Christian, and he says, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourself, the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

You see, God is in the cleansing business, not the whitewashing business. We cannot whitewash our sins away. We must turn them over to the Lord in true humility. As long as we keep hypocrisy in our hearts, as long as we play the hypocrite, as long as we keep pretending, we’re lying to ourself. We need to open our hearts to God. He knows what’s there, anyway. And let him cleanse us of our sin and lead us in the way everlasting. Secondly, open your heart to others. We all need to be held accountable by others. Look at this passage in 2 Corinthians chapter 6.

2 Corinthians 6:11-13. The apostle Paul recognized that we all are accountable to each other and that we can help each other to stay where we need to be. He says here, “O Corinthians, we have spoken openly to you. Our heart is wide open. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections. Now, in return for the same, I speak as to children, you also be open.”

Paul said I tried to be open and honest with you, and I want you to open your hearts to us in the very same way. So in this way that we can have the kind of relationship we need in the body of Christ as fellow Christians to help each other.

In chapter 7 verse 2 and 3 he goes on to say, “Open your hearts to us. We have wronged no one, we’ve corrupted no one, we’ve cheated no one. I do not say this to condemn, for I have said before that you are in our hearts, to die together and to live together.”

Well, that kind of love, honesty, and openness is what’s needed among fellow Christians.

In James 5:16 the Bible says, “Confess your faults one to another, and pray for one another.”

It’s this accountability that will help us to no longer play the hypocrite, but to be open and honest, to humble ourselves before God. As we humble ourselves before each other, we can help each other. And finally, open your heart to yourself. You’ve got to be honest with yourself about who you really are.

In Romans 12:3 the apostle Paul reminds us not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think.

Who are you, really?

What kind of life are you really living?

God knows, and you know. And so be open and honest. Only then can you improve, can you make corrections, can God change your life and transform your heart into the image of Christ.

2 Corinthians 13:5 warns us to examine ourselves to see whether we be in the faith.

Have we lost faith in Jesus?

Have we turned our backs on Jesus?

Do we keep going on lying about our relationship with the Lord?

If you want to remove hypocrisy from your heart, you must be honest with God, you must be honest with others, and you must be honest with yourself.

When we all come face to face with the cross of Jesus Christ, there we see the perfect one, the one who was tempted in all points as we, yet without sin, Hebrews 4:15. We see that innocent one being penalized for our sins, suffering and dying to pay the penalty for our sins so we could be forgiven.

Looking at him and seeing his glory, his love, his sacrifice, his perfection, we begin to see ourselves for who we are. And seeing ourselves for who we are, we bow before him, confessing him as the Son of God, giving ourselves to him in baptism, as the scripture says, we die with him, we’re buried with him, and we’re raised with him to walk in newness of life. There in that moment we can find forgiveness and cleansing, a new heart, a new life. That kind of honesty, admitting our sinfulness and our need for the savior is what’s important and essential to bringing us home to heaven.

SINGING>> Years I spent in vanity and pride,
caring not my Lord was crucified,
knowing not it was for me he died on Calvary.
Mercy there was great and grace was free,
pardon there was multiplied to me.
There my burden soul found liberty at Calvary.
Oh, the love that drew salvation’s plan;
oh, the grace that brought it down to man;
oh, the mighty gulf that God did span at Calvary.
Mercy there was great and grace was free,
pardon there was multiplied to me.
There my burdened soul found liberty at Calvary.

SINGING>> When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
when you are discouraged thinking all is lost,
count your many blessings,
name them one by one,
and it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.
Count your blessings, name them one by one.
Count your blessings, see what God hath done.
Count your blessings, name them one by one.
Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.
So amid the conflict whether great or small do not be discouraged,
God is over all.
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.
Count your blessings, name them one by one.
Count your blessings, see what God hath done.
Count your blessings, name them one by one.
Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.

ROBERT >> I’m so glad that you watched our program today. If you have any questions, comments, or requests, if you would like a personal home Bible study or special prayers, if you would like more information about the lesson today, or if you would like to order today’s lesson or any other lesson on CD, DVD, or in manuscript form, let me encourage you to e-mail us at requests@ttil.tv.

Or write us at P.O. Box 865, Hurst, Texas 76053.

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Remember, all our materials and services are absolutely free of charge. We just want to do what we can to help us all towards heaven. So let us know how we can help you, and please join us next time right here on The Truth In Love.

SINGING>> Unto the hills around do I lift up my longing eyes.
Oh, whence for me shall my salvation come,
from whence arise?
From God the Lord doth come my certain aid,
from God the Lord whom heaven and earth hath made.
From every evil shall he keep thy soul, from every sin.
Jehovah shall preserve thy going out, thy coming in.
Above thee watching, he whom we adore shall keep thee henceforth,
yea for evermore.

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