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mask October 29 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: Mark 12:18-40; Matthew 22:23-23:36; Luke 20:27-47; Luke 10:25-37

Hypocrisy

Will the real hypocrite please stand up? Of course we don’t expect anyone to actually do that, do we? No, and they will not have a sign on their back, “I’m a hypocrite” or carry a flag so that we can identify them. What is a hypocrite? The word originally referred to a person wearing a mask in a theatre production. The mask was not who they were; it was who they appeared to be. A hypocrite is a person who portrays himself to be one thing, but in reality he is something else. If the truth is told, it will reveal that we have all been hypocrites in our behavior at one time or another. Our children or our spouses usually catch us in our inconsistent behavior if we do not catch it ourselves. We don’t like it when people speak of our hypocrisy, even if it is true. We are proud. We will attack the person that speaks the truth about our behavior, or even lie or justify our behavior. In fact, many of us will do almost anything to make our actions seem righteous, given the situation of course.

In regards to religious leaders, we would like to think that religious leaders would not be hypocrites, but they are human, too, and some are the worst hypocrites. Because of their position some believe they are above criticism. They may speak boastfully about their behavior, but we know differently. Religious leaders live in “glass houses” so they cannot fool people very long. People view their lives and see how consistently they are lived. Leaders, and especially spiritual leaders and teachers, are judged more strictly by God (James 3:1). To whom much is given much is required.

The priests of Israel were given the responsibility of spiritual instruction for the Jewish people. Because they were setting the example for others to follow, they were expected to live what they taught in a strict fashion. Religious leaders in Jesus’ day, however, were hypocritical. They loved their positions and the accompanying privileges. It is no surprise that they attacked Jesus, the one who spoke the truth. Truth is threatening to hypocrites; it exposes them for what they are, and it threatens their position and respect.

What did Jesus do when he was attacked by hypocritical religious leaders? Besides speaking God’s truth, he told the people how they might identify them. Luke 20:45-47 says,

While all the people were listening, Jesus said to his disciples, “Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows’s houses [apparently for money] and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely.”

The religious leaders were a law unto themselves. They ignored God’s laws and nullified them by making up their own traditions. Jesus did not attack the common people; they were but sheep. He attacked the false shepherds, the religious leaders who led them astray or allowed wolves (false teachers) to come into the sheepfold and attack them (John 10:7-13).

Jesus was not political. He was not afraid to offend even those in high positions, if, in fact, they were in the wrong. He exposed evil and evildoers. He cared nothing about gaining any favor with them or anyone but God his Father. Do we wish to curry favor with the ungodly by saying nothing about wrong behavior? Do we fear reprisals, or do we care only what God thinks? Do we care about justice and righteousness enough to expose evil, speak the truth, and attack false teaching? If we do not do this, succeeding generations of people could be deluded to believe by our silence that we actually agree with them. Let us live lives of integrity and righteousness and speak out against false teaching.

Lessons to live by:

  • Leaders, and especially spiritual leaders and teachers, are judged more strictly by God (James 3:1). To whom much is given much is required.
  • Truth is threatening to hypocrites.
  • Let us live lives of integrity and righteousness and speak out against false teaching.
  • God offers us the salvation of our souls through his Son, Jesus, who was no hypocrite (more...)

Today’s Bible memory verse:

Psalms 40:10 “I do not hide your righteousness in my heart; I speak of your faithfulness and salvation. I do not conceal your love and your truth from the great assembly.” (NIV)

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