Jesus labeled scribes and Pharisees hypocrites. Hypocrisy in the New Testament can be defined as ‘an outward show or appearance, a pretense put forth in order to cover one’s real intent, i.e. the saying of the thing that pleased (men), and not the thing that was true’. A synonym for hypocrisy is dissimulation which means to hide under false appearance. Another is ‘pretender’ as illustrated below.
“Then the Pharisees went and plotted how they might entangle Him in His talk. And they sent to Him their disciples…saying, ‘Teacher, we know that You are true, and teach the way of God in truth…’” Matthew 22:15-16
Hypocrisy is not limited to the New Testament, but was discussed in the Old as well. The Hebrew base could be translated to polluted, defiled, and even godless. The end result, however, is the same in both Old and New Testaments.
“For what is the hope of the hypocrite, though he may gain much, if God takes away his life?” Job 27:8
Jesus vehemently condemned hypocrisy and minced no words. We recently discussed the Pharisees relative to their denial of Jesus’ deity. They, however, as hypocrites were also great pretenders. They were more interested in making a good impression with other men than learning the truth.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.” Matthew 23:14-15
The Pharisees really did illustrate the hypocrisy of presenting false appearances.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!…For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones…so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy…” Matthew 23:25-28
As Jesus was ending this conversation with the Pharisees He replaced the word hypocrite with serpent which meant He equated the two terms.
“Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of Hell?” Matthew 23:33
In the Bible the word ‘serpent’ is used symbolically for Satan. Recall from the final book of the Bible:
“So the great dragon…that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world…” Revelation 12:9
Therefore, Satan is the great deceiver, blasphemer, liar and now hypocrite. And while the sin of hypocrisy may not appear to be deadly, it will bring on the wrath of God as taught by Jesus.
Other New Testament writers warned of the sin of hypocrisy.
“Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits… speaking lies in hypocrisy…” 1 Timothy 4:1-2
“Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy…desire the pure milk of the word…” I Peter 2:1-2
Perhaps the ultimate act of hypocrisy will occur during the great tribulation when the antichrist presents himself to be God. The title ‘antichrist’ amply describes the nature and agenda of this future leader.
“Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come (return of Jesus) unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4
One might think that leaders of a great Christian nation such as America would never knowingly participate in hypocrisy in the normal course of governance. Let’s, however, briefly restate the primary definition of hypocrisy, i.e. the saying of a thing that pleased (men), but not the thing that was true. Today we simply call in ‘political correctness’.
Political correctness can be defined broadly as refraining from offending anyone at nearly all cost. One of the major targets of political correctness is the suppression of the person and deity of Christ. Political correctness suppresses the truth which in turn results in deceit and lying.
We’re guilty as charged.