Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Heart of Hypocrisy: Saying & Doing

"But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites,"  (Matthew 23:13).

The three offices held by the Lord Jesus Christ were: Prophet, Priest, and King.  In this encounter with the scribes and Pharisees, He is speaking as Prophet, delivering seven oracles of judgment ("Woe to you") in this 23rd chapter of Matthew's gospel account.  As Prophet He also spoke oracles of blessing (Matthew 5:3-11), but here declarations of condemnation.

Having begun by addressing the crowds and His disciples (v. 1), the Lord then turns His attention to the conservative religious leaders in verses 13 and following.  Six times He includes the term "hypocrite" in His stern reference to them.  He explains the basis for such a label in verses 2--12.  Verse 3 summarizes His appraisal:  "all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds;  for they say things and do not do them."

Believer, the crying need for every conscientious Christian is for discernment... to be taught of the Lord the true state of his own heart.  Rightly does Scripture declare that "the heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?"  (Jeremiah 17:9).  The answer implied: no one.  Only as He reveals our heart to us through His Word of truth will we rightly mourn for the hypocrisy there.  The more intimately we know Him, (through prayer and meditation on His Word), the more deeply we love Him, the more intense our desire to please Him, then greater will be the consistency between what we say and what we do.  

You who are intimately acquainted with all our ways know perfectly the areas of hypocrisy in each and every one of Your children's hearts.  We can deceive ourselves, and one another, but never You.  Thank You for Your faithful Holy Spirit, who uses Your Word to reveal to us the depth of our depravity...increase our willingness to accept, confess and repent, as You show us our heart.  
In the Lord Jesus' Name,

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