Summary: This message looks at the overall theme of Matthew 23: hypocrisy.

CHRISTIANS ARE SUCH HYPOCRITES: Hypocrisy is not practicing what you preach.

- Matthew 23:3.

- This is major accusation from Jesus. Here is Matthew 23, it shows up in vv. 3, 13, 15, 23, 25, 27, 29.

- There is a lot of truth to the accusation for the way we behave as the church today. We need to heed Jesus’ words because this is a serious problem and Jesus indicates He is very bothered by it.

- Sometimes we presume that because we talk about God a lot that that means we’re on the inside.

- But in talking about hypocrisy, Jesus quotes Isaiah 29:13 in saying, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me” (Matthew 15:8; Mark 7:6).

- Talking a lot about God can just set the stage for hypocrisy.

- Some examples of hypocrisy that Jesus pointed to (these are some verses in the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus mentioned hypocrisy):

a. In giving.

- Matthew 6:2.

- Jesus says: Give in secret, not to impress people.

- An example of our failure: Churches doing plaques within churches or naming stuff after people.

- An example of our failure: We say the most important thing in the world now is the Kingdom, but our checkbook says it’s the American Dream.

- An example of our failure: Jesus says not to let your right hand know what your left hand is doing, but we use tithing envelopes so we can get a tax deduction.

b. In prayer.

- Matthew 6:5.

- Jesus says: Pray in secret, not to impress people.

- An example of our failure: We say that “prayer changes things,” but treat prayer as a tool of last resort and as a ceremonial addition to our worship.

c. In fasting.

- Matthew 6:16.

- Jesus says: Don’t manipulate your face to make others impressed with your piety.

- An example of our failure: We deliberately ignore the teaching of Jesus and don’t fast, yet we’re meticulous about saying grace at every meal.

d. In judging others.

- Matthew 7:5; Luke 6:42.

- Jesus says: Know that you’ve got stuff in your own life to clean up first before cleaning up someone else.

- An example of our failure: We say we’re all sinners saved by grace, but we’re quick to point out how bad others’ sin is.

- In all four of these examples, we don’t practice what we preach and do what we do for the right reasons.

- Instead, we talk a good game of being righteous, but we do the things we say are wrong (porn, gossip) and don’t do what we say is good (prayer, Bible reading, forgiveness).

- What will transform America? A good starting place would be Christians actually acting like Jesus.

- Some humility, transparency, confession would be a good start.

- Pretending is a killer.

- Christians should be the most willing to admit to sins and failures, but instead we work hard to maintain a public persona of piety.

- Statistics on evangelical v. the population at large on major moral issues and how our behavior doesn’t differ.

JESUS' FAVORITE IMAGE OF HYPOCRISY: Jesus often referred to hypocrisy as “yeast.”

- Matthew 16:6, 11, 12; Mark 8:15; Luke 12:1.

- It’s in Luke 12:1 that Jesus says that yeast is hypocrisy.

- It’s in Matthew 16:12 that He says the yeast is the teaching.

- So they’re hypocrisy has to do, again, with not doing what they were teaching.

- Ways that the analogy works:

a. Yeast is hidden.

b. Yeast puffs up the bread.

c. It takes little yeast to work.

d. It makes you look more substantial.


- What I’ve done in this section is dig through some of the hypocrisy references that aren’t in Matthew 23 or the Sermon on the Mount and unpack the core issue that Jesus is bringing out in each one.

1. Tradition over commandment.

- Matthew 15:1-20; Mark 7:1-23.

- These two references are parallel passages. There are basically two examples of tradition over commandment that show up here within this passage:

a. Not washing your hands before eating, which Jesus uses to lead into a discussion of how it’s not what goes into you (your food) but what comes out of you (your words) that defiles.

b. Using tradition to take money that should be used to honor your mother and father and instead use it to fulfill your religious obligations.

- A big part of the challenge of tradition is that we unthinkingly do what’s been handed down to us without stopping to ask if this is the best we can do for God.

- The word “hypocrite” shows up in Matthew 15:7.

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