Summary: Religious People Beware (Hypocrisy) – Sermon by Gordon Curley. PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request – email:


Woe #1: For focussing on small matters while overlooking the big issues (vs 42).

Woe #2: For making it all about me (vs 43).

Woe #3: For deceiving others into becoming defiled (vs 44).

Woe #4: For adding to others guilt without assuming any themselves (vs 45-46)

Woe #5: For faking obedience while looking pious (vs 47)

Woe #6: For substituting works for faith (vs 52).



• In his historical book ‘The Three Edwards’ by Thomas Costain,

• He described the life of Raynald III,

• A fourteenth-century duke in what is now Belgium.

• Raynald III was grossly overweight,

• And was commonly called by his Latin nickname, Crassus, which means “fat.”

• After a violent quarrel,

• Raynald’s younger brother Edward led a successful revolt against him.

• Edward captured his brother Raynald but did not kill him.

• Instead, he built a room around Raynald in the Nieuwkerk castle;

• And promised him he could regain his title and property;

• As soon as he was able to leave the room.

• For us today that would have been no problem:

• Since the room had several windows and a normal sized door,

• And none of which was locked or barred.

• Question: So what was the problem stopping Raynald escaping?

• Answer: His size - to regain his freedom, he needed to lose weight.

• But Edward knew his older brother,

• And each day he sent him a variety of delicious foods.

• Instead of dieting his way out of prison,

• Raynald sadly grew fatter and fatter.

• Whenever Duke Edward was accused of cruelty,

• He had a quick answer:

• “My brother is not a prisoner. He may leave when he so wills.”

• But Raynald never left, he stayed in that room for ten years;

• And was only released after Edward died in battle.

• By then his health was so ruined that he died within a year.

• Raynald III was a prisoner of his own appetite.

• TRANSITION: The religious leaders of Jesus day (Pharisees & teachers of the law),

• Were also prisoners of their own appetites.

• For them food was not the problem but something far greater…

• They were prisoners of hypocrisy;

• That trait which is like an untreated cancer,

• It will slowly grow and will destroy the person who has it.

Quote: What is hypocrisy?

Answer: Hypocrisy is when you pretend to be what you don’t intend to be.

• The word "hypocrite" means "two-faced"

• We get the word from the Greek theatre where the ancient actors;

• Would use different face masks to play different characters.

• The actor true face was always hidden,

• Because they wore a number of different face masks,

• These masks enabled them to portray different characters – pretend to be someone else

• Hypocrisy is when we are two faced;

• When we pretend to be one thing in public and we are something else in private.


• An example of hypocrisy would be:

• Preaching publicly on the topic ‘Being faithful to your partner’;

• While in private having a secret affair with someone.

• We see hypocrisy in all areas of life;

• It is sad when we see it in the lives of politicians and leaders;

• And sadder still when we see it in the lives of Christian’s.

Now no-Christian is perfect, That is not an excuse it’s a fact!

• So at times we will be hypocritical,

• But that hypocrisy should be ‘at times’

• And we should be seeking to deal with it whenever it rears its ugly head.

Quote: John Newton (writer of the hymn Amazing Grace):

“I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I want to be,

I am not what I hope to be in another world; but still I am not what I once used to be,

and by the grace of God I am what I am”

• TRANSITION: None of us our perfect and we all fail;

• But like Newton we should be making progress in our Christian lives.

• So we can look back and say; “I am not what I once used to be”

• Now in this passage this morning;

• Hypocrisy is seen is a deliberate or justified life-style choice by these religious leaders

Let’s look at the passage:

• Jesus is invited into the house of a Pharisee (vs 17)?

• At this time in the life and ministry of Jesus,

• The Pharisees are opposed to him,

• So inviting Jesus into your home was a very strange thing to do!

• I would suggest his invitation was no genuine;

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