Summary: How hypocrisy ensnares our lives

Intro: We have spent the last few months considering times when failure in the eyes of the world, can really be a success in the eyes of God. However, we want to spend the next few weeks looking at snares that lead to failure, even in the lives of those who are otherwise successful. Even Christians trying to do right can fall prey to the snares of the devil. This morning we want to talk about one of his biggest traps. In fact, my guess is that you know someone like this very well. It is my hope, however, that maybe you will look no farther than yourself. For this is not intended to be a series to help you find fault with others, but to help you get the “beam” out of your own eyes.

If you stop to ask anyone for the reasons people don’t go to church, one of the most prominent is “that there are too many hypocrites there.” A man in a carnival sideshow once boasted that he had trained his horse to count. A man yelled out, how many sides to a quarter? The horse stomped out, one, two. Someone else called out, how many bases in baseball? The horse stomped out, one, two, three, four. Someone else yelled, how many hypocrites in the church? And the horse started prancing away on all four feet as fast as he could go.

This morning we want to talk about hypocrisy, and how we can keep from it becoming a snare in our lives. The truth is we are all hypocrites at one time or another. We will all lie at one time or another. And just as we try to be truthful, so we also want to try to be sincere and rid our lives of hypocrisy. God’s word gives us a good picture of what hypocrisy is, and some ways to keep it from being a snare in our life. Shall we pray.

Read Matthew 23: 1-12.

To those in Jesus’ day, a hypocrite was a stage actor, someone who was playing a part. It was someone who was pretending to be someone or something that they really weren’t. As the Pharisees heard Jesus’ condemnation, what they heard him say was that they were not genuine: they were merely playing a role, pretending to be something they really weren’t. This morning, I’d ask you, are you real in your faith and your worship? Or are you merely pretending, putting on a good front for others to see on Sunday mornings? Let’s look at the snare of hypocrisy. It’s a trap that lures many Christians because it has many ways of manifesting itself. Just as a stage actor might play many parts, so also do hypocrites. Let’s talk about the different problems of hypocrisy.

I. The Problem of Presumption - vs. 1-4

In verse 2 we see Jesus saying that the Pharisees were to be respected for the high teaching position they had: they placed themselves in the position of declaring the word of God. In the temple, the Pharisees would declare the word of God: and Jesus said they were to be listened to and followed. But their teaching was not the problem. Rather the problem lay in their actions. There is a peril in authority. Often we think we have arrived spiritually. We feel we know enough to get by. Really the truth is that often we know just enough truth to be dangerous. But hypocrites usually have the right answers; they just don’t follow them in their own life.

Now, hypocrites have a problem when it comes to work. Often they want others to jump through all the right hoops, even they don’t want to jump through one. They tell everything that needs to be done: but they don’t want to do it. As pastor, I never have a problem finding someone to tell me what I should be doing. Someone is always glad to tell me an area where I have failed and where I could do better. The only problem is those same individuals aren’t doing what they want me to do. I’m sure you know someone like this.

That’s one reason why last year when we read through the Bible, I read through it also. I didn’t want to encourage you to do something I was not doing also. In fact, I’m reading through it again this year too. And I would encourage each of you to do the same.

Hypocrites love to presume what people should be doing with their lives. Have you ever heard someone say, “Well, if they really were spiritual, they would . . .” and so the story goes. There are some who like Hollering Hank Williams and country music - some who like Andy Williams and elevator music - some who like the William Tell Overture and classical music. Let’s allow for diversity in the kingdom.

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