Summary: Hypocrisy is 1) CURSED FOR ITS EXCLUSION, ITS 2) SUBVERSION 3)PERVERSION 4)INVERSION 5)EXTORTION AND SELF-INDULGENCE 6)CONTAMINATION AND 7)PRETENSION
A majority of adults who don’t attend church say they believe in God, but they have other feelings about the institution of church. A recent survey of 1 402 adults who don’t attend church, not even on holidays, found that 72 percent thought the church ‘is full of hypocrites,’
In Canada over the past few weeks we have seen everything from sex assault charges where a minister engaged in what he call “purification baths” with members of his congregation and fathered 16 children, to another that performed what he called curse removal for substantial fees.
One individual commenting on the survey results said: “We need to be helping [non Christians] understand what the church is. My feeling is we’ve done a poor job communicating that church is not for people who have arrived, but for people who are on a journey.’
George Barna, a pollster commenting on this data said: “the media-saturated, fault-finding, skeptical society we live in is part of it. You see the mistakes of prominent [Christian] leaders broadcast and printed on pages, and that solidifies people’s perspectives about Christians as hypocrites or living hypocritical lifestyles.’
Another individual commenting on the latest survey said: “people’s personal relationships also influence their perception of church, such as the neighbor who is heavily involved in his church, but also heavily involved with a mistress.
Young adults in particular are rejecting the institution — and Christianity in general — because it is perceived to be hypocritical. One hopeful element in this survey found that 78 percent would ‘be willing to listen’ to someone who wanted to share their beliefs about Christianity. They were open to talking about spiritual matters with a friend. That number was even higher among young adults, aged 18-29, of them 89 percent said they were willing to listen to a Christian sharing his or her beliefs. (Source: Tuscaloosa News, USA: http://www.religionnewsblog.com/20397/survey)
One commentator on this study said: [we are not] doing a good job of getting the message [out] of what a church is about out beyond the church walls”. We tend to be talking to ourselves. We say this in church but only about 3 percent of unchurched people come into a church [building]. This is one reason why churches must begin to communicate outside the walls of the church more, so people understand what church is and what church is not.’
This problem of hypocrisy not new. It resulted in Jesus’ strongest denunciations. Learning why it is such a problem will help us in communicating the true message of redemption and not have it hindered by a lifestyle that undermines it.
In Matthew 23:13-33 Jesus relentlessly condemned the false spiritual leaders of Israel, in particular the scribes and Pharisees, who then held the dominant power and influence in Judaism. Jesus warned about them in His first sermon, what we looked at last week, in the Sermon on the Mount (see, e.g., 5:20; 7:15), and His last sermon (Matt. 23) consists almost entirely of warnings about them and to them. In this final public message, the Lord wanted to draw the people away from those false leaders and turn them to the true teaching and the godly examples of His apostles, who would become His uniquely commissioned and endowed representatives on earth during the early years of the church. He also gave the apostles themselves a final example of the confrontational stance they would soon find it necessary to take in their proclamation and defense of the gospel.
The unbelieving scribes and Pharisees stood as models of all false spiritual leaders who would come after them. Therefore what Jesus said about them and to them is of much more than historical significance. It is essential instruction for dealing with the false leaders who abound in our own day and clear warning to us to examine ourselves, and do no be deceived about the dangers of hypocrisy.
In the first twelve verses of chapter 23, Jesus had declared that the scribes and Pharisees, typical of all false spiritual leaders, were without authority, without integrity, without sympathy, without spirituality, without humility, and therefore without God’s approval or blessing. Now speaking to them directly, He asserts they are under God’s harshest condemnation.
In His series of seven curses, or woes, against the scribes and Pharisees, Jesus condemned by extension all false spiritual teachers, and hypocrisy in general. He condemns them for 1) their Exclusion of people from God’s kingdom, for their 2) Subversion of the people, for their 3) Perversion of truth, for their 4) Inversion of God’s priorities, for their 5) Extortion and Self-indulgence, for their 6) Contamination, and for their 7) Pretension.
1) FALSE LEADERS ARE CURSED FOR THEIR EXCLUSION Matthew 23:13
Matthew 23:13 "But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in. (ESV)