I think one of the most popular of all the doings of the Pharisees is their hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is a practice of claiming to have certain moral or noble or even religious beliefs when that is not really the case. Often times, Jesus called the Pharisees hypocrites, directly or indirectly (Matthew 23:2-3; 13). They were fond of playing pretense. They claimed to be holy by their standards and zeal for keeping the law but deep inside they were full of evil. They were able to fool men for several years but when the all-knowing God took on flesh and came to earth, He revealed their hypocritic nature.
Jesus vs. Hypocrisy
If there is one thing God hates, it’s hypocrisy. Jesus said in Matthew 15:8 that the people were confessing Him with their mouths but had their hearts far from Him. They were doing what my country people call “eye-service”. Their worship of God was just for the show, they were pretending to be true worshippers whereas they were not. Jesus also lashed out at the Pharisees calling them whitewashed tombs (Matthew 23:27). Jesus’ direct comparison of them to that was because in the olden days, Jews washed the tombs of their dead so much that their outer appearance was white and beautiful to look at but inside them were bones and bodies of dead people, rotting away. Just like the Pharisees who seemed to be good at putting up a godly façade but beneath it was all sort of ungodliness.
What hypocrisy looks like
Hypocrisy is such a detestable sin to God because it aims at deceiving people…God cannot be deceived and you can’t deceive yourself as well. A person who claims to be born-again but still finds sin pleasant so much so that he even hides to commit it, is certainly putting effort to deceive man but is quick to forget that God sees it all and his bid to deceive God by coming to lift holy hands in church is failed. You cannot be claiming to be for Christ and participate in things that are anti-Christ. Dear believers, the true test of your loyalty to God is not by how often you come to church or how many times you pray in a day but by what you do behind closed doors. Random citation: do you remember the story of the fig tree? It was fully bloomed with leaves and all as if it had fruits growing whereas it didn’t (Matthew 21:18-19). Jesus immediately cursed it for such show of deception. That’s to show how unpalatable hypocrisy is before God.
Also, doing things for the show of it is considered hypocrisy. Example, praying because you want others to know you pray or giving to the needy so people can call you a “good person”. Those are hypocritic acts. Jesus sites an example of the Pharisees who stand to pray not because of their devout reverence for God but so men can see them. Again, this portrays how far their heart is from their actions. They do so to receive praises of men. So that people can say “wow, this man can pray fire” or “hmmm this sister is very spiritual, can’t you see that she’s always praying”. Jesus says such people have already received their reward. (Matthew 6:5)
So sometimes, when we are praying but lace it with the intention of “so people can know I pray”, we hinder the real answers we want to those prayers because a different answer would come (not from God); the attention we’d receive (people now know you pray). Brethren, let us run far away from any deceptive scheme the enemy is suggesting to us. Though we may be successful at deceiving men, we definitely can’t fool God. Matter of fact, the scriptures have made it known to us that such people won’t be able to fool others much longer because everything that seems hidden now, will soon come to the open (Luke 8:17). The true nature of the Pharisees was eventually revealed. Their covetous and greedy nature was brought to limelight by God Himself through Christ Jesus. (Matthew 23:13-28)
How does hypocrisy work? How do I know when I’m tilting towards hypocrisy?
As believers, we have the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit and He convicts us of our wrong doings. A person doesn’t just become a hypocrite overnight. It’s either he was never born-again or slipped into sin once and rather than repent, chose to make it a lifestyle and kept living a double life. The Holy Spirit in us convicts us when we have or are going astray and helps us redirect to the right path. However, when we choose to ignore His biddings, we lose our way and become fully grounded in sin and in a bid to keep the idea of what people had of us before, (holy, goody-two-shoes, child of God, Christian) we become hypocrites.
Steer clear of hypocrisy. It is one thing Jesus could not stand about the Pharisees which makes it a definite “no-no” for us too. Learn to let your heart align with your actions. Remember, the true test of your loyalty to God is what you do behind closed doors (in the secret, where people who know you aren’t).