“Everything is pure to those whose hearts are pure. But nothing is pure to those who are corrupt and unbelieving, because their minds and consciences are corrupted. Such people claim they know God, but they deny him by the way they live. They are detestable and disobedient, worthless for doing anything good. ” Titus 1: 15-16 NLV
Jesus describes what He meant by His use of the term “hypocrite’ when he warned the multitudes and His disciples about the scribes and Pharisees saying:
“…..for they say, and do not do.” Matthew 23:3b
When a person talks a good talk, but doesn’t walk the talk, they qualify as a hypocrite. Words must be applied in life. It is wrong to say, “Do as I say and not as I do.” The person who says that is a hypocrite.
The term “hypocrite” used by Jesus eight times in Matthew 23 is translated from the Greek term HUPOKRITES (Strong’s #5273) and it refers to, “an actor, stage player; pretender; hypocrite.” In the classical secular use of the term, HUPOKRITES referred to one who answers or replies on stage. Such a stage actor often made use of a mask. Such mask were used to convey emotions by way of exaggerated expressions portrayed on the masks, e.g. a sad mask; an angry mask; a happy mask, etc. Therefore, a hypocrite as Jesus was using the term, pointed to spiritual actors or pretenders, those who were presenting themselves as someone they were not.
“Now Jesus turned to address his disciples, along with the crowd that had gathered with them." The religion scholars and Pharisees are competent teachers in God's Law. You won't go wrong in following their teachings on Moses. But be careful about following them. They talk a good line, but they don't live it. They don't take it into their hearts and live it out in their behavior. It's all spit-and-polish veneer.
"Instead of giving you God's Law as food and drink by which you can banquet on God, they package it in bundles of rules, loading you down like pack animals. They seem to take pleasure in watching you stagger under these loads, and wouldn't think of lifting a finger to help. Their lives are perpetual fashion shows, embroidered prayer shawls one day and flowery prayers the next. They love to sit at the head table at church dinners, basking in the most prominent positions, preening in the radiance of public flattery, receiving honorary degrees, and getting called 'Doctor' and 'Reverend.'” Matt. 23:1-7 MSG Bible
What does Jesus tell us about the nature of a hypocrite? What does a hypocrite look like?
First, hypocrites take authority rather than receive it from God. Jesus said, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat.” (23:2). Please do not miss what Jesus is saying here. The connotation is that the scribes and Pharisees selfishly took by presumption their position of authority. Literally in the original language it states they seated themselves in Moses seat of authority. They were hungry for authority, for power, for influence, and for control. They hypocritically masked these dark motives and tried to come off as very religious and spiritual. The underlying motive of hypocrisy is to seize authority or appear more than what you are so as to have greater influence on others.
Second, hypocrites say and don’t do (23:3). This is the basic contradiction of the hypocrite; they say one thing but do NOT back it up with their lives. They teach things or say things that they themselves do not do. Jesus denounced such inconsistency (Matthew 7:3, 21-23; John 7:23). If someone says something or teaches something that they themselves do not abide by, they are hypocrites and that is woeful according to Jesus.
“What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say.” Ralph Waldo Emerson