The Heights of Hypocrisy
Let me introduce you to a prospective church member. He will attend every service, including special events. He will go on mission trips with a passion to convert the heathen. He will tithe, sing in the choir, read his Bible daily, and memorize Scripture. He will be happy to pray in corporate worship. He is thoroughly orthodox in his theology. He is an inerrantist and believes in heaven and hell. He never gets drunk, is not addicted to porn, never uses profanity, is a family man, loves his country fervently, weeps on July 4, and votes the right way. His reputation in the community is stellar. If any man ever earned the right to go to heaven, it is this man. His religion is certainly something to admire.
Sadly this is a man headed for hell. I have just introduced you to a twenty-first-century Pharisee!… [Exalting Jesus in Mark, Daniel Akin]
I want to talk to you about “The Height of Hypocrisy” today.
If I were to ask you the question, “Who do you think the biggest hypocrites are?” Politicians, liberals and possibly law enforcement.
But if I ask you the question, “Who do you think is the most detrimental hypocrite?” Religious Person
Political hypocrites only affect temporary situations whereas a religious hypocrite can affect someones eternity!
Hypocrite- This word comes to us from the ancient Greek language. It was used to describe actors in a play. Ancient actors would carry different masks in their hands as they acted. The masks were attached to sticks and could be held before the face as needed. A smiling mask suggested humor, a frowning mask suggested sadness. These actors were called the “hypocritos”. This word means “one who wears a mask”.
We use the word today to refer to people who pretend to be one thing when they are actually something else. People who pretend to be your friend while stabbing you in the back are hypocrites. People who live one way at church and another way at home are hypocrites. People who attempt to do wicked things under the radar while acting like all is well are hypocrites.
The Bible calls hypocrisy a sin. There are two forms hypocrisy can take: that of professing belief in something and then acting in a manner contrary to that belief, and that of looking down on others when we ourselves are flawed.
In our text this morning, both forms of hypocrisy exist making it “The Height of Hypocrisy”
Text; Mark 7:1-23
1 Then the Pharisees and some of the scribes came together to Him, having come from Jerusalem. 2 Now when they saw some of His disciples eat bread with defiled, that is, with unwashed hands, they found fault. 3 For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands in a special way, holding the tradition of the elders. 4 When they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other things which they have received and hold, like the washing of cups, pitchers, copper vessels, and couches. 5 Then the Pharisees and scribes asked Him, “Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashed hands?” 6 He answered and said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. 7 And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ 8 For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men—the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do.” 9 He said to them, “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition. 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ 11 But you say, ‘If a man says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is Corban”—’ (that is, a gift to God), 12 then you no longer let him do anything for his father or his mother, 13 making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do.” 14 When He had called all the multitude to Himself, He said to them, “Hear Me, everyone, and understand: 15 There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man. 16 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear!” 17 When He had entered a house away from the crowd, His disciples asked Him concerning the parable. 18 So He said to them, “Are you thus without understanding also? Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, 19 because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods?” 20 And He said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”
1. They Found Fault; 1-5
1. They Found Fault; 1-5
Hypocrites always look down on others so they can exalt themselves.
This religious delegation from Jerusalem came for the very purpose of interrogating Jesus to find fault Him and his ministry. This is the fourth time in the Gospel of Mark they had done this.
In 2:18, the Pharisees attacked Jesus through his disciples by claiming that the disciples were wrong not to fast (breaking the religious leaders’ additions to God’s law);
In 2:24, they claimed that the disciples were wrong to pluck heads of grain and eat them on the Sabbath (again, only breaking one of their additions to God’s law);
In 3:22, a delegation had incorrectly concluded that Jesus was casting out demons because he himself was demon possessed.
Here they find fault in the disciples for not washing their hands before they ate. This has nothing to do with personal hygiene but with ceremonial washing.
John MacArthur describes it this way. “This washing had nothing to do with cleaning dirty hands but with a ceremonial rinsing. The ceremony involved someone pouring water out of a jar onto another’s hands, whose fingers must be pointing up. As long as the water dripped off at the wrist, the person could proceed to the next step. He then had water poured over both hands with the fingers pointing down. Then each hand was to be rubbed with the fist of the other hand.”
The Pharisees thought that unless hands were washed in this certain manner a person was not right before God nor thankful for God’s blessings of his daily provisions. [How foolish/hypocritical of them].
Surely church people would never act like that? Only when we look down at others when they come to church not looking like us, not dressed like we do, maybe with long hair on a man and short on a woman, or God forbid they have a tattoo!
10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’
Its easy to find fault in others to make us feel/look better than most.
2. The Origin of Hypocrisy; 6
2. The Origin of Hypocrisy; 6
Hypocrisy begins in the heart
9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?
Jesus knows our heart and He knows when we are play acting. The Pharisees thought they were holy because they obeyed the Law and avoided external defilement. But Jesus tells them it’s not the outside that needs to be clean but the inside, your heart!
Look at what religious hypocrisy does with the Word of God;
Teaching their doctrines as God’s Word (Mark 7:7)
Laying aside God’s Word (Mark 7:8)
Rejecting God’s Word (Mark 7:9)
Robbing God’s Word of its power (Mark 7:13)
[Ills. v.10-12] The Pharisees were getting people to dedicate their estate to the temple by Corbin [gift to God] and therefore they would be released from the responsibility of taking care of their parents in need by saying “I’ve given it all to God.”
It takes a wicked heart to not want to take care of your parents!
8 But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
[Warren Wiersbe] History reveals that the Jewish religious leaders came to honor their traditions far above the Word of God. Rabbi Eleazer said, “He who expounds the Scriptures in opposition to the tradition has no share in the world to come.” The Mishna, a collection of Jewish traditions in the Talmud, records, “It is a greater offense to teach anything contrary to the voice of the Rabbis than to contradict Scripture itself.” But before we criticize our Jewish friends, perhaps we should examine what influence “the church fathers” are having in our own Christian churches. We also may be guilty of replacing God’s truth with man’s traditions. [Catholic church/pope, Baptist church/by-laws]
3. The Heights of Hypocrisy; 15-23
3. The Heights of Hypocrisy; 15-23
The Height of Hypocrisy is what comes out of a mans heart. It’s not what he takes in eating, but what comes out in his motives. Even the Christian heart can be tainted with hypocrisy. This is the height of hypocrisy because of the affect it will have on others.
11 Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; 12 for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. 13 And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, “If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews? 15 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, 16 knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified. 17 “But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. 19 For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.”
One Sunday a man sat through a church service and then on the way home he fussed about the sermon, he griped about the traffic, he complained about the heat, and he made a big fuss about how late the lunch meal was served. Then he bowed and prayed, giving God thanks for the food.
His son was watching him all the way through this post-church experience. Just as they were beginning to pass the food he said, “Daddy, did God hear you when we left the church and you started fussin’ about the sermon and about the traffic and about the heat?”
The father blushed and said, “Well, yes, son, He heard me.”
“Well, Daddy, did God hear you when you just prayed for this food right now?”
And he says, “Well, yes, son, He … He … He heard me.”
“Well, Daddy, which one did God believe?”
That little story showcases a problem that afflicts far too many church people. Too often what we claim to be and what we really are is miles apart. “Hypocrisy”.
Carr, A. (2015). Clean Hands or a Clean Heart? (Mark 7:1–23). In The Sermon Notebook: New Testament (p. 692). Lenoir, NC: Alan Carr.