Word By Mail

We Are Hypocrites

Watch or Listen to Video

Mark 7:1-23

This 3-minute video and devotion come from a message of the same title. There’s a link to the full message at the end of this devotion.

RELIGIOUS TRADITIONS

Have you ever heard someone complain, “the church is full of hypocrites”? Is it too soon to tell you, to some extent, they’re right? There is an ongoing battle between Jesus and man’s religion. And in that battle, we see that the Pharisees were hypocrites, just like us.

In Mark 7:1, the Pharisees travel from Jerusalem to see Jesus. Not because they wanted to learn, but because they wanted to see something they could use against Jesus. And they saw something they thought for sure they could use against him.

Mark 7:2 (NLT) 2 They noticed that some of his disciples failed to follow the Jewish ritual of hand washing before eating.

Mark explains in verses 3-4 that this is a ceremonial thing, developed as a ceremonial ritual, to be done ceremonially before every meal, developed by ceremonial religious leaders to convey a ceremonial religious status of a ceremonially religious person who goes through this religious ceremony – ceremonially. All of this is not required by God but by ceremonial religious traditions.

Mark 7:5 (NLT) 5 So the Pharisees and teachers of religious law asked him, “Why don’t your disciples follow our age-old tradition? They eat without first performing the hand-washing ceremony.” 

A-Ha! They’re thinking, man, this is it – now we’ve got him. Not following the age-old traditions. Not performing the religious hand-washing ceremony. We'll nail him on these critical, ceremonial religious matters.

Sin Nature

Aren’t you glad we don’t see this type of thing in our culture today? We’ve come so far, haven’t we? We’ve evolved so much as humans, haven’t we?

No – we absolutely have not! The religious landscape Jesus stepped into in the first century was the same as the religious landscape today. Why? Because we, as humans, at our core, are the same today as we were then, and we have the same sin nature today, as we did then.

Too often, we in the Church secretly love this teaching because it gives us the chance to point that big three-foot-high foam football finger at all those hypocrites out there. And we say, “Yeah, Jesus. I hate those hypocrites, too – just like you do. You and me, Jesus, we are soooo holy. I am so glad I’m not one of those hypocrites.”

But, what we really need, is  to back up three feet from a mirror and point that big foam football finger right back at ourselves in the mirror.

Here’s how Jesus explained it.

Mark 7:6-8 (NLT) 6 Jesus replied, “You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote, ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 7 Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’ 8 For you ignore God’s law and substitute your own tradition.” 

Hypocrites

Here’s God’s definition of a hypocrite: People who honor him with their lips while their hearts are far from him. 

Let’s be honest, to some degree, and at some point in time, this has defined us all. Honoring God with our lips while our hearts are far from him. Teaching or embracing our own man-made ideas as (or in place of) God’s commands. Ignoring God’s law and substituting our own traditions. At some point, to some extent, this defines us all.

If we refuse to take a hard look in the mirror at ourselves, then we will always be shaking that big foam football finger at everyone else. We’ve got to acknowledge our own tendency to be a hypocrite and then crucify it by the power of God’s Holy Spirit so that we do not continue down that road to becoming Pharisees.

The Heart

Jesus goes on to say Mark 7:15 (NLT) 15 It’s not what goes into your body that defiles you; you are defiled by what comes from your heart.” 

He clarifies it further in verses 20-23.

Mark 7:20-23 (NLT) 20 And then he added, “It is what comes from inside that defiles you. 21 For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. 23 All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.”

The Cover-Up

Let me tell you how (in my observation) most of the Church deals with these heart-sins. We cover up the sin that’s in our heart, so that we can look like a Christian on the outside.

But, we must separate what man thinks is important (the outside), from what God says is important (the heart). 

1 Samuel 16:7 (NLT) 7 . . . The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 

The Lord does not see things the way you see things. You and the Lord do not have the same perspective. We must decide every day, "Who do I want to look good for. The people are looking at my outward display, but the Lord is looking at my heart."

The Remedy

In our sin nature, we have a strong tendency to be hypocrites, to focus on looking good on the outside, and covering up the inside. But, if you are in Christ today, that sin nature no longer has to be in control of your life. It only has control if we give it control. In Christ, you have positionally conquered your sin nature - that sin nature is positionally rendered inoperative, it’s been crucified.

And the first step toward transformation in this area is to fully embrace the truth, that all outward displays are meaningless to God if they don’t come from a pure and right heart. God wants our hearts - wholly and completely, transparently, and honestly. And this road to recovery starts with us confessing to God that we have a tendency to be a hypocrite.