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Beware of Hypocrisy

Luke 12:2 (ESV) … “Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.”

Hypocrisy means playing a part, engaging in pretense. It demands conscious insincerity. It is a character sin, a moral deficiency. And it comes naturally to every one of us. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle of Sherlock Holmes fame used to playfully tell a bogus tale about how he sent a telegram to each of twelve friends, all men of great virtue, reputation, and considerable position in society. The message simply said: “Fly at once, all is discovered.” Within twenty-four hours, Doyle says, all twelve had left the country! This is playful but penetrating humor, as some uneasy smiles may attest.

The Pharisees’ hypocrisy lay in their elaborate ritual piety that served as a veneer for their sinful, contaminated, and contaminating souls. But the pretense of the disciples had a different twist. For them it meant downplaying the level of their commitment to Christ. Hypocrisy always functions on the principle of corruption: it sours the dough with which it is mixed, causing a swelling ferment. It works slowly but inflates the human spirit with swelling rot.

”Be on your guard,” says Jesus to his disciples, “against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.” Why? “There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the housetops” (vv. 2, 3). Full disclosure will come on Judgment Day. Everything will be revealed, and the disclosure will be ruthless. The things whispered invisibly in the dark will be shouted in full light from the rooftops. The limitless capacities of divine omniscience assure perfect exposure of hypocrisy.

Jesus was warning them to avoid exposure at the Judgment by owning up to what they really were then and by letting God make their lives pleasing to him.[1]

[1] Hughes, R. K. (1998). Luke: that you may know the truth (p. 38). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.


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