There are a number of warnings that we find in Scripture. Each of them are given for our benefit each of them are given for us to heed. On several occasions Jesus warned his disciples to beware.
They were to beware of false prophets, of men who would deliver them up to councils, of scribes who loved to wear their long robes before men, of covetousness toward material things, and of the leaven of the Pharisees.
Leaven is a substance like yeast that has the ability to permeate a loaf of bread dough causing it to swell and enlarge. Paul tells us in the first epistle to the Corinthians "a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump." (1 Co. 5:6) it doesn't take very much to permeate the whole.
This is why our lord gives us this warning. He goes on to explain hat the leaven of the Pharisee is hypocrisy. For us to take heed of this warning we need to fully understand what Jesus is talking about.
Typically, we think of hypocrisy as not practicing what we preach, the false pretense involved in telling other people how they ought to live their lives, but not consistently living with what they claim their beliefs are; or, if not inconsistent at least being insincere about what we do simply to show to others.
But notice that Jesus is here warning of the Pharisees' hypocrisy. They were not insincere people. They were highly moral, deeply religious men who lived consistently with their own beliefs. So the hypocrisy that Jesus was warning about in their lives wasn't being inconsistent or insincere. The word has its origins from Greek drama and literally it means to play a part on stage. This was their approach life.
Note: Luke 11:37-44
They were very careful to play their part sincerely and consistently. Jesus warned us to Beware of their hypocrisy.
I. It Doesn't Accomplish God's Purposes.
A. God's Purpose
1. Is not that we act righteously, but that we be righteous persons from the inside out.
2. Is not that we would do a good job of acting out a role of righteousness, but that we would be genuinely transformed in our inner being.
3. Note: Mt. 23:27-28
B. God's Judgment
1. Is not on the basis of how we have performed or acted.
2. Is not on how we have appeared to others but it is on who we are behind the mask.
3. 1 Sa. 16:7, "...for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart."
II. It Ultimately Leads To Self-Deception.
A. We Begin To Believe Our Own Act.
1. The Pharisees were acting out a role of what they perceived was righteous.
2. They actually believed that they were righteous because they acted righteous.
3. NOTE: Luke 18:10-14
4. They sincerely believed that they were morally better than the people who were around them who did not keep the Law the way they did.
5. Jesus said that the sinner went down to his house justified while the Pharisee wasn't justified, because he really was an utterly wicked man, an unrighteous man, and doesn't even know it! He is totally deceived.
B. Hypocrisy, Which Leads To Self-Deception, Is A Tremendous Obstacle To Salvation.
1. What man will go to the doctor when he thinks he is well?
2. What man will accept the mercy of Jesus Christ when he is convinced that he is not in need of that mercy?
3. Note: Mt. 9:11-13
4. The problem was that the Pharisees were deceived by their own hypocrisy into believing that they were truly righteous because of what they did!
C. Note The Difference Between 'Reformation' And 'Regeneration'.
1. Reformation is the act of reforming.
a. It is to amend or improve by change of form or removal of faults or abuses.
b. It is to put an end to an evil by enforcing or introducing a better method or course of action.
c. Many self-help programs are sources of reformation. AA, Weight- watchers, etc.
2. Regeneration is the act of regenerating.
a. To subject to spiritual regeneration results in a radical change for the better
b. To generate or produce anew; to replace by a new growth.
3. Note some contrasts:
a. Reformation will change the outward life, but it cannot bring eternal life.
b. Reformation makes us acceptable in the eyes of men, but it cannot make us acceptable in the eyes of God.
c. Reformation will give us esteem, and self-pride but it cannot cleanse us from within.
d. Reformation involves the rejecting of things out of our life in order to become a better person, but regeneration involves receiving the Holy Spirit into our lives and becoming more like Christ as we yield to Him.
III. Hypocrisy Is The Opposite Of Faith.
A. Faith Is Of The Utmost Importance In The Christian Life.
1. Hebrews 11:6, "but without faith it is impossible to please Him..."
2. With hypocrisy, it is impossible to please God, because it is the opposite of faith.
B. The Difference Is In Who Is Doing The Work.
1. On the surface there is little difference between hypocrisy and genuine faith.
2. In hypocrisy, a man does what he thinks God wants him to do in his life.
3. By faith, a man trusts and depends upon the grace of God working in his behalf to transform his inner being so that he might do what God would have him do in his life.
4. Note: Philippians 2:12-13
5. The difference is in who is doing the work; in the hypocrite it is self, in the faithful believer it is God.
C. An Individuals Eternal Destiny Is Determined By This Distinction.
1. A man's salvation is not based on what he does, no matter how righteous it may appear.
2. Certainly the life of the believer should reflect righteous living and righteous works, but it is Christ in us who brings these things about.
3. Perhaps the one of the saddest verses in the entire Word of God is Mt. 7:21-23.
Jesus said, "Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisess, which is hypocrisy." We could say today, "Beware of the leaven of the Baptists, which is hypocrisy." Churches are full of hypocrites; people who are trying to do God's work in the power of the flesh rather than in the power of God. Ps. 127:1, "Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it..."
What about your heart this morning? Are we just going through the motions or is Jesus real in our life?