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Matthew 23:1-12

God's Cure for Hypocricy

  • Matthew Dodd
  • Sunday Night Messages
  • August 25, 2019

A lot of people don’t even like talking about hypocrisy. And often you will hear people say that they don’t want to go to church because it is “filled with hypocrites”. We are going to talk about hypocrisy in order to discover what it really means to be a hypocrite. But more importantly, we will learn God’s cure for hypocrisy along the way.

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

God’s Cure for Hypocrisy

Matthew 23:1-12


ILLUS – “Where’s all the hay?”

1.Hypocrisy. No one wants to be called a hypocrite.

ILLUS – A funeral fit for a king

2.A lot of people don’t even like talking about hypocrisy.

3.And often you will hear people say that they don’t want to go to church because it is “filled with hypocrites”.

4.Tonight, we’re going to talk about hypocrisy in order to discover what it really means to be a hypocrite.

5.But more importantly, we will learn God’s cure for hypocrisy along the way.

Matthew 23:1-12


1.In Matthew 23, Jesus was teaching in the Temple. It was just days before He was arrested, beaten, crucified, and resurrected from the grave.

2.In Matthew 21-22, the Jewish leaders challenged Jesus with questions in order to trip Him up so that they had grounds to accuse Him and ultimately reject Him.

3.But Jesus knew what they were up to and gave them answers which revealed His wisdom and the foolishness of their rebellious, stubborn hearts.

4.In Matthew 23, Jesus turned to the multitudes and His disciples to warn them about the hypocrisy of the Jewish leaders.

5.Since the word hypocrite is used many times in this chapter, it is important for us to understand what the word means.

6. The word hypocrite comes directly out of the Greek language and into our English language. It literally means “to be an actor.”

7.So, a hypocrite is one who pretends to have beliefs, opinions, virtues, or standards that they really don’t have.

a.Hypocrisy is not simply failing to fully practice those virtues that one preaches or believes in.

b.If that were the case, everyone would be rightly accused of being a hypocrite.

ILLUS – For example, do you truly believe that we should…

Ephesians 4:29, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification”

APPL – Now, do you consistently do this?

  • If you’re like me, you strongly believe this principle and truly want to master it, but you haven’t fully obtained it yet.
  • Is that hypocrisy? No.
  • There is some inconsistency in everyone’s life, including mine.

8.True hypocrisy is the deliberate putting on of a mask, to make it appear that you are one thing when you are really something else.

ILLUS – Eddie Haskell in Leave it to Beaver.

9.As I said earlier, it’s common to hear people say, “I don’t want to go to church because it’s filled with hypocrites.”

a.But the church has never claimed to be an association of “perfect people”.

b.Rather, the church is filled with sinners who walk in the forgiveness of their Savior, Jesus Christ, and are seeking to have Him transform their lives.

Quote – Billy Graham once said, “If you find a perfect church don’t join it: you’d spoil it!”

10.Though the church is not filled with hypocrites, it’s not empty of them either; so these are great words for us to receive and apply to our lives.

I.Fix Your Eyes on Jesus (1-10)

  • The root of hypocrisy is pride.
  1. Pride is the fixing of one’s eyes on self.
  2. Pride seeks to glorify or deify self.
  3. Pride also seeks to gratify self.
  • So, God’s cure for pride and the hypocrisy that follows is for us to fix our eyes on Jesus.

Hebrews 12:1-2,  let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith

A. Then you will practice what you preach

1.Jesus began by saying that the Jewish leaders had “seated themselves” in the chair of Moses. (2)

a.Notice God did not elevate them to this position.

b.The scribes and Pharisees promoted themselves to this position of authority.

2.The final authority is the Word of God. So, when they spoke the Word of God, then Jesus said the people should follow what they said. (3)

3.The problem was they did not do what they told others to do. Or to put it another way, “they did not practice what they preached.” (3)

ILLUS – It’s like a parent teaching their teen to drive; telling them to make complete stops, to signal before every turn, to never tailgate, or speed.

4.Jesus gave examples not just accusations. For instance, through their legalism, the scribes and Pharisees added man-made rules and regulations to the Law of Moses. (4)

a.This resulted in greater burdens for the people, burdens that no one could carry, and that God never intended for them to carry.

b.The scribes and Pharisees never sought to relieve the burdens of their man-made regulations, they just piled them on.

c.They were hypocritical dictators, not godly shepherds.

APPL – Yet Jesus did not come to add burdens but to lift the burden of our sin and the weight of our failure off our shoulders through His forgiveness and grace.

Matthew 11:28-29, Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

When you fix your eyes on Jesus and come to Him, He removes the burden of your sin.

When you fix your eyes on Jesus and come to Him, He empowers you with His Holy Spirit so that you are a “doer” of the Word, not just one who says the right things and talks a good talk.

James 1:22, But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.

B.Then you will seek to bless and not impress 

1.Next, Jesus called out the scribes and Pharisees because they were all about “Show Time”.

2.They made a big deal about their deeds, making sure they were noticed by men. (5)

3.They broadened their phylacteries and lengthened the tassels of their garments. (5)

a.Phylacteries are small boxes that contain Scripture verses. When you go to Israel today, you will see Jewish men wearing them on their foreheads or arms.

Deuteronomy 6:6, 8, These words, which I am commanding you today, … You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead.

b.The tassels were part of their prayer shawls.

Numbers 15:38, Speak to the sons of Israel, and tell them that they shall make for themselves tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and that they shall put on the tassel of each corner a cord of blue.

APPL – Jesus called out their hypocrisy because they had missed what God intended for the phylacteries and tassels.

  • The Jewish leaders had turned it into a competition.
  • The larger the phylacteries, the more pious you are.
  • The longer the tassels, the more zealous you are.
  • By doing so, they missed the mark.

Deuteronomy 6:6, These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.

Numbers 15:39, It shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the Lord, so as to do them and not follow after your own heart and your own eyes

APPL – The scribes and Pharisees were more concerned about the approval of man than the approval of God.

  • They used religion to attract attention.
  • Not to glorify God.

Matthew 5:16, Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

4.They loved the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues. (6)

APPL – But where a person sits has no bearing on what kind of person they are, nor their spiritual maturity.

Quote – Albert Einstein once said, “Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.”

5.They loved “respectful greetings” and being called “Rabbi” by men. (7)

a.The title “Rabbi” means “teacher” or “scholar”.

b.But is also means “my great one” so it was coveted by the religious leaders.

APPL – Again, the problem with titles is that titles are not an indication of spiritual maturity.

  • You can be called Dr. Reverend Bishop Smith.
  • But all that means is that you spent a lot of time in school or perhaps received an honorary degree!

APPL – But when we fix our eyes on Jesus, then we will seek to bless and not impress.

  • We will realize we are all brothers and sisters. (8)
  • We will seek to glorify the holy Trinity for we have:
  1. One who is our Teacher, the Holy Spirit. (John 14:26)
  2. One who is our heavenly Father.
  3. One who is our Leader, that is Christ.

Transition – If we fix our eyes on Jesus, that also means that we must…

II. Follow Jesus (11-12)

  • Life is more than just “me”, “myself”, and “I”.
  • Following Jesus is a critical part of God’s cure for hypocrisy.
  • You can’t be a disciple of Jesus Christ unless you follow Him.

Luke 9:23, If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.

Transition – If you are truly following Jesus…

A. Then you will be the greatest servant

1.In verse 13, Jesus said the scribes and Pharisees would take advantage of widows even while giving long prayers as a pretense for being holy.

2.In that day, if a women’s husband died, they were especially vulnerable.

3.A man of honor and integrity would watch out for the interests of a widow.

James 1:27, Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

4.But the scribes and Pharisees were even masters of taking advantage of their parents.

Mark 7:11-13, But you say, “If a man says to his father or his mother, whatever I have that would help you is Corban (that is to say, given to God),” you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother; thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that.

APPL – But Jesus Christ did not come to be served, though He of all, is worthy!

Mark 10:45, For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.

APPL – When there was a disagreement between some Christians at the church in Philippi, notice what the Apostle Paul said to correct the matter…

Philippians 2:3-5, Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus

B. Then you will be exalted by God

1.The scribes and Pharisees sought to exalt self.

a.They acted like they had it all together.

b.They even fooled others into thinking the same thing.

2.But Jesus declared, “Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” (12)

Quote – I have heard it said, “Hypocrisy is like a pin. It is pointed in one direction, and yet is headed in another.”

Proverbs 14:12, There is a way which seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death.

APPL – Following Jesus is the key to life. And when this life is over, the greatest compliment a person will receive from God involves being a servant…

Matthew 25:23, Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness! (NIV)


APPL – Tonight, will you turn your eyes upon Jesus?

Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace.

Matthew 23:1-12 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
Pharisaism Exposed
23 Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, 2 saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; 3 therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them. 4 They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger. 5 But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their [a]phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments. 6 They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues, 7 and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men. 8 But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 10 Do not be called [b]leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. 11 But the greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.


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