Hypocrisy: The Yeast of the Pharisees

by Yewande Olamiju

Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy (Luke 12:1 NIV)

In Luke 12, Jesus describes the yeast (teaching or doctrine) of the Pharisees as hypocrisy. The warning He gave the disciples about this is still relevant to us today. We need to take this warning seriously and abide by this warning.

There’s a tendency in man to want to appear righteous before people, even to the point of putting more effort into this than into how God views us, to be performance-driven, seasoned performers earnestly awaiting the applause of men even if we’re not approved in God’s sight.

Then the Lord said to him, “You Pharisees are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and wickedness!  Fools! Didn’t God make the inside as well as the outside? So clean the inside by giving gifts to the poor, and you will be clean all over. “What sorrow awaits you Pharisees! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens,  but you ignore justice and the love of God. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things. “What sorrow awaits you Pharisees! For you love to sit in the seats of honor in the synagogues and receive respectful greetings as you walk in the marketplaces. Yes, what sorrow awaits you! For you are like hidden graves in a field. People walk over them without knowing the corruption they are stepping on.” (Luke 11:39-44 NLT)

Hypocrisy is defined as the practice of misrepresenting one’s character and opinions, especially by pretending to be more virtuous than one really is. In simple English – insincerity.

The pharisees’ ambition was appearing righteous in public (Luke 16:5 NLT). How they were perceived by others was their focus and target. They cleaned up nicely on the outside but remained filthy and corrupt on the inside. For this, Jesus said sorrow awaited them.

As Christians, what drives our actions should be pleasing God.

Yes it’s true that man looks on the outward appearance and only God can see our hearts but this should not drive us to the sinful extreme of being sinners who use the grace of God as a license for sin neither should we veer to the other extreme of being insincere or hypocrites like the Pharisees. There are good works that accompany being a child of God but if you’re not a child of God, then your righteous acts are just filthy rags.

A hypocrite, like the pharisee, just wants to be seen by people as being righteous. A spiritual man minds the things God minds. He cares for the things God cares about.  He majors on what God majors on and minors on what God minors on. He gives priority to things as God wants him to not as people want or expect.

Invite God to shine the spotlight of His word in your secret heart and repent of any hypocrisy and turn to God.

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Psa 139:23-24)

And you will perish, too, unless you repent of your sins and turn to God (Luke 13:3NLT)

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