Matt. 6: Sermon on the Mount, Part 3
Jesus Continues Teaching His Disciples
In today’s lesson, we continue our study of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus came not only to confirm the Old Testament Law, but to elevate it to an even higher level. And one of the important principles in today’s study is the importance of motives. What we think and feel is as important as what we say and do.
Jesus Warns Against Hypocrisy
But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You lock up the kingdom of heaven from people. For you don’t go in, and you don’t allow those entering to go in. (Matthew 23:13 HCSB)Have you heard people condemn Christians of being hypocrites? Have you heard people excuse their not attending church because churches are full of hypocrites? (Is the sky blue?! Is grass green?!). Well, those who make such claims should know that they are in agreement with Jesus. In fact, Jesus’ harshest criticism was against the religious leaders of His day.
What is a Hypocrite? Am I a Hypocrite?
So what exactly is a hypocrite? By definition, a hypocrite is a person who puts on a false appearance of virtue or religion, but acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings. (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary). The word “hypocrite” originally comes from the Greek word for actor, someone who was playing someone else. Think of the two masks – one happy and smiling, the other frowning, sad and angry. One person, two natures.
One Person, Two Natures
Brood of vipers! How can you speak good things when you are evil? For the mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart. (Jesus speaking to the Pharisees, as recorded in Matthew 12:34 HCSB)The reason the church has many hypocrites is because the world is full of hypocrisy. People come out of the world and into church to know God and to try to change for the better. But as Christians, we have both an old and a new nature. The old sin nature is constantly at war with our new nature, and sin often wins out. As born again Christians, we have the capacity to live out the maxims of the Sermon on the Mount. But like the out of shape athlete or the student who hasn’t studied, we often fail the test. It is not a problem with God or with Christian doctrine, the problem is with us.
The Church is the Best Place for Hypocrites
In our struggle with the old nature and hypocrisy, we can only be victorious by staying close to God and exercising our faith. A good local church that is teaching the Word of God is the right place for hypocrites, just as the doctor office is the right place for sick people! So if you are staying away from church because of hypocrites, it might be because you would rather not be faced with condemnation of your sinful self. Better to go to church to work on getting right with God than to stay in your sin. In time you can grow in grace and the knowledge of God, and stop living a life of hypocrisy. And best of all, in eternity, we will no longer have the old sin nature to deal with.
[pullquote_center width="85%"]Then the righteous will shine like the sun in their Father’s kingdom. Anyone who has ears should listen! (Matthew 13:43 HCSB)
so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world. (Philippians 2:15 HCSB)[/pullquote_center]
Get Plugged Into God’s Plan Today
If you are uncertain of your standing with God, then go to Him right now to start your eternal relationship with Him. His free gift of eternal life and sanctification in Christ is there for the asking. Once you have taken that first step of salvation, our study in Matthew will get you well on your way to a loving and lasting relationship with the Almighty God who is seeking your friendship. He will guide you into all the truth (John 16:13) and help you become and do all He has in store for you.
- CLICK HERE to listen to today’s lesson, Sermon on the Mount, Part 3 – Matt. 6:1-34.
- CLICK HERE for an overview of the Gospel of Matthew.
- CLICK HERE to open or download notes and the outline for the Gospel of Matthew.
- CLICK HERE for more about putting your faith in Jesus Christ for your eternal salvation.
- CLICK HERE to access the complete listing of Bible Studies in the Book of Matthew.