Dr. John Hoole – November 13 & 20, 2016



Jesus had just finished describing the incredibly high standards of behavior required of those who would be His disciples.  In verse twenty of Matthew Chapter 5, Jesus had told His disciples that their righteousness must exceed that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law.  Then, beginning in verse 21 through verse 48, Jesus gave six examples of how the teachers of the law had changed the law to suit themselves.


The topics of those 6 illustrations are:


                   -- murder (anger)

                   -- adultery

                   -- divorce

                   -- telling the truth

                   -- revenge (retaliation)

                   -- loving others


In the first 18 verses of chapter 6, Jesus gives some illustration of “Outward Acts of Righteousness.”


Matthew 6:1-18 NKJV


1       Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven.

2       Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.

3       But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,

4       that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.

5       And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.

6       But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.

7       And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.

8       Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.

9       In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.

10     Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.

11     Give us this day our daily bread.

12     And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.

13     And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

14     For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.

15     but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

16     Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.

17     But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,

18     so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.


 Before considering the impact of these verses, let me ask you a question.  With what words did the previous chapter end?


Matthew 5:48 NKJV


48     Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.


After commanding perfection, he immediately warns of the subtleties of hypocrisy that can creep into our spiritual pursuits.  No one knows us better than our precious Savior.  He knows us inside and out.  He knows not only what we do, but also why we do it.  And He gives us the warnings and directions that are included in the first 18 verses of Chapter 6.


Beginning in Matthew 6, Jesus moves to dealing with the motivation in which one carries out their religious devotion.  Jesus declares that even right things can be done for the wrong motives.  Why people do good things may not be as obvious as we think.


Let me tell you a story of some vandals.  The vandals cut down 6 huge royal palms along a major Miami Blvd.  The city wasn’t sure if they could pay to replace palms that large.  But then someone donated 6 more … even bigger ones.  They even paid to have them planted.  The old ones were 15 feet tall and were a nice fore-ground for a billboard that said, “Fly Delta.”  The new palms were 35 feet tall, completely hiding the sign.  Who donated the trees?  Eastern Airlines.  The donors did not have the purest of motives.


To make His point about motivation, Jesus uses as examples the three most important demonstrations of religious devotion in Jewish religious practice.  Jesus gives 3 representative illustrations of outward religious activity


         1.      The first has to do with giving (2-4)  

         2.      The second deals with praying (5-15)

         3.      The third with fasting (16-18)


The first - giving - is an act towards others.  The second - praying - is an act towards God.  The third - fasting - is an act in relation to ourselves – self-denial.


The question of motive still comes into play in our religious lives today.  God wants us to give, to pray and to fast, but He wants us to do it for the right reasons.  Those who would be disciples of Jesus are to practice their religion from the heart and not for the notice and reward of men.


At this point I believe it is necessary to point out the variations between different versions of the Bible.


Matthew 6:1-2   (KJV)


1       Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.

2       Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.


Matthew 6:1-2   (NAS)


1       "Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.

2       "When therefore you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.


Matthew 6:1-2   (NIV)


1       "Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

2       "So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.


Do you notices the differences?  The King James Version introduces the subject of giving alms in the first verse.  The others wait until the second verse.  The NAS and the NIV makes the first verse a more general principle, covering all acts of righteousness.


The general principle is that a person must take care that his or her acts of righteousness are not done for show -- simply to be seen by other people.


The Wuest Greek New Testament renders these verses as:


1.  Moreover, be holding your mind on the matter of not practicing your correctness of thinking, feeling, and acting before me in order to be attentively viewed by them as a spectacular performer.  Otherwise, a reward you do not have in the presence of your Father in heaven.


I have no problem with either rendition, because nothing is lost or really changed.  This principle is reiterated again when the subject of prayer comes up (verse 5), -- and again, in verse 18, our fasting should not be for show.  Each should be between you and God.


Each of the three illustration in Matthew 6 refers to the same group of people.  WHAT GROUP OF PEOPLE DOES HE TALK ABOUT?  Each illustration refers to the hypocrites.




We don’t know for sure, but I think He is still referring to the scribes and Pharisees.  This is certainly one characteristic of them to which Jesus often referred.


Matthew 23 is a chapter where we Jesus coming down hard on the religious practices of the Pharisees.


Matthew 23:13-15; 23-28   (NAS)


13     "But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from men; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.

14     ["Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows' houses, even while for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you shall receive greater condemnation.]

15     "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel about on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.


23     "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.

24     "You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!

25     "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence.

26     "You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also.

27     "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness.

28     "Even so you too outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.


But the Pharisees were neither the original nor the last of the hypocrites.  Since the fall of man there have been hypocrites.  Hypocrites are mentioned in Scripture from Genesis to Revelation.




         •        Cain                  He feigned worship by offering a kind of sacrifice that God did not want.  When his hypocrisy was unmasked, he killed his brother Abel out of



         •        Absalom          He hypocritically vowed allegiance to his father, Kind David, while plotting his overthrow (2 Samuel 15:7-10)


         •        Judas Iscariot    Betrayed the Lord with a kiss, acting as one of His followers (Matthew 26:49)


         •        Ananias and Sapphira             Hypocritically claimed to have given the church all the proceeds from the sale of some property, and lost their lives for lying to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:1-10)


         •        Simon the Sorcerer                 He desired the ability to perform the Gifts of the Holy Spirit so that other people would be impressed (Acts 8:13-23)


Hypocrisy was one of the major complaints Jesus had against the Pharisees.  Earlier, when we studied Matthew 5:20, we listed what was wrong with the righteousness of the Pharisees.  We said their righteousness…

1.      Was a matter of outward actions

2.      Was the result of incorrect motives - they desired the praise of others

3.      Majored in minor issues

4.      Was hypocritical

5.      Added to life’s burdens


Even though point #4 deals directly with their hypocrisy points #1 & #2 really are also related to hypocrisy.


Hypocrites are not only found in Jewish religious observance but are to be found, unfortunately, in Christianity as well.  There were hypocrites in the early church, as we notice by the life of Ananias and Sapphira.  But there are still hypocrites in the church today and Paul assures us there will be hypocrites at the end of the age.


1 Timothy 4:1-2 NKJV


1       Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons,

2       speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron,


Hypocrisy is part and parcel of the nature of fallen men and women.  It is an integral part of our fleshly nature.


I believe the environment in which the Church operates in America tends to foster, or allow for, more hypocrites within its ranks.  The Church in America exists in relative freedoms, without persecution.  When strong persecution occurs against the Church, it helps to diminish the number of hypocrites.  But even persecution cannot completely eliminate them.


I think it would do us well at this point to try to define “hypocrisy” or “hypocrite.”




In essence, “hypocrisy” refers to the act of claiming to believe something but acting in a different manner.   believe the words of Jesus in Mark 7:6-7 provide a good framework on understanding what a hypocrite is.


Mark 7:6-7   (NIV)


6       He replied, "Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: "'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.

7       They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.'


The last half of verse 6 describes a hypocrite.  They say the right things, but their heart is nowhere close to God.


Hypocrisy is never treated lightly in Scripture.  In the New Testament, there is no sin more strongly condemned.  In the Old Testament, it is probably second only to idolatry as the greatest sin of both Judah and Israel.


It might help us to define “hypocrite” if we look at the Greek word from which it is translated.


                   “Hupokrisis”                      Hypocrisy

                   “Hupokrites”                     Hypocrite


The full meaning and use of these words will help us more completely understand them.  The Greek word transliterated into English as ‘hypocrite’ was used to denote a Greek actor, who performed behind a mask in an exaggerated way the role that was being dramatized.  Thus the popular understanding came to be that of persons who pretended to be something that they were not.


I have pulled together some quotes people have made on the topic of hypocrisy.


Oscar Wilde (1854-1900), from “The Ballad of Reading Gaol,” pt. 3


And the wild regrets, and the bloody sweats,

None knew so well as I;

For he who lives more lives than one

More deaths than one must die.”



Thomas Paine (1737-1809) from “The Age of Reason” pt. 1


It is impossible to calculate the moral mischief, if I may so express it,

that mental lying has produced in society.

When a man has so far corrupted and prostituted the chastity of his mind

as to subscribe his professional belief to things he does not believe

he has prepared himself for the commission of every other crime.


Charles Horton Cooley (1864-1929), Sociologist,  from “Human Nature and the Social Order”, ch. 9


If we “perceive” a discrepancy between a man’s words and his character,

the whole impression of him becomes broken and painful;

He revolts the imagination by his lack of unity,

and even the good in him is hardly accepted.


W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965), British Author, from “Cakes and Ale,” chap. 1


Hypocrisy is the most difficult and nerve-racking vice that any man can pursue;

It needs an unceasing vigilance and a rare detachment of spirit.

It cannot, like adultery or gluttony, be practiced at spare moments;

It is a whole-time job.


John Gay (1865-1732), English dramatist, from “The Shepherd’s Dog and the Wolf.”


An open foe may prove a curse,

But a pretended friend is worse.


The Bible is even more pointed in what it has to say about the hypocrite.  The Bible calls hypocrisy a sin.  There are two forms hypocrisy can take:


•  That of professing belief in something and then acting in a manner contrary to that belief.


•  That of looking down on others when we ourselves are flawed.


Matthew 24:51 says that the eternal destiny of the hypocrite is “a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth.”


The prophet Isaiah condemned the hypocrisy of his day.


Isaiah 29:13 NKJV


13     Therefore the Lord said: "Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths And honor Me with their lips, But have removed their hearts far from Me, And their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men,


Isaiah 9:16-17 NKJV


16     For the leaders of this people cause them to err, And those who are led by them are destroyed.

17     Therefore the Lord will have no joy in their young men, Nor have mercy on their fatherless and widows; For everyone is a hypocrite and an evildoer, And every mouth speaks folly. For all this His anger is not turned away, But His hand is stretched out still.


Luke 16:15   (TLB)


         15     Then he said to them, You wear a noble, pious expression in public, but God knows your evil hearts.  Your pretense brings you honor from the people, but it is an abomination in the sight of God.


1 Peter 2:1-3   (NIV)


1       Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.

2       Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation,

3       now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.


                            This says hypocrisy hinders spiritual growth.


Luke 12:1  (TLB)


1       ….He turned now to His disciples and warned them, “More than anything else, beware of these Pharisees and the way they pretend to be good when they aren’t.  But such hypocrisy cannot be hidden forever.


The thought of a hypocrite being an actor is borne out by another phrase in Matthew 6:1   (NIV)


1       "Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.


The phrase “to be seen” or “to be noticed” comes from a single Greek word.  The word is THEAOMAI, and is related to the term from which we get theater.  It has in mind a spectacle to be gazed at.


The word implies putting on a show before an audience of many.  Jesus tells us that the focus of our acts of righteousness is before an audience of One --- the Father in heaven.


In the context of what Jesus is saying in Matthew 6, a hypocrite is a person who goes in for play-acting righteousness.  It is a theatrical righteousness.  He is a person who wants everyone’s eyes on him as he give alms (Matthew 6:2) -- or to see him pray (Matthew 6:5)       -- and have people recognize it when he is fasting (Matthew 6:16).


The story is told of an eastern ascetic holy man who covered himself with ashes as a sign of humility and regularly sat on a prominent street corner of his city.  When tourists asked permission to take his picture, the mystic would rearrange his ashes to give the best image of destitution and humility.


I wonder how much of religious devotion is nothing more than rearranging the religious “ashes” to impress the world with one’s supposed humility and devotion.  The problem, of course, is that the humility is a sham.  The devotion is to self, not to God at all.


Such religion is nothing more than a game of pretense, a game at which the scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ day were master.  A game at which people today are also masters.


A hypocrite is a man whose righteousness is designed, not to please God, but to please, or be a show for, other people.  He is a person who does not say “To God be the glory,” but “to me be the credit.”


Again, Matthew 6:1  (NIV) says:


1        "Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.


In the 17 verses that follow, Jesus speaks of 3 acts of righteousness - prayer, fasting, and giving to the poor and needy.




         No, not at all.  After all, these are called “acts of righteousness.”  In fact, these verses imply that they are to be part of the normal life of a righteous person.


It doesn’t say don’t give, pray or fast.  It doesn’t even say, “if you give, pray, or fast.”  But it does say, “WHEN you give, pray, or fast.”  In fact the word “when” is used at least seven times.  That implies you will do these things


Verse 2              "So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets,…

Verse 3             “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand

 is doing,


Verse 5             “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites,…

Verse 6             “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father…

Verse 7             “And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans,…


Verse 16           "When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces

Verse 17           “But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face,


If you are a child of God, it should be impossible for you not to do acts of righteousness.




         No!  Not at all.


If you were to read the Koran, you would find it telling us that If a person prays, his prayer will take him halfway to the paradise. If a person fasts, that will take him to the gates of paradise.  But if a person gives alms, the gates will open for him and he will be admitted.




Indeed Christians are to pray, fast, and help the poor and the needy, but those acts will not bring salvation.  But rather, we do them because we are saved and adopted as a child of our heavenly Father.


Ephesians 2:8-10 NKJV


8       For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,

9       not of works, lest anyone should boast.

10     For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.


                   The NIV says, “…..which God has prepared in advance for us to do.”


Acts of righteousness are not to gain our salvation but are a natural expression of our already secured salvation.  We do them because we are saved.


Let’s bring this down closer to where each of us live.  Our former pastor, Dr. Pastor Rick often said, “Every believer is a minister…..and every minister has a ministry.”  If you are a child of the King, washed in the blood of Jesus Christ, then you are a minister of His.  You and I may try, but we cannot hide from that mandate.


Hear me closely now.  “Spiritual exhibitionism” – doing our acts of ministry for the applause and approval of others is a real danger in everyone of our lives.  Not one of us is exempt.  Each of us like to be recognized for a job well-done.  But if that recognition and approval is the primary reason for doing it, we are in danger.


Every pastor or teacher runs the danger of presenting a beautiful sermon or lesson in which his or her ability receives more emphasis than God’s glory.  And many in the congregation are more intent on appreciating the talents of the preacher than on glorifying the Lord.  It is not wrong to want to do your very best.  In fact, the Lord deserves our best.  But we must be aware of our motives.


But we don’t have to pick only on the preacher or teacher.  Church musicians and special music presenters can put more emphasis on their talents and abilities than on glorifying God.  And many in the congregation can too easily give glory to those who present special music rather than to the Lord.


Some people have the gift of prayer.  They have the ability to offer beautiful prayers in public.  There’s nothing wrong with this, but we must be careful not to use it to glorify ourselves rather than God.


In whatever we do, our goal must be that the Lord will increase and we will decrease -- that the Lord will become greater and we become less.  All too often, however, the opposite is true.


Ruth Harms Calkins speaks to this subject in her poem entitled, “I Wonder.”


I Wonder.

You know, Lord, How I serve You

with great emotional fervor in the limelight.

You know how eagerly I speak for You at a Women’s club.

You know my genuine enthusiasm at a Bible study.

But how would I react, I wonder,

if You pointed to a basin of water

and asked me to wash the calloused feet

of a bent and wrinkled old woman

day after day, month after month,

in a room where nobody saw and nobody knew?


I wonder, too, about me.  How faithful would I really be, if some of the time was not in the limelight?  How faithful would I be if no one was watching?  How much of my Christianity - my faith and devotion - are for show?


A prayer that each of us should pray is, “Lord, deliver me from myself.”  “Lord, deliver me from my vanity.”


3 main areas of our Christian walk and practice are summarized in the first 18 verses of Matthew 6 -- giving, praying and fasting.  But in each illustration, Jesus wants us to be authentic before God, and warns how that in each act it is very easy to fall into hypocrisy.  Of all sins, “hypocrisy” is one of the easiest to fall into and of all sins it is most sternly condemned.


The Bible says that in the end, hypocrites become blind (Matthew 23:17, 19, 26)  As such they become blind people leading other blind people (Matt. 23:16, 24).  Jesus says they are blind in that they can read the weather signs but cannot read the signs of God (Luke 12:56).  He deceives others so often, that in the end he has deceived himself.  And in the end the hypocrite is a person who is under the condemnation of God (Matthew. 24:51)  That is why if a person protests that the church is full of hypocrites, you do not have to disagree but should be quick to point out that if they don’t like hypocrisy they better make sure they don’t go to hell.


Someone may ask, “How do we reconcile Matthew 6:1 with Mathew 5:16 which tells us to let our light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise our Father in Heaven”?  The answer is clear.        It is found in answering the question:  “What is my motive?”  Is it to win the praise of the Father or the praise of others?