Our Lord continues to denounce woes against hypocrites, both for what they do
and for what they are.
The relation between doing and being is constant. These things are written for our learning.
I. THE HYPOCRITE IS WOEFULLY GUILTY.
1. He is guilty of heart wickedness.
(1) Under the utmost ceremonial strictness, like the garnished tomb enclosing "dead men's bones and all uncleanness," is concealed the greatest moral laxity. Thus -
"Nature, like a beauteous wall,
Doth oft close in pollution."
(2) As an adorned tomb is but the garniture of death and corruption, so is the external sanctity of the Pharisee in disgusting contrast to his inward turpitude.
(3) The meat and drink in the platter and cup, externally so scrupulously cleansed, are the nourishment and refreshment of the hypocrite. His luxuries are procured by means nefarious and corrupt (see ver. 14). The hypocrite is selfish to cruelty.
(4) The nourishment and refreshment of the Pharisee is, in the estimation of Christ, filth and poison. Luxury punishes fraud, feeding disease with fruits of injustice. The disease and death thus nourished are moral more than physical.
2. He is guilty of deceiving others.
(1) The cleansed outside of the cup and platter, and the whiting on the sepulchre, are intended to be seen; and so is the piety of the hypocrite. The purpose is to divert attention from the filth and rottenness within.
(2) The success is often too well assured. Man surveys surfaces. His vision does not search substances. To do this requires experiment which he is too lazy to institute.
(3) Hence the professed belief in human nature.
(a) Unconverted men must be hypocrites to be endured. Society would be intolerable but for its veneer.
(b) The children of nature are readily deceived in a world of hypocrites. Their pride and self-conceit leads them to credit themselves with virtues; and the Pharisee deceives them.
(c) But that religious persons should "believe in human nature" only shows how successfully the hypocrite may even "deceive the very elect."
(d) The believers in human nature are liable to trust in it instead of Christ for their salvation, and perish in their delusion.
3. He is guilty of insulting God.
(1) He ignores God. While he strives after the praise of men, he leaves God out of the account. Is God to be treated as nobody with impunity!
(2) He degrades God. Affecting the praise of men rather than the praise of God, he treats the Creator as inferior to his creatures. Will this insolence be endured forever?
(3) As the whitening of the sepulchre was intended to warn passengers to avoid its defiling contact, so should the sham piety of the Pharisee warn honest men away from the sphere of his moral infection (see Luke 11:44).
(4) Let the sinner be alarmed at the formidableness of the impending woe. Let him repent, amend, and sue for mercy.
II. THE HYPOCRITE IS CRIMINALLY BLIND.
1. God requires truth in the heart.
(1) He is himself essentially holy. This means that his nature must repel from him everything that is unholy. God must needs wage eternal war against sin.
(2) But his grace has made possible his reconciliation to the sinner.
(a) In the provision of the atonement.
(b) In the gift of the Holy Spirit.
(c) Through faith the righteousness of the Law may not only become "imputed to us," but also "fulfilled in us."
(3) The life will be holy when the heart is clean. "The heart may be a temple of God or a grave; a heaven or a hell" (Slier). The cleansing of the inside affects the outside, but not contrariwise. "Cleanse first the inside of the cup and of the platter, that the outside. thereof may become clean also."
(4) There is a cleansing that is external even after the heart is clean. This our Lord evinced when he washed the feet of his disciples.
2. The hypocrite imposes upon himself.
(1) He is criminally blind to the folly that avoids those scandalous sins which would spoil his reputation with men, while he allows the heart wickedness which renders him odious to God (see Psalm 5:9). Jesus saw the filth within the cup and platter, and the rottenness within the sepulchre.
(2) He is criminally blind to the fact that in imposing upon his fellows he does not impose upon his Maker. The same Jesus who showed the Pharisee the extortion and excesses of the heart will show these things to him again in the day of woe.
(3) The hypocrite is criminally blind to the fact that the life is cleansed in the heart. Those only are externally clean who are inwardly pure. Christ views the profession in relation to the state of the heart. In this light he will judge the works of men at the last great day. - J.A.M.
For ye make clean the outside of the cup.
By this allusion to the cup and platter the Saviour taught that it is necessary to cleanse the heart first, that the external conduct might be pure.
I. WHY must we cleanse ourselves from sin?
1. Because it renders us injurious to our fellow-men.
2. Because it hinders prayer.
3. Because it renders us offensive to God.
4. Because it is destructive to ourselves.
II. How may we cleanse ourselves from sin?
1. Not by merely desiring to be cleansed.
2. Not by external reformations.
3. Not by scrupulous attention to religious ordinances.
4. Not by mere repentance.
5. But by faith in the only cleansing element — the precious blood of Jesus.
III. WHEN may we cleanse ourselves from sin? Now!
1. Delay increases the difficulty.
2. The present the only time of which we are sure.
3. God's commands brook no delay, etc.
Hypocrites are like pictures on canvas, they show fairest at farthest. A hypocrite's profession is in folio, but his sincerity is so abridged that it is contained in decimo-sexto, nothing in the world to speak of. A hypocrite is like the Sicilian Etna, flaming at the mouth when it hath snow at the foot. Their mouths talk hotly, but their feet walk coldly. The nightingale hath a sweet voice, but a lean carcase; a voice, and nothing else but a voice: and so have all hypocrites.
As a thick wood that giveth great shadow doth delight the eyes of the beholders greatly with the variety of flourishing trees and pleasant plants, so that it seemeth to be ordained only for pleasure's sake, and yet within is full of poisonous serpents, ravening wolves, and other wild beasts; even so a hypocrite, when outwardly he seemeth holy and to be well furnished with all sorts of virtues, doth please well the eyes of his beholders; but within him there lurketh pride, envy, covetousness, and all manner of wickedness, like wild and cruel beasts wandering in the wood of his heart.
Hypocrites seem as glow-worms, to have both light and heat; but touch them and they have neither. The Egyptian temples were beautiful on the outside, when within ye should find nothing but some serpent or crocodile. Apothecaries' boxes oft have goodly titles when yet they hold not one dram of any good drug. A certain stranger coming on embassage unto the senators of Rome, and colouring his hoary hair and pale cheeks with vermilion hue, a grave senator espying the deceit stood up and said, "What sincerity are we to expect from this man's hands, whose locks, and looks, and lips, do lie?" Think the same of-all painted hypocrites. These we may compare(as Lucian doth his Grecians) to a fair gilt bossed book; look within it, and there is the tragedy of Thyestes; or perhaps Arrius' Thalya; the name of a muse, the matter heresy; or Conradus Vorstius' book-monster that hath De Deo
in the front, but atheism and blasphemy in the text.
If yon go into a churchyard some snowy day, when the snow has been falling thick enough to cover every monument and tombstone, how beautiful and white does everything appear! But remove the snow, dig down beneath, and you find rottenness and putrefaction — dead men's bones and all uncleanness. How like that churchyard on such a day is the mere professor — fair outside, sinful, unholy within! The grass grows green upon the sides of a mountain that holds a volcano in its bowels.
very capital painter in London exhibited a piece representing a friar habited in his canonicals. View the painting at a distance, and you would think the friar to be in a praying attitude. His hands are clasped together, and held horizontally to his breast; his eyes meekly demissed like those of the publican in the gospel, and the good man appears to be quite absorbed in humble adoration and devout recollection. But take a nearer survey, and the deception vanishes. The book which seemed to be before him is discovered to be a punch-bowl into which the rascal is all the while, in reality, only squeezing a lemon. How lively a representation of a hypocrite!
()There is a spice of hypocrisy in us all.
()The hypocrite — the man that stole the livery of heaven to serve the devil in.
The hypocrite maps out the road to Zion, knows it well, has sounded with plummet the depths of the promises, can talk about them. But he has accepted a two-parts Christ; there is perhaps a little pet sin, snugly tucked up in a warm corner of his heart, that he is unwilling to part with. Christ is his Priest, his Prophet, but he will not have Him as his King.
Formality frequently takes its dwelling near the chambers of integrity, and so assumes its name; the soul not suspecting that hell should make so near an approach to heaven. A rotten post, though covered with gold, is more fit to be burned in the fire than for the building of a fabric. The dial of our faces does not infallibly show the time of day in our hearts; the humblest looks may enamel the former, while unbounded pride covers the latter. Unclean spirits may inhabit the chamber when they look not out at the window.
A SERIOUS CHARGE.
1. A too late recognition of goodness which, when living, was ignored or persecuted.
2. A pretended veneration of the characters of the pious dead.
3. In truth a signalizing of their own goodness.
II. A FALSE DEFENCE.
1. Their character belied their profession — persecutors of Jesus would hardly have been defenders of Isaiah, etc.
2. Betrayed great ignorance of their own character.
III. A SOLEMN VERDICT.
1. Pronounced guilty of the righteous blood shed by their party.
2. Hypocrites for pretending a veneration for departed worth while they persecuted living goodness.
Tombs are the clothes of the dead: a grave is but a plain suit, and a rich monument is one embroidered. Tombs ought, in some sort, to be proportioned, not to the wealth, but deserts of the party interred. Yet may we see some rich man of mean worth loaden under a tomb big enough for a prince to bear. There were officers appointed in the Grecian games who always, by public authority, did pluck down the statues erected to the victors if they exceeded the true symmetry and proportion of their bodies. The shortest, plainest, and truest epitaphs are the best. Mr. Camden, in his "Remains," presents us with examples of great men who had little epitaphs. And when once I asked a witty gentleman what epitaph was fitted to be written on Mr. Camden's tomb, "Let it be," said he, "Camden's Remains." I say also, "the plainest; " for except the sense lie above ground, few will trouble themselves to dig for it. Lastly, it must be "true;" not, as in some monuments where the red veins in the marble may seem to blush at the falsehoods written on it. He was a witty man that first taught a stone to speak; but he was a wicked man that taught it first to lie.
Momus, the heathen god of ridicule, complained that Jupiter had not made a window in the human breast, so that it might be seen what was passing within. To an omniscient God no window is needed, every thought, and wish, and intention being perfectly discerned.
The tombs of saints in Egypt are held in great veneration. They are covered with a circular building in the form of a cupola, and are regularly whitewashed, repaired, rebuilt, and decorated, as was the case with the Jews. In the larger tombs lamps are kept constantly burning, as amongst the Romanists, and no Christian is allowed to enter. At Pera the tablets are all upright, and surmounted with turbans, tarbooshes, or flowers. The dignity of the person in the grave is displayed by the kind of turban at the top of the stone. Most were of white marble, and many richly gilt and ornamented. They are about the size of our railway mile-posts, and are as thick on the ground as nine-pins. The flowers denote females. Some are painted green, these were descendants of Mahomet.
In the plains of Sahrai-Sirwan Rawlinson noticed many whitewashed obelisks placed on any elevations which occurred conveniently, some rising to the height of fifteen feet, a modern example of "whitened sepulchres." The custom of "garnishing the sepulchres" prevails more or less throughout Persia.I.
It is a characteristic of fallen men that they are apt to content themselves with cleansing the outside. They are at greater pains to seem
pure than to be
II. Though outward purity is desirable, and even measurably praiseworthy, yet, if it be not the fruit of a purified heart, it is unreliable and comparatively valueless. For the welfare of this life it is better that one should be winning than repulsive, moral than immoral. It is better to have a washed outside than to have both outside and inside filthy. If outside only it is unreliable; has no inherent permanency.
III. A cleansed heart is a sure producer of genuine and permanent purity of life. Learn:
1. That God estimates character by the state of the heart.
2. That man has a corrupt heart, and is therefore loathsome in God's sight.
3. That to have God's favour man must be cleansed, and that to be effectual it must begin in his heart.
4. That there is such a thing as being effectually cleansed and rendered acceptable to the Holy One.
So it ever comes to pass that we are punished for deceiving others by being ourselves deceived. Our success secures our delusion. When an act which is properly an indication of some good motive is repeatedly performed in the sight of those who cannot see the heart, they take for granted the motive and give us the credit of it — provided only the act be of the class which it is the fashion of the day and place to applaud as religious. We are assumed to be what, at first, we know we are not. But in time this knowledge fades away; we accept as the independently formed judgment of others that which really rested upon our own successful deception; we come to consider our conduct as in itself sufficient proof of the motive which is universally assumed to be its source. We move in a circle of hypocrisy, and it becomes difficult to decide whether we are the authors or the victims of the delusion. We are, in fact, both.
TopicsBlind, Clean, Cleanse, Cup, Dish, Equally, Inside, Outside, Pharisee, Plate, Platter, Thereof, Wash, Within
Outline1. Jesus admonishes the people to follow good doctrine, not bad examples5. His disciples must beware of their ambition.13. He denounces eight woes against their hypocrisy and blindness,34. and prophesies of the destruction of Jerusalem.
Dictionary of Bible ThemesMatthew 23:1-32
5381 law, letter and spirit
8749 false teachers
5379 law, Christ's attitude
7552 Pharisees, attitudes to Christ
7464 teachers of the law
2318 Christ, as prophet
8761 fools, in teaching of Christ
2009 Christ, anger of
5135 blindness, spiritual
5173 outward appearance
7340 clean and unclean
LibraryThe Morality of the Gospel.
Is stating the morality of the Gospel as an argument of its truth, I am willing to admit two points; first, that the teaching of morality was not the primary design of the mission; secondly, that morality, neither in the Gospel, nor in any other book, can be a subject, properly speaking, of discovery. If I were to describe in a very few words the scope of Christianity as a revelation,  I should say that it was to influence the conduct of human life, by establishing the proof of a future state …
William Paley—Evidences of Christianity
Jesus' Last Public Discourse. Denunciation of Scribes and Pharisees.
(in the Court of the Temple. Tuesday, April 4, a.d. 30.) ^A Matt. XXIII. 1-39; ^B Mark XII. 38-40; ^C Luke XX. 45-47. ^a 1 Then spake Jesus ^b 38 And in his teaching ^c in the hearing of all the people he said unto ^a the multitudes, and to his disciples [he spoke in the most public manner], 2 saying, ^c 46 Beware of the scribes, ^a The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat: 3 all things whatsoever they bid you, these do and observe: but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. …
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel
Christianity Misunderstood by Believers.
Meaning of Christian Doctrine, Understood by a Minority, has Become Completely Incomprehensible for the Majority of Men-- Reason of this to be Found in Misinterpretation of Christianity and Mistaken Conviction of Believers and Unbelievers Alike that they Understand it--The Meaning of Christianity Obscured for Believers by the Church--The First Appearance of Christ's Teaching--Its Essence and Difference from Heathen Religions-- Christianity not Fully Comprehended at the Beginning, Became More and …
Leo Tolstoy—The Kingdom of God is within you
First Attempts on Jerusalem.
Jesus, almost every year, went to Jerusalem for the feast of the passover. The details of these journeys are little known, for the synoptics do not speak of them, and the notes of the fourth Gospel are very confused on this point. It was, it appears, in the year 31, and certainly after the death of John, that the most important of the visits of Jesus to Jerusalem took place. Many of the disciples followed him. Although Jesus attached from that time little value to the pilgrimage, he conformed …
Ernest Renan—The Life of Jesus
For which Cause Our Lord Himself Also with his Own Mouth Saith...
4. For which cause our Lord Himself also with His own mouth saith, "Cleanse what are within, and what are without will be clean."  And, also, in another place, when He was refuting the foolish speeches of the Jews, in that they spake evil against His disciples, eating with unwashen hands; "Not what entereth into the mouth," said He, "defileth the man: but what cometh forth out of the mouth, that defileth the man."  Which sentence, if the whole of it be taken of the mouth of the body, …
St. Augustine—On Continence
Relation of the Pharisees to the Sadducees and Essenes, and to the Gospel of Christ
On taking a retrospective view of Pharisaism, as we have described it, there is a saying of our Lord which at first sight seems almost unaccountable. Yet it is clear and emphatic. "All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do" (Matt 23:3). But if the early disciples were not to break at once and for ever with the Jewish community, such a direction was absolutely needful. For, though the Pharisees were only "an order," Pharisaism, like modern Ultramontanism, had not only become …
Alfred Edersheim—Sketches of Jewish Social Life
Among the People, and with the Pharisees
It would have been difficult to proceed far either in Galilee or in Judaea without coming into contact with an altogether peculiar and striking individuality, differing from all around, and which would at once arrest attention. This was the Pharisee. Courted or feared, shunned or flattered, reverently looked up to or laughed at, he was equally a power everywhere, both ecclesiastically and politically, as belonging to the most influential, the most zealous, and the most closely-connected religions …
Alfred Edersheim—Sketches of Jewish Social Life
The General Service to a Prophet.
At the Vespers, for O Lord, I have cried, the Stichera, Tone 4. Similar to: Called from above... Thou that hast in the purity of thy mind received the reflex of the God-emitted light and wast the herald of the divine words and seer and divine prophet, thou appearedst as the God-moved mouth of the Spirit, conveying that which was shewn by Him unto thee, O all-honoured (mentioned by name), and declaring unto all the peoples the salvation that was being granted and the Kingdom of Christ; do entreat …
Anonymous—The General Menaion
Of the Power of Making Laws. The Cruelty of the Pope and his Adherents, in this Respect, in Tyrannically Oppressing and Destroying Souls.
1. The power of the Church in enacting laws. This made a source of human traditions. Impiety of these traditions. 2. Many of the Papistical traditions not only difficult, but impossible to be observed. 3. That the question may be more conveniently explained, nature of conscience must be defined. 4. Definition of conscience explained. Examples in illustration of the definition. 5. Paul's doctrine of submission to magistrates for conscience sake, gives no countenance to the Popish doctrine of the obligation …
John Calvin—The Institutes of the Christian Religion
Hints to Teachers and Questions for Pupils
Teacher's Apparatus.--English theology has no juster cause for pride than the books it has produced on the Life of Paul. Perhaps there is no other subject in which it has so outdistanced all rivals. Conybeare and Howson's Life and Epistles of St. Paul will probably always keep the foremost place; in many respects it is nearly perfect; and a teacher who has mastered it will be sufficiently equipped for his work and require no other help. The works of Lewin and Farrar are written on the same lines; …
James Stalker et al—The Life of St. Paul
On Attending the Church Service
"The sin of the young men was very great." 1 Sam. 2:17. 1. The corruption, not only of the heathen world, but likewise of them that were called Christians, has been matter of sorrow and lamentation to pious men, almost from the time of the apostles. And hence, as early as the second century, within a hundred years of St. John's removal from the earth, men who were afraid of being partakers of other men's sins, thought it their duty to separate from them. Hence, in every age many have retired from …
John Wesley—Sermons on Several Occasions
Machinations of the Enemies of Jesus.
Jesus passed the autumn and a part of the winter at Jerusalem. This season is there rather cold. The portico of Solomon, with its covered aisles, was the place where he habitually walked. This portico consisted of two galleries, formed by three rows of columns, and covered by a ceiling of carved wood. It commanded the valley of Kedron, which was doubtless less covered with debris than it is at the present time. The depth of the ravine could not be measured, from the height of the portico; and …
Ernest Renan—The Life of Jesus
The Early Ministry in Judea
113. We owe to the fourth gospel our knowledge of the fact that Jesus began his general ministry in Jerusalem. The silence of the other records concerning this beginning cannot discredit the testimony of John. For these other records themselves indicate in various ways that Jesus had repeatedly sought to win Jerusalem before his final visit at the end of his life (compare Luke xiii. 34; Matt. xxiii. 37). Moreover, the fourth gospel is confirmed by the probability, rising almost to necessity, that …
Rush Rhees—The Life of Jesus of Nazareth
The Crossing of the Jordan
THE CROSSING OF THE JORDAN Just how did you feel at the time you were sanctified? I have heard some tell of how the holy fire of the Spirit seemed to go all through them. Others have told of a deeper, more complete peace. Some have shouted for joy. Others have wept for joy. And I am wondering how one ought to feel. Can you tell me? And how can I know that I am consecrated? Every teacher of entire sanctification that I ever heard says that the consecration must be complete; but how am I to know when …
Robert Lee Berry—Adventures in the Land of Canaan
Subjects of Study. Home Education in Israel; Female Education. Elementary Schools, Schoolmasters, and School Arrangements.
If a faithful picture of society in ancient Greece or Rome were to be presented to view, it is not easy to believe that even they who now most oppose the Bible could wish their aims success. For this, at any rate, may be asserted, without fear of gainsaying, that no other religion than that of the Bible has proved competent to control an advanced, or even an advancing, state of civilisation. Every other bound has been successively passed and submerged by the rising tide; how deep only the student …
Alfred Edersheim—Sketches of Jewish Social Life
Letter Xliv Concerning the Maccabees but to whom Written is Unknown.
Concerning the Maccabees But to Whom Written is Unknown.  He relies to the question why the Church has decreed a festival to the Maccabees alone of all the righteous under the ancient law. 1. Fulk, Abbot of Epernay, had already written to ask me the same question as your charity has addressed to your humble servant by Brother Hescelin. I have put off replying to him, being desirous to find, if possible, some statement in the Fathers about this which was asked, which I might send to him, rather …
Saint Bernard of Clairvaux—Some Letters of Saint Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux
Number and Order of the Separate Books.
The number of the books was variously estimated. Josephus gives twenty-two, which was the usual number among Christian writers in the second, third, and fourth centuries, having been derived perhaps from the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Origen, Jerome, and others have it. It continued longest among the teachers of the Greek Church, and is even in Nicephorus's stichometry.(83) The enumeration in question has Ruth with Judges, and Lamentations with Jeremiah. In Epiphanius(84) the number twenty-seven …
Samuel Davidson—The Canon of the Bible
I. (Who first propounded these heresies, p. 11.) Hippolytus seems to me to have felt the perils to the pure Gospel of many admissions made by Clement and other Alexandrian doctors as to the merits of some of the philosophers of the Gentiles. Very gently, but with prescient genius, he adopts this plan of tracing the origin and all the force of heresies to "philosophy falsely so called." The existence of this "cloud of locusts" is (1) evidence of the antagonism of Satan; (2) of the prophetic spirit …
Hippolytus.—The Refutation of All Heresies
"The Carnal Mind is Enmity against God for it is not Subject to the Law of God, Neither Indeed Can Be. So Then they that Are
Rom. viii. s 7, 8.--"The carnal mind is enmity against God for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God." It is not the least of man's evils, that he knows not how evil he is, therefore the Searcher of the heart of man gives the most perfect account of it, Jer. xvii. 12. "The heart is deceitful above all things," as well as "desperately wicked," two things superlative and excessive in it, bordering upon an infiniteness, such …
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning
We are not Binding Heavy Burdens and Laying them Upon Your Shoulders...
37. We are not binding heavy burdens and laying them upon your shoulders, while we with a finger will not touch them. Seek out, and acknowledge the labor of our occupations, and in some of us the infirmities of our bodies also, and in the Churches which we serve, that custom now grown up, that they do not suffer us to have time ourselves for those works to which we exhort you. For though we might say, "Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? Who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the …
St. Augustine—Of the Work of Monks.
Repentance and Impenitence.
In the discussion of this subject I shall show,-- I. What repentance is not. 1. The Bible everywhere represents repentance as a virtue, and as constituting a change of moral character; consequently, it cannot be a phenomenon of the intelligence: that is, it cannot consist in conviction of sin, nor in any intellectual apprehension of our guilt or ill-desert. All the states or phenomena of the intelligence are purely passive states of mind, and of course moral character, strictly speaking, cannot be …
Charles Grandison Finney—Systematic Theology
Second Sunday after Trinity Exhortation to Brotherly Love.
Text: 1 John 3, 13-18. 13 Marvel not, brethren, if the world hateth you. 14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not abideth in death. 15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. 16 Hereby know we love, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoso hath the world's goods, and beholdeth his brother in need, and shutteth …
Martin Luther—Epistle Sermons, Vol. III
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