Category Archives: Hypocrisy

Glory In The Lord

It almost sounds like the beginning of a contemporary joke. “Two men went up into the temple to pray…” However, rather than being a joke, it is a very poignant teaching on one of the most important issues we face as individuals…our attitude. Luke prefaces this parable of our Lord with the observation that it was about those that “trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others” (Luke 18:9). In other words, this parable is about those who have an attitude of superiority and self-righteousness.

Most of the time, the New Testament presents the Pharisees in a rather unflattering light. Jesus blasted them with a series of woes as He described the scribes and Pharisees as “hypocrites” (Matt. 23:13-33). There were exceptions, of course, but generally that was true. This parable is another example in which Jesus contrasts the Pharisees with a publican or other known sinner and the Pharisees again come up short.

Besides the fact that Jesus spoke it, two things make this parable powerful. First, the description Jesus gives of the Pharisee and the publican ring true. Everyone must have recognized its truth or the parable would fail to make it’s point. Second, generally speaking, everyone would expect that the Pharisee would be the one who was supposed to be truly righteous and the publican the one who was supposed to lack any sense of sin. But this was turned upside down by Jesus’ parable.

Notice, please, that the Pharisee prayed “with himself” but addressed God (18:11). It is almost as if he felt that he was taking God’s place! In his “prayer,” he mentions himself five times and God only once. He not only mentions himself but praises himself as he enumerates all his good deeds. The facts he lists about himself are good. It is good not to be an extortioner, or an adulterer or unjust. These things are good and Jesus does not condemn these things about the Pharisee (if they are true).

The problem with the Pharisee was that he exalted himself. He contrasted himself with the publican and assumed that he was better than the publican. Contrast him now, yourself, to the publican. The publican acknowledged the fact he was a sinner while the Pharisee boasted that he was not a sinner. The publican did not think himself worthy even to approach near to God while the Pharisee hardly mentioned God. He wouldn’t even look up to heaven while the Pharisee was looking everywhere but to heaven. He smote his own breast with his fists and asked God to be merciful to him while the Pharisee said I am not as other men are.

Jesus also contrasted the publican with the Pharisee and found that the publican went down to his house justified rather than the Pharisee. He went justified because he did not exalt himself. The Bible is clear that God cannot use one that is full of himself. In fact, “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble” (James 4:6). God wants only to use the weak and foolish things of the world, and the things which are despised so that no flesh should glory in His presence (I Cor. 1:27-29).

On a couple of occasions Jesus made clear that we are to be genuine, not hypocrites. Jesus warned against doing things just to be seen of men (Matt. 6:1-18). He again warned that the Pharisees did everything just to be seen of men (Matt. 23:5). And then, just before going on to describe the woes placed upon the Pharisees, He said that “whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted” (Matt. 23:12). God wants us to be genuine, sincere, unvarnished servants.

Even though the Pharisee was correct that it was good not to be an extortioner or and adulterer or unjust, and even though he may have done well in doing more than required, his sense of self-worth or a sense of self-righteousness hurt his fellowship with God. He exalted himself instead of letting God exalt him. We should heed the admonition that he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord (I Cor. 1:31).

Eric L. Padgett

Thou Art The Man

It is a terrible thing to be accused of something bad, especially when the accusation is false. The resulting damage to one’s reputation and life can be devastating. As Raymond Donovan, former U. S. Secretary of Labor, once asked after being falsely charged with a crime, “Which office do I go to to get my reputation back?” How many people’s lives have been ruined because someone carelessly or, even worse, maliciously, spread a lie about someone else. But there is something even worse than this–when the charge is true and it comes from God!

David was the recipient of just such a charge. Nathan the prophet came to him and described an incident in which a man, who had many flocks and herds, took the only, precious lamb which another man possessed to serve it up to a stranger that had come his way. David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man who would do such an evil and selfish thing as this. But what David did not realize was that Nathan was describing David’s actions in other terms. When David pronounced punishment on the person he believed Nathan was describing, Nathan told him plainly: “Thou art the man.”

Sometimes we fail to see the wrong we do when, in principle, it is the same as what we condemn in others. The apostle Paul, for instance, sated, “Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things” (Rom. 2:1). The Jews, who had condemned the Gentiles as being evil, did many of the same things as they did, all the while professing to be following God. It was not that the Gentiles were not evil, its just that the Jews were also sinners (Rom. 3:23).

When Ahab, the evil king of Israel, charged Elijah with troubling Israel, Elijah responded by saying “I have not troubled Israel; but thou and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim” (I Kings 18:18). Elijah was telling Ahab, “Thou art the man.” There are those in the Lord’s church today who likewise accuse those who contend earnestly for the faith of troubling the church by being “church police” when in reality it is they who trouble Israel, the Lord’s church, by not zealously following God’s will.

Many in the religious world are confident that they are doing the will of God and boast of their good works. But Jesus said many will make this claim on the day of judgement saying “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? (Matt. 7:22). Then He will say to them, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matt. 7:23). Jesus will, in effect, say to so many, “Thou art the man.”

We tend to think of others as the ones committing sin, as the ones who speak unkindly, as the ones who lie, as the ones who accommodate doctrinal error, as the ones who cheat, as the ones who harbor ill will, as the ones who slander, and so on, when, in fact and/or in principle, we are equally guilty. Let us examine ourselves (I Cor. 11:28), prove our own selves (II Cor. 13:5) and take heed lest we, thinking we stand, fall (I Cor. 10:12).

David committed a series of horrible trespasses against the Lord and his fellow man, but he had the right attitude when he was confronted with his sin. He said “I have sinned against the Lord.” (II Sam. 12:13). He acknowledged his sin and was resigned to the punishment that was meted out to him by God. May it never be the case that the Lord can say to us, “Thou art the man.” But if He does, may we have the heart of David and acknowledge our sin and repent.

Eric L. Padgett