Have you ever wondered why Jesus came down so hard against hypocrisy? He spoke very strongly against it, and gave scathing rebukes to those who were living as habitual hypocrites. This will make more sense to us when we understand the true nature of hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is a dark, deceptive, and evil practice that does much damage to the lives of others. Below is an excerpt from Hypocrisy Exposed that explains this in more detail:
One of the reasons that Jesus came down so hard on hypocrisy is because of the devastating effects it has on others. He outlines this in His Matthew 23 rebuke of the scribes and Pharisees. I believe that Jesus spoke these words with a broken heart for the people who had been so deeply damaged by hypocrisy:
“For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do to be seen by men.” (Matthew 23:4-5)
“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.” (Matthew 23:13-15)
These were the ones who were supposed to be the spiritual leaders of Israel. But they did not truly know God and they did terrible damage to His people. They burdened people with a yoke of bondage and abused them for personal gain. Not only did they not enter the kingdom of God, but they became a barrier for others who were seeking to enter. They took advantage of the weak and needy, oppressing the ones they should have been helping. Their prayers were a pretense and their good works a mere show. All they cared about was appearances, accolades, and control over others. When they won people as converts, it only multiplied and intensified the evil that was being perpetuated.
Hypocrisy does terrible damage to people. Imagine the confusion and trauma of growing up in a family where your dad is a pastor or committed church member, but he is also sexually abusing you or others. Imagine having a close friend whom you see as a devoted follower of Christ, only to find out that he or she has been deceiving you for years and has a completely different life that you knew nothing about. Imagine being the wife or child of a domestic abuser, who everyone else thinks is a wonderful, godly man. Imagine being in a church where the pastor and leaders are spiritually abusive, domineering, manipulative, and utterly deceptive. Imagine having a business partner who is a professing believer with whom you pray regularly and discuss the things of God with; only to uncover that they have been embezzling money from the business for many years.
Unfortunately, many of you do not need to imagine these scenarios because you have experienced them personally. This has been the reality of your life. Some of you may be in a current situation of dealing with a chronic hypocrite. Others of you can look back on your life and see where you interacted with or were in a close relationship with someone living in hypocrisy, without realizing what to call it. Whatever the case may be, damage has been done and healing is needed.