Masking Your Heart

One Sunday after church services, a man fussed about the sermon on the way home. He also griped about the traffic, he complained about the heat, and he made a big fuss about how late lunch was served. When lunch was served, he bowed and prayed, giving God thanks for the food. His son heard and watched this all the way home from church services. As they began to pass the food, he asked, “Daddy, did God hear you when we left the church and you started fussin’ about the sermon and about the traffic and about the heat?” 

Dad said ashamedly, “Well, yes, son, He heard me.” 

The boy asked, “Well, Daddy, dd God hear you when you just prayed for this food right now?” 

The dad said, “Well, yes, son, He... He... He heard me.” 

His son asked, “Well, Daddy, which one did God believe?”

What a sad example the father presented to his son. It showcases what afflicts the church today - hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is defined as the distance between what we claim to be and what we are. It is a mask which identifies one on the outside in one situation, then acts another way elsewhere. We call them “pretenders.” People live one way acting like all is well, but are not committed, genuine, or true. What is the reason for such behavior? Is God not observing this? Is it part of the nature of man? Is it a chemical imbalance?

Jesus revealed in Mark 7:1-23 hypocrisy’s cause, outward signs, and defiling results. In this passage, Jesus will teach us the inside of a person should match the outside of the same person. What we are in our hearts is who we really are! Outward lifestyle may look pretty, but inwardly lies an ugly, corrupt, and sinful heart.

One of the first signs of hypocrisy is complaining. In vv. 1-4, the Pharisees and certain scribes complain about others who do not wash their hands before they eat. They are offended by such action. Although they attach Jesus over the issue, He turns the tables on them. He shows them their complaining is a sign of them holding to a tradition and failing to honor God (vv. 6-7). It reminds me of those who will justify instrumental music because it has a more beautiful sound than acapella singing. The real issue is not the beauty of the sound but the source of music. God gave us the source of our music to Him - from the heart and voice, not instruments (Ephesians 5:19).

Hypocrisy also makes an effort at misusing scripture. Four things were done to the law of God by the Pharisees and scribes:

1. They replaced the word (v. 7) by “teaching as doctrine the commandment of men.” The Pharisees took a law from the Mishnah, a list of Jewish oral laws, and made a law about washing hands before eating and washing pots, pans, plates, etc. before eating from those. There were 30 chapters on cleansing of vessels. It was a ceremonial cleansing not ordained of God.

2. They neglected the word (v. 8). “Ye leave the commandment of God...” Hypocrisy is when people have in their minds they can do it better. They do it because they want to do it. they leave the commandment of God out of their lives and practice what makes the most sense to them.

3. They rejected the word (v. 9). “Ye reject the commandment of God.” Whoever pushes aside God’s perfect word, their next step is to find a way to do something else. Whether it is a matter of inconvenience, timing, busyness, laziness, or apathy, they will reject the word. Rejecting the word is NO light thing. The consequences are severe. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou has rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shall be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I slow will forget thy children” (Hosea 4:6).

4. They made void the word (v. 13). The dishonor the Pharisees gave with their lips from an empty spiritual heart made the word of God of none effect. Scripture became useless to others because of those whose lives were not transformed. How then could this be of value to the world? It demonstrates a person cannot “act” their way into heaven. Neither can you think your way into the kingdom of God. It will always be important to have your whole heart involved in serving God (Matthew 22:37). This means the word of God is not just good on paper. Its value is witnessed in life. A person cannot observe what man allows and avoid responsibility to God. It would be like having a tradition of serving the Lord’s supper on Saturday night for those who work on Sunday while avoiding what God has given the responsibility to be done of the first day of the week. We make void the word.

The impact of these signs of hypocrisy kept others from entering the kingdom in the days of the New Testament and will have similar effects today (Matthew 23:13). IF these actions of hypocrisy make the word of God void, the question sis what will convert people? For some the answer is secular activities, social programs, and worldly endeavors. As a result, few things if any will be handed to the next generation about God, Jesus, and the church. It may smell religious, taste spiritual, and have a form of honor, but there will be hearts far from God. Be sober-minded and pass on the WORD. Remove the forms of traditions. Create a greater desire to worship. Let the hearts of the people fully serve God. Teach the word. Obey the voice of God. Let’s turn back the tide of hypocrisy and its serious soul-damning consequences.