children dressed in Halloween Costumes October 29 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Mark 12:18-40; Matthew 22:23-23:36; Luke 20:27-47; Luke 10:25-37

Avoid Hypocrisy

It is almost Halloween in the U.S., and it has become just about as big and popular as Christmas. For those who don't live in America—houses, yards, schools, and businesses are decorated with some cute or gruesome pictures, figures or scenes. Many children, teens and adults will wear masks for trick or treat, spook houses, and parties—they will be someone they are not.

Originally, theatre actors wore masks on stage. The mask was not who they were; it was who they appeared to be. The mask was a hypocrite. A hypocrite is someone who portrays himself to be one person, but in reality he is someone else. If the truth is told, most of us have been hypocrites in our behavior at one time or another. Our best friend, spouse, or children will see our inconsistent behavior, if we do not see it ourselves. We don’t like it when people speak of our hypocrisy, even if it is true. We are proud. We will attack the person who speaks the truth about our behavior, or even lie or justify it. Many of us will do almost anything to make our actions seem righteous.

In regard to religious leaders, we would like to think that they wouldn't be false, but they are human, too, and some are the worst hypocrites. Because of their position, some believe they are above criticism. They may speak boastfully about their behavior, but we know differently. Religious leaders live in “glass houses” so they can't fool people very long. People view their lives and see how consistently or inconsistently they are lived. Leaders, and especially spiritual leaders and teachers, are judged more strictly by God (James 3:1). To whom much is given much is required.

The priests of Israel were given the responsibility for spiritual instruction of the Jewish people. Because they were setting the example for others to follow, they were expected to live what they taught in strict fashion. Religious leaders in Jesus’ day, however, were hypocritical. They loved their positions and privileges. It is no surprise that they attacked Jesus, the one who spoke the truth. Truth is threatening to hypocrites; it exposes them for who they are, and it threatens their position and respect.

In today's Bible reading, hypocritical religious leaders continue their attack on Jesus. What does he do? Besides speaking God’s truth, he tells people how they might identify those who are wearing religious masks.

While all the people were listening, Jesus said to his disciples, “Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows’s houses [apparently for money] and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely.” (Luke 20:45-47, NIV)

The religious leaders are a law unto themselves. They ignore God’s laws and nullify them by making up their own traditions. Jesus does not attack the common people; they are but sheep. He attacks the false shepherds, the religious leaders who lead them astray or allow wolves (false teachers) to come into the sheepfold and attack them (John 10:7-13).

Jesus is not political. He is not afraid to offend those in high positions if they are wrong. He exposes evil and evildoers. He cares nothing about gaining favor with them or anyone but God his Father. Do we wish to curry favor with the ungodly by saying nothing about wrong behavior? Do we fear their paybacks, or do we care only what God thinks? Do we care about justice and righteousness enough to expose evil, speak the truth, and attack false teaching? If we don't do this, succeeding generations of people may believe our silence means we agree with them. Let's live lives of integrity and righteousness and speak out against false teaching.

Lessons to Live By

  • Leaders, and especially spiritual leaders and teachers, are judged more strictly by God (James 3:1). To whom much is given much is required.
  • Truth is threatening to hypocrites.
  • Let's live lives of integrity and righteousness and speak out against false teaching.
  • God offers us the salvation of our souls through his Son, Jesus, who is no hypocrite (more...)

Focus Verse

Psalms 40:10 (NIV) “I do not hide your righteousness in my heart; I speak of your faithfulness and salvation. I do not conceal your love and your truth from the great assembly.”

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A Look Ahead: Jesus predicts some storms in the future of our world. What Storm Preparations should we make in our life? Find out in our Next Lesson.

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