"You are hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he spoke about you. Isaiah said: 'These people say they honor me, but they don't really make me an important part of their lives. Their worship of me is for nothing. The things they teach are only rules that people have made.'"
— Matthew 15:7-9
Jesus was sometimes not very subtle. His lack of diplomacy with hypocrisy was founded in the heart of God. In fact, Jesus is very hard on those who pretend to make God first in their lives and then do what they want. He'll even use the "h" (hypocrite) word when it is needed!
God cannot stand it when we play like we're devoted to his will and then do what we like, want, or feel more comfortable doing. Only his will is binding. Only his will matters. Our preferences are simply that—our own opinions. They are generally neutral, unless we start replacing God's will with our preferences. It's easy to honor God with words, but he wants obedience so our character can be conformed to his own. To do less is to do wrong.
Holy God, please accept my worship, praise, and thanksgiving from a genuine heart seeking to please you. Please forgive me for my sins and restore in me a holy passion to pursue you, your will, and your character with all of my heart, soul, and might. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Today's Verses in Context
Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus. They came from Jerusalem and asked Jesus, "Why do your followers not obey the rules given to us by our great people that lived before us? Your followers don't wash their hands before they eat!" Jesus answered, "And why do you refuse to obey God's command so that you can follow those rules you have? God said, 'You must honor (respect) your father and mother.' And God also said, 'Any person that says bad things to his father or mother must be killed.' But you teach that a person can say to his father or mother, 'I have something I could use to help you. But I will not use it to help you. I will give it to God.' You teach that person to not honor his father. So you teach that it is not important to do what God said. You think that it is more important to follow those rules you have. You are hypocrites ! Isaiah was right when he spoke about you. Isaiah said: 'These people say they honor me, but they don't really make me an important part of their lives. Their worship of me is for nothing. The things they teach are only rules that people have made.'" Jesus called the people to him. Jesus said, "Listen and understand what I am saying. It is not the things a person puts in his mouth that make him wrong. It is the things a person says with his mouth that make him wrong." Then the followers came to Jesus and asked, "Do you know that the Pharisees are angry because of what you said?" Jesus answered, "Every plant that my Father in heaven has not planted himself will be pulled up by the roots. Stay away from the Pharisees. They lead the people, but they are like blind men leading other blind men. And if a blind man leads another blind man, then both men will fall into a hole." Peter said, "Explain to us what you said earlier to the people." Jesus said, "You still have trouble understanding? Surely you know that all the food that enters a person's mouth goes into the stomach. Then that food goes out of the body. But thebad things a person says with his mouth come from the way a person thinks. And these are the things that make a person wrong. All these bad things begin in a person's mind: evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual sins, stealing, lying, saying bad things against other people. These things make a person wrong. But not washing his hands before he eats does not make a person wrong."
Related Scripture Readings
Then Jesus spoke to the people and to his followers. Jesus said, "The teachers of the law and the Pharisees have the authority (power) to tell you what the law of Moses says. So you should obey the things they say. You should do all the things they tell you to do. But their lives are not good examples for you to follow. They tell you to do things, but they don't do those things themselves. They make strict rules that are hard for people to obey. They try to force other people to obey all those rules. But they themselves will not try to follow any of those rules.
"It will be bad for you teachers of the law and Pharisees. You are hypocrites. You are like tombs that are painted white. The outside of those tombs looks fine. But inside, the tombs are full of the bones of dead people. And all kinds of unclean things are inside there. It is the same with you. People look at you and think that you are good. But on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and evil.
Peter came to Antioch. He did something that was not right. I was against Peter, because he was wrong. This is what happened: When Peter first came to Antioch, he ate and associated with the non-Jewish people. But then some Jewish men came from James. When these men came, Peter separated himself from the non-Jews. He stopped eating with them. Why? Because he was afraid of the Jews who believe that all non-Jewish people must be circumcised. So Peter was a hypocrite. The other Jewish believers joined with Peter. So they were hypocrites too. Even Barnabas was influenced by the things these Jewish believers did. I saw what these Jews did. They were not following the truth of the Good News. So I spoke to Peter in a way that all the other Jews could hear what I said. This is what I said: "Peter, you are a Jew. But you don't live like a Jew. You live like a non-Jew. So why do you now force the non-Jewish people to live like Jews?"