Jesus repeatedly condemned the Jewish religious leaders of his time as hypocrites, because though they were outwardly religious, inwardly they were ungodly (Matt 22:18; 23:25; Mark 7:6-8; 12:15). They had no knowledge of God and his teaching, and could not see their own sin. They thought that their show of religion would impress people and please God, but it brought instead condemnation from Jesus (Matt 6:2-5; 23:13-36; Luke 12:56). While pretending to be sincere, they had evil motives (Luke 20:19-20; cf. 1 Tim 4:2). Their hypocrisy was, in fact, malice (cf. Mark 12:15 with Matt 22:18; see MALICE). God’s people must constantly beware of the dangers of hypocrisy. It shows itself in many ways, as, for example, when people accuse others of what they are guilty of themselves (Matt 7:5; Luke 13:15; Rom 2:1-3,19-24). It shows itself also when people flatter others, or when they change their stated opinions solely to please others (Ps 12:3-4; Gal 2:13). All insincerity, whether in speech or actions, is hypocrisy (1 Peter 2:1). Christians can learn to overcome it through practising genuine love and developing a sensitive conscience (Rom 12:9; 14:13; 1 Tim 1:5).

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