"For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth." ~ Deuteronomy14:2

Sunday, November 2, 2008

What is Behind your Mask? The Unmasking of the Pharisee's Sin of Hypocrisy

"Woe, to you, hypocrites!" This cry resounds seven times in Jesus' address to the scribes and Pharisees. "So you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity!" Matthew 23:28
What is a mask? A mask isn’t just a costume prop. A mask is anything and everything we take upon ourselves, or have thrust upon us while forming our identities and living our lives. We have professional masks: “I am a doctor, lawyer….” We have personal masks: “I am a mother, father, sister, brother….” We have psychological masks: “I am shy. I am outgoing. I am intellectual. I am emotional…” If you can name it, if you label yourself with it - it is a mask. Some masks protect us, some liberate us and yet others limit us. Some masks are constructive; some masks are destructive. God is not commanding the type of mask we choose to wear – that is our choice. Good masks or bad masks, that’s up to you; masks are part of life and life is complex. What God commands from us, however, is to not turn our masks into idols or worship them or see them as an end and not a means. God prohibits us from turning our masks into gods! We all wear masks. It is part of life. The challenge, task, commandment is to recognize our masks, wear our masks, but NEVER, EVER confuse the mask for your face; never see the mask as anything other than an impermanent, fragment of the greater version of you and never sacrifice yourself to that mask by working for it or serving it at the expense of your true self. We are called to go to the mirror and take a good long look and see through the mask, see the true you. Once you have done that, you will have caught a glimpse of the Divine - face to face, not mask to mask. Only then will we have experienced meaningful and authentic faith and come as we are to God. Will you find, like I did a sinner? The Lesson of the Pharisees Beware the Mask of Hyprocracy - "In the meantime, when an innumerable multitude of people had gathered together, so that they trampled one another, He began to say to His disciples first of all, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have spoken in the ear in inner rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops." ~ Luke 12:1-3 Jesus had a ‘list’ of things to beware of; •People/False Prophets - men who will deliver you up … scribes in their long robes •Concepts/Philosophies/Sin - Covetousness (Luke 12:!5),Leaven (Luke 12:1) What is Jesus talking about? Leaven is another word for yeast. Leaven/yeast in the Bible signifies sin. A little leaven/sin affects the whole: "6Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth." ~~1 Corinthians 5:6-8 • The leaven/sin of the Pharisees was hypocrisy • The Greek word, hypocrisy relates to actors and masks. • Three ways hypocrisy reared its head with the Pharisees: 1. "Mask of Service" They were not willing to do work that they told others to do. Matthew 23:4 - "4"They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger." 2. "Mask of Show" They did deeds/works to be seen by others … loved attention & titles. Matthew 23:5-8 - "6"They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues, 7and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men. 8"But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers." 3. "Mask Self Righteousness" (See the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, Luke 18:9-14) The message of this parable lies in the comparison of the manner and content of the two men’s prayers. The Pharisee went before God in self-righteousness, without recognition of his need for the grace of God to save him. "Worse, he assumes God’s role of judge: not only does he enumerate his own claims to being just, but reminds God of the deficiency of the tax collector, in case God had not noticed". In contrast, the tax collector stands stark in his need for grace before God. His attitude of prayer was an expression of despair. The man beat upon his heart, overwhelmed by the bitter sense of his distance from God. At the end of the day, the tax collector was judged righteous by God, while the Pharisee was not; thus Jesus was telling the people that justification comes when one both needs and recognizes his need for it. God cannot justify those who insist on justifying themselves. Romans 8:6-8 "6For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8Those who are in the flesh cannot please God." "To live hypocritically means to think that we are committed Christians, to pray much, read the Bible, be active in a Christian fellowship, perhaps even do missionary work, yet not practise what we read in the Bible, pray about and tell others to do. As hypocrites we do not realize that we have fallen into the sleep of the self-certain, who are sure that they have been saved and will go to heaven one day, while Satan laughs scornfully. To a great extent we do not practise what we preach. This is a shocking fact; it ought to shake us up. When we live such a hypocritical life, we become guilty towards our fellow men. We not only destroy the credibility of the Gospel for others, but we even cause them to reject Jesus. And we ourselves will be struck by Jesus' shocking verdict, "The hypocrites will be cast into outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth" (Matt. 24: 51). As hypocrites we will become children of hell (Matt. 23: 15). Our hypocrisy provokes the wrath of God, because He is only pleased when we lead our everyday life according to His Word. There is scarcely any other sin that Jesus threatens to judge so severely as the sin of hypocrisy. Therefore, we have to put all our efforts into being freed from the chains of this sin." (Source Article Link http://sermonindex.net/modules/articles/index.php?view=article&aid=844)
"13Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy." ~Proverbs 28:13 "2Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 3Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops." ~Luke 12:2-3

No comments: