You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy about you, by saying:
‘This people honors Me with their lips,
But their heart is far away from Me.
And in vain do they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.”

It was never really a law issue, but a heart issue. In both the Old Testament and New, God has always been more concerned about the position of our hearts than our ability to follow rules. Our inner love for God always leads us to outward obedience (Deut. 6:4-9).

Jesus brought to bear the words of the prophet Isaiah, who had called the Israelites to the carpet for honoring God in word only. Their worship and their sacrifices had been in vain. They too had made law of their own teachings. The same was true of the Pharisees in Jesus’ day. While they followed the letter of the law, their hearts were far from God. Their hearts were so far that they didn’t have eyes to see the Savior who was in their midst.

While we may not call them Pharisees, people like them still exist today—those who show up, follow all the rules, say that right things, and tithe every week, yet their hearts are far from God. Before we point the finger at others who might fit that description, we must first look at our own hearts. Regardless of whether or not we follow all the rules or check all the right boxes, we are all inclined to some brand of hypocrisy. It’s easy to say the right things about God. It’s easy to sing worship lyrics without recognizing the posture of our hearts. It’s easy to show up to church physically, but not spiritually. It’s easy to teach tradition and cultural Christianity while giving Scripture a secondary role. At some point or another, all of us have been a hypocrite. We too have to hear the words of Jesus that call us back to the heart of the matter.

  • Where do you see your own hypocritical tendencies? Where have you been blinded to them?
  • Where have you let your heart drift far away from God? How is He drawing you back in to His own heart? How do you need the word to guide you in the process?
  • Ask the Lord to unite your heart, mind, and deeds. Confess the places you have allowed your heart and mind to drift. Ask Him to draw you in through His Word.