Once fully integrated beings living solely from the spirit, we became divided into spirit, mind and body. Our homogenous nature was separated into these three compartments. We gained the ability to:
Think one thing and then say another
Say one thing and then do another
Think something, say another, and then do a completely different
thing than what we thought or said
We can portray who we are on the outside as totally different from who we are on the inside.
We can display extreme spirituality on the outside while practicing deviant lifestyles on the inside. We can portray ourselves to the world as the most benevolent people but be amazingly greedy on the inside. We can make people laugh while crying on the inside. We can preach the greatest sermons on holiness while viewing pornography in secret. We can attend marriage seminars and then sleep with a total stranger. We can lead worship and then be drowned in alcohol. Hypocrisy is not what we do but who we are and who we have become, a state of being and not a status of doing. We are not hypocrites because we act, but we act because we are hypocrites.
In Ezekiel 10, when God’s Presence left the temple, for all practical purposes the temple should have been shut down. When the Person left the temple, the purpose of the temple ceased. But it did not, and the ceremonies, rules, and regulations continued on. The religion of Christianity exists where there are ceremonies every weekend without the relationship with the Person being experienced throughout the week.
The Pharisees were not pro-Baal and did not worship idols. They were pro-Jehovah and promoted the one true God. They were teachers of His ordained law and instructed others in the precepts of Yahweh. They went to the temple every day, serving the religious system. There was some serious Torah-thumping going on during Jesus’ life on earth.
So what did Jesus think about the Pharisees and the teachers of the law? How did He deal with these religious leaders? Ironically, He directed some of His harshest words toward them. The one word He consistently used to describe these men was hypocrites, which derives from the Greek hypokrites, meaning a stage actor, someone playing a role. An actor is someone who pretends to be someone else. There is no personal transformation in actors. Their inner reality is different from their external portrayal. Who they are changes based on situations, circumstances and external demands.
The Pharisees’ lifestyle on the inside did not match their lifestyle on the outside; they had one lifestyle in the synagogue and another at home, one lifestyle when alone and a different one with people. Like spiritual chameleons, they changed who they were based on their environment.
Our true lifestyle is what we practice in private, so if we portray anything else in public, we too are acting. That is hypocrisy. Going from misfits to ministers, we can put on a show to attract people in order to create a following.
Consider social media. Millions use manicured pictures, captions, and 140-character messages to portray their lives as amazing and awesome, though the reality is actually mundane and messy. We consistently project an image of who we are not. That is hypocrisy.
Today, twenty-first-century Pharisees practice circumstantial Christianity. Their peak religious experience comes on Sunday mornings when they give their best performance. They mistake heightened emotion for high-level spirituality. They make the church building, not the body of Christ, the epicenter of faith. They put on a superficial spirituality when they walk into church, and then when they exit drop it at the door like 3-D glasses at a movie theater, only needed for the emotional experience. The evidence of their faith is reading the Bible, praying, attending church, and taking part in spiritual programs. When they do all of these things, they are certain they have a relationship with God and are bound for Heaven. The Pharisees had the same mindset.
Jesus is invited into and kicked out of their lives based on personal preferences. Fallen creation will play God based on individual choice, circumstances, and location. Therefore, Jesus is not invited into the home, and He also cannot go to:
In this mindset, Jesus is not with us when we are alone. While He is all over the church—in small group study, revival meetings, and the uttermost parts of the earth and the heavens—Jesus is not welcome into our private personal inner world.
The twenty-first-century Pharisees have ensured that Jesus coexists with a lifestyle of drugs, alcohol, illicit sex, and all manner of evil acts. Jesus in this century is like cologne or perfume—we wear Him when we want to and where we want to, and do not notice when the fragrance vanishes, putting Him on again only when we deem it appropriate or necessary.
In Matthew 23:33, Jesus told the first-century Pharisees, the religious leaders of His day, what He very well might also say to the twenty-first- century Pharisees: “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?”
He was letting them know in no uncertain terms that their faith was misplaced and that Heaven would not be their destination unless they turned from their religion to a Spirit-to-spirit relationship.
Today’s Pharisees acknowledge a relationship with God just as they would acknowledge a relationship with a pet—in purely emotional terms. They also use a relationship with God like a chameleon uses colors—solely based on the setting and circumstances for survival.
The apostle Paul gives a great description of the twenty-first-century Pharisee—not about the ungodly, but about the ungodliness of the godly:
But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power.(2 Timothy 3:1-5)
Just like the first-century Pharisees, the twenty-first-century ones define their identity by what they do and where they go. They are Christians because they go to church, lead worship, pay tithes, and become missionaries or ministry leaders.