Jesus said, “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may bee seen by men.”
Many people, having read the New Testament and seen the end result of the Pharisees’ hypocrisy (the persecution and execution of Christ and His followers), perceive the hypocrites as little more than cigar smoking, backroom mafia types. This is not the case. The hypocrites Jesus is referring to were the well-received, well-respected community and synagogue leaders. They were the “pastors” of their day.
The Greek word here is hupocritos and it simply refers to one who plays a role that is different from the way the person is in real life, a play actor. Behind the pulpit or in the front of a “church” or synagogue, one can readily portray oneself as a spiritual, godly man when in truth, he may more closely resemble the cigar smoking Mafiosi. Or his faults may be the more commonplace arrogance, short-tempered, power-mongering traits so common to many men in the public eye. But the “pastor,” “church” leader and synagogue leader dares not let these faults be seen or it would contradict the studied aura of infallibility and spiritual expertise which he or she has labored so long to perfect. But if you get close enough to these “leaders” and observe them in their unguarded moments, too often you would wonder why you even listen to them at all.
It is this complete, blind inability to see what Jesus is referring to here that enables men to stand up in the front of synagogues and “churches” and read even this very verse without ever once suspecting that they are that of which they read.
The devil and the demonic have labored long and hard to blind the eyes of these leaders in just this way. So long as we continue to submit ourselves to such “leaders” we too will find ourselves under the sway of the god of this age. We will be unable to recognize the truth when it passes before our eyes and we too will perish with all those who love and practice a lie.
Do not be like those who stand in front of men and play a role that is different than what you are when you stand alone before Christ and God.
Let he who has ears hear.
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