The Book of Luke, Beware of the Leaven of the Pharisee, Which is Hypocrisy, Part I - Lesson 154
Luke 12:1, In the mean time, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trode one upon another, he began to say unto his disciples first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.
We have just completed studying Chapter 11 where our Lord rebuked the Pharisees for their hypocrisy.
In the passage we have read in Luke 12, the Lord Jesus warns His disciples to beware of the “leaven of the Pharisees” which, He says, is hypocrisy.
The word “beware” is a caution to the disciples to hold the mind towards, to pay attention to, to be cautious about, to be knowledgeable that the Pharisees use hypocrisy to promote their doctrine.
In others words be prepared; know what is going on, walk in this truth.
Be discerning in this truth.
Guard against personal hypocrisy for hypocrisy is so subtle and it disguises itself so well that you will not even know when you are a hypocrite.
If there is one truth about our God that we should remember it is the truth that he does not want his children to be ignorant so he always shines light in dark places.
When the Lord equates leaven with hypocrisy he is saying that the Pharisees in essence promote their doctrine by hypocrisy.
They use the natural tendency of sinners to be hypocrites to advance their beliefs for their beliefs cater to the outward to the exclusion of the inward.
Hypocrisy, like leaven in moist warm bread dough, thrives in this environment.
The sinner naturally chooses to embellish the outside rather than to let God work the inside.
It is man’s nature to look on the outward appearance and the Pharisee uses that natural tendency to promote his doctrine.
For the sinner chooses to construct an image of what is expected rather then to let God conform him to the image of His Son.
So this natural tendency of sinners fits right in with the doctrine of the Pharisees and the experts in the law.
In this passage Jesus is not addressing the vast crowds that had gathered but chooses to instruct only his disciples.
The vast crowds here described are unruly crowds and it appears that their presence was certainly one of intimidation to the disciples.
So Jesus Christ uses this time to instruct his disciples to stand true even in the face of intimidation.
It is as if he is preparing them for the persecution which will surely come and come in the near future.
He has taken the Pharisees and the experts in the law to task for their hypocrisy but he also wants his disciples to know that they are not immune from hypocrisy either.
The hypocrisy of the Pharisees was always revealed by their long, pious‑sounding prayers, and they had all of the outward appearence of men of dignity and holiness, but inside, Jesus said, they were full of “greed and wickedness” (11:39).
But I don’t think that this was the form of hypocrisy that Jesus Christ was warning his disciples about for the disciples were on the outside while the Pharisees were on the inside.
Where you are in the scheme of things determines what form of hypocrisy you display.
No sinner is immune from hypocrisy whether they be on the inside or the outside.
Before we get into the form of hypocrisy that the disciples were prone to, we need to first, look at those characteristics which are common to every form of hypocrisy.
So we will have a short course in the “fundamentals of hypocrisy.”
The first fundamental is that Hypocrisy is conformity to the values and expectations of someone else without those values being your own.
This is where peer pressure comes in.
We conform to some other person or group’s values in order to fit in with that person or group.
We change to a person, not ourselves, who we think will satisfy another person or another group.
We are in a group where certain styles are the norm and we change our style to conform to that group.
The group we want to be accepted in may wear long hair, or may pile their hair in a bun, or wear long dresses or even win 10 souls a week to the Lord.
So we change ourselves into what we think is acceptable without those values being lodged in our heart.
Hypocrites adjust and accommodate their appearance to what other people think or feel not because in what they believe in what they do.
It is so common for parents to make hypocrites in the home for our Christian values can be feigned by a child interested in just satisfying his parents.
Most likely, unless our children are saved, they will come out of the home a very well developed hypocrite.
The second fundamental is Hypocrisy is an inconsistency.
Hypocrisy is the discrepancy or disparity between what appears and what is, between the way things seem and the way they really are.
The Pharisees appeared to be righteous on the outside, but in reality they were wicked.
The third fundamental is that Hypocrisy is a deliberate deception.
Hypocrisy is deliberately appearing to be what we are not.
It is not accidental, but purposeful being done to gain favor.
Hypocrisy is a pretense, a deception.
Appearance does not match reality, deliberately so, because reality is not wanted to be shown.
There is apparently a shame for that which is real so that which is not real is presented instead.
Fourthly Hypocrisy, is deception by our actions or our words.
Hypocrisy is designed and constructed in such a way that people will come to the wrong conclusion.
This was true of the Pharisees for their outward appearance was carefully crafted to convince of an inward character which was in fact, not present.
Fifth, Hypocrisy is sin for hypocrisy is a lie.
The real is hidden and the unreal is presented as real.
It may not be lying by words but it is lying by image.
It is presenting a false picture therefore it is lying about oneself.
Sixth, Hypocrisy is a deliberate deception, with either a positive or a negative motivation.
This means that we are hypocritical either to gain men’s praise or to avoid their persecution.
This last point is the key to understanding the difference between the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and that which would tempt the disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ.
People are deliberately hypocritical and they have a goal in mind.
For the Pharisees, that goal was positive.
They were hypocritical so that they could receive the praise of men.
But for the disciples, the motivation to be hypocritical would have been negative—to avoid the persecution of those who hated true righteousness, who would reject and crucify Jesus, the Messiah, and who would also persecute and kill many of His disciples.
The hypocrisy of the disciples was in trying to appear not to be righteous, in order to avoid the persecution of a hostile people.
This hostile crowd that Luke describes in our passage which surrounded the disciples was a forewarning of the hostility of Israel which would be revealed soon resulting in the rejection of Jesus as its Messiah.
While the Pharisees desired the praise of the people for appearing to be righteous (hypocrisy), the disciples would be tempted to try to avoid the anger and violence of the crowds by not appearing to be righteous, not appearing to be a follower of Christ.
To believers in Christ this is a real concern for the time may come when you and I may have to declare our allegiance to Christ in a hostile setting.
It will be so easy to take a neutral position in this setting but in fact we will be denying our Lord for the Lord himself said that those that were not for him were against him.
There is no neutral position with regard to Christ!
This eventuality of declaring allegiance to Christ in a hostile setting came very quickly for the disciples and it is here in our passage that Jesus Christ is instructing them about the likelihood of this kind of hypocrisy occurring.
Jesus spoke to His disciples about fear, the fear of dying, which is a valid fear in the light of Israel’s hostility toward Jesus and His followers.
Jesus also spoke to the disciples about their response when brought before the synagogues, which the Book of Acts tells us happened.
Just as men may be hypocritical by attempting to represent themselves as righteous, when they are not, others, may attempt to disguise their righteousness and their relationship to Christ, to avoid persecution for His sake.
This is definitely a different form of hypocrisy from the Pharisees, but nevertheless it is hypocrisy.
This just shows that a sinner is very creative in his sin.
His condition whether it be on the right or on the left, whether he be a Pharisee or a disciple, is a condition where he thinks hypocrisy will work for him.
But Jesus refutes this thinking as he continues his instruction by saying in: