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What Hypocrisy Looks Like and Why the Lord Hates It With a Passion

“Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” (Matthew 23:13,14,15,23,25,27,29) “Woe to you, blind guides!” (Matthew 23:16,24,26) “You serpents, you brood of vipers!” (Matthew 23:33)

The Lord has this thing about hypocrites.

He doesn’t care for them much.

You and I have learned something God hasn’t managed to do: to accommodate ourselves to those who say one thing and do another.

Take the beer company of St Louis, for instance. We read this and it sounds normal to us. It took a secular writer to point out the hypocrisy in their moralizing.

“We are not yet satisfied with the league’s handling of behaviors that so clearly go against our own company culture and moral code.” —Anheuser Busch, responding to recent scandals in the National Football League (TIME magazine, September 29, 2014)

Humor writer Ian Frazier nails the famous beer company for its duplicitous moralizing in the same issue of TIME magazine.

In recent weeks, the NFL has been under attack for its mishandling of the serious misbehavior of players who, among other things, knocked out a wife in the elevator and was caught on tape doing it, and beat a 4-year-old child leaving whelps and open wounds on his skin.

The famous beer company, known for its massive advertising throughout every sporting event available, takes the NFL to task for its pitiful reaction. Such behavior is against Anheuser-Busch’s moral code and culture.

Ian Frazier scoffs at that. He remembers Spuds MacKenzie, the Budweiser dog in years past, who presumably drank beer and danced with these pretty “babes.” He gives a drunken “I love you, man” and asks if we remember those commercials. Some guy is drinking everyone else’s beers while assuring his friends “I love you, man.” Frazier writes, “A desperate alcoholic destroying all his personal relationships? He was morality, plus a beer ad.” He says, “And I’ll tell you, after I saw that ad I felt so moral that I never again committed insurance fraud except once. That was the uplifting effect Anheuser-Busch had in one man’s life—my own.”

Such hypocrisy. The company that fuels misbehavior through the consumption of its product now condemns the waywardness of those who do such over-the-top things.

We are not saying the perpetrators of this particular violence against the wife and the child were hopped up on beer. But plenty of abusers are, without question.

Hypocrisy has always been with us and ever shall be.

In Jesus’ day, the Pharisees spoke of this great moral code—the one bearing Moses’ name—while abusing the helpless, betraying widows and duping the gullible. Our Lord had little patience with them (or better put, His patience had run out) and He scalded them. “You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!” “Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence” (Matthew 23).

Throughout the gospels, we see Jesus calling hypocrites down and holding them accountable. He did not mince words or soften their impact. This (Matthew 23) is the toughest sermon in Scripture and is directed to religious people.

Early in my ministry, teams from my church would hold religious services in jails and our state penitentiary. My initial inclination was to preach strongly to the inmates about their misbehavior. I blistered them for their robbing and stealing, for drunkenness and wickedness.