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Matthew 2:7-8

Beware of the Hypocrite

7 Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.

"He made free use of Christian vocabulary. He talked about the blessing of the Almighty and the Christian confessions which would become the pillars of the new government. He assumed the earnestness of a man weighed down by historic responsibility. He handed out pious stories to the press, especially to the church papers. He showed his tattered Bible and declared that he drew the strength for his great work from it as scores of pious people welcomed him as a man sent from God. Indeed, Adolf Hitler was a master of outward religiosity--with no inward reality!" (Today in the Word, June 3, 1989.)

There is a tendency among those who seek after power to falsify their beliefs for the sake of some political advantage. Hitler was one of the best known hypocrites, but our story of what Herod did is even worse.

Meeting privately with the wise men, he asked them about the age of the star they had followed. If he could determine its age, he could determine the age of the Christ child. We, of course, know what his intentions were, but the magi did not. "...and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also."

Each of us must deal with the hypocrites of this world. It is good to be able to recognize them and to know how God would have us deal with them. They can come in many disguises: church members, deacons, pastors, neighbors, family members, and politicians are but a few. Their motives can vary also, ranging from profit taking to political control over a local church, but they are always self-centered.

This self-centeredness is not only the key to identifying them, but it is also the thing which makes them so dangerous. A hypocrite will have no conscience. His wrong doings do not adversely affect himself, so he sees nothing wrong with them. Hitler never felt guilty for his crimes, and Herod might even have felt justified in what he was about to do. The hypocrites with whom you deal each day will not feel guilty about causing a rift in the church fellowship, about the heartache and suffering that they cause your pastor, nor about the hindrance that they cause to the work of God.

Hypocrites will rise to the top of their groups, because there is nothing that they won't do or say to get their way. Don't look for them among the people who only come to church on Easter or Christmas. You won't find them among those who come every Sunday but do not get involved in the work of the church. These are simply the lost, who are seeking answers, or the Christians who have not grown in their faith. The hypocrite has nothing to gain in such a role. He must put himself in the forefront of the action, in order to be seen. He must be a leader in order to obtain his objective.

The frightening thing is that each of us is born with an ego; each of us has some degree of self-centeredness; and each of us has the potential to be hypocritical. The more visible we are in the church, as musicians, pastors, or other leadership figures, the greater the tendency for that ego to take over. It can happen without us even noticing it. Most hypocrites are self-deceived, believing their own lies.

Fortunately, as Christians, we have access to the wisdom and guidance of the Holy Spirit. We have no idea what evil is lurking in our own hearts, but the Spirit of God can search us and make intercession for us, if we will ask. First, be sure that your own commitment to Christ is real and then beware of church leaders who must have everything done their way or who are worshiped more than the Savior they are supposed to serve. Jesus said that we can recognize the hypocrites by the fruit that they produce. Be a fruit inspector.

Before The Throne:

As you come before the Lord's throne today, ask the Holy Spirit to examine your heart, your motives, and your true desires, and to bring these before the Father for correction. Surrender to His judgement. Receive His forgiveness. Commit yourself to continue in His will. Pray that God will give you the ability to discern between good and evil in the motives of your leaders. Pray for your leaders. Both the the good and the hypocrites need your prayer support.

For Further Study:

(v.7) ** Matt 26:3-5; Exod 1:10; 1Sam 18:21; Ps 10:9-10; Ps 55:21; Ps 64:4-6; Ps 83:3-4; Isa 7:5-7; Ezek 38:10; Ezek 38:11; Rev 12:1-5, 15;

(v.8 ) ** go. 1Sam 23:22-23; 2Sam 17:14; 1Kgs 19:2; Job 5:12-13; Ps 33:10-11; Prov 21:30; Lam 3:37; 1Cor 3:19-20; ** that. Matt 26:48-49; 2Sam 15:7-12; 2Kgs 10:18-19; Ezra 4:1-2; Ps 12:2-3; Ps 55:11-15; Prov 26:24-25; Jer 41:5-7; Luke 20:20-21;


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