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Christ said of the Judaeans that “these people honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me”, where He was quoting Isaiah 29:13.

Furthermore, Christ is recorded as having quoted Hosea 6:6 on more than one occasion, often towards the Pharisees who were unforgiving religiously and who thought themselves pious through pomp. Yahweh's desire for Israel to do righteously rather than use sacrifice and ritual as a crutch is desired often throughout the Old Testament, and even in a translation of the Septuagint of the Proverbs we read:

“The beginning of a good way is to do justly; and it is more acceptable with God than to offer sacrifices. 8 He that seeks the Lord shall find knowledge with righteousness: and they that rightly seek him shall find peace.” - Proverbs 16:7-8 (LXX)


Matthew 6:1 Now offer your righteousness not to do before men, for them to behold, yet otherwise, you have no reward from your Father who is in the heavens. 2 Therefore when you should do an act of charity, you should not trumpet it before you, even as the hypocrites do in the assembly halls and in the streets, that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they receive their reward! 3 But upon your doing an act of charity, your left hand must not know what your right hand does, 4 that your act of charity would be in secret, and your Father who sees would repay you in secret.

Alms-giving in the ancient world was with all certainty seen as a way of asking forgiveness from God for one's sins. However the alms-giving had to be without fanfare. If alms-giving was accompanied with fanfare, it was for the benefit of the giver, and not truly for the recipient, and therefore God will not reward it.


Matthew 6:16 And when you should fast, do not be like the sullen-faced hypocrites, for they obscure their faces that they may appear to be fasting to men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward. 17 But you fasting anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that you should not appear to be fasting to men, but to your Father to whom it is in secret. And your Father who seeing shall repay you in secret.

As seen with public charity and prayer, we see that outward displays of piety are scorned. That is because they are used as crutches by the weak, or as pretenses by the ungodly. The godly man will naturally manifest his piety through actions on behalf of his brethren, and not through nice speech and feigned displays. It is easy to pray and to fast and to look good doing it, but it means nothing. It is harder to give to one's brethren even one's life, and to expect nothing in return. From Isaiah chapter 58:

“3 Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours. 4 Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high. 5 Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD? 6 Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?”

So we see that Yahweh would rather have us act justly, than to act unjustly and attempt to justify ourselves through prayer and fasting.


See Judgement

Matthew 7:1 Do not condemn, in order that you would not be condemned. 2 For with the judgment by which you condemn, you shall be judged, and with the measure by which you measure, it shall be measured with you.

This is a condemnation of hypocritical judgement.

Job 27: “1 Moreover Job continued his parable, and said, 2 As God liveth, who hath taken away my judgment [Job ruled over a magnificent household, and was an outstanding member of the community, but now he was humbled]; and the Almighty, who hath vexed my soul; 3 All the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils; 4 My lips shall not speak wickedness, nor my tongue utter deceit. 5 God forbid that I should justify you: till I die I will not remove mine integrity from me. [Job was rejecting the unjust words of Bildad the Shuhite, found in chapter 25. If Job had agreed with these words, he would have been justifying Bildad. Many pastors foolishly take the words of Job's friends as Scripture, not realizing that in the dialogue they were all found wanting.] 6 My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go: my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live. 7 Let mine enemy be as the wicked, and he that riseth up against me as the unrighteous. 8 For what is the hope of the hypocrite, though he hath gained, when God taketh away his soul [meaning his life]? 9 Will God hear his cry when trouble cometh upon him?”

Our hope of personal gain may lead us to judge hypocritically. For instance, we are told to separate ourselves from other peoples. That is easy, when those other peoples are of low estate, and we are doing well. But what happens when an alien offers us a great business deal, or the jew a low-interest loan, in our time of need and weakness? That is a form of hypocritical judgement.

Another form of hypocritical judgement is the condemnation of our brother or sister for wrongs that we ourselves may have once committed, or thought of committing. Or perhaps we would condemn our brother or sister today, but another day we may accept someone else who had done such a thing, because we like that person or that person is close to us. Because only Yahweh is perfect, only Yahweh can be our judge.

Job chapter 34 discusses the righteous judgement of God, and verse 30 expresses the hope: “That the hypocrite reign not, lest the people be ensnared.” In the old kingdom, the role of the king was as the ultimate judge of the people, and we see as much in the prayer of Solomon upon his becoming king, at 1 Kings 3:9 where he said: “Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?” It says at 1 Kings 7:7: “Then he made a porch for the throne where he might judge, even the porch of judgment: and it was covered with cedar from one side of the floor to the other.”

When our people rejected Yahweh as King, we invited hypocritical human judgement upon ourselves, and have been naturally punished by it ever since. One of the promises of Christianity is that Christ be our judge, and then we shall all be judged fairly, before God who knows all, and not before man whose judgement is clouded and partial and whose knowledge is incomplete.


Matthew 6:5 And when you pray, do not be as the hypocrites, because they love to pray in the assembly halls and standing at the corners of the streets, that they should be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward! 6 But when you would pray, go into your closet and closing your door you shall pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees shall yield to you in secret.

In 1 Samuel chapter 1, we see that Anna's prayer was answered when her lips moved, but she spoke it not, having prayed in her heart. Likewise, the prophet Daniel prayed alone in his room, and it was not necessarily his intention that he be seen through his window by his enemies, as it is related in Daniel chapter 6. Daniel and Anna, while seen by others, were both praying privately. The apostles often prayed together, but they prayed privately, and not to make a show in front of others.

Christians who insist on public prayer, or that others must pray with them, are simply looking for a crutch. They want others to see how “pious” they are, that they may justify themselves. Real Christians do not need crutches, nor do they need outward displays of piety, which are pretentious. We should have no need to be seen praying publicly or with others. We should seek our God with our hearts and display our love through good deeds for our brethren, and not merely in the pretense of exhibition.