Let us abhor the very idea of play-acting and mask-wearing in our Christianity!
(J.C. Ryle, "The Gospel of Luke" 1858)
Let us observe how abominable hypocrisy is in the eyes of Christ. We are told that in the presence of all the people, Jesus said unto His disciples, "Beware of the teachers of the law! They like to walk around in flowing robes—and love to be greeted in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues, and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows' houses—and pretend to be pious by making long prayers in public." Luke 20:46-47
This was a bold and remarkable warning. It was a public denunciation, we must remember, of men who were the recognized teachers of the Jewish people.
No sin seems to be regarded by Christ as more wicked, than hypocrisy. None certainly drew forth from His lips such frequent, strong and withering condemnation, during the whole course of His ministry.
He was ever full of mercy and compassion for the chief of sinners. "Fury was not in Him" when He saw Zacchaeus; the penitent thief; Matthew the tax-collector; Saul the persecutor; and the sinful woman in Simon's house.
But when He saw Scribes and Pharisees wearing a mere cloak of religion, and pretending to great outward sanctity, while their hearts were full of wickedness—His righteous soul seems to have been full of indignation. Eight times in one chapter (Matthew 23) we find Him saying, "Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees! You hypocrites!"
Whatever else we are in religion—let us be true. However feeble our faith, and hope, and love, and obedience may be—let us see to it that they are real, genuine, and sincere. Let us abhor the very idea of play-acting and mask-wearing in our Christianity. At any rate, let us be genuine.
The hypocrite will have the lowest place in Hell! "You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape the damnation of Hell?" Matthew 23:33