“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
Jesus continues in his rebuke of religious leaders as he further explains what he means when he uses the word 'hypocrisy'. In both illustrations he compares the things that are unseen to those that are seen. In graphic language Jesus says that these leaders are spiritually dead. I cannot think of a harsher condemnation of a religious leader. Their hypocrisy is that they do spiritual things but have no spiritual life on the inside.
Sadly, such ways did not die out in the first century. Still today we hear reports of religious leaders doing despicable things that evidence an absence of inner spiritual life. These all appear to be legitimate religious leaders on the surface but on the inside they are filled with self-centered arrogance. Many of these have chosen this sort of life for all the wrong reasons. Instead of compassion for others their hearts are filled with selfish pride.
Lord, help my life to reflect the beautiful new heart you have formed in me.