On this day, Judaism acknowledges the time when the Hasmoneans implemented the Pharisaic code. This code was the result of longstanding differences of opinion within Judaism that encompassed class distinctions, biblical interpretation and resistance to assimilation. Today, the word, “Pharisee,” has become synonymous with a hypocrite. Generally speaking, Christianity views the Pharisees as a group of people antagonistic toward the Messiah. To make a blanket statement and say that Pharisee is synonymous with hypocrite isn’t really fair because, in general, the Pharisees were people who believed that the Word of God was for all people, not just for an elite class of people, like the Sadducees. The Pharisees believed that they should resist assimilation into western or Hellenized culture. They believed that the Bible was to be taken very literally, and that it should be studied diligently.
A hypocrite is not necessarily a Pharisee and a Pharisee is not necessarily a hypocrite. Paul was a “Hebrew of Hebrews” and a very devoted Pharisee (Philippians 3:5). Furthermore, Judaism is not synonymous with hypocrisy just as Christianity is not synonymous with truth. In other words, there were Pharisees who were hypocrites and those who were faithful; there are hypocrites in Judaism and in Christianity. In short, hypocrisy is not a religious problem, per se but a human problem. A hypocrite is someone, anyone, who would hide behind what appears to be good, whether it’s religious or not, in an effort to advance their own agenda and purpose. And, of course, the first hypocrite was the Adversary. Understanding this, take note of what Yeshua said when it comes to taking an oath:
“Let your speech be Yea Yea; Nay, Nay; and whatsoever is more than these is of the evil one.” (Matthew 5:37)
Put simply, He said, “When you mean yes, say yes. When you mean no, say no.” If get into any explanation that goes beyond that and you say something that misleads or disagrees with what’s in your heart, that’s born of our evil inclination. So then, hypocrisy is trying to convince people of something with the argument, “I wouldn’t lead you astray. Trust me.” If we’re going to be His people and profess to others that we are His people, then we need to act like His people. We should say what we mean and mean what we say. That should not be interpreted as its okay to be rude and offensive, and that we should just go around pushing everybody’s buttons. No, but it should be interpreted to say that words are cheap.
Any one can claim to be a believer and say they’re walking in obedience, but their deeds will need to back it up. Our actions need to reflect what our mouth utters; in this way, we must say what we mean and mean what we say. We must be faithful and true witnesses, reflecting His nature and character in our lives. We must be honest, upright and straightforward and, at the same time, merciful, long-suffering and compassionate. Let your “Yes” be “Yes”; let your “No” be “No” but in accordance with His “Yes” and His “No.” Let’s not be hypocrites. Demonstrate to the world that we are His disciples in everything we do.