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Surviving the Leaven of Hypocrisy - Part Three

March 8, 2020 Speaker: Dr. Rick Gregory Series:

Topic: Hypocrisy Verse: Luke 11:27–11:54

Theme: The fear of the Lord produces integrity in the believer.


I. The Importance of Overcoming Hypocrisy – 12:1

A. The Illusory Impression of Hypocrisy

  • Our text begins with the statement: “Under these circumstances …” – a reference to the environment of hostility between Jesus and the religious hypocrites He had just denounced.
  • As news of the intensity of the exchanges between the religious leadership and Jesus spread, more and more people came out to watch the “fireworks.”
  • Luke states: “… after so many thousands of people had gathered together that they were stepping on one another, He began saying …”
  1. “so many thousands” [μυριάδων] – is the largest number able to be written in Greek – and means “a very large, innumerable number” of people.
  2. The aggressiveness of the people as “… they were stepping on one another” – shows that they were crowding and jockeying for a better position.
  3. It was a mob scene that everyone came to hear a Rabbi teaching about love, peace, and selflessness, while pushing one another, shoving, and selfishly seeking advantage over one another.
  • Luke seems to include this as yet another example of hypocrites who project spiritual interest while truly only seeking to promote themselves.
  • A “hypocrite” [ὑπόκρισις] – is a person who pretends to be something they are not – originally, the word was used of an actor who played a role on stage using a mask – cp. Mark 7:6.
  1. They are more concerned with the flaws in others than in themselves – Matthew 7:4-5.
  2. They are defensive if a person bores in one of their flaws – John 8:39-41.
  3. As we mentioned in the last section, they hide from God and others through the façade of righteousness that they project – cp. 2 Timothy 3:5.

B. The Intrusive Influences of Hypocrisy

  1. Jesus “… began saying to His disciples first of all …” – indicating that He wanted to ensure that they heard and it registered what He was saying.
  2. He then describes the intrusive influences of hypocrisy – “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.”
  3. “Beware” [προσέχω] – conveys the idea of “guard against” or “pay attention to” (lit. “to have close” for inspection) meaning that one must not allow hypocrisy to creep into one’s modus operandi.
  4. The Pharisees’ influences on the people was a corrupting influence – compared to “leaven” [ζύμη] – the permeation of their hearts with the notion that their own righteousness and external “behavior” is adequate to be acceptable in the eyes of God.
  5. Like “leaven,” “hypocrisy” constantly intrudes throughout the outlook of a person like the yeast penetrates until the entirety of the lump of dough is leavened.


  1. In what ways can you identify that hypocrisy finds its way into your spiritual life?
  2. Explain the way leaven works … how is this spiritually applied? 
  3. Think back on a time when you were frustrated by the hypocrisy of someone toward you, what about that was most disturbing to you and why?

II. The Instruction on Overcoming Hypocrisy – 12:2-10

A. Accountability to the Father – vv. 2-7

  • Jesus doesn’t merely warn us with the idea that we will have to fend for ourselves against this intrusive, permeating influence.
  • He provides three general principles that will enable a person to avoid being a hypocrite: Recognize your “accountability” to the Father, engage in “adoration” of the Son, and “assent” to the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
  • First, Jesus teaches us that if we are going to “beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy,” we will need to realize our accountability to the Father.
  1. First, He knows everything about you and you are unable to “get away” with anything – “But there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known.” – cp. 1 Corinthians 4:5.
  2. Second, the very things that we say or do in secret, God not only knows about it, but He will make sure that everyone else knows about it as well – “Accordingly, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in the inner rooms will be proclaimed upon the housetops.”
  3. Essentially, God promises to rip the masks off that we so commonly think we can hide behind.
  4. Third, what motivates us to project self-righteousness to impress other people is useless because those people do not determine your eternal destiny – “I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!”

    a. The fear of the Lord is the foundation for holy living – described as the beginning of wisdom – cp. Proverbs 9:10.

    b. Essentially, the fear of the Lord is the apprehension of the peril that belongs to sinners in their sin, and the appreciation for the safety of those who are in Christ.

    c. When my behavior begins to align with those in peril, I scramble back to the safety that belongs to those in the care of the Redeemer – cp. Proverbs 8:13.

  5. Finally, God knows about every detail of your life, not merely the ones that you are willing to disclose; His knowledge of absolute – “Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? Yet not one of them is forgotten before God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.”
  • While these truths are a source of great comfort for believers, they cause great distress in the minds of unbelievers – God knows exactly how unworthy all of us are of His mercy.



B. Adoration of the Son - vv. 8-9

  • Jesus adds yet another element in the ability to overcome hypocrisy – the willingness to “confess” Christ – “I say to you, everyone who confesses Me before men, the Son of Man will confess him also before the angels of God.”
  • The term confess” [ὁμολογήσῃ] – means that we express the reality of who Jesus is – in such a way that we agree with God’s assessment – to agree with God’s testimony re: Jesus works, words, and identity as the Son of God – 1 John 5:9-12.
  • The emphasis on the confession being “… before men …” means that we allow the supremacy of Christ to be both noticeable in our works as well as in our words, being clearly seen by those around us – cp. Matthew 5:16.
  • Hence, Paul stated that to confess that Jesus is Lord results in salvation – cp. Romans 10:8-11.
  • Confessing Jesus as Lord is a work of God’s grace through the Holy Spirit – cp. 1 Corinthians 12:3.
  • Such “confession” results in a self-denying submission to Jesus as the sovereign Ruler in your life – a clear transformation into a slave who does the will of the “Lord.”
  • The result of “confess[ing Christ] before men …” is that “the Son of Man will confess him also before the angels of God” – a reference to the glory bestowed upon redeemed sinners to the bewilderment and delight of the angels – cp. 1 Peter 1:12.
  1. The angels rejoice at the power of redemption when sinners repent and believe in Christ as their personal Lord and Savior – Luke 15:10; Revelation 5:11-12.
  2. The angels will attend Christ when He returns in glory to deliver the righteous - Luke 9:26.
  • Thus, Jesus declares that one’s confession, or lack thereof, determines their eternal destiny – “… but he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God” – Revelation 14:9-10; Matthew 7:23.

 PART three 

C. Agreement with The Holy Spirit – v. 10

  • Finally, Jesus adds the responsibility to honor the Holy Spirit as the final element in overcoming hypocrisy.
  • He declares: “And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him.”
  • A person cannot come to faith without the work of the Holy Spirit drawing Him through Christ – John 6:44.
  • Those who do not “confess” Christ all condemned already – and as long as they refuse to believe what the Holy Spirit is drawing them to believe, there is no hope for the forgiveness of their sin.
  • The Holy Spirit’s testimony about Christ is indispensable to a person believing – and anyone who confesses Christ is the beneficiary of the Holy Spirit’s work.
  • “Every Christian is a converted blasphemer who broke God’s law, rebelled against His rule, and rejected the truth about His Son. By not being with Christ, they were against Him (Luke 11:23).”
  • The term “blaspheme” [βλασφημήσαντι] means to speak in a demeaning, or slanderous way; it’s anonym would be to “eulogize.”
  • The defiant rejection of the Holy Spirit’s testimony concerning Jesus Christ that results in a verbal expression of one’s final, settled, permanent repudiation of all the evidences provided by God’s Spirit is to establish oneself in an unforgiven state – cp. Hebrews 6:4-6.
  • None of us are able to determine at what point a person crosses the threshold of tolerance by the Lord and passes into a state where they are unable to be forgiven; only that if a person cares – that is, if they have any concern about whether they are in that state or not, they are not; otherwise, they wouldn’t care!
  • The key is to assent to or agree with the testimony of the Holy Spirit – to yield to the truth He teaches, to concede to His opinion about Christ so as to believe in Him.


  1. How should your awareness that God knows all of your secrets affect your hypocrisy?
  2. How does your fear of God enhance your integrity?
  3. When you dishonor Christ, the Holy Spirit takes this personally – how can you avoid grieving the Holy Spirit?

III. The Impunity in Overcoming Hypocrisy – 12:11-12

A. The Peace in Suffering – v. 11

  • When a person confesses Christ “before men,” the resistance they face can become so severe that it causes conflict with various authorities.
  • Jesus provides clear reassurance that such events will not only happen, but those who are genuine (not hypocrites) do not have to worry – “When they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not worry about how or what you are to speak in your defense, or what you are to say.”
  • The ability to be upright and genuine provides those who enjoy the righteousness of Christ can anticipate a faithful blessing for faithfulness – cp. 1 Peter 4:12-14.
  • It will be in such times that the genuineness of your faith, protected by the power of God will prove faith and produce great blessing – cp. 1 Peter 1:5-7.
  • Such a powerful promise of the ministry of God to a believer under persecution enables them to know peace through the trial – cp. Acts 5:27-32.

B. The Perception in the Spirit – v. 12

  • Such eloquence is something that we are not told to worry about or prepare for – “… for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”
  • It is the hypocrite that has to worry about self-exoneration and preservation – the genuine believer has the assurance that the Holy Spirit will be an “ever-present help in time of need.”
  • There is no need to generate an appearance of innocence – the Spirit will enable the reality of who you are to be placed on display – for the glory of God.


  1. Why is it assumed that Christians will have to give an account for their faith?
  2. How does integrity enable you to not have to concern yourself with giving answers?
  3. What is the primary way that you are directed by the Holy Spirit? … hint: it has something to do with a written text.