Skip to content

3. The First Woe to the Scribes and Pharisees
(Matthew 23:13)
13“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.

When God says, "woe", judgment is at hand, and when Christ says, "woe" eight times, it means that corruption has increased to an extent that there must inevitably be divine punishment of the hypocrites.
Jesus called the scribes and Pharisees hypocrites. A hypocrite is an actor. A religious hypocrite acts deceptively, trying to impersonate someone holier than he is. The empty, ritualistic acting of the scribes and Pharisees was like leaven, spreading as a poor example to the people. Hypocrites are in a woeful state and condition. While they live, their religion is vain; when they die, their ruin is great.
What is the sin of false godliness? It is hypocrisy. Christ was disgusted when He met a hypocrite who pretended godliness while being, in reality, wicked. This type of person continued in sin and prayed self-centered prayers. He showed his religion in public, but there was no real love in his heart. All hypocrites depend on the performance of religious acts, instead of repentance and a change of heart. They are satisfied with themselves, relying on self-righteousness. They don't seek, but actually reject a savior. A hypocrite propagates his deceptive opinions and hinders others from coming to repentance. He also encourages others to trust themselves, and helps them deny their desperate need of a savior. A hypocrite is a horrible deceiver. This is why Christ loved sinners more than the teachers who pretended to be holy. The first repented and became good; the second did not repent and became hardened. These so-called teachers then influenced those seeking the truth, thereby depriving them of salvation.
Some faiths have developed laws demanding that every believer who follows the crucified Son of God shall be judged and killed unless he rejects his Savior. Those who cling to self-righteousness will not enter into the immensity of Christ's grace and will hinder those who follow their merciful Lord.

Heavenly Father, examine me and renew me that I will say the truth and not do the opposite. Help me not to be a stumbling block to others in word and deed. Give me humility, the humility of the Lord Jesus with the kindness of the Holy Spirit. Fill me with Your love that I can live according to the gospel, and not become a hypocrite but walk in the way of truth.
Why and how do the hypocrites hinder seekers of truth from entering into the kingdom of heaven?