There is No Hypocrisy Like Religious Hypocrisy

Have you ever had an interaction with someone who gave you the creeps? I know you have. We all have. Some people easily set off our “phony” radar. We seem to be able to detect their fake motives and disingenuous character. Something in the way they look, or the look of their eye, or the way that they speak sets off alarm bells in our spirit. Then there are others who seem to slip past all our defense mechanisms. They gain our trust and work havoc in our lives. There is a scene in the fantasy novel, THE LAST UNICORN where the Unicorn describes her first view of two demons she meets for the first time:

“. . . they have the lightening smell about them, the smell of old evil, caked on them like sweat.”

The Last Unicorn and the Lost Journey
Peter Beagle

Hypocrisy is not always easy to detect until after it has already done its damage. Yesterday, my Bible reading plan for the month of October put me in Matthew 27 and Acts 27 and I came face to face with an appalling incident of hypocrisy–religious hypocrisy–the worst kind. Here’s the incident:

Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself. But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since it is blood money.” So they took counsel and bought with them the potter’s field as a burial place for strangers. Therefore that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day.

Rightly, Jesus called them “white-washed tombs” (Matthew 23:27-28). The chief priests conspire to kill Jesus by paying off a betraying disciple. Then Judas brings the money back, throws it in the Temple; they pick it up and say, “Well, it is blood money. We can’t put it in the (sacred) treasury. Let’s buy some land for a cemetery to accommodate strangers.” Ugh. Religious hypocrisy at its worst. Skillfully concealing their corruption by clothing stench-filled hearts with religious phrases and pious-looking-deeds.

The great Italian poet Dante Alighiri placed hypocrites and corrupt leaders in one of the lowest reaches of hell, just one above where he placed all betrayers in the ninth circle. The word he used to describe hypocrites was “malebolge” which might be translated “evil ditches, pouches, or sacks.” He depicts hypocrites as residents of the the sixth pit of hell’s eighth circle robed like monks with lead weighted pockets endlessly walking in slow circles. Appropriately, C.S. Lewis wrote that “of all bad men, religious bad men are the worst.” Dante agrees.

On a more encouraging note, Maria Cintorinol, in an article titled,
“Leadership, Hypocrisy, and Dante’s ‘Inferno'” writes:

“Though C.S. Lewis relates that there is nothing worse than religious wicked men, who through their deception mock all that is good and profanes that which is holy, there is nothing more beautiful than witnessing righteous souls ardently striving for union with God. The example of just men not only gives hope to humanity, but also reminds men of their heavenly goal. This is the power of righteous men: in all they do they reflect God to others and through seasoning the world with God’s Word by their words and examples, just men reveal Heaven to men and so bring humanity to God.”
January 2, 2020……………
The Imaginative Conservative……………

Let’s determine that we are going to live what we believe and proclaim. 
Let’s make sure that the “smell of old evil” is not on any of our actions.
Let’s make sure that we adorn the gospel of Christ with beauty (Titus 2:10).

After all, isn’t He worthy?


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