“Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.” Luke 12:1
Suggested Further Reading: Matthew 23:23-28
Some people I know of are like inns, which have an angel hanging outside for a sign, but they have a devil within for a landlord. There are many men of that kind; they take good care to have an excellent sign hanging out; they must be known by all men to be strictly religious; but within, which is the all-important matter, they are full of wickedness. But I have sometimes heard persons mistake this matter. They say, “Ah! well, poor man, he is a sad drunkard, certainly, but he is a very good-hearted man at bottom.” Now, as Rowland Hill used to say, that is a most astonishing thing for any man to say of another, that he was bad at top and good at bottom. When men take their fruit to market they cannot make their customers believe, if they see rotten apples at the top, that there are good ones at the bottom. A man’s outward conduct is generally a little better than his heart. Very few men sell better goods than they put in the window. Therefore, do not misunderstand me. When I say we must attend more to the inward than the outward, I would not have you leave the outward to itself. “Make clean the outside of the cup and platter”—make it as clean as you can, but take care also that the inward is made clean. Look to that first. Ask yourself such questions as these—“Have I been born again? Am I passed from darkness to light? Have I been brought out of the realms of Satan into the kingdom of God’s dear Son? Do I live by private communion near to the side of Jesus? Can I say that my heart panteth after the Lord, even as the hart does after the water-brooks?”
For meditation: A true work of God both starts on the inside and shows on the outside (Philippians 2:12-13). The Christian is one who is “inside out”; the hypocrite is only “out”.
Sermon no. 237
6 February (1859)