Mat 23:27-28 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. (28) So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
When I read this powerful string of “woes” Jesus pronounced upon the religious leaders, my mind goes immediately to them – the scribes and Pharisees. And so it should. They were the direct targets of the divine woes.
But as we think about this some more, there is a real warning here for all of us. Not only that we must guard against being hypocrites ourselves, but that there are these kind within the church. Whitewash on the outside, outwardly beautiful, but inside full of all sorts of evils. They are stinking and rotting within.
Not only are these kind inside the local churches, they are on a quest for power and control, so they inevitably crave to work their way up the religious corporate ladder. And we are not wise. We let them advance – we even vote for them. After all, just look at how white they are, how beautiful and fine their holiness is.
There is evil within the visible church. There IS. Creeps creep in, as Jude put it. And wherever they do, wherever they deceive the masses and gain power, it is a given that they are going to abuse the defenseless –
Mar 12:38-40 And in his teaching he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes and like greetings in the marketplaces (39) and have the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, (40) who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”
They devour widow’s houses. They abuse the weak. And if we are not wise, we will help put them in those positions.