"Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy." Luke 12:1
Jesus' description of a fool brackets this statement. In the Gospels, Jesus only uses the word "fool" twice. Jesus describes the Pharisees in Luke 11:40, "You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also?" This statement follows His condemnation of them for worrying about outward appearance while inwardly, their heart was full of greed and wickedness. Luke 12:20 is the other occasion Jesus calls anyone a fool. Speaking of a man who believed he was secure because of his earthly possessions, Jesus says, "Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be? So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God." Anyone who excludes God in his evaluation of life is a fool. Psalm 14:1 says, "The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God.'" In Psalm 14, while examining every human being, God goes on to describes all men as fools, "There is none who does good...see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside...become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one." It can be said then, it is not just Pharisees and the wealthy who need to be concerned about being a fool.
In Luke 11, after Jesus makes His pronouncement about the Pharisees, a lawyer says "Teacher, in saying these things you insult us also." To which Jesus replies, "You also deserve condemnation because you place all kinds of religious demands on the people that you do not keep yourself." In verse 52 Jesus says to the lawyers, "You have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering." What is the key to knowledge that the lawyers have removed? Proverbs 1:7 says, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction." Proverbs 9:10 adds, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight." The key to not being a fool is to fear the LORD.
With that in mind, let's return to Luke 12:1-9. Jesus warns His disciples of being hypocrites. "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy." By describing their hypocrisy as leaven, Jesus is describing their lives as permeated with falsehood. Just as He said in chapter eleven, they appear okay on the outside but are entirely filthy on the inside. They are deceiving themselves into thinking God doesn't know their intentions. They act as if He just sees outward religious activity but not the heart that rejects Him. It is as if their pretense of belief is sufficient.
Jesus says, do not believe that, the day is coming when what we think is hidden will be revealed. What is done in the dark will be brought to the light. Since the fool thinks there is no God, he believes there is no accountability. Solomon's concluding statement in Ecclesiastes is "For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil." Romans 2:16 says, "On that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus." To exclude God from our decisions, thoughts, and lives is foolish.
Jesus then reminds His disciples of the wisdom of fearing the LORD. He tells them not to fear those who can only destroy the body but fear the One who can also send you to eternal punishment in hell. Fear Him! However, at the same time we are to fear God, we are to remember how He values us. It is easy for me to focus on one attribute of God to the exclusion of others, yet His love is as perfect as His wrath. His mercy is as complete as His justice. Of necessity, our fear of Him must be understood through His love for His children.
The evidence of our knowing both the fear and love of God is reflected by acknowledging Jesus in our daily lives. Love for Him will permeate our lives as we humbly submit to His loving, disciplining authority. Instead of hypocrisy, our lives will reflect Jesus who has sanctified us by the washing of His Word through His shed blood.
Sovereign, all-knowing God, forgive my hypocrisy. You know the thoughts and intents of my heart. Holy Spirit, please convict me of my foolish pride that would lead to my hypocrisy. King Jesus, I submit my life to You. Your righteousness and not my own is the only way I want to stand before You as the judge.