What are the sins that Jesus hated the most? When we see sin like sickness, even more serious than sickness, we will learn to hate it more than we hate sickness. Jesus came to reveal the serious sins that ruin our life.
We want to start with the first chapter of Matthew’s gospel, the very first book of the New Testament and the very first page. Matthew 1:21 gives the reason why Jesus was called Jesus when He was born as baby. ‘‘You shall call His name Jesus because He will save His people from their sins.’’ The word ‘Jesus’ means saviour; One who has come to save us from our sins. So, if you want to know what it is to be saved from sin, you need to know what sin is. In the minds of many, many people, sin is a very vague concept; it is not clear what sin is. If you were told that you are being saved from leprosy or saved from tuberculosis, or saved from a pit in which you have fallen, or saved from failure in an examination, you understand what it means to ‘save’. These things are clearly understood.
But when you say saved from sin, what do you understand? That depends on your definition of sin. If you think sin is just getting drunk, or gambling, or wasting your money and fooling around with other women and things like that, and if you don’t do those gross sins, you will think that you are saved. You know, if you go by the Ten Commandments where there are gross sins like murder, adultery, theft, giving false witness in court to injure another person, and things like that, I think most people in the world could say, ‘Well, we are not committing those type of things. We don’t need salvation.’ If those are the only things that are sins, a lot of people don’t need Jesus at all. But when we read the gospels, we find that Jesus spoke about certain other sins which are not listed in the Ten Commandments at all.
So when we see the teaching of Jesus, we find that sin is not primarily external. I mean a mango tree is a mango tree even if it doesn’t produce mangoes. It may be barren but it is still a mango tree. When it produces, it will produce mangoes. It won’t produce apples or coconuts. In the same way sin is like a tree. Whether the fruit of it comes out of our life or not, doesn’t make a difference. Sin is still there within, it is in the heart. Jesus said it is from the heart that everything comes out; evil thoughts, murders, and adultery and everything like that. That is why Jesus spoke about sin in the heart and to deal with it there, rather than after it has come forth. When we look at the overall teaching of Jesus, we find that there are certain sins which He spoke against which men don’t consider seriously. In Isaiah 55:8-9 God said, ‘‘My thoughts are not your thoughts.’’ That applies in many areas.
God’s thoughts about sin are different from man’s thoughts about sin. Man doesn’t take sin so seriously. Man thinks sin is only in these external things. But God says there are a lot of other things, which are sins. And number one among them would be hypocrisy. Now in the Old Testament, you hardly ever find a condemnation of hypocrisy. It is very rare. The prophets mostly spoke against adultery, worshipping of idols, greed, covetousness, etc. These are some of the main sins they spoke about. But when Jesus came, though He spoke about these things also, He spoke much more about hypocrisy. In fact when a woman caught in adultery was brought before Him, He didn’t even want to stone her. He saved her life. There was a thief, a dacoit and possibly a murderer who hung with Him on the cross, He forgave him, and took him to paradise. But when He met religious leaders; the elders, the bishops of the synagogues of that time – the Pharisees and the scribes, He condemned them outright, because they were hypocrites.
He kept on saying, for example, in Matthew 23, ‘‘Woe unto you hypocrites.’’ Woe means curse, like in the Old Testament we read “Curse be upon you’’. So, Jesus was saying, ‘Curse be upon you scribes – Bible scholars and Pharisees, who were the religious leaders at that time, who studied in the Bible schools and had become elders in the synagogues, hypocrites.’ We see this repeatedly said by Jesus in verses 13, 14, 15, 23, 25, 27, and 29. So frequently He condemns them for their hypocrisy. And finally, He calls them serpents, a brood of vipers, how will they escape the sentence of hell in verse 33.
You never find Jesus speaking like that to a prostitute or to a murderer. But you find Jesus speaking like that to most of the religious people of His time who read the Bible – Genesis to Malachi every day, and who were very devout in their external piety. So we can see how much Jesus hated hypocrisy, more than anything else. This was what He sought to condemn. The reason was, Jesus said in Mark 7:6 that rightly did Isaiah prophecy of you hypocrites, as it is written there: ‘‘This people honour me with their lips but their heart is far away from me.’’ What was it that Jesus detested? It was their saying so many wonderful things to Him with their lips but their heart was far away from Him. They appeared to be devoted to the Lord. But in their heart they were interested in themselves; their money and their other things. They were seeking their own gain everywhere, but pretending to be holy. What did the prostitutes, the thieves, and the murderers have better than the Pharisees? Not in external life, but the fact that they were honest. They were murderers and they didn’t pretend that they were not. The prostitute acknowledged that she was a prostitute. She wasn’t pretending to be holy.
So we find that Jesus hated pretence; words spoken with the lips, holy words, when we pray; words that make us appear holy and very humble. It can be a total lie. To be a hypocrite is to be a liar. It is to give an impression to people of being spiritual when you are not really spiritual. You know, one of the first sins that children learn and commit is the sin of telling a lie. They don’t commit murder or adultery and things like that first, it is telling a lie from birth. Right from their earliest years they begin to tell lies, they begin to deceive their parents. And as we grow up, we develop this art of deceiving others, of giving people an impression about ourselves, which is not really true, fooling them. Then if you become a Christian, you develop that still more by trying to give people the impression that you are very spiritual in order to impress them. And that is the sin the Lord hates most, more than anything else.
Remember the story that Jesus said about ten virgins who went to meet the bridegroom. What was the difference? Externally they were all virgins. That means the external life of all ten was good. They wore the same white dress, they all went to meet the bridegroom, and there was no difference as far as those things are concerned. They were exactly the same. But there was a lot of difference inside. Inside, maybe the pockets of one of those cloaks, five of them had oil, extra oil to fill up the lamps when they started dying out. Initially all ten had their lamps burning. But when their lamps started dying out, we read that five of them only had oil. What does this parable teach us? This parable teaches us that an external life alone does not prepare us for meeting the Lord when He comes. We must have a hidden life as well. That is what the flask of oil symbolizes – a hidden life of our walk with God. That oil symbolizes the Holy Spirit and inner life where we are walking with God, where our love for the Lord is clear, pure, and whole-hearted, in addition to the lamp burning. So it is not enough to be a virgin – to have your external life right. Those five virgins were left out when the bridegroom came, just because they did not have that inner flask of oil.
So what was Jesus emphasizing here? If you are a hypocrite, you are going to miss out when the Lord comes. The first sin that was judged in the early church, what was it? Ananias and Sapphira were punished not for murder, or adultery or anything like that. It was hypocrisy – pretending to be spiritual when they were not really spiritual. That is a lesson for us. Ananias and Sapphira didn’t cheat anybody, they didn’t harm anyone, but they came to the church pretending that they were totally dedicated to the Lord, when they were actually not. Do you realize how much Jesus hates this? They were killed. Let us learn from this, that hypocrisy is what Jesus hates more than anything else.
This is part of the Basic Christian Teachings Series, a set of 72 short messages presented by Zac Poonen. You can download the audio mp3 files or listen to Basic Christian Teachings by clicking here.