6 He answered and said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. 7 And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’” (Mark 7:6–7, NKJV)
The hypocrisy of Israel was reaching its zenith in the days of Isaiah (Isaiah 29:13-14). Israel gave Jehovah lip service, while serving idols, and demanding their own teachings be regarded as divine truth. This verse gives us God’s definition of a hypocritical heart: While saying one honors God, he elevates his own will above the will of the Almighty. Hypocrisy is pretense, pretending to be what one is not. The Greek word was applied to the actor who wore a mask, pretending to be a character in a drama. Christ applied this term to the Pharisees and scribes of His day. Their words honored God, but their hearts were given over to the commandments of men. The Jews had codified their oral traditions (the Mishnah). These men whom Jesus rebuked judged a violation of their traditions to be a violation of God’s law (see Mark 7:8-9). We must avoid accepting human traditions as if they are the will of God, lest we join hands with the hypocrites of Christ’s day. Revealed truth, not the traditions of men, must guide our hearts and our deeds. Otherwise, our worship will be vain.
Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:1–5, NKJV)
We will all be judged by Jesus in the last day (2 Cor. 5:10). Therefore, this verse is not teaching us to avoid judgment by never rendering a judgment. Still, many attempt to use verse one to avoid the force of divine truth that calls their conduct into account. The context makes it abundantly clear Jesus is warning against hypocritical judging, not making a blanket condemnation of all forms of judgment. After all, Jesus would later command to “judge with righteous judgment” (John 7:24). Did Jesus command us to sin? No, Jesus did not contradict Himself. The word of God is the revelation of God’s judgments. We let God be the judge by letting His word reprove and rebuke sin (2 Timothy 4:2). His judgments are true and altogether righteous (Psalm 19:9). The question is, will we accept God’s judgment when His word exposes our sin? Or, will we try to deflect personal accountability by saying, “You can’t judge me!” when someone teaches us the truth?