trusted online casino malaysia
Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.
The Scriptorium

Dissembled Piety

Jesus sees through sham. Luke 20.41-47

Luke 20 (6)

Pray Psalm 110.1-3.
The LORD said to my Lord,
“Sit at My right hand,
Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”
The LORD shall send the rod of Your strength out of Zion.
Rule in the midst of Your enemies!
Your people shall be volunteers
In the day of Your power;
In the beauties of holiness, from the womb of the morning,
You have the dew of Your youth.

Sing Psalm 110.1-3.
(Aurelia: The Church’s One Foundation)
Sit by Me at My right hand,” The LORD says to my Lord,
“until I make Your foot stand on all who hate Your Word.”
From in His Church the Savior rules all His enemies;
while those who know His favor go forth the Lord to please.

Read Luke 20.1-47; meditate on verses 41-47.


1. What did Jesus ask the scribes?

2. Why did He warn the people about them?

Right after Jesus confounded the Sadducees, we read that “some of the scribes” commended His teaching (vv. 39, 40). We might think their response was commendable. Jesus saw through their dissembling, however, and took the occasion to expose their false piety and rapacious ways.

How would they know whether Jesus had answered well? They were among the group of whom He had said they knew neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. They were simply trying to look good before the people by giving an “attaboy” to Jesus for silencing the Sadducees. To demonstrate the shallowness of their understanding, Jesus posed a question from Psalm 110: How could the Christ be both David’s Son and his Lord? (vv. 41-44) Of course, they had no clue. On such mysteries as this, especially those that point to Jesus, they drew blanks.

So the scribes were not able to judge Jesus’ teaching one way or the other. But He judged their ministries, and He did so “in the hearing of all the people” (v. 45). They were haughty, showy, and prideful (v. 46). They thrived on the deference of the people, and they made sure everyone knew who they were. In public, “for a pretense” they prayed long and no doubt eloquently (v. 47). But in private, they consumed the wealth and possessions of even the poorest of the poor (v. 47).

No wonder James warns us against putting ourselves forward as teachers (Jms. 3.1). Unless God calls us to teaching, and unless we can undertake this work like Jesus did, emulating Him, calling people to seek Him, teaching only what accords with His Word, and seeking nothing for ourselves, we’re best advised to refrain from the charade. A stricter judgment awaits all who teach God’s Word, and a greater condemnation is reserved for those who do so with self-serving motives.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
“Beware” (Lk. 20.46). Jesus warned His beloved about the ravages inflicted by the religious. He warns us to beware too. But He is also warning us never to become one of those who do the damage. As it would be better for us to hang a millstone around our necks and be drowned in the depths of the sea than to cause one of God’s “little ones” to sin (Matt. 18.6).

Hypocrites and dissemblers of piety have the same modus operandi: to disguise or conceal one’s real nature, motives, or feelings behind a false appearance. And who wants to do that? And why would we?

If we truly understand what has happened to us as believers in Jesus Christ, then we do not need to conceal anything. We are free to live our lives as God intended for us to live, and no one need “beware” of us.

Paul wrote Titus about this very thing: “For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another” (Titus 3.3).  Indeed, people to beware of.

“But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3.4-7).

Our salvation is all of God, and the loving work of Jesus Christ, and the renewing impowering of the Holy Spirit. Our sin, His salvation. “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” (Lk. 18.13) “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me” (Ps. 51.1-3).

When we understand that we have no recourse to be haughty or proud—only contrite and thankful—we put away any need we might have to be the best-dressed, most obvious, popular, kowtowed to Christian, with the best seat at church, the highest respect of all the members, and doggone good and long prayers that amaze all listeners, but who lack love for God and others. (Lk. 20.46, 47).

Whatever outward things we think we need to be dissembled piety, religious and holy and well thought of by all, these we throw away, and grasp only to be like Jesus, Who “made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant” and as God He came “in the likeness of men…He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Phil. 2.7, 8).

If we make it our life’s goal to emulate Him, no one will ever need beware of us.

For reflection
1. How can you know when you’re trying to “impress” someone with your Christianity?

2. As disciples, we’re all called to be teachers (Heb. 5.12). How will you fulfill that calling today?

3. What must we do to keep our piety from being merely outward?

Dissembled piety is double sin. Then let us beg of God to keep us from pride, ambition, covetousness, and every evil thing; and to teach us to seek that honor which comes from him alone.
Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Luke 20.39-47

Pray Psalm 110.4-7.
Pray that the Lord will use you today to refresh with His grace those who are in your Personal Mission Field.

Sing Psalm 110.3-7.
(Aurelia: The Church’s One Foundation)
Filled with the Spirit’s power, in holy robes of love,
from early morning’s hour they serve their Lord above.
Christ reigns a priest forever, the King of Righteousness
and King of Peace who ever His chosen ones will bless.

The Lord at Your right hand, LORD, in wrath shall shatter kings,
when judgment by His strong Word He to the nations brings.
Then, all His foes defeated, He takes His hard-won rest,
in glorious triumph seated with us, redeemed and blessed!

T. M. and Susie Moore

You can download all the studies in our Luke series by clicking here.

If you find Scriptorium helpful in your walk with the Lord, please seek the Lord, asking Him whether you should contribute to the support of this daily ministry with your financial gifts. As the Lord leads, you can use the Contribute button at the website to give with a credit card or through PayPal or Anedot, or you can send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 103 Reynolds Lane, West Grove, PA 19390.

Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.


T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

Subscribe to Ailbe Newsletters

Sign up to receive our email newsletters and read columns about revival, renewal, and awakening built upon prayer, sharing, and mutual edification.