The Heart Scanner

August 9, 2019 Preacher: Pedro Samuel Series: Hypocrisy & Grace

Topic: Christian Living Scripture: Matthew 23:25–28

Home Group Study - Sermon Date: 09 August 2019

Text: Matthew 23:25-28

Opening Discussion: Can you remember the first time you went to the doctor? Can you remember the first X-ray, MRI or body scan you had? Medical treatment can be daunting and sometimes scary, especially when it is the first time and you have no idea what to expect. Share your story.


MRI machines would not help us to scan any “spiritual disease”. For spiritual diseases we need a spiritual scanner. In Matthew 23 verse 25 to 28 Jesus is addressing the hypocritical behavior of the Pharisees by “scanning” and exposing the spiritual disease of their hearts, and ultimately providing the cure for the disease. They were more anxious and concerned to appear to be right before men than to be approved by and righteous before God.

In the story of this chapter of Matthew's Gospel, our Lord is just a couple of days away from His crucifixion. And in His last encounter with the scribes and Pharisees—the religious leaders of the day—He speaks a series of "woes" against their religious hypocrisy. Jesus is exposing the dangers of religious hypocrisy. Hypocrites cover-up and ignore the "ugly" sins that abide in the secret places of their own hearts, while cloaking themselves over with an exterior of religious "beauty".

In Matthew 23:25-28, Jesus calls attention to an undue interest in outward appearances, rather than on what is on the inside. Earlier in Matthew 23:5, Jesus said that “they [Pharisees] do all their deeds to be seen by people”. In Matthew 6:1-18, Jesus warned about performing our righteous deeds (charitable giving, prayer, and fasting) before men, for their praise. Since scribes and Pharisees loved to be esteemed as more spiritual than others, we would expect them to be preoccupied with external appearances, rather than the heart. Pharisaism assumed that if the outside looked good, everything else must be good. Hypocrisy is a concerted effort to mask our failures (otherwise known as “sin”) by making appearances look good. Jesus tells us that true cleansing begins on the inside “in the heart “and expands to the outside.

Investigation & Interpretation:

  • Read: Matthew 23:25-28
  1. The Lord offered two pictures in these verses, with which the Pharisees would have been very familiar. Can you identify them and what they represent? v.25, 27
  2. In verse 27 Jesus compares the Pharisees to “white washed tombs”. What is a “white washed tomb” and how did that apply to the scribes and Pharisees?
  3. Compare Psalm 5:9 and Romans 3:13, with the charge Jesus made against the Pharisees in v.27.
  4. Read the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15:1-32. What connections does this parable have with moralism? (Hint: Look at the response of the elder brother!)

Application - How must I change?

  • Is there a Truth to be believed?

D.L. Moody once said; “Character is what you are in the dark.”Having a good reputation is certainly important, in fact, it is commended in Scripture. Solomon wrote, “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favour rather than silver and gold.” (Proverbs 22:1). What would you say is the difference between reputation and character?

  • Is there an Attitude to be fostered?

Though most of us do not adhere to the Jewish ceremonial cleansing rites, we can still be just as blind to our true spiritual condition. Some people believe that going through the waters of baptism, or being christened as a child, or becoming members of a church, will ensure their eternal salvation. They believe that, since something visible and external has taken place, they are safe from the judgment of God. What is the problem with ritualism? Discuss your answer.

  • Is there a Behavior to be changed?

Campbell Morgan, in his book How to Live, tells of a conversation he had after he finished preaching one evening. A man approached him to tell him he had invited a fellow employee, one with whom he had worked for five years, to attend the service. The invitation apparently came as something of a surprise to the colleague, who asked the man if he was Christian. When he replied that he was, the colleague replied, “I am too!” The man chuckled about the fact that he and his colleague had worked together for five years, neither realizing that the other was a Christian. “Isn’t that funny?” he asked Morgan, who replied, “Funny? No, it isn’t funny at all! You both need to be born again.” Why did G. Campbell Morgan answer this way, and was it accurate or not? Discuss your answer.


As we have seen, the scribes and Pharisees failed to realize that a relationship with God is more than skin deep. They believed that the sinful heart could be whitewashed with some form of moral appearance. But the Lord exposed their true condition, revealing that they were filled with “uncleanness,” “hypocrisy” and “lawlessness.” Though they were religiously respectable, these spiritual leaders were actually rebelliously rotten. They claimed to belong to God but would not bow to His authority. Outwardly they were decorative and distinguished, but in reality they were dead, depraved and doomed. By exposing the hypocrisy of the hearts of the Pharisees, Jesus was CORRECTING them in order to lead them to ACKNOWLEDGE the sinful condition of their hearts,  REPENT and RECEIVE the GRACE available for them from The Lord - the power that would enable them to live a life of right standing before God from inside out.

Sin is not a behavior problem; it is a heart problem. The Pharisees were clean on the outside but dead on the inside. We must be clear about the problem of sin. Until we see the true nature of our rebellion and human depravity, we will never know the cleansing power of God’s grace.  We can never be right with God by merely changing our behavior . . . we must have a NEW LIFE in Christ Jesus. Will you allow God to scan your heart? What diagnosis would the Heart Scanner reveal when it comes to your spiritual health? Are you thirsty and hungry for Jesus to live in you and through you for the Glory of the Father?


Prayer Points:  

  1. Pray we would be people always submitting to the authority of Jesus Christ. 
  2. Pray we would always be willing to be corrected by the Spirit of God, through the Word of God.
  3. Pray we would love and value the righteousness of Christ above everything else.

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