“The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say and do not do” (Matthew 23:2-3).
Introducing one of the most scathing rebukes ever executed against any group of people, Jesus wastes no time in giving this instruction to the masses: heed the words of the Pharisees, but do not follow their example. Surely this message angered the Pharisees, but there was no misunderstanding what Jesus meant.
God demands that people live up to what they profess—in other words, He doesn’t accept those who say one thing and then do another. The Pharisees professed to be religious and thought in their own minds they were religious, but actually they were only following a tradition that had been handed down to them.
Profession alone is not enough as far as our relationship with God is concerned. For us to be pleasing to God and to inherit the eternal home He has prepared for the faithful, we must be a people whose religion is real—whose lives demonstrate that we are not just pretending to be a spiritually-minded person but that we are sincere in our declarations of devotion to God.