"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean." (Matthew 23:25-26)
Jesus is condemning the religious leaders of external righteousness with wrong hearts. The Pharisees looked good because from the outside they were viewed as morally upright people but Jesus knowing their hearts warns them of the filthiness inside. In the gospel of Luke Jesus tells the Pharisees, "You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows the hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God" (Luke 16:15). We may have people fooled by our lives but on the Day of Judgment who cares! God sees the heart. He will not be fooled.
What a scary thought to go to church, open your Bible, go to Bible study, pray, stand up for justice, speak out against sin and do it all for your own glory. Are you spending your time trying to look right in front of the world or are you preparing your heart and life to meet the King of kings? Only the saving work of Jesus Christ can wash a man clean from the inside out. We must be washed in the water of the Spirit's regenerating work in a life in order to clean the inside of the cup and plate. I'm pleading with you: Don't be a Pharisee! Impressing mankind for a short time is foolish when viewed from eternity. Confess your sin to the Lord and repent trusting in Christ's atoning work on the cross for you.
Grace upon grace,