Matthew 23 is not a chapter of warm fuzzy feelings. The Pharisees and scribes challenged Jesus at every turn; in Matthew 23, Jesus puts the Pharisees and Scribes in the hot seat and uses some of the strongest language recorded in the Bible. Jesus describes his opponents as “sons of Hell” on the highway to Hell.
As we read Matthew 23, it is easy to take Jesus’ rebukes and critiques and make them about “them.” Most Christians have an idea about who is a modern-day “Pharisee.” But we should be careful about eagerly pointing the finger away from us. Jesus said that the Pharisees “looked good to men outwardly.” Today’s Pharisees also look good outwardly, and if you have ever used social media, you know that one of the main objects for its users is to appear virtuous, happy, and whole, despite reality.
One major hindrance to spiritual growth and true happiness is the lack of confession of sin. We lack confession because we fear what people will think of us in our failures. Therefore we put up a front of righteousness so that we “appear good to men.” But we will never escape our failures until we quit hiding them. The Apostle James says,
“confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed.” James 5:16.