“Woe unto You … Hypocrites!”

The Life and Teachings of Jesus and his Apostles, Instructor’s Guide (Rel 211–12), (2000), 49–50


Hypocrisy can be overcome through acts of service rendered quietly and privately.

Theme Analysis

  • A.

    Jesus condemned hypocrisy as one of the most serious sins.

  • B.

    Hypocrisy is a form of apostasy when people draw near to God with their lips when their hearts are far from him.

  • C.

    Service performed quietly and privately can be a great help in overcoming hypocrisy.

Study Sources

Course Manual

Chapter 21, “Woe unto You … Hypocrites!”

Standard Works

Isaiah 32:6. What are some effects of hypocrisy?

Alma 34:17-29. How does Amulek describe hypocrisy?

Matthew 6:1-18. Is doing the right thing for the wrong reason a form of hypocrisy?

3 Nephi 13:1-18. How can hypocrisy be overcome?

D&C 50:6-8. What will eventually happen to hypocrites?

Moroni 7:6-10. What does the Lord think of the practice of doing the right things for the wrong reasons?

Basic Library

Teachings, p. 303. The status of a hypocrite.

N. Eldon Tanner in CR, Oct. 1970, p. 49. What are the dangers of hypocrisy to Latter-day Saints?

Additional Sources

Spencer W. Kimball in CR, Apr. 1951, pp. 104-5. Pretense in religious matters will not qualify us for eternal life.

Spencer W. Kimball in CR, Oct. 1951, pp. 87-89. We must do the right thing for the right reason.

J. Reuben Clark, Jr., in CR, Oct. 1960, p. 87. Why is hypocrisy such a serious sin?

Some Suggestions for Presentation

(Ideas Other Teachers Have Used)

Jesus Condemned the Hypocrisy of the Scribes and Pharisees (Object Lesson)

Prior to class, blow out the yoke and white of an egg by putting a small hole in each end of the egg with a pin. Show the egg shell to the class and ask what possible uses could be made of the egg. After some responses have been received, crack the shell and show that it is empty. Ask, what word did Jesus use to describe a similar situation among the Jews? The answer is hypocrisy.

The teacher may now wish to discuss the meaning of the term hypocrisy.

Case Studies

Hypocrisy is a serious sin because it prevents spiritual growth. Why is this so? You might wish to consider the following case studies or develop some that are more applicable to your students:

  1. 1.

    Jim consistently condemns his friends who attend restricted and adult-rated movies; however, he enjoys watching television programs or reading magazines that promote values similar to those in restricted, adult movies.

  2. 2.

    Since returning home from his mission, Bob has enrolled at the university. His elders quorum president has called him to be a home teacher, but Bob claims that he does not have time because of his studies and school activities.

  3. 3.

    Beverly says that she is never going to church again because of all the hypocrites there. She isn’t living the Word of Wisdom.

The Root Problem of Hypocrisy (A Discussion)

The teacher might wish to discuss with his students the root problem of hypocrisy.

How might one overcome the tendencies to be hypocritical? See 3 Nephi 13:1-4.

How can doing things in secret help one to overcome hypocrisy?

Review with the students the last student interaction block under Points to Ponder. How does President Kimball’s solution for self-centeredness also help in overcoming hypocrisy?

Is someone who is sinning but is striving to repent, a hypocrite?