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  • Becky Carriker

1/21/2024

Hypocrisy, Faith and Prayer


Mark 11:11-14, 20-25 And he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. And when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve. 12 On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. 13 And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. 14 And he said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it.

20 As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. 21 And Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” 22 And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. 23 Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. 25 And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.


Before you can ever be a part of the body of Christ you have to acknowledge up front that you are a sinner in need of salvation, and one of the common elements in all sinners is hypocrisy. 


God is far more upset about hypocrisy in the church than we are. 


Every religion, philosophy, in every arena of life, has its hypocrites. 


We are not inviting people to Christians. We are inviting them to Christ! 


Jesus Christ is the only one whose life we hold up as being our example and He and he alone who is worthy of being imitated. 


Jesus in righteous rage against the money-changers and merchants, throwing them all out was not a spur-of-the-moment act of outrage but a planned demonstration. 


Deut. 8:7-8 – “For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing out in the valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey.” 


Numbers 13:23 And they came to the Valley of Eshcol and cut down from there a branch with a single cluster of grapes, and they carried it on a pole between two of them; they also brought some pomegranates and figs. 


Psalm 105:33 He struck down their vines and fig trees, and shattered the trees of their country. 


The presence of leaves was an indication of the presence of fruit. But in this instance the tree was, in effect, promising something it didn’t deliver. 


Jesus is using the fig tree as an object lesson for his disciples and for us. 


The fig tree was not condemned for being fruitless but for being false. 


The cursing of the fig tree was in fact an acted parable. 


Jesus was looking for the fruit of true righteousness, but all he found were the dry leaves of sterile religious form without substance, and he judges it. 


The story of Jesus cursing and killing the fig tree has two lessons. It’s not just about the ugliness of hypocrisy and God’s judgment of it. It is also about the power of believing prayer! 


Moving or casting a mountain into the sea was proverbial in those days for the miraculous. 

If you have faith in God, all things are possible through prayer. 


We must recognize that the “belief” or “faith” here is not a case of a Christian forcing himself to believe what he does not really believe. 


He is exhorting us to faith, not make believe or spiritual pretending. 


We are responsible to take steps that will facilitate the deepening of faith in our hearts. 


Read and study and meditate on the character of God 


Focus on and meditate on the grace and kindness of God 


Faith is not the sole condition for answered prayer. 


The absence of faith is not the sole explanation for unanswered prayer. 


We have to ask him with the right motives. 


James 4:1–3 What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? 2 You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. 3 And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.


Particular to husbands: We have to be treating our wives with gentleness and kindness and understanding. 


1 Peter 3:7 Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the physically weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.


We have to clean the slate, so to speak, in our relationships with others. 


Matthew 6:14–15 “For if you forgive others their offenses, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well. 15 But if you don’t forgive others, your Father will not forgive your offenses.

We have to ask in accordance with God’s will. 


If what I’m asking isn’t consistent with the will and character of God, the answer will be No. 


No amount of faith will force God’s hand to do something that is contrary to our welfare. 

Sometimes God says No to prayers that are offered up in faith because he has something even better in store for us. 


The only way anyone can fulfill the condition set forth by Jesus is if God himself chooses to impart to us the faith he requires. 


Faith, ultimately, is a gift from God. Philippians 2:13 For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.

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