So far, we have seen the first four signs that we might be a Pharisee from Jesus' discussion in Matthew 23. As we combine the 5th and 6th woe's, we see that the pharisees had their priorities backwards. This was evident in:
#1 - As a cup that was clean on the outside and yet dirty on the inside, they were more worried about their apperance instead of focusing on their heart and mind (Matthew 23:25-26).
#2 - As a tomb that was clean on the outside but filled with dead bones on the inside, their focus was on what others thought of them and not what God knew about them (Matthew 23:27-28).
How did this happen? For one, they elevated their own traditions and laws over God's Law. Their own greed caused them to promote their way over God's way. They wanted the preeminence and prominence amongst the people, even at the expense of their own standing before God. As long as everyone else held them in high esteem, that was all that mattered. They looked sharp on the outisde, but there was nothing but dirt and death on the inside.
As I read these verses, I can't help but think of too many preachers, pastors, and evangelist today who preach and promote personal preferences that focus on the exterior, all the while ignoring the heart of the believer. Young converts are swept up in the madness and loaded with burdens they were not made to carry. And why carry these burdens? So that the preacher may feel better about himself as his little minions copy his every mannerism. As long as everyone looks like we want, speaks like we want, and acts like we want, we are fine. This is why they elevate their opinion of those "grey areas" in the Bible as a Black and White, clear-cut issues. Their personal conviction becomes a Bible truth, and anyone who does not follow their view is a liberal, compromiser, etc. All the while, the heart of this preacher is filled with wickedness and death. Their private life (the inside of the cup, the inside of the whitewashed tomb) is filled with the dirt of sin and the stench of spiritual death. But that is okay, as long as everyone is following their opinions as fact.
And it is not only preachers that have this issue. Many believers live their life trying to fool everyone around them by cleaning up the outside. Yet, their heart is filled with sinfulness and wickedness. God knows it, they know it, but as long as others don't know it, they are okay.