Jesus charged the Scribes and Pharisees with hypocrisy because, while assuming the position of teachers of the people and thus holders of the keys of the kingdom, they held to and propagated error, thereby locking themselves and their hearers out (Matt. 23:13). How like many today who tenaciously hold to and zealously go about disseminating damnable errors! Again, how horribly hypocritical were these leaders, who, as they cheated people, especially widows, portrayed themselves as Godly, through long prayers (Matt. 23:14)?
They compassed land and sea to make converts to themselves and their sectarian beliefs and not to God. And usually, such disciples of erroneous and hypocritical teachers end up becoming more erroneous and hypocritical than their teachers (Matt. 23:15). The hypocrisy of this people made them so foolish and blind that they had to feel that the gold in the temple and gifts on the altar were superior to the temple and the altar, respectively. So they disregarded the vows they made at these sacred places (Matt. 23:16-22).
Furthermore, Jesus noted the hypocrisy in straining at a gnat while swallowing a camel, and paying tithe of mint, cummin and anise while omitting the weightier matters of the law (Matt. 23:23, 24). It is terrible hypocrisy when people delight in appearing to be righteous, particularly in religious observances, while remaining evil in their personal lives. Indeed, Jesus condemned the Pharisaic religion of external righteousness while actually they were chronic sinners (Matt. 23:25-28). In their hypocrisy, they pretended to love the prophets of old, rebuilding and garnishing their tombs (as though they were opposed to the murderous ways of their fathers), while at the same time ceaselessly seeking to kill Christ (Matt. 23:29-32; Jn. 8:37-40).