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Sunday, January 22, 2006 am
ARE YOU A HYPOCRITE?
One of the harshest accusations that can be levied against another is to call them a hypocrite. It cuts to the heart, can expose inconsistencies that one doesn’t want to face and often causes many to become defensive (in an offensive way) in their responses. At times it is a label that is unfairly given and usually in a hurtful way. Yet it is an attitude that God utterly despises.
Because of that it is something that we need to clearly understand. I am afraid that there are many Christians who are hypocrites. It may not be evident to others, but deep down they know they are not what they ought to be and not all that interested in changing. So today, I present this lesson encouraging each of us to ask ourselves, “Am I a hypocrite?” Let us study some things that the Bible has to say about hypocrisy.
I. God’s Word and Hypocrisy
word hypocrite is actually derived from a Greek word (hupokrinomai) which
referred to an actor on stage who wore a mask and played the part. As the word
is used in the Bible it has reference to one who is pretending to
be something he is not, namely pretending to be godly outwardly,
but inwardly, he is ungodly.
McClintock and Strong defined the word as, “the name for the successful or unsuccessful endeavor of a person to impart to others, by the expression of his features or, gestures, by his outward actions, and, in fine, by his whole appearance, a favorable opinion of his principles, his good intentions, love, unselfishness, truthfulness, and conscientiousness while in reality these qualities are wanting in him.” (© 2000, 2003 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)
Other words associated with hypocrisy include, pretending, disguise oneself, to simulate, etc. as well as stage player, play a part, etc.
b. It is more than simply sinning. We all sin, but that does not necessarily make us hypocrites. The hypocrite knows he is sinning and tries to put on a façade about it. He is one who knows he is not what he ought to be and intends to do nothing about it.
c. The apostle’s teachings included passages like:
i. Romans 12:9, “Let love be without hypocrisy” – don’t PRETEND to love another
ii. Galatians 2:11-13 – Paul rebukes Peter and others for being inconsistent (played the hypocrite) in their behaviors, depending on who was around. In other words, they acted one way in certain audiences and totally different at other times.
iii. 1 Timothy 4:2 – it is a product of the seared conscience
iv. James 3:17 says that the wisdom which is from above is “…without hypocrisy”
v. 1 Peter 2:1 calls for babes in Christ (and all) to put it away from them along with malice, deceit, envy, and all evil speaking.
vi. 1 John 1:6 announces the consequence of hypocrisy: “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.”
d. Jesus had more to say about hypocrisy than any other writer in the Bible. More than 20 times, the word is recorded as being spoken by Him (16 times in Matthew alone). It is in some of His statements that we want to spend the rest of our time noting how the hypocrite acts.
II. How the Hypocrite Acts
a. He pays more attention to his reputation than his character
i. One thing the Pharisees and Jewish leaders that Jesus condemned were guilty of was protecting their reputations. Throughout His ministry, Jesus exposed their inconsistencies, character flaws and corruption both of God’s Law and His system of worship. Their response was to resort to name calling (Matthew 9:4 – casts out demons by the ruler of demons [Satan]), frequent attempts to entrap Him (Matthew 22:15-40), and even to get rid of Him (John 11:45-50 – where it was announced by Caiaphas that it was expedient “that one man should die for the people , and not that the whole nation should perish”
ii. Matthew 6:2, 5, 16 – In the Sermon on the Mount, what they did was to be seen by men rather than to be pleasing to God. Their arrogance and self-righteousness were evident – but to them it was more important that they show their religious rituals were “according to the Law, so they paraded all that they did.
iii. Matthew 23:5-7 – they enlarged their phylacteries and the borders of their garments to be seen of men. Evidently there was some standards concerning the size of these things – and their goal was to achieve the highest ranks (like a black belt in karate) and let others know it. That meant more to them than being pleasing to God.
What about us?
Before we act do we ask, “What will others think about us?” When we pray,
memorize scriptures, teach, preach, sing, visit others, give, etc. – are we
doing these things to be praised by those who see us or because they are a part
of who we are?
WHEN we become more interested in our reputation than doing that which is right, our character is going to suffer as a result of it. And we then become hypocritical. NOTE: Our reputation OUGHT TO BE based upon our character instead of the other way around. That is what is meant by being “of good report” (Acts 6:3, 10:22, 1 Tim. 3:7)
b. He practices religious acts while his heart is distant from God –
Often the hypocrite will simply “go
through the motions.” While he gives the appearance that he is pious (devout,
and compliant in observing his religion) deep down his thoughts or intentions
Others reason that as long as they are engaged in the external acts, that such will make them acceptable to God. So they keep living in sin but justify their lives by their attendance and worship and possibly other good deeds.
Sometimes these will be the most exact and demanding as to how worship and other works are to be carried out (often going beyond the boundaries of scripture).
ii. An example of this is seen in Matthew 23:23 – where they were paying their tithes, even counting their seeds. But Jesus said they were neglecting “the weightier matters of the law.” (NOTE: they were NOT condemned for tithing, in fact they were told that they needed to do that, but for their inconsistencies and neglect in other areas.)
iii. In Matthew 15:7 Jesus is questioned for transgressing the traditions of the elders (NOT the Law of Moses). “Why don’t you do things the way we do?” Jesus answers them with a rebuke noting that they ignored God’s laws to enforce their own traditions. Note vs. 7 where He calls them hypocrites noting how they fulfilled Isaiah 29:13.
iv. Do we find that our religion is becoming more and more tedious and something we really don’t look forward to? Why are we here? Is it really for the purpose of serving God? Or are we just pretending to ourselves thinking God will overlook the rest of our lives?
c. He emphasizes his own virtues and the faults of others.
i. The irony of the average hypocrite is that he ALWAYS has something bad to say about the other person or maybe even EVERYBODY else. He often sees his “virtues” and doesn’t notice his own faults, but when it comes to others their faults are blaring and they have little or no real virtue. Everything others do is suspect, especially if it is someone he doesn’t like.
ii. Perhaps the best example of this is Luke 18:10-12 where the Pharisee compares himself to the tax collector in prayer at the temple.
iii. In Matthew 7:1-5 Jesus spoke of being cautious in judging others. He was clear that before we start worrying about the little faults of others we need to take care of our own faults. Note how in vs. 5 He calls them hypocrites.
iv. Matthew 23:29-31 Jesus pronounces woes upon these hypocrites because they proudly proclaimed that they adorned the graves of the prophets and proudly proclaimed that they would not have done the same thing. Yet, even as they spoke, they were plotting against Jesus and those who followed Him.
v. They live by a double standard. They bind heavy burdens on others, but they themselves will not lift a finger – Matthew 23:2-4.
vi. What about us? If we were to honestly look at ourselves would we find that we have a double standard for ourselves versus others? Maybe we have some that we fit into one category and excuse their actions, while we condemn those in another category of the same thing. Do we ever say, “That was a great lesson. Too bad it doesn’t apply to me”? Jesus called such conduct hypocrisy.
III. Results of Hypocrisy
a. He is self-seeking – Make no mistake about it: Hypocrisy is a selfish act.
b. His heart is corrupted – Matthew 23:25-28. Jesus described them as adorned graves – which looked beautiful outside, but inwardly full of dead men’s bones. It is the inside that is full of hypocrisy.
c. He drives some away – Matthew 23:13 – they shut up the kingdom of heaven. Often the hypocrite discourages the young and the weak.
d. He corrupts others – Paul in Galatians 2:11-13 confronted Peter for his hypocrisy in the matter of Jews and Gentiles. He notes that Peter’s actions did just affect him but also Barnabas and others as well, who followed his lead. Leaders ought to give serious consideration to this fact.
e. He has his reward – Matthew 6:1-7 after describing hypocritical religion noted, “they have their reward”. As noted, the hypocrite is often after praise from others, and often they get that. But Jesus said that is ALL they will get.
f. The hypocrite will lose his soul. It is an attitude that will result in eternal damnation. Matthew 24:51 speaks of an evil servant being appointed his portion with the hypocrites. Revelation 21:8 gives a list of those who will have their part in the lake of fire and brimstone. Included in that list is “all liars” of which the hypocrite would be included (he is living a lie).
In this lesson we have seen what the hypocrite is and why we should try to avoid becoming one, no matter the cost. What about you? Are you a hypocrite? Is there some area of you life where you are hypocritical? If so, repent now before it is too late. Resolve today to change, before it is too late.