Photo by Chad Runge / Creation Swap

Thursday, August 5, 2010


Hypocrite. What an interesting word. What goes through your mind when you hear it? Do you instinctively think positive thoughts? Or negative ones?

What if someone were to call you a hypocrite? How would that make you feel? Would you instantly become defensive? Or would you self-evaluate yourself and ask, "Why would somebody call me that? Is there something that I need to be aware of about myself?" It could motivate you to make some kind of change about yourself.

If you're like me, you would be very defensive if someone were to call you a hypocrite. You would snap back at the accusation and demand proof of this allegation. Of course, saying this doesn't speak well concerning my character, obviously, and I know that I can learn from constructive criticism. But hypocrite?

Maybe it's because of this defensiveness we can identify with how the Pharisees felt when Jesus gave them that label...He exclaimed outright that many of the Pharisees were hypocrites straight to their faces. Ouch. Here are some of those examples:

Matthew 15:7
You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:

Matthew 22:18
But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, "You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me?

Matthew 23:13
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.

Matthew 23:15
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.

Matthew 23:23
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.

Matthew 23:25
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.

Matthew 23:27
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean.

Matthew 23:29
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous.

Do you get the picture? Jesus did not mince words. And as you can imagine, the Pharisees did not take kindly to this.

What was it about the Pharisees that Jesus found so abhorrent? Reading these passages, it seems that the Pharisees would admonish the Jews regarding strict adherence to the law. But in contrast regarding their own disciplines, they would disdain God's commands for their own personal gain; even going as far as putting their laws (men's laws) ahead of God's.

It is quite apparent that God doesn't take hypocrisy lightly. Why else would Jesus have said "woe to you" concerning the Pharisees if it wasn't serious? Matthew 24:51 gives us some idea by telling us that a certain wicked servant, one who understandably would incur God's indignation, will find himself in the same predicament as a hypocrite. So you can see hypocrisy doesn't bode well for anyone. Can anyone grasp how bad God's judgment toward them will be? The verse says, "He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." This, of course, is a fairly accurate description of what it would be like for a person that is separated from their Creator, such as in hell.

Knowing that God is very much opposed to hypocrisy, it would seem pretty apparent then that the people of God ought to take this very seriously. But why Christians? Shouldn't they, of all people, be modeling godly character? The problem is is that we all have the tendency, perhaps due to our sin nature, to take on this wicked condition. Sadly, this kind of thing can take root in a church and cause greater problems.

Consider this following passage:

Romans 2:17-24
17 Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and brag about your relationship to God; 18 if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law; 19 if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of infants, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth– 21 you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who brag about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? 24 As it is written: “God's name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”

Though you could argue that Paul's admonition was directed toward the Jews, I would suggest that believers in the body of Christ take heed as well. How often do we get on our soapbox and become all religious and begin pointing fingers? Is it possible that we're doing the very things that Paul was warning the Jews about? To put it plainly, do we brag about being Christians when all the while we put down sinners because they are in adulterous or homosexual relationships, then find ourselves engaged with prostitutes? What about pornography or sexually explicit romance novels? It's a very disturbing thing to see the church laden with sin when the church should be the ones modeling righteousness and being the light that draws people to our Savior.

Hypocrisy is never a good thing. But it's even worse when it's God's people who teach righteousness and truth by the Holy Bible and then live the lives of sinners. Verse 24 in the text tells us that because of the actions of such people, God's Holy Name is blasphemed among the Gentiles. In today's vernacular, think about how the scandals of the church today bring God's Name into question among unbelievers. Just think about it...God's Name is blasphemed. Doesn't that bring fear to your soul?

I know the last days will bring all forms of lies, deception, hypocrisy, etc. But my prayer is that Christians will be convicted of their sin and realize that their sin has consequences that go beyond just themselves. We need to be a body unified by the head, who is Christ. We need to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and realize that our actions sometimes speak louder than words. How will the world know if this Christian life is authentic, if all that they see are a bunch of frauds. Let's be the church that God has called us to be. Let's be the authentic, genuine, and real Christians God created us to be and give God glory!


  1. Hi Dean,

    At a time when God is mocked by comedy and the voice of bitterness and bickering screams, are we truely representative of the Lord Jesus? My heart's desire is to live my life in honor to Christ and to maintain the covenant He established on my behalf. I believe that I must examine my life against the scriptures and honestly see myself through the word of God.

    Turning away from biblical truth is a path laden with hypocracy and sin. I cannot defend myself against scripture; that would be an act of self-justification.

    I would like to think that if someone calls my character in question that I would want to understand the reasons behind the accusation. But in the end, what could I say that would alter an opinion of me. What defense could I muster that didn't appear shallow and empty.

    To say or think, "I am not like them." indicates a view of myself and I refuse to take that stance.

    We as a corporate body of believers in Christ have been guilty of presenting Christ in a manner that blasphemes the righteous of God. Shall we continue to sin so that grace may abound? May it never be!

    Let all who call on the name of the Lord, affirm to seek Him with our whole heart, soul, mind and spirit; that we exalt Him in our lives in a manner worthy of His sacrifice. May our lives not come under scrutinity because of the conflicting character of behavior we exhibit but by the light of Christ illuminating in a manner that spurns interest in our way of life.

    Blessings and peace.


  2. MTJ -

    I certainly hear what you're saying. I wouldn't want to try to justify myself either. But to fall back on the One who does justify me is more than enough.

    It's only through God's grace can we reach people. It's not through a righteousness of our own obviously. I hope, though, that there will be no hypocrisy among God's people if we model the heart of the forgiven. If we show others that though we sin and make mistakes, we can demonstrate humility and go before the throne of grace, repent, and ask for forgiveness. Hopefully that genuine act of someone being extended God's grace and mercy will draw people to Christ.

    It's the "conflicting character of behavior" that I feel is suspect, as you pointed out. I know, for myself, I can be talking out of both ends of my mouth as I ask God for forgiveness for a specific sin and then shake my head at someone else for something similar. I feel I have been guilty, and I pray that God sheds His light into my heart and extends mercy. And through that, I hope that I can extend mercy and compassion as well. I do not wish to be that hypocrite. That's my prayer.

    Thanks for stopping by and expanding on this vast topic. There's a lot to understand as we attempt to draw near to God and you certainly help shed light in those areas. Thank you!

    God bless!

  3. Hypocrisy...this is a huge reason many say, "no" to Christ Jesus without knowing it. I am reminded of the quote from Ghandi, who almost became a follower of Christ. His words, "If people knew the Christ of the Christians they would receive Him. Sadly, many only know the Christians of the Christ and they have rejected Him." This quote causes me to remember that as Jesus spoke to the Pharisees and Saducees; he knew the root cause of hypocrisy would cause rejection towards God. This post is another reminder of who we represent. Thank you for the reminder Dean...thank You Lord.

  4. Teresa -

    You're right. We're Christ's ambassadors. Many peoples' perceptions of God is going to come from those who represent Him. But in God's infinite wisdom, He has chosen to use us for that purpose. So, I pray for the Holy Spirit to help us.

    Thanks for visiting Teresa. Have a great week!

    God bless!

  5. Dean, thank you for posting a most insightful study about hypocrisy in the church. It seems that there are more tares than wheat in our churches today than ever before. It looks like we'll have to live with it until the Lord of the harvest returns to weed out the phonies and hypocrites. Until then it looks like self examination is the way to go.


  6. Very thoughtful post about hypocrisy...Love the elephant in the Church also

  7. Ron -

    You are right, of course. We do need self examination. And like you mentioned, I pray Lord Jesus come.

    Kim -

    Thanks! :) Pictures do sometimes add something to a post, don't they?

    Thanks for stopping by. Appreciate the comments!

  8. Dean: Hypocrisy in the church has always been a problem and as ambassadors' of Christ we need to make sure that we examine ourselves daily to see that we live up to "God's standards" or "practice what we preach." Saying this; I must point out that there is no way we, as human beings, can possible live up to the standards that our Holy God requires us to have. That is why God sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross for you and me. Our Lord's blood covers our sins so when God looks at us all He sees is the Christ in us.

    As we mature as Christians we become more Christ-centered instead of self-centered. We will never achieve 100% "Christ-centered" until we are with our Lord in heaven because we have this "sin nature" that keeps us from doing so. Thank you for such an inspiring post. God's blessings too you. Lloyd

  9. Lloyd -

    The thing about these blogs that I like is that other bloggers can comment and add to the discussion.

    I cannot agree with you more that only it's only because of Jesus that we can be made right with God. As you said, "Our Lord's blood covers our sins so when God looks at us all He sees is the Christ in us."

    Thanks so much for stopping by! God bless!