Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
Are all Christians hypocrites? I spoke about this in Part 1. Not at all! The Christian church has a history filled with examples of selflessness, courage, moral action and reform and many other positive influences on the world.
These are not the acts of hypocrites but of sincere believers transformed by the resurrected Christ and moved by the Holy Spirit. They really motivated by what the Bible says: “So then, in everything treat others the same way you want them to treat you, for this is [the essence of] the Law and the [writings of the] Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12 – Amplified Bible).
The church is a work in progress—and so are its members. Like a cathedral that may take decades or centuries to complete, the process is long and arduous, but someday it will be complete and stand as a beautiful testimony to the power of Christ to transform lives for the better. Remember, too, that only some professing Christians act hypocritically. What about all those who do not? What about all those who consistently live out the love of Christ in the world?
Jesus Talks About Hypocrisy
If you read the New Testament, you’ll discover Jesus spoke a lot on this topic. The word ‘hypocrite’ is used 17 times, by Jesus. He was unyielding on the subject. Jesus warned of the consequences of hypocrisy and described its symptoms to the Pharisees in his day. This group were the most admired spiritual leaders of their day:
You’re hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You’re like manicured grave plots, grass clipped and the flowers bright, but six feet down it’s all rotting bones and worm-eaten flesh. People look at you and think you’re saints, but beneath the skin you’re total frauds. (Matthew 23:27-28 – The Message)
The Pharisees were a sect of the Jewish hierarchy. They made up the body of the religious leaders of that day. They:
- went to the daily temple prayers religiously.
- gave their tithes and offerings.
- were avid students of the Scriptures.
- kept the Sabbath day, and followed the commandments and teachings of Moses to the letter.
They had the appearance of being very religious and upstanding Jews. Jesus said that they were ‘diseased’ and rotten inside, full of hypocrisy and iniquity. He described them as ‘whitewashed tombs’, or ‘death covered with a coat of paint’. Little wonder they hated Jesus and wanted him out of the way. Jesus made many enemies. He said:
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But I warn you—unless your goodness is greater than that of the Pharisees and other Jewish leaders, you can’t get into the Kingdom of Heaven at all! (Matthew 5:20 – TLB)
How Do You View the Church?
Authors Josh McDowell and Don Stewart, in their book Answers To Tough Questions Skeptics Ask About the Christian Faith, write this:
Christianity does not stand or fall on the way Christians have acted throughout history or are acting today. Christianity stands or falls on the person of Jesus, and Jesus was not a hypocrite. He lived consistently with what He taught, and at the end of His life, He challenged those who had lived with Him night and day, for over three years, to point out any hypocrisy in Him. His disciples were silent because there was none. Since Christianity depends on Jesus, it is incorrect to try to invalidate the Christian faith by pointing to horrible things done in the name of Christianity.
Cliffe Knechtle in his book Give Me an Answer writes:
We all either try to hide our bad sides or we try to make them look good. But deep inside we all know that we fall short of living the way we know we should. No one can escape the charge of “hypocrite”-no one except Jesus Himself. He is the only One who has lived up to God’s standards; the only One who has perfectly lived what He preached. Only through…Christ can we escape the penalty due our hypocrisy… By living within the security of Christ’s love, we are free to peel off masks and to become real, honest people.
How do you feel about church?
How do you feel about church? Do you think it’s full of hypocrites? A place for weaklings? A self-righteous, religious club?
All those charges may be true. After all, churches are made up of people, and people are not perfect. Imperfect people make for imperfect churches. In fact, if you ever find a perfect church, please don’t join it. You’ll mess it up in a skinny second.
The church is a hospital for sinners, not a hotel for saints. It’s a place where people go to improve their spiritual health. It’s a place where people go for encouragement, and to get their spiritual batteries recharged.
For non-Christians, it’s where they learn what it means to follow Christ and how to have a relationship with God.
Why not give the church a try? After all, what makes you think you’re going to like heaven if you don’t want to be with God’s people here on earth?