Please don’t ask me…why are so many Christians, hypocrites?
We see it all around us from the Catholic priests who abused all those children. To the rip off artist who seem to be all about money rather than Christ to the scam artist hocking their wares in the name of Christ. Those are the blatant ones
To some of our friends who are trying to find a faith to follow, these types of things can derail them from faith in Christ.
This is a serious subject that hits close to home for many of us and knowing how to answer it is a scary thing.
Every one of us if we will honestly look at our lives can see our own hypocrisy. You have heard me say time and time again we are a church full of hypocrites, sinners, and broken people. Every time I do not act like Christ I am being a hypocrite.
However, there is a difference between someone who is falling short of God’s glory as they are growing in Christ and a blatant hypocrite.
Sometimes our hypocrisy is a sign of immaturity.
The Father who tells his children not to use drugs but doesn’t see a problem with having a beer every night. Or the one who tells his daughter to dress appropriately or is over protective but then in secret goes on to porn sites
The Mother who challenges her children to act like Christ but is always gossiping and backbiting others.
The church-going boss who preaches truth and grace, but cheats on his taxes and sales figures.
The employee who spends time on their break reading their Bible and quoting scriptures but steals from their boss
The Bible-quoting neighbor who talks as if every day with Jesus is sweeter than the day before but they live in fear, anger, jealousy and/or resentment
Hypocrisy is “claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform; pretense.”
The label comes from an ancient Greek word that was a technical term for a stage actor. Hypocrites are mask wearers, acting without ever acknowledging that is what they’re doing.
The problem is not their sin or failure it is that they pretend that they don’t. They are inauthentic and refuse to admit it. They are frauds and imposters.
You can try a little experiment…ask your non-Christian friends if they have ever encountered a hypocritical Christian. I am sure they can give you a few examples granted some of them may be unfair but they will know what you mean.
David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons, authors of unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity, (UnChristian) have done research that shows there isn’t much measurable difference between people who claim to be born-again Christians and the rest of the world.
“Born-agains were distinct on some religious variables, most notably owning more Bibles, going to church more often, and donating money to religious nonprofits (especially a church). However, when it came to non-religious factors—the substance of people’s daily choices, actions, and attitudes—there were few meaningful gaps between born-again Christians and non-born agains. . . . In virtually every study we conduct, representing thousands of interviews every year, born-again Christians fail to display much attitudinal or behavioral evidence of transformed lives.”
Gandhi once said “I like your Christ I just don’t like your Christians”
Mark Twain said, “If Christ were here I am sure of one thing he would not be, a Christian”
So how do we halt hypocrisy? Many of our friends will at times simply through up their hands and say, “Why are so many Christians, hypocrites?”
Our friends are not alone in their harsh judgment of hypocrisy. Jesus had no room for it either…
Matthew 23:1-5, 13-16, 25-28,33
“The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees are the official interpreters of the law of Moses. 3 So practice and obey whatever they tell you, but don’t follow their example. For they don’t practice what they teach. 4 They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden. 5 “Everything they do is for show….“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you shut the door of the Kingdom of Heaven in people’s faces. You won’t go in yourselves, and you don’t let others enter either 15 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you cross land and sea to make one convert, and then you turn that person into twice the child of hell you yourselves are! 16 “Blind guides! What sorrow awaits you! Teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence! 26 You blind Pharisee! First, wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too. 27 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity. 28 Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness. Snakes! Sons of vipers! How will you escape the judgment of hell?
This gives you a taste of how Jesus felt about hypocrisy!
He hated it enough—but also loved the people it affected enough—to hit them hard with the unvarnished truth about themselves, their attitudes and actions, and the detrimental impact they were having on others.
This leads us to our first point!
1) When our friends talk about hating hypocrisy, Jesus did too!
Many people will use hypocrisy to blame God or to stay away from the church but at least in a broad sense Jesus agrees with them.
When you look at the scripture we just read and/or have your friends read it they can easily see how Jesus hated hypocrisy. You will find that their problem isn’t really with God as much as it is with some of his people and their sin and their unwillingness to own up to it.
If you are able to share this scripture and others like it with your friend that will be able to see that they and Jesus agree on the same thing and that they both hate hypocrisy. They will begin to see that hypocritical behavior is unacceptable as a Christian.
2) Jesus is the only perfect example and the only one who will not disappoint us with their sin.
This is not an excuse for inauthentic Christians to keep acting this way but it is the truth.
The Bible says moral perfection is only for one human being..Jesus
This High Priest of ours (Jesus) understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.
At Jesus boldly asked his accusers to come up with an accusation John 8:46
“Which of you can truthfully accuse me of sin? And since I am telling you the truth, why don’t you believe me?”
Can you try this one at home or in the office or at school…you might get an ear-full about your sin.
Jesus could give this challenge because he was free of sin.
When on trial Jesus’ detractors had to get liars and unscrupulous people to testify against him because there was no evidence of sin in his life.
As people of faith or seeking faith that is another reason to
“looking unto Jesus, the author, and finisher of our faith,”
So let’s look at the question again. Why are so many Christians, hypocrites?
When talking to a young college student from India, Pashi, Ruth Bell Graham (Ruth Bell Graham) the late wife of Dr. Billy Graham relates this story
“We of India would like to believe in Christ. But we have never seen a Christian who was like Christ.” Ruth Graham said that when she consulted Dr. Akbar Abdul-Haqq about what might be the best response to Pashi’s challenge, he answered decisively: “That is quite simple. I would tell Pashi, I am not offering you Christians. I am offering you, Christ”
WE need to talk to our friends and encourage them to ultimately put their faith in Christ not the frailty of Christians
We are to strive to grow and mature, by grace become more like Jesus every day and not settle for a life of falling short
3) Many hypocrites are only pretending to be God’s people.
Remember the people we just read about that Jesus called hypocrites, snakes, and vipers.
Some people are only playing a religious game but are not real people of faith. It is all for show and there is no substance
They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.
When we understand that some who claim the name of Christ are not real Christians at all it helps us and can help our friends understand the difference between a real Christian and one who is not. It helps others stop blaming the faith for what faithless people do.
No one would every blame the medical community for something a witch doctor might claim even though they both have the name doctor neither should Christianity be blamed for people claiming the name but are not truly Christians
It is hard to tell sometimes who is pretending versus those who are merely falling short.
Jesus said Matthew 24: 24,25
“For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you ahead of time.”
And Matthew 7:15-18
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.
The greatest intentions of an individual can fail but if you look at a life long term and you see good fruit you know they are merely a Christian who has fallen short rather than a pretender
4) Hypocrisy comes in degrees and we may struggle with it even as authentic Christians
we live in a fallen world…just watch the news for a few minutes and that will be verified and Romans 3:23 tells that all have fallen short of God’s glory
WE are not to use that as an excuse or hypocrisy but we recognize our failures and rely on God’s grace and forgiveness.
Transparency in our own lives will often help our friends who see only the hypocrisy of faith.
Recognizing we do fail but that is not who we are and that we strive walk out our calling as God would have us to
Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you.
It is a mistake to assume because a person is a Christian that they are perfect and not in the process of maturity. When we fail, admit it and choose to live open and honest and do not accept your immaturity as something you can’t grow beyond.
So why are so many Christians, hypocrites?
- Jesus hates hypocrisy – so your friend is in good company to hate it as well
- Jesus is the only one who is and whoever will be perfect but is our example to grow to become
- Many hypocrites are not really Christians but only pretenders
- Hypocrisy comes in degrees watch a person’s life long term not a moment of failure to see if they growing and living a transparent life daily maturing through their failures