PRYOR, OK —
Preachers hear many complaints about hypocrites. People often use the excuse that they don’t go to church because there are too many hypocrites there. It doesn’t seem to bother these complainers that there are hypocrites at ball games or at grocery stores, or even at their social clubs. Why continue going to such places where there are hypocrites, but stop attending worship services because there are a few hypocrites there?
Churches are not composed of perfect people. The apostle Paul reminds us in Romans 3:23 that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. John writes in I John 1:8, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” I cannot judge other people’s motives. There may be some hypocrites in the church. But I believe it is safe to say that most people who go to church are sincerely trying to serve and please God. They realize that they are not perfect, but they are seeking God’s forgiveness and are trying to live in obedience to His will. They make mistakes from time to time, but that does not mean that they are hypocrites.
One analogy that is often made is that the church is like a hospital. People in it are sick, but they are trying to get better. All Christians have room for improvement. Jesus said in Mark 2:17, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”
Within the church in Corinth were people who had been fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals, sodomites, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, and extortioners (I Corinthians 6:9-10). But they had repented and therefore had stopped such sinful activities. They obeyed the gospel, and God had forgiven them of their sins. Thus, they stood justified in His sight. They were sincerely trying to serve God.
However, when one tries to play act, pretending that he is a Christian, without repenting and really submitting to God, that is a totally different story. Although the hypocrite may fool some people, he is probably not fooling as many people as he thinks he is. If people were fooled by hypocrites, they would not complain about too many hypocrites being in the church. Hypocrites certainly do not fool God. Seven times in one chapter (Matthew 23), Jesus called the religious leaders hypocrites. These leaders may have impressed many people, but Jesus saw through their hypocrisy.
Jesus said in Matthew 15:7-9 “Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you saying: These people draw near to Me with their mouth and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” They were going through the motions of worshiping God, but as far as the Lord was concerned, these worshipers were wasting their time. God did not accept their worship because their heart was not right. They didn’t love the truth (God’s word, John 17:17). They taught man’s ideas rather than God’s word.
Jesus says that those who do things to be seen of men already have their reward (Matthew 6:2, 5, 16). They might impress men and be praised by them, but they do not impress God. Judas went up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” Then he kissed Him. But Jesus saw through his hypocrisy, and He sees right through ours today.
Paul wrote in I Timothy 1:5, “Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith.” Make sure your faith is sincere, and don’t try to hide behind hypocrites. Keep in mind that you cannot hide behind an object that is smaller than you are.