Hypocrisy is one of those issues that can stand in the way of Christians believing and acting the way they should. The idea of hypocrisy has been around since humans have been around and it is a lie that deceives our inmost being. In this study, we are going to look at hypocrisy from a biblical perspective and allow ourselves to self-reflect on our own hypocrisy. Hopefully, by the end, you will have a better understanding of what hypocrisy is and how to let go of what is holding us back. Let’s begin.
First, we must decide what hypocrisy is. From a general standpoint, hypocrisy can be defined as “saying or believing one way and acting another.” In other words, our actions don’t match what we say, teach, or preach. From a Christian perspective, this means that we can say we forgive everyone, but when someone does us harm we hold a grudge and do not forgive. We could say we are generous with our money, but when encountered by a man on the street with a sign, we judge and look away. Hypocrisy is everywhere in the world and in our lives. So how do we deal with this deception? What does the Bible say? Let’s find out.
Jesus spoke many times about hypocrites and practicing hypocrisy. In fact, in the book of Matthew it is mentioned over 10 times! (Matthew 6:2,5,16; 7:5, and all over chapter 23). I think a good way to summarize the idea of hypocrisy is what Jesus told the Pharisees and scribes when they came to him in Matthew 15. Matthew 15:7-8 says, “You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said:
“‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me’”.
Jesus tells them that they are hypocrites because they claim to honor God and the things they say sound wonderful. But in reality they are doing these things for selfish gain and their hearts are nowhere near honoring God like their words say. Hypocrisy is about deceiving yourself and others that you are better than someone else or that you are righteous enough because of what you do or say. It is not a matter of action, but a matter of heart as Jesus pointed out time and time again.
Another aspect that we might not consider to be related to hypocrisy but is closely tied together is the idea of judging and judgment. Let’s take a look at what Romans 2:3 says, “Do you suppose, O man-you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself-that you will escape the judgment of God?” Paul is calling out some hypocritical behavior that is going on. Some folks are going around judging others for practicing evil and condemning them but yet the ones doing the judging do those same things and they think nothing of it. Paul comes right out and tells them that they won’t escape God’s judgment just because they are condemning evil. They condemn it, and yet do it at the same time. You might say this is a “two-faced” person or a hypocritical person. Yet, we find ourselves doing this all the time. We judge and call out evil when we see it, and yet we ourselves are dealing with our own sin and evil. We cannot act more righteous than anyone else. Why? Because as Paul writes in Romans 3, ““None is righteous, no, not one”. We can’t say we are better than one or less evil than another because no one is righteous. If we do think this way, we are being a hypocrite, something Jesus warned against time and time again.
Trying to hide a feeling or urge or trying to cover up evil with good will not prevail. Luke 12:2 tells us that, “Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.” Nothing will be hidden from God and it will all be out in the open someday. Instead of trying to fake being a Christian, let’s try to BE a Christian. What does this look like? Well, it looks like the Spirit.
Living by the Spirit means that we don’t desire or want to desire evil. Romans 8:5 says, “Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.” The reason we can be hypocritical sometimes is because we have our minds set on what the flesh desires which is greed, power, or selfishness. The Spirit desires just the opposite of those things and rids us of our hypocritical nature. When we live by the Spirit, we live in peace with one another instead of hostility that hypocrisy creates.
In conclusion, hypocrisy is in the fleshly nature of all humanity. To rid ourselves of our hypocritical nature, we must be aware of what it is and cling to the Spirit and what the Spirit desires. Realizing that we are all in the same boat together destroys the hierarchy we build in our minds and creates a plain we are all living on together. Living by the Spirit allows us to look past hypocrisy and towards Jesus, the author of our salvation.