Wednesday, February 9, 2022

The Sin of Hypocrisy (Matthew 23)

“Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Matthew 23:28).

A popular reason for people abandoning the church is the claim that it is full of hypocrites. Usually such people were let down or hurt by someone in a church, and as a result they begin to view all church members as hypocrites. All church members are sinners, it is reasoned, and all hypocrites are sinners. Therefore, all church members are hypocrites. The logic is faulty of course, because not all sin is hypocrisy, even though hypocrisy is certainly a very serious sin.

While we do not want to deny that there are hypocrites in the church, we must realize that sin does not equal hypocrisy. People are going to let us down. They are going to sin in many ways. But this is not necessarily hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is an intentional form of deception; it is to pretend to be something you are not. The church has the tendency to breed hypocrisy because God’s standards are so high and we fail so often. While the church proclaims that all men are sinners, it also preaches that we must grow in righteousness. God commands us to obey His commandments, but when we come face to face with His law, we discover how miserably we fail to abide by it.

To deal with this, many lower God’s standards to man’s level. They say we can sin all we want because Jesus is Savior not Lord. Ironically, this is a form of hypocrisy because those who believe this are deceitful about who God is. We live in an age when this is becoming more and more prevalent in the church. But another form of hypocrisy, the kind most people normally think of when they hear the word, is pretending we are living in higher obedience to God’s law than we actually are.

Jesus’ most harsh criticism was toward the hypocrite. This is because nothing devalues the truth more quickly than the counterfeit. The Pharisees wore the robes of counterfeit righteousness, and they destroyed the one who was truly righteous. Only Jesus Christ is perfect, without sin or deception. If someone is looking for perfection in the church, they should not look to Christians, but to Christ Himself. Christians will always sin. There will always be hypocrites in the church. But Christ is Lord of the church. In Him there is no sin, and therefore no hypocrisy.

Examine areas in your life where you either lower God’s standards or exalt your own righteousness. What sins do you condemn in others yet secretly do yourself? Spend some time in prayer today confessing any hypocrisy you see in your life. Ask God to help you see yourself more honestly.