General Idea: Most Christians have not yet discovered who they are in Christ. They will elevate their desires, goals, and aspirations over anyone else's, even the Lord's. These immature Christians will not allow themselves to be convicted or grow in the faith. They eat of their works and not of their faith. Thus, they rationalize and theologize their way through life, making all kinds of excuses for demanding their own Will and way. (Many Reformed people believe that the reason Armenianism was developed, and so adhered to over the centuries, was that it gives false comfort in our choices and Will. It leads one to believe that we make the decisions in what matters in life and God merely provides us with options and choices. In a way that may be true, but Armenianism places the focus on the responsibility of man, not the purpose of God. The Bible clearly teaches, as in reformed thinking, that the focus is on God's sovereignty, glory, and purpose. We cannot choose our own Will and claim it as His!)
Therefore, because all these various visions for our life and Will are volleying for power, the focus tends to not be God's Will in most churches and Christian's lives. Thus, when you do take a stand, even though it is Biblical and true, Christians will persecute you more than heathens will! Look at church history for this evidence. Because Christians fear change and conviction more than anything else, they do not want to see their hypocrisy. Jesus said for us to remove the plank from our own eye first. They do not want to remove it, because that plank is their source of comfort and rationale for all they do.
Remember, it takes a diamond to cut another diamond, so allow other Christians to hone and challenge you, but never let anyone sway you from what is clearly revealed in Scripture! Count your afflictions as joy and service to Him, as long as you are true to Christ and His Word.
The Roman Christians had a tough time adjusting to the New Life in Christ, and in wrestling their Jewish law and tradition over the alien concepts of freedom and grace. They were not willing to act by faith and trust in Christ, just as most Christians today are! It takes time to be discipled and to adjust to our new Life. Faith is given to us "overnight," but we still have to receive, process, and act on it. We tend to create our own bureaucratic obstacles, and then blame God and others. Paul is calling us to be patient and to understand each other. When we do, life goes much more smoothly, and things are not taken so personally.
I. Being and living as an honest Christian should just be a natural endeavor. We have been filled with the Holy Spirit. We know the Scriptures. Therefore, there should be no problems with honest living, yet there is!
a. Hypocritical conduct is from our fallen nature, as demonstrated by our history, actions, interpersonal relationships, divorce court and testimonies by behavioral scientists. Christians don not seem to be immune from this infection.
b. Hypocritical conduct causes us to behave in one way, while desiring or even believing we are acting in a total different way. It may be intentional or it may be just the slip of the tongue. However, it is all the same to the hearer of the words--damaging, destructive, awful, addictive, and most of all, devoid of Christian love.
c. A contradictory witness comes out of our behavior. We may desire to earnestly live the life of Christian maturity, and instead we drive people away from the Lord! We end up doing the opposite of Christian Living!
d. The opposite of godlessness is godliness. This is the act of honoring God with our best. Then we live out our faith in obedience, with love and trust in Christ.
e. The reason the Pharisees were so despised throughout church history is due to the charge that Christ made. Jesus charged the Pharisees directly with godlessness. This charge was the worst thing a Hebrew person could receive. This is also the reason that the Pharisees wanted so desperately to kill Christ.
f. Jesus saw that "the emperor wore no clothes!" Sometimes, someone may call us a hypocrite and we get angry even though the charge may be true.
II. Why do Christians make two contradictory actions? Psychologists call it "cognitive dissonance." This is when a person harbors two completely different views. While acting on one behavior, they believe they are doing something quite different. This can be caused by a stressful situation, by being uncomfortable, and by being unable to modify our beliefs to fit our situation. So, we develop rationalizations by believing we must be right in our actions because our beliefs are right, regardless of our actions.
a. The early church struggled with this and called it Gnosticism.
b. Do we try to keep our image intact only to Christians around us, and let our true nature slip to people at work or when we go shopping? The problem is that most people, especially non-Christians, will see right through our hypocrisy, even though we may not see or admit it!
c. Most Christians just flat out do not want to change their behavior, regardless of what anyone thinks or what Scripture teaches.
d. The hypocrisy that most people experience happens in the workplace. For example, when someone acts unkindly towards a co-worker by spreading rumors or being abrupt to their fellow employees, to later find out that the person is active in a church only compounds the issue and places the focus on Christianity!
e. The Pharisees were experts on seeing hypocrisy in others, but they failed to see it in themselves. They could look down the corridor of time and see all the errors and mistakes their ancestors made in the past, but now look at themselves as more accomplished and incapable of doing the ungodly acts of years past. However, the Pharisees could not see the damage, hurt, and oppression that they were causing. They were causing the very same problems for which they were criticizing their ancestors. They were actually leading people away from God! They were performing the very opposite of their job description, the very opposite of their call from the Lord (Matthew 23:23-33)
f. When you ask someone, "Would you like to be a Christian?" you are in fact saying, "Would you like to be like me?" Therefore, we must be careful in our daily actions, words, and deeds and how we tell someone about the Lord. Remember, in Matthew 23 Jesus is warning us about misleading people.
g. Do not ever believe that our performances are realities. People will see right through us. We have bad days. We make mistakes. After all, we are human, and we cannot be perfect all the time. Our culture does not want us to be perfect, just genuine.
III. Pride is the destroyer of humbleness. Pride is the fruit of hypocrisy (or, should I say, the rotten vegetable?), and humbleness is the destroyer of hypocrisy. Hypocrisy cannot exist in an environment filled with humbleness. This is because in our humbleness, we are glued to our Lord and not to ourselves. Godliness cannot exist in an atmosphere of pride!
a. Pride is perhaps the first sin that entered God's universe. It is also perhaps the last sin that can be conquered. This sin is so enticing it corrupts our innermost being. It gives us the illusion to think overly highly of ourselves. As a result, self-esteem and self-love become the priority for our lives rather than the Lord!
b. Pride causes inordinate amounts of mistreatment, rudeness, and hurt.
c. Pride is the sin that made Satan stumble and fall from grace, resulting in one-third of the heavenly host to fall into the self-destruction of pride and arrogance that then turned them into demons, the devil and hell.
d. Pride is what killed the Jews under Hitler, and causes the ethnic cleansing that goes on today in so many countries.
e. Pride is the over zealousness of our self-love, where we place ourselves as the center of the universe and not Christ.
1. What would you think if diplomats from the United States went to foreign countries and conducted themselves anyway they pleased, and made up U.S. policy on a whim?
2. Do you think that foreign countries would have a false impression of the United States because of this behavior?
3. Would our government have control over its diplomatic core, or the policies it was trying to convey to the rest of the world?
4. How does this question compare with how we relate to others both inside and outside the church as we serve as ambassadors for Christ?
5. How do you think the Lord feels when we misrepresent Him in the world?
6. Read Matthew 23:23-33; How would you define hypocrisy?
7. Living as an honest Christian should be a natural endeavor. So, why does this sometimes not happen?
8. Have you ever experienced having your faith tested more by Christians than by non-Christians?
9. Have you ever taken a Biblical stand and been persecuted by other Christians for standing in the faith?
10. Do you think that Christians realize what they are doing to one another when they are not living honestly with one another?
11. Why would Christians elevate their desires, goals, and aspirations over anyone else's, even the Lord's?
12. Do you believe or have you had experience where some Christians fear change and conviction more than anything else?
13. When we Christians sit in the pews with our nice suits and dresses, and big smiles on our faces, do we really realize how we are mirroring Christ to the world, or to the person sitting right next to us?
14. Are we doing life and church as Christ would, or are we mirroring how we feel and desire, regardless of our mandate from our Lord?
15. Do you believe that hypocrisy is a destroyer of the church?
16. If Satan were to sit down in a counsel of demons to implant a strategy to tear down the church, all he would need to do would be to place a few key individuals in each church to spread gossip and rumors. Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not?
17. Do you believe that as Christians, we have the responsibility to act as the Disciples of Christ wherever we are and whatever we do?
18. How do you influence others?
19. We can get in the habit of playing the role of the Christian, and yet not take a deeper ownership of faith. This results in our sending mixed messages to those around us. How can we prepare ourselves as well as our church to behave more like Christ?
20. How can we realize the danger we portray by living a double life? How do we stop it before it happens?
21. If we are all friendly and loving at church, genuinely seeking after each other with encouragement and care, and then go to work on Monday with a contemptuous and condescending attitude toward our coworkers, then what are we doing?
22. What are we expecting people to think when we live a double life, be a "secret agent" Christian?
23. Are you putting on a performance or are you genuinely focused on the Lordship of Christ so that He flows to those around you?
24. How can you let other Christians hone and challenge you without getting discouraged?
Pride is the destroyer of humbleness. Pride is the fruit of hypocrisy (or should I say rotten vegetable?), and humbleness is the destroyer of hypocrisy. Hypocrisy cannot exist in an environment filled with humbleness because when we are humble we are glued to our Lord and not to ourselves.
Do you eat from your faith or from what you have done?
Pride and Propitiation! The world may see pride as a sign of respect and dignity, a sign that our worth as human beings is supreme, that we deserve respect and even worship for ourselves. The world may take pleasure and satisfaction with pride as it represents achievements that we have accomplished. But, our conceit is the source of pride. When we are filled with conceit, we have a vastly exaggerated opinion of ourselves. Pride is a delusion!
Our self-esteem must come from who we are in Christ and what Christ has done for us. This should give us an enormous satisfaction and sense of worth. The King and Creator of the universe cares for us and loves us. He is living within, guiding, loving, and holding us! There is no adequate substitution for that! But, it is sad that we try so hard to substitute the wonders of the truth of what Christ did for us with stupid insignificant lies. It would be like giving up living on the Queen Mary to live on a rowboat. We think our pride, not Christ, is the answer. Christ is calling us from an over-exaggerated opinion of ourselves, calling us from our vanity and from our delusions of conceit. Christ calls us out of conceit, which is faith in ourselves, and into Himself.
The practical application of pride is if, when we go to church, we see someone strut around the place like a rooster in a hen house, full of themselves and swimming in their delusions. When a non-Christian visits the church, or even when a Christian has a confrontation with Mr. & Mrs. "Puff Up," the result is hurt and disillusionment with the church. This Mr. & Mrs. "Puff Up" are full of themselves and not full of Christ, so the comments of arrogance and the attitude of condescension flows from their words and actions. I cannot count how many times I've seen this played out in churches and it hurts me so much. Imagine how it must hurt our Lord!
God's Covering Protects: God is not in the business of gossip, hypocrisy, or legalism. Neither are the angels and hosts of heaven. They look down at us from heaven and know all of our deepest innermost secrets. The angels see them in plain view, but do they act on this knowledge? Are they talking among themselves on how bad and wicked we can be now? NO! God creates a blanket that covers us, nurtures, and protects us from ourselves. This covering also protects God from our wicked nature. God is Holy and cannot be corrupted by our sin, so His grace covers us. In theology, this is called propitiation. God's wrath is pleased by the sacrifice that Christ made on our behalf. Our response for this covering must be the response of modeling God's character. We model Him when we look and respond to each other, Christian or non-Christian, with love, care and respect. The question is, do we go around and uncover each other's blankets, reviewing the wickedness into…well, we do! But, God's desire is for us to model His character. When we are modeling His character, we do not go around slandering one another with hypocrisy or legislating rules to make ourselves feel good.
Let us not fall into the trap of putting on a performance, of acting out the Christian life. Let us not play a Christian, but let us be a Christian. Let our actions be in response to the transformation of Christ's grace by living honest lives. We must allow Christ's amazing grace to root out all the evil within us, especially the hypocrisy that causes so much destruction.
© 1998, 2002 R.J. Krejcir, Into Thy Word Ministries www.intothyword.com