Summary: Part 4 of our Being the Church series, this one focuses on hypocritical living.
Being the Church
Part 4: A Deadly Game
Scripture: Acts 4:36-5:11
“[Hypocrisy is] the desire to look better than you are; the hiding of things you do, because you would not be supposed to do them, because you would be ashamed to have them known where you are known. The doing of them is foul; the hiding of them, in order to appear better than you are, is fouler still.”
The early church was just finding her way in the world. God added new believers into the fold everyday. There was even a man named Barnabas who sold some property he owned and gave it all to the work of God in the early church. Things were going great. Then look at the 1st word in chapter 5. “BUT.” The word “but” always marks a decisive change in the story. And what we see in chapter five is the contrast between the generosity of Barnabas and the selfishness of a man and his wife.
-Really, what we see the is the first example of hypocrisy in the life of the Church. And we see how seriously God takes it.
-Now, before we get into the biblical account, allow me to clear something up. “Hypocrisy” does not simply equate to, “someone who has failed.” A lot of Christians live paralyzed by the fear that if they sin, if they fail God, they have become a hypocrite.
-But that’s not what hypocrisy is. All have sinned and fall short of God’s glorious standard. And even after we have accepted Christ as the new ruler of our lives, there is still our old, fallen nature that will war with us. And sometimes, it may even get the best of us. But through the power of God’s Holy Spirit, we can live holy lives with pure hearts. That does not mean we will never sin again, but it does mean that the intentions of our heart can always be motivated by Jesus.
-But sometimes people deliberately don’t let Jesus rule their lives and still claim Him. Sometimes people don’t submit to His Spirit’s control and pretend that they have. And this is where we see the deadly game of hypocrisy play out.
Illustration: Hypocrisy is like the 12-year-old boy who was waiting for his first orthodontist appointment and was a bit nervous. Apparently he wanted to impress the dentist. On the patient questionnaire, in the space marked “Hobbies,” he had written, “Swimming, riding my bike, and flossing.” That’s a humorous example of how we’re all prone to hypocrisy.
-"Hypocrite" comes from a word which means "to act a part as on a stage." The hypocrite is a play actor.
Hypocrisy is deliberate deception, trying to make
people think we are more spiritual than we really are.
-Hypocrisy is the hiding of the things you do, not
because you were not supposed to do them, but because you would be ashamed to have them known where you are known. Now the doing of them is foul, but the hiding of them, in order to appear better than you are, is fouler still.
-And we are all susceptible to it.
-LET’S READ TOGETHER. (READ ACTS 4:36-5:11)
-We need to be clear on the exact nature of the sin of Ananias and Sapphira. Their sin was not that they had sold their property and had given only a part to the church. In fact, Peter makes plain (5:4) that it would not have been a sin for them to have sold their property and not given anything to the church. Their sin was that was that they conspired together to deceive the apostles and the church into thinking that they were giving the entire amount, when in fact they kept back a portion for themselves. In other words, they were trying to impress everyone with a higher level of spirituality and commitment than they really had.
-Have you ever done that? We’ve all been guilty of trying to impress others with our commitment and devotion to Christ, even though we know in our heart that we are exaggerating.
Illustration: A pastor had been preaching on the importance of daily Bible reading. He and his wife were invited over to a parishioner’s home for dinner. His wife saw a note on the kitchen calendar: “Pastor/Mrs. for dinner—Dust all Bibles.”
-Why did God dealt with Ananias and Sapphira so severely when He does not do so with the hypocrites in the church today? Probably, it was because the church was in its infancy, and He needed to set before us a sober lesson of the seriousness of this sin among God’s people.
-He wanted us to know that the church should live in the holy fear of God and especially should be on guard against this serious sin, hypocrisy. It was one of those occasions when God makes an example out of a case in order to fully reveal what He thinks of a matter.