Summary: People often use this as excuse for not being a Christian or for leaving the church. This lesson examines the question and demonstrates that such a criticism cannot be used as an excuse.
"All Christians Are Hypocrites"
1. This is quite a criticism that is often leveled against Christians for a variety of reasons by both unbelievers and believers alike.
2. We shall consider several aspects of this accusation.
I. What Is A Hypocrite?
1. The word "hypocrisy" is from the Greek word "hupokrisis" meaning literally, "To answer, play-acting, hence, pretence." (Vine, page 241).
2. “A hypocrite is a person who attempts to live two lives simultaneously: the public persona is an act or pretence. The real persona is lived out in private. In many cases, though, such people are often ‘caught out’ when they are seen in private behaving contrary to their public persona or when their true persona ‘peeks out’ in public.” (Quotes & Things, D. Collins).
B. In Christianity, then, a hypocrite is one who professes to live according to the teachings of the Scriptures but whose behavior is contradictory of such. However, one must make a clear distinction between one who walks in hypocrisy and one who walks sincerely but stumbles from time-to-time.
1. A hypocritical person - this is a person whose life-style is one of pretence. This person pretends to live according to Christian principles in public but, in private,lives contrary to such. This is one who is pretending to be religious because of some advantage that this brings.
2. A sincere person – this is a person who consistently lives a lifestyle according to Christian principles, both in public and in private.
C. It is important to understand that when a person slips or errs from time-to-time, this does not mean that one is a hypocrite. Here are two illustrations:
“John was know for his thrifty life-style and mean spirit. He never helped his neighbors, never gave to charity, in short, he didn’t care about anyone or anything. Yet one day, he came across a young girl in hospital who was constantly crying out in pain and who had but a short time to live. ‘What’s wrong with her?’ he asked. ‘She has a rare disease and has just a few hours to live. The medicine to save her is available but is has to come from abroad and is to expensive for this hospital to purchase,’ explained the doctor. The young girl’s cries became louder as the disease ate away her internal organs. John was suddenly moved with compassion. He paid for both the medicine, it’s transportation from abroad and the girl’s rehabilitation. But John continued to live his selfish and uncaring life and considered that episode as merely a moment of weakness. No one cared when John died at the age of 72 and was buried in the local cemetery. Don’t bother looking for his grave, he was to mean to pay for a headstone.”
“Becky had been a faithful Christian all her life. She was known for her great kindness in providing for the needy and her generosity to various charities. However, on one occasion she was enticed be her ‘friends’ to attend a birthday party where she got drunk and made a fool of herself. When she sobered up and realized what she had done, she was very remorseful and prayed earnestly that God would forgive her for her sin. You can be sure that she never done such a thing ever again. The rest of her life was filled with good works and she was admired by all. She died in road accident at 44 years old. Her funeral was a grand occasion and attended by all her family, all the brethren from the church, and all the people she had shown kindness over the years. She was buried in the local cemetery. Her grave is not hard to find and the best kept grave in the whole cemetery.”
1. In the first example, John lived a life that was selfish and uncaring. His one act of kindness was certainly memorable but, in the end, he was remembered for what he really was.
2. In the second example, Becky lived a life that was unselfish and caring. Her one act of foolishness was certainly an embarrassing memory but, in the end, she was remembered for what she really was.
II. Who Makes Such An Accusation?
A. Christians who are on the verge of falling away or who have fallen away will often seek to justify such by labeling their brethren as hypocrites.
1. Those who reject Christianity will often justify such on the basis that ‘the church is full of hypocrites.’
2. Some seek to dissuade their Christian partners by labeling all Christians as hypocrites.
III. What Gives Rise To Such An Accusation?
A. It is true that there are hypocrites within the church. Whether Christian or non-Christian, we have all, no doubt, known or know people whose lifestyle is contrary to their to their profession.