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Summary: A main excuse for worldly people not to come to church is that the church is full of hypocrites, well there is always room for one more.

HAZARD AHEAD: HYPOCRISY

(All my sermons use illustrations found at www.sermoncentral.com and All scripture is NIV unless otherwise noted)

Perhaps one of the biggest reasons given by non-churchgoers is “church is full of hypocrites.” This is true to some extent, but there is always room for one more.

Many persons who are seen by outsiders to be "hypocrites" may be true, yet immature, Christians. Christians are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone and are being changed into His likeness; some grow quickly in their walk with the Lord, others more slowly.

However, there is another undeniable fact. There are many hypocrites in the church. People have many reasons for attending church; some are Biblical and valid, others are not. Many Pharisees in Jesus' day performed the external actions of religion without true inner devotion to God. Jesus didn't mince words with them. Seven times in Matthew 23, Jesus pronounced "woe" (a curse) on the scribes and Pharisees because they were hypocrites, leading the people astray.

Also, even though Judas Iscariot was chosen to be among the twelve original disciples, Jesus knew him to be a hypocrite. When Judas was proclaiming along with the others that he would not betray the Lord, Jesus said to him, "Yes, it is you." (Matt. 26:25) Judas had earlier complained about a woman pouring expensive perfume on Jesus' feet saying, "It could have been sold and the money given to the poor." But John 12: 6 tells us that Judas did not care about the poor for "...he [Judas] was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it."

The use of the Greek word for hypocrite refers to being a play-actor. An actor usually wore a mask and in speech and action imitated the character of someone else while on a stage to be seen by others. The English transliteration of hypocrite has the meaning of pretending to be what one is not, especially in the area of religion or morality.

Sadly, there are clergy, televangelists and people holding Christian positions, as well as people sitting in the pews each week, professing to be Christians who don't know Jesus Christ. They may have head knowledge but have never been born again. 2 Timothy 2: 19 says, "The Lord knows those who are His and everyone who confesses the Name of the Lord must turn from wickedness." Peter wrote, "Therefore, rid yourself of all... hypocrisy." (I Peter 2: 1) Jesus said the place assigned for hypocrites is in hell. (Matthew 24: 51)

Does the fact that there are counterfeit $20 bills in circulation prevent you from using those that are in your pocket? No! You trust that they are real. The fact that there are hypocrites in the church should not prevent you from receiving Christ into your life and being all you can be in Him!

Hypocrites play at religion when people can see them in church; but they live, talk and act much differently elsewhere. They watch the same movies, tell the same jokes, commit the same sins and have the same bad attitudes as others of the world when outside of their "religious" setting.

True Christians have found Christ's forgiveness through repentance of sin. They are not perfect, but they will live life with the fervent desire that the power of God's Holy Spirit will change them more and more into the image of their Lord.

This morning let us look at a passage of scripture from the Old Testament, the Book of Isaiah chapter 29:13-21

Isa 29:13-21 The Lord says: "These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men. 14 Therefore once more I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder; the wisdom of the wise will perish, the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish." 15 Woe to those who go to great depths to hide their plans from the LORD, who do their work in darkness and think,"Who sees us? Who will know?" 16 You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to him who formed it,"He did not make me"?Can the pot say of the potter,"He knows nothing"? 17 In a very short time, will not Lebanon be turned into a fertile field and the fertile field seem like a forest? 18 In that day the deaf will hear the words of the scroll, and out of gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind will see. 19 Once more the humble will rejoice in the LORD; the needy will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. 20 The ruthless will vanish, the mockers will disappear, and all who have an eye for evil will be cut down-- 21 those who with a word make a man out to be guilty, who ensnare the defender in court and with false testimony deprive the innocent of justice.

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