Summary: A look at four keys to avoid hypocrisy in our lives.

WHAT IS SO BAD ABOUT HYPOCRISY? For the Christian, it’s the false security; for the non-Christian, it’s the disillusionment that happens when you look closely at Christians’ lives.

- Luke 12:1 – “hypocrisy.”

a. For the Christian, it’s the false security.

- Because hypocrisy, by its very definition, includes the appearance of religiosity, there is a grave danger of false security.

- We come to believe in our religious trappings. People presume we’re religious long enough that we come to totally believe it ourselves. Any doubts slowly shrink away as we are able to successfully maintain the appearance of being a “good Christian.”

- This is a dangerous place to be. In fact, we’d be better to be in obvious sin because at least then the likelihood of conviction is greater. Jesus spoke to how the religious leaders were less likely to come into the Kingdom than the prostitutes and tax collectors. A big reason was that the latter knew they needed to repent. The former were too convinced of their righteousness and religiousness.

b. For the non-Christian, it’s the disillusionment that happens when you look closely at Christians’ lives.

- Christian hypocrisy is damaging to non-believers as well. Perhaps they get interested enough to move a step or two toward God, only to be knocked backward by what they see.

- They get up the courage to actually come to church, only to find people wandering through pointless rituals.

- They start to pray, only to have the biggest “Christian” in their office do something unethical.

- They think about believing in God, only to find the preacher more interested in what they can give than in their soul.

- I have found through the process of doing the NewPoint church plant that the one of the biggest thing holding people back from pursuing God is Christians. Rarely do people bring up theology. Rarely do people express doubts in the truthfulness of the Bible. Rarely do people say they find Jesus’ life and resurrection implausible. Often, though, people will begin to tell you a story about Christians that they know.

- This is a major reason why we have so many of our young people walking away from their faith.

- They come while their parents make them in grade school, middle school, and high school. They often don’t feel like their opinions matter or aren’t able to fully articulate the inadequacies of what they see going on around them, but as they get older they come to see it as hypocrisy.

- They see that the preacher is saying Jesus is the most important thing in the world, but everyone is living for the American Dream.

- They see that the church says that God answers prayer, but they never try anything that requires Him to show up.

- They see that the sermons say that Jesus saves and changes lives, but everyone still looks the same as they did before.

- And, so, as soon as they can, they walk away.

- Undoubtedly, some would walk away no matter how on fire for God we might be. But just as certainly, many more would continue to walk with God if they’d see a passionate faith life modeled by us.

HOW BIG A PROBLEM IS HYPOCRISY TODAY? Hypocrisy is all about image over substance and we are the Facebook generation.

- Luke 12:1 – “yeast.”

- We are a generation and a society that is, perhaps more than ever before, focused on image.

- We have that luxury because Facebook, Twitter, and other online entities allow us the opportunities to shape our public image.

- It’s amazing how much positive stuff is, for instance, on Facebook and how little struggle, difficulty, and sinful habits.

- Jesus in v. 1 calls hypocrisy “the yeast of the Pharisees.” What does that mean? Well, yeast is what you put in the bread if you want it to rise. It puffs up what you’ve got and makes it bigger and fuller than what you had originally.

- That idea of “puffing up” is a pretty good analogy for the Facebook profiles that a lot of us have.

- I am aware of the limitations of Facebook and that it’s not necessarily a place that you’d want to air your dirty laundry, but many of us have come to think of how we present ourselves on Facebook as being more important than how we actually are.

- I thought it was telling a few years ago during Tiger Woods’ scandal that folks didn’t talk about him actually rebuilding his life. They talked about how the scandal would affect his image. It was as though the substance of the matter didn’t matter – the primary concern was the impact on his image.

- There is a danger of becoming more focused on looking like we’re living a good life than in actually living a good life. There is a danger of becoming more focused on how we present ourselves than in how we really are.

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