Summary: The hypocrite is guilty and will be judged.
"Therefore thou art inexcusable [without defense], O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things" (2:1).
In chapter one Paul painted a picture of the deplorable condition of the heathen. The apostle knew, however, that there would be a whole class of people who would say “amen” to what he had said about the heathen. These were the self-righteous moralists. So Paul expands his argument to show that “all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men” includes the moralist as well as the heathen. The moralist is inexcusable when he judges the heathen for sin. He only condemns himself when he condemns another. “For thou that judgest doest the same things.”
I. THE HYPOCRITE IS GUILTY (2:1).
It is obvious that the moral person is not involved in the sexual deviations of the heathen. But he was inwardly living in an identical manner as the heathen was living outwardly. Perhaps the moral person did not commit adultery, but did he lust? Our Lord put them in the same category. He said, “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matthew 5:27-28).
Maybe the moral person did not steal, but did he covet? Stealing and covetousness are listed together in Mark 7:22.
It is not likely that the moral man committed murder, but did he hate? The Bible says if you hate your brother you are guilty of murder. The Apostle John wrote, “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer” (1 John 3:15).
No one dares judge another while he is doing the same thing because he is then condemned by his own judgement. Illustration: Rev. Jesse Jackson did not condemn President Bill Clinton’s adultery.
Here is how J. B. Phillips translates this verse: “Now if you feel inclined to set yourself up as a judge of those who sin, let me assure you, whoever you are, that you are in no position to do so. For at whatever point you condemn others you automatically condemn yourself, since you, the judge, commit the same sins.”
Those who judge others while doing the same thing are hypocrites. [Read Matthew 7:1-5.]
The word “hypocrite” comes from a word which means “to act a part as on a stage.” The hypocrite is an actor. He puts on a show to look good in the eyes of others.
The story is told of a man who was on his way to attend a costume ball one Sunday evening. He was wearing a red suit with a tail and a skintight mask with horns. He looked like Satan, or rather the false but widely accepted picture of the devil. As he hurried along, he was caught in a sudden rainstorm, so he sought shelter is a church where the service was just ending. When he ran into the building, he shocked the members, who thought he was the real thing. A flash of lightning and a clap of thunder added to the illusion. The congregation panicked and rushed for the rear exits. The intruder thought the church had been struck with lightning and was on fire, so he raced after them. Everyone got out except one elderly lady. Turning in fear, she stretched out her hands and pleaded for mercy, “Oh devil, please don’t hurt me. I know I’ve been a member of this church for 30 years, but I’ve really been on your side all the time!”
We are given several examples of hypocrites in the Bible. Let’s consider three.
1. The prodigal son’s older brother: the moral hypocrite.
If ever there was a pious fraud, it was he. If ever a hypocrite betrayed himself, it was he. He was so angry that the repentant younger brother had been received back fully forgiven that he refused to have any part in the celebrations. When the father came out to urge him to participate, the older brother made a speech simply oozing with self-righteousness. “Lo,” he cried, “these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: but as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf” (Luke 15:29-30).
Notice the “I,” the “me,” and the “my” in that speech. Notice also how he refused to be identified as the prodigal’s brother—“this thy son,” he said. Notice too how he had the far country in his own deceitful, hypocritical heart all the time. He wanted to make merry too! He wanted to live it up and sow his wild oats! The only difference between the two sons was that the younger had more courage and was no hypocrite. The younger son was guilty of sins of the flesh, but the older brother, with his pride, stubbornness, bitterness, and hypocrisy, was guilty of sins of the spirit. He was just as much a rebel against his father as the younger brother, and much harder to win. The indictment, “Thou doest the same things,” can be written in large letters across his outwardly blameless and respectable life.