I’m a hypocrite. So are you most likely, in one way or another. You may not like to admit it, but you are! Webster’s dictionary describes a hypocrite as one who feigns to be other and better than he is; a false pretender to virtue or piety. And we’ve all fallen into this trap at some time or other. We pretend to be right when we’re wrong. We pretend to know more than we really do. The list is endless. Some people think I am more spiritual than I really am, and that I know more about the Bible than I really do. Sometimes I believe them and act that way – and that’s bad. I’m not proud of it, but that’s the way it is, unfortunately! At the beginning of every dispensational period in the Bible the Lord worked in powerful ways to introduce His new way of dealing with man. As He brought His people out of Egypt, there were mighty miracles as well as strong disciplinary actions against disobedience and hypocrisy. For instance, the offense of gathering wood on the Sabbath resulted in the death sentence (Num. 15:32-36). And remember that Achan acted as though he had not taken forbidden goods from Jericho after he had hidden them in his tent. His hypocrisy was found out and God commanded his peers to stone him and his family who may have kept him from being found out (Josh. 7:1-26).
The beginning of the Church period saw marvelous miracles of the Spirit’s working. Visitors to the city of Jerusalem, listening to the disciples speak of the wonderful works of God, heard these words in their own languages (Acts 2:4-12). They witnessed the miracle of changed lives where people sold their properties and gave the proceeds to the poor of the Church (Acts 2:45). But with the powerful miracles of God’s grace, came the balance of God’s holiness in the judgment of sin, including that of hypocrisy. So, when Ananias and Sapphira pretended to give all the money from the sale of some property, but actually held back a portion of those funds for themselves, their hypocrisy was challenged by Peter. Their hypocrisy was severely judged as the Lord killed them in front of many witnesses (Acts 5:1-11). Was this too severe? Not by the standard of a Holy God who was working in a new way with power and its counterpart, responsibility to it.
Back to our initial hypothesis: I’m a hypocrite and so are you, sometimes. This may be in regular daily matters or in the spiritual realm. Do we deserve death for this sin against God’s standard? Absolutely! But why aren’t we killed? Because we’re not in those first days of the Church’s formation. When God started a new way in His dealings with man, there was a balanced manifestation of great power and righteous judgment. Unfortunately, whenever the Lord gives responsibility to His people, they fail. Sin within the Church, and in the lives of those in it, has deteriorated its strength, power and witness. If the Lord applied capital punishment to each sin that we commit, there would be no one left in the body of Christ. It’s impossible to go back to the conditions of the early Church. We can’t have power without responsibility and its consequences.
But don’t get the impression that hypocrisy is acceptable in the Lord’s eyes. It’s still an odious sin to Him. Thankfully, our sins are forgiven by Him who paid the price by dying on Calvary’s cross. But our self-examination, changed attitude and corrective actions are necessary to please the Lord who loves us.
Prayer: Oh Lord, help me to recognize and confess this secret sin that dishonors You, hurts others and stifles my spiritual growth. Help me to see when the sin of hypocrisy is affecting my life and confess it, so that I may be able to walk in truth (3 Jn. 1:4).
By Hank Blok
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org