Thursday, March 1, 2012


I had breakfast the other day with a friend who is a new Christian. One of the things which greatly bothers him and hindered his own coming to faith is the hypocrisy he sees among Christians. I assured him that the problem is not news. In fact, it's worse than he knows: It's been my experience that all Christians (including this one most assuredly!), are hypocrites. We all profess to believe better than we live. But I hardly think this is discrediting as much as some people seem to think. In fact, I think it affirms one of the central truths of the Gospel--that all humans are sinners in need of forgiveness and salvation. Thus, the issue then is not whether people will be hypocrites, but whether their hypocrisy will be forgiven by God along with their other sins.

That being said, there are a number of warnings against hypocrisy in the Scriptures and seven biblical reasons why a professing Christian might be guilty of it:
  1. False Profession. In the American church, we tend to think that anyone who claims to be a Christian is one. Yet biblical warnings against false profession abound as do warnings that those who claim to be Christians should examine themselves to ensure that is indeed the case. (Cf. Matt. 7:21-23; 13:24-30; 22:11-14; 2 Cor. 13:5; 2 Pet. 1:5-11; 2:20-22; 1 Jn 3:8-10).
  2. Rebellion. Though it does not speak well of them or the depth of their Christian faith, it is nevertheless true that even true sons sometimes wander from their Father and need to repent (Cf. Jas 1:13-15; 1 Jn. 2:15-17; Heb. 12:10; Lk. 15:4-7; 11-32).
  3. Treating Sin As If It Isn't Serious. We sometimes act as if sin isn't that big a deal because, after all, our sins and their penalty were already paid at the Cross. Yet this is a serious presumption on the grace of God and abuse of the Savior whose blood paid that price. It is so serious that God sometimes judged even his own people with premature death for engaging in it (Cf. Matt. 5:27-30; 1 Cor. 10:5-13; Heb. 12:4; 1 Jn. 5:16). 
  4. Failure to Confess. Though I don't affirm the Roman Catholic sacrament of confession as a "means of grace," confessing sin to each other is a biblical practice and I personally know no one who has overcome serious sin who has done it solo (Cf. Jas. 5:15-16, 19-20; Gal. 6:1-2).
  5. Failure to Repent. True repentance includes confession, but many Christians "confess," and do not repent, and thus continue in the same sin(s) they were entangled in before (Cf. Ezek. 33:10-11; Zech. 1:3; 2 Cor. 7:10; 12:21; Jas. 1:22-24). 
  6. Weak Faith. Sometimes sin is committed unintentionally simply because someone new or weak in their knowledge of Christ was deceived and led astray (Cf. Eph. 4;13-14; 1 Jn. 3:7). 
  7. God Allows Sin to Persist to Serve His Purposes.  I have the hardest time with this one, but it is true. God could (and one day will!) eliminate the sin nature immediately from all who trust in Christ. Yet He chooses not to do so, that He might be glorified even through our struggle to trust, obey, and follow (Cf. Rom. 7:21-25; 11:32; 2 Cor. 12:7-9; Rev. 22:14-15).

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