The accusation that Christians are all hypocrites is something most of us have heard at one point or another. It’s easy to shrug this off and blame it on a few radical Christians ruining it for the rest of us. But is it possible that hypocrisy exists in the church right under our noses?
Christians are all hypocrites – we’ve heard this before. It is the battle cry that thousands of non-Christians flock to to try and poke holes in Christianity. It is easy to think of a handful of bigoted, judgmental Christians that ruin it for the rest of us but is that really what the problem is?
Maybe the hypocrisy is deeper than that. Maybe the reason that people seem to find so much hypocrisy amongst Christians isn’t that just the Christians themselves are hypocrites but that there is a flaw in mainstream Christian teaching. Maybe the biggest hypocrite of all is this so-called “Christianity.”
Let’s look at this logically. Hypocrisy can be defined as “behavior that does not agree with what someone claims to believe or feel.” On an individual level it’s easy to find a few hypocritical Christians here and there. But what happens when we try to expand this thinking to the whole church?
Christ’s forgiveness without Christ’s life
The majority of Christians are quick to teach the promises in the Bible – eternal life, peace and happiness, forgiveness for sins past, present, and future. But the conditions for these promises are not widely known. Denying yourself, taking up your cross (Matthew 16:24), living out all of Jesus’ commandments (John 14:15) – how often are these things preached in most churches? Sure, a lot of people acknowledge that the Bible says “go and sin no more” (John 8:11) but this is usually followed up by a quick reassurance that, “Of course, God understands our weakness. It’s not possible for us to really do this.”
And there’s the hypocrisy right there. Many Christians go around with their heads held high thinking they are so much better than non-Christians when really their lives show that they are living in sin themselves. They believe in the half of the gospel that tells about the promises but not the half that tells you what to do to lay hold of them.
The gospel of Christ is that we should live like Christ. (1 Peter 2:21-22) Many Christians may be shaking their heads now and smiling at my lack of understanding. “Jesus has done everything,” they say. “We cannot buy salvation with our human goodness.”
That’s a pretty nice, human saying. Chapter and verse, please. Find me one verse that says, “Jesus has done everything, we don’t need to do anything.”
Is it not written that faith without works is dead? (James 2:17) Is it not written to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling? (Philippians 2:12) Is it not written that we must be holy in all our conduct? (1 Peter 1:15)
Of course it is not our human works that get us to heaven. But that doesn’t mean we can just do whatever we want here on earth. “For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13. God works in us to do something.
“You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.” James 2:24. God gives us grace as a free gift but the gift is that we are allowed to and are enabled to do His works here on earth. If we love Him we keep His commandments. (John 14:15) If our works show that we aren’t keeping His commandments then God sees that we don’t really love Him that much after all.
Do you believe the Bible or the preacher?
And yet where can you hear this preached in a church? Of course, it’s not every church that preaches hypocrisy. But ask yourself, does your church tell you that these verses are attainable? Does your church preach exactly what the Bible preaches?
“For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: ‘Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth.’” 1 Peter 2:21.
You can claim to have and expect to receive all the forgiveness, all the eternal life, all the happiness and peace and joy you want but if you’re not living what’s written in the Bible then it won’t get you anywhere. Hypocrisy!
And then what’s the answer? If you suddenly wake up and find that the gospel you believe isn’t the gospel of Christ? It would be stupid to continue with that same gospel. In fact, it would be incredibly hypocritical. And then the answer to the question “what is a hypocrite?” is not just the teaching of the church but your personal life as well.
Think about that and take a good look at the life you are living and the promises you profess to have as a Christian. And then take a good look at the life the Bible tells us we should live to obtain the promises. It may not always be the same thing.