A hypocrite is someone who pretends to be someone else, they are not true to their real self. This is why the only people who Jesus ever labeled as hypocrite were the religious pharisees (Matt. 23:13-36). A hypocrite is not someone who goes to church and yet struggles with indwelling sin, AS LONG AS that person admits that they struggle with indwelling sin. Which is not what the pharisees did. They went to church and denied that they sinned. They lived a lie about their true self.
When someone outside the church points the finger at church-going Christians and justifies their hatred by invoking the, “they’re just a bunch of hypocrites” accusation, therefore excusing their obligation to turn to God, it is actually that person who is the true hypocrite. Why? Because they live in denial of their sin. I repeat: a hypocrite is not a Christian who sins, but rather, it is either a professing Christian who lives in denial of actual sin or a Christ-rejector who also lives in denial of sin. The reason why I point out the professing Christian as a hypocrite is because there really is no such thing as a sin-denying Christian anymore than there is a water-denying fish. John says,
“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:9).
“The word hypocrisy is a Greek word that means “play-acting”, and was a technical term for a stage actor and was not considered an appropriate role for a public figure. In Athens in the 4th century BC, for example, the great orator Demosthenes ridiculed his rival Aeschines, who had been a successful actor before taking up politics, as a hypocrites whose skill at impersonating characters on stage made him an untrustworthy politician.”
In other words, you can’t say that you are a true lover of Jesus while you deny that you have sin in your heart. There is only one who was ever sinless.
Therefore, the person who is truly fraudulent, deceptive, a counterfeit, and beguiling, is the person who pretends to appear sinless. There are many ways of doing this: the performance of religious works, the lack of repentance, shifting blame, self-justification, deflecting the attention away from self, stone-walling accountability and inspection of behavior, and of course the oldest method on the book, lying.
So I have three words of counsel:
1. If you say you are a lover of Jesus Christ, then don’t play the hypocrite by living in denial of personal sin. Agree with what the Spirit says to your heart through the Scriptures about your sin so that you can boast in the forgiveness at the cross. The true Christian Life is one that hides in the cross of Christ by repenting of the very sins that Jesus died for. Lack of repentance of sin is evidence that you do not believe that Jesus died for your sins.
2. If you do not love Jesus Christ, it’s because you love something else – You. But what you love about you is the false view of you. You think that you are good enough to pass the judgment bar because you think that either you don’t sin all that badly or that you perform enough good works to counter-balance and off-set your wickedness. But that too is sinful, to think that your good works are good enough to do what Christ came to do. So you are only piling up more and more sin as you keep pointing the finger at the church.
3. If you are in this later category, Jesus pleads with you to take your eyes off others, look at him, and see how wonderful it would be to be loved by someone who knows everything about you, who can heal the brokenness in your soul and restore true joy and peace. Why? Because one day that is the person you are going to see and there will be no one else to point at then. Either you will stand before him clothed in his righteous garments or you will stand exposed and naked with all of your hypocrisy unveiled and seen for what it truly was – a life of pretty play-acting on the stage of humanity while inside of you was a black cauldron of evil desires.
Turn quickly to Christ in faith for the forgiveness of sins, trust in his atonement for your sins on the cross, believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, and you will be saved from what is coming upon you. Hurry! Don’t delay . . . before you are called into the Divine Courtroom without Jesus Christ as your only defense.