The word was originally used of Greek and Roman actors who would use large masks and pretend to be something they were not. The word came to be used of people who were externally religious but internally insincere. Hypocrites care more about appearance than truth. They’re more concerned with reputation than reality.
Of course hypocrisy is nothing new. Jesus scathingly denounced the religious hypocrites of his day and encouraged people to be sincere in their faith and pure in their motives. Have a read of Matthew 23:1-36 to see the extent of Jesus’ anger towards religious hypocrites whom He viewed as “White washed tombs full of dead men’s bones.”
There are still religious hypocrites around today. I was turned off Christianity and became an atheist during my teenage years partly because of the hypocrisy I saw in one of my mate’s family, as well as at a Church of England Grammar School I attended. If you have been turned off Christianity because of hypocrisy then allow me to apologize to you on their behalf.
People are genuinely disappointed when those who call themselves Christian don’t live up to the message they preach. Some people who have sincerely sought for truth have been turned away from the Christian faith because of hypocrisy.
Others use it as an excuse: “I won’t become a Christian because there are too many hypocrites in the church!” I love motivational speaker Zig Ziglar’s response to this: “Why not? We can handle another one!”
Why are there hypocrites in the Church?
– Because there are hypocritical people in all walks of life.
– Because there will always be counterfeits of the real thing. For example, you’ll never find a counterfeit $7 note because there is no such thing as a $7 note. The fact that there are counterfeit Christians around means there must be the real thing as well – that’s good news!
– Because some people call themselves Christian but they are really not. They go to church, wear a cross, have a sticker on their car, and carry a big black Bible but they’ve never had a life-changing encounter with Jesus!
– Because some people have a wrong understanding of what a Christian really is. Some have an enormous expectation that Christians need to be perfect.
But the reality is Christians are not perfect; they’re still under construction. In fact the first step to becoming a Christian is to acknowledge to yourself and to God that you cannot make it in your own strength. The Bible says we all fall short of God’s standard of perfection – we all miss the mark (Romans 3:23). That’s why we need God’s grace. That’s what being a Christian is all about.
Why are there so many hypocrites in the church? I have a better question for you: Are you going to allow a hypocrite deny you from having a life changing relationship with your creator? The fact is, if a hypocrite is standing between you and God, the hypocrite is closer to God than you are!