One reason for the “hypocrite” tag is the way in which the Christian message has been promoted and taught over the years – predominantly as a religion of rules and regulations that even Christians can’t live up to.  People then measure us by our own standards – which we don’t fully keep – and then label us as hypocrites.  Jesus spoke about this: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat.  So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.” (Matthew 23:2-3)

There is an underlying belief, even amongst many Christians, that one can be saved by being and doing good – that is, by keeping the Ten Commandments.  But what does the New Testament say about the Ten Commandments?

In 2 Corinthians 3, the apostle Paul refers to them as “the ministry that brought death” and “the ministry that condemns men.”  Why?  The Law was never meant to be a way of salvation.  It was introduced in order to make us aware that, in our own efforts, we cannot attain the standard of God’s perfection.  Paul puts it this way, “Once I was alive apart from law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died.” (Romans 7:9).  That’s why he refers to the Law as “the ministry that brought death.”

The Law is like the black cloth that jewellers use to display their gems.  The black shows up the beauty and value of the gem in the same way that the blackness of the Law shows up the beauty and value of God’s grace.  The church was never meant to preach the Law as a standard for the world to follow – we don’t even live up to it ourselves, and this leads to accusations of hypocrisy

In his book Unchristian, David Kinnaman says, “Christians believe the primary reason outsiders have rejected Christ is that they cannot handle the rigorous standards of following Christ.  The unchristian faith – hypocritical, judgmental and full of empty moral striving – is what Paul warned his readers about.”  (See Galatians 3:3; 5:1, 13-15)

No one can live up to the “Christian image” of being good and not sinning. As a result because of the “wrong message” many Christians feel the need to project an image of “having it all together.  It’s at this point that hypocrisy is perceived.

The solution is radical transparency.  The Bible teaches that we will not attain perfection in this life.  We need to be honest and transparent about this.  God calls us to be authentic people – the real deal – not pretending to be something that we’re not:  “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8)

Does your life point people to a life in Christ that bursts with the freedom to love, restoration, purity and transparency?  Or are you burying people under the weight of a self-righteous life?

I love the way Leo Tolstoy articulates this: “Attack me, I do this myself, but attack me rather than the path I follow and which I point out to anyone who asks me where I think it lies.  If I know the way home and am walking along it drunkenly, is it any less the right way because I am staggering from side to side?”

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“Why are there so many hypocrites in the church?”  This is an often-heard question and impression that people outside the church have of Christians.  So, what is a Hypocrite?

The word was originally used by Greek and Roman actors who would use large masks and pretend to be something they were not.  The word came to be used by 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 “Whitewashed 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 families, 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 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 to 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!

Hypocrisy.  That’s when our words and our actions don’t match up.  We’re all guilty of it and we find it in all sectors of society including the church.  Some people even use it as an excuse not to join the church but they don’t follow their faulty logic to others walks of life.  For instance, when the media show hypocrisy do we stop listening or watching?

One glaring example of media hypocrisy happened this week with Gordon Ramsey’s latest outburst against Channel Nine ACA Host Tracey Grimshaw.  Before an audience of several thousand people at the Melbourne Good Food and Wine Show, following an interview with Grimshaw the previous day, Ramsay described her as “a lesbian”.

He then showed a picture of a woman, who appeared naked. The woman was posed on her hands and knees but had multiple breasts and the facial features of a pig. “That’s Tracy Grimshaw,” Ramsey said. “I had an interview with her yesterday, holy crap. She needs to see Simon Cowell’s Botox doctor.”

Tracey Grimshaw returned fire with a withering editorial during her show the following night:

“… Gordon Ramsay made me promise not to ask on Friday about his private life. He then got on stage on Saturday and made some very clear and uninformed insinuations about mine.  Obviously Gordon thinks that any woman who doesn’t find him attractive must be gay. For the record, I don’t. And I’m not.”

I greatly admire Tracey for standing up to this arrogant individual who has made his mark and his millions through the cruel public ridicule of people on his TV program.  I’ve only ever watched about five minutes of his programs, which include “The F Word”, “Kitchen Nightmares” and “Hell’s Kitchen”.  He is the guy well known for dropping 87 “f-bombs” in just one episode.  What a claim to fame!

But this is where the hypocrisy enters loud and clear.  It is Channel Nine that has given Ramsey star status in Australia by airing his program. It’s not news that he is arrogant, rude and crude. That’s what’s made him famous. And that’s what earned the Nine Network mega-bucks especially when Kitchen Nightmares was Australia’s most-watched program. The masses wanted to be shocked by his tirades, temper and tongue and advertisers used Ramsey’s popularity as a vehicle to promote their products. It’s all about the money! No one gives a rip so why should we be surprised now?  It’s all hypocrisy!