Why Are So Many Christians Hypocrites?

Introduction

Hypocritical Christians?

In the Sermon on the Mount of Olives, Jesus talked a lot about people who were hypocrites. In fact, the topic of hypocrisy took up a major amount of Jesus’ preaching. So, why is it that those who claim to follow Him are so often hypocritical?

 

One of the major complaints non-believers level against Christianity is that the churches are full of hypocrites. This page examines what Jesus and the Bible have to say about hypocrisy among those who claim to be Christians.

What is hypocrisy?

The dictionary definition of hypocrisy is:

hy�poc�ri�sy [hi-pok-ruh-see]

  1. a pretense of having a virtuous character, moral or religious beliefs or principles, etc., that one does not really possess.
  2. a pretense of having some desirable or publicly approved attitude.
  3. an act or instance of hypocrisy.

Etymology: Middle English ypocrisie, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin hypocrisis, from Greek hypokrisis act of playing a part on the stage, hypocrisy, from hypokrinesthai to answer, act on the stage, from hypo- + krinein to decide1

So, a religious hypocrite is, by definition, a non-believer, since he is only pretending to be an adherent of the faith. A hypocrite is not a person who commits some sins on occasion (all people commit sin occasionally), but someone who practices those sins on a routine basis. The truth of the matter is that hypocrisy has been a problem for those who claim to follow God for a very long time. In fact, God challenged Cain (the first son born of Adam and Eve) on his hypocrisy when he submitted an inferior offering to Him.

What did Jesus say about hypocrisy and hypocrites?

By far, of all preachers and prophets of the Bible, Jesus had the most to say about hypocrisy and hypocrites. Since He didn’t mince any words on the subject, but directly confronted the religious hypocrites of His day (the scribes and Pharisees), they hated Him intensely – eventually having Him arrested on trumped up charges. Here is a list of some of the hypocrisy that Jesus spoke against:

  • Giving to the poor to be recognized by others
  • Praying in public to be recognized as “God’s man”
  • Letting everybody know you are fasting to get recognition by others
  • Complaining about other’s behavior when yours is even worse.
  • Pretending to honor God through lip service only
  • Testing other people to try to make yourself look superior
  • Deceiving people from knowing God
  • Repressing the poor and widows
  • Teaching proselytes to be hypocrites
  • Tithing (giving to the church), but neglecting justice and mercy
  • Doing everything for show, while really being self-indulgent and unrighteous
  • Treating stock animals better than fellow human beings
  • Being able to analyze the weather, but unable to distinguish between right and wrong

Jesus indicated that those who practiced hypocrisy would be sent to hell,indicating that they were really non-believers. In other books of the New Testament, the writers associate hypocrisy with such things as evil, lying,perverting the gospel, envy and slander, and jealousy and selfish ambition. James contrasts the evil of hypocrisy with the “wisdom from above,” which is characterized as being “pure, peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering.”

Modern day hypocrites

The news media loves to make a big deal when a “Christian” preacher commits some sort of sexual sin, with the most recent example being Ted Haggard, who rabidly preached against homosexual practice, while he himself was involved in it on a routine basis. Everybody loves to hate a hypocrite. It is not surprising that there are hypocrites today, as there were in Jesus’ day. The Old Testament prophet Daniel even predicted that there would be more hypocrites in the end times, as the cost of faith could well be your life. Jesus also predicted that many would fall away although they would claim to be His disciple at the judgment:

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’ ” (Matthew 7:21-23)

Christianity should not be judged on the basis of those who claim to be its adherents, when, in reality, they practice the opposite of what it teaches.

 

Conclusion

Christians are often accused of being hypocrites. However, the Bible clearly indicates that those who practice hypocrisy really aren’t Christians at all, but will be judged to be non-believers and sent to hell. If you are a non-believer, this is a good reason to consider the Christian faith, since you don’t want to end up in hell with all the hypocrites. Having attended many Christian churches, I can assure you that the pretenders are few and far between. One should judge Christianity not on the basis of what the fakers do, but on the basis of what Jesus taught and how He lived.

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. (James 3:17)

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